What Is a Multifunction Printer?

A dynamic, modern-day company may have to juggle dozens of different tasks on a daily basis. Typically, such varied activities necessitate a significant amount of documentation and paperwork.  

In this fast-paced business climate, your team needs a printer that can keep up with the various demands. It needs to be capable of more than simply being able to print. In other words, it needs to be a multifunctional printer, meaning it can also scan, fax, and copy. 

So, what is the difference between a single function vs multifunction printer? Let’s discuss. 


What Is a Multifunction Printer?

Multifunction printers (MFP), also known as all-in-one printers, incorporate the functionality of a scanner, fax machine, copier, and printer into a single device. A single-function printer, on the other hand, has limited usefulness—particularly in a business setting—since it’s only intended for printing.

When they were first introduced in the late ’80s, these machines were primarily intended for business application, seeing as they were bulky and expensive. Despite that, for larger companies, they still represented a cost-effective way to streamline workflows and consolidate their assets.

So, how does a multifunction printer work? Over the years, the technology has improved, driving down the size of the machine and the cost of acquisition, transforming MFPs from being a luxury to a necessity. Additionally, there are now home and home office MFPs that are smaller and more affordable while still packing impressive capabilities. 

Fundamentally, multifunctional printers come in one of two basic types: 


Inkjet Printer

The original multifunction printers were inkjet. These types of printers use a rudimentary printing process that employs a series of nozzles to spray liquid ink from cartridges in a specific pattern of miniature dots. According to DePaul University: 

“If you ever look at a piece of paper that has come out of an inkjet printer, you know that the dots are extremely small (usually between 50 and 60 microns in diameter), so small that they are tinier than the diameter of a human hair (70 microns). The dots are positioned very precisely, with resolutions of up to 1440×720 dots per inch (DPI). The dots can have different colors combined together to create photo-quality images.”

Inkjet MFPs tend to print slowly. They’re best at printing small, image-centric documents, which makes them ideal for scholastic and personal use. 

So, what are the pros and cons of this type of printer compared to a laser jet printer? 



  • Pros 
    • The initial cost to purchase the machine is less than laser printers
    • Their ink cartridges are cheaper
    • Machines tend to be smaller in size 
    • Produces brighter and sharper colors and smoother color gradients for high-resolution color photos  


  • Cons
    • They print more slowly
    • They use ink inefficiently
    • The quality of images is lower 



Laser Printer 

Laser printers represent the next generation of MFPs. These were designed for businesses that need to handle large volumes of text-based documents. 

Although they’re called laser printers, it’s actually static electricity that helps print images and text on the page. Laser printers use powdered ink and an elaborate printing process to make the ink stick to the paper. 


So, what are the pros and cons of this type of printer compared to an inkjet printer? 


  • Pros 
    • Much faster print speed (especially for text-based documents)
    • Lower printing costs
    • Better print quality
    • Less mess 


  • Cons
    • Higher initial machine cost 
    • Machines tend to be larger in size
    • Toner cartridges are more expensive 



Benefits of a Multifunction Printer? 

So, why should you select a multifunction printer instead of a single-function printer? Here are some advantages of multifunction printers worth considering: 


  • Cost savings – A multifunctional printer helps save you money. Instead of purchasing a printer, copier, fax machine, and scanner, you can have a singular machine that does all of those tasks at a high level. Although it may be more expensive than a single-function printer, it’s much cheaper than having four separate devices. Additionally, it’s easier and less costly to maintain over time.  


  • Space saver – You likely have limited spare square footage in your home or office. A multifunctional printer lets you have a single device instead of four different ones. So, even though it may be bigger, it takes up less total space. 


  • Convenience – Do you need to be able to scan, print, fax, or copy on any given day? The all-in-one nature of multifunctional printers makes them convenient for businesses that don’t know when they’ll ever need to perform a certain business task. For instance, if you rarely send faxes, having a dedicated fax machine is a waste of space and money. However, having a printer that has the ability to fax on the off chance you might need it, makes more business sense.


  • Capabilities – Multifunctional printers are often built with businesses in mind. That means they tend to be more powerful and capable than a standard single-function printer. For starters, they tend to print faster and at a much higher quality. Additionally, they often boast business-centric features like being able to print documents on both sides or automatically stapling groups of documents together. 


  • Print on the go – The digital, wireless nature of modern day multifunctional printers means that employees don’t need to be physically present to print something out. They can do so from their office or out of the office. Additionally, these types of printers make it easy to print from any type of device, be it your computer, phone, or tablet.    


Multifunctional MRC Printers

Whether you operate your business from home or from the office, chances are, there are a variety of different documents that you’ll need to be able to print, scan, copy, or fax on any given day. Because of this, multifunctional printers are an indispensable tool towards any individual’s office equipment. And now, they’re more affordable and capable than ever before.

Are you looking for the best multifunction printer for a small business? 

You’ve come to the right place for assistance with how to choose a multifunction printer. MRC, a Xerox company, offers a variety of best-in-class Xerox multifunction printers. Additionally, we offer Xerox Managed IT services and Xerox All-In supplies and technical support. 

Whatever your needs, we have the printing solutions you’re looking for.