To many people, the terms ‘copier‘ and Multifunction Printer (MFP) are the same.
The equation in terminology, while a useful short-hand, masks a world of difference in technology and functionality.
Over the past decade or so, the Multifunction Printer (MFP) has really been at the leading-edge of imaging technology developments, the bearer of the latest innovations and the most significant technological advancements.
While many today continue to regard copiers and Multifunction Printers (MFPs) as one and the same thing, there should be no confusion that the technology involved has come a very long way, to the extent that very few printer devices today would offer solely conventional copying functionality alone.
Multifunction Printers (MFPs) have been quietly redefining what is possible through what was once a fairly cumbersome, single-function device.
When copiers began to be more widely available, they were huge trundling leviathans of machines, with just the one single function – copying. They were often slow, would usually only handle very limited paper sizes and weights and would struggle with any larger workloads
Canon was the first photocopiers manufacturer to introduce electrostatic colour copiers, launching the first mass-produced colour model in 1973.
The 1970’s and 80’s saw gradual improvements in the productivity and well as the reprographic quality of copiers and accompanying reductions in the actual size of copiers.
It was really in the mid to late nineties that copiers’ technology really began to take-off. As the world was finding its feet with personal computers and the internet, personal computer technology was beginning to filter through to copiers, so that more advanced user interfaces and operating systems could give copiers users access to a greater range of copying and printing options.
For the first time, copiers could be networked to employees’ computers, so that as well as copying at the device itself, employees could send prints jobs to the print servers or to the copiers themselves, effectively doubling the copier’s functionality.
In parallel with these developments were improvements to paper handling, so that copiers could accommodate various paper weights and a variety of paper sizes. And at the close of 2000, copiers also began to include an extended range of finishing options so that the conventional copier could not only print as well as copy but could print a variety of documents, providing stapling, hole-punching and various kinds of folding and finishing options.
Scanning also came to be a more regular feature on copiers, initially just black and white (monochrome) but increasingly, colour scanning has become prevalent among many more high-end copiers.
In the last ten years, the rate of technological change in copier/ multifunction printer (MFP) technology has been astonishing.
With more sophisticated on-board embedded platforms, employees have been given a much greater level of control over printer device output and have been empowered to create dynamic document workflows between employees and printer devices.
With the greater levels of integration between copiers and back-end systems, using Perl Data Language(PDL’s) and MEAP (Multifunctional Embedded Application Platform) connectors for example, and integration with commonly-used desktop software, using WYSIWYG(what you see is what you get) print publishing and previews for example, copiers and Multifunction Printers(MFPs) have effectively broken-down the boundaries between desktop computer and printer.
For example, documents may be previewed on printer devices before they progress further down the document workflow. What is known as Universal Send provides limitless possibilities for documents once they have been scanned in.
It allows employees to distribute documents scanned on the Canon imageRUNNER Multifunction Printers / copiers series to multiple network destinations, including E-mail, Internet Fax Addresses, Mail Boxes, Fax, Network Folders (SMB, FTP) and document management systems, in one simple operation.
It is now possible to scan directly to a File Transfer Protocol (FTP site), to Server Message Block (SMB) or to employees’ email accounts.
Canon’s CloudConnect feature connects Canon Multifunction Printers(MFPs) with leading cloud-based services, such as Google Docs or Microsoft Sharepoint, so that documents may be printed off at an Multifunction Printer(MFP)/copier from a mobile device and conversely scanned in at an Multifunction Printer(MFP)/copier to a mobile device, a technology which further expands the parameters of document workflows.
A major difference between a modern day copier/ Multifunction Printer (MFP) and predecessors is energy consumption.
The latest Canon imageRUNNER Advance copiers today consume up to 65% less energy than their equivalents only ten or fifteen years ago.
Some copiers, again taking Canon’s imageRUNNER Advance series as an example, are made using recycled materials and bio plastics, to save on energy consumption and CO2 emissions during manufacturing.
Even though copiers today do so much more by way of performance, they typically cost much less to run, especially now that service access is given increasing consideration in copiers design.
To refer to a modern-day multifunction printer (MFP) as a copier is entirely acceptable. It is after all from the copier which the Multifunction Printer (MFP) originates and for many, though certainly not all, the primary function of a Multifunction Printer (MFP) remains copying.
If anyone thought for a second that what they understood to be a copier ten, fifteen or twenty years ago bears really anything but a notional resemblance with copiers/ Multifunction Printers (MFPs) today they would be mistaken.
Copiers or Multifunction Printers (MFPs), as they’re more often known today, provide a huge wealth of features and functionality, so that for many organisation they have effectively become an organisational hub for all their document management needs.
Providing for a multitude of document output requirements and offering scanning, printing, faxing and i-send functionality (enables emailing directly from the copier), today’s Multifunction Printer (MFP)/copier can make the conventional copier look antique.