The Difference Between Printers and Photocopy Machines.

The Difference Between Printers and Photocopy Machines.


Is there a difference between a printer and a photocopy machine?

People use the words ‘printer’ and ‘photocopier’ interchangeably. But is there a difference?

More importantly, what differences do you need to keep in mind when you search for the best device for your particular needs?

The main difference

A printer, in the technical sense, only has one function, and that is to print out documents from a computer, or even mobile output. 

Photocopy machines are multifunction devices that can also perform other tasks, such as copy, fax, and scan. They are therefore also called multifunction printers (MFPs).

Which one is the best for my needs?

Single-function printers do have their uses for home offices or small offices with small print volumes, with only one or two people connected to it. They also take up less space than MFPs. 

But when the business prints more than 1,000 copies a month, a MFP becomes more cost effective. Therefore, apart from sole proprietors, most businesses opt to rent one or more MFPs to service their needs. 

Because desktop printers are considerably more affordable than multifunction photocopiers, there may be a temptation to purchase one without thinking of the implications for the business. 

The Disadvantage of a Printer

When you need to print multiple pages, for instance, a desktop printer can be a real drawback because of

  • A slower print speed than multifunction printers

  • Limited storage space, which means you have to fill the paper tray constantly. 

  • Restricted capabilities. Unless you operate a very niche business, you will very likely have scanning and copying needs. 

These considerations lead most businesses to opt for an MFP. 

Considerations when buying a multifunction photocopy machine

printer-and-photocopy-machine-price-rangePrice range

Because of the wide photocopy machine price range, every business can choose the right models for their needs and their budget. Businesses also have the flexibility to buy their MFPs outright, or lease them.  

While it remains true that every penny counts, particularly in challenging times, there is no reason why a photocopy machine should cost an arm and a leg. 

refurbished Canon imageRUNNER 1133if MFP
Businesses can invest in a
Refurbished Canon imageRUNNER 1133if MFP
at R7,799 excl. VAT (or R305 p.m. over 36 months)*

However, price is not the only consideration and often businesses need higher-end models to perform a multitude of tasks quickly and effectively. For this reason, we stock a wide range of models across the price range.

  We stock models up to equipment, such as the 
Sharp MX-8090N MFP
at R351,899.00 excl. VAT (12,316 p.m. over 36 months)*.

printer-and-photocopy-machine-print-speedPrint speed

Of all factors, print speeds have the biggest effect on the price of a printer. And print speeds really do matter. Many of us still remember the days when half the office would stand around the printer waiting for their copies to emerge. 

Businesses therefore have to look at their print volumes and decide to what extent they are willing to sacrifice productivity for budget. 

printer-and-photocopy-machine-paper-sizePaper sizes

If your business produces larger volumes of physical mail that requires envelope printing, or you often need to print in smaller sizes such as A5, there are MFPs that are up to the task. 

In fact, top-of-the range photocopiers allow you to set your own paper size, allowing you to print on any rectangular shape within the printer’s size range. 

MFPs also allow for duplex printing (printing on both sides of the paper), whereas with a printer, you may have to turn the pages over manually. 

Depending on your needs, you can also opt for printers that do automatic stapling or stitching. 


Multifunction photocopiers are equipped with an increasing number of features to boost business productivity and reduce wastage. These include:


  • Card readers to limit access

  • Diagnostics, to help identify where and why wastage occurs. 

  • Tighter security with options such as encryption and wiping. 

  • Finer options such as printing from mobile devices, scanning to specific folders, scanning to the cloud. 

printer-and-photocopy-machine-sizesPhysical size

While it may be desirable to opt for a bigger, high-volume printer with large paper trays, they do take up more physical space. 

For smaller offices, or offices where the rent per square meter is high, this may be an additional consideration. 


Different printers produce different noise levels. If the printer is going to stand close to office desks, it may be necessary to choose a model that can perform its functions without breaking anyone’s concentration. 

Choose the best device for your needs

It is clear that the world of multifunction photocopiers is vast, with the best solution available for every business. 

We are in the business of matching our clients with the best machines for their particular needs. You can get in touch with us at 086 011 8101, or [email protected], or fill out the contact form on our website.

*Pricing correct at the time of publishing this blog (October 2022).

Posted on 09/29/2022 0

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