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Multifunction Printers vs Single Function Printers: Which One Is Better?

Single Function Printers vs Multifunction Printers (MFP)

Thinking of getting a new printer for your office? Not sure which one to go for? The single function printer or the all-in-one multifunction printer?

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to tell which one suits your needs more and make your purchasing decision.

Multifunction (MFP) vs Single Function Printers Comparison

The Main Difference

Single function printers

As the names suggest, a single function printer is one that can only print, without any additional functions.

While this may be enough for some, others are looking for more than just that.

Multifunction Printers

Multi-function printers (MFP) are also referred to as all-in-one (AIO) printers.

With a multi-function printer, you’ll be able to scan, copy, send, and receive faxes.

If you need to do these other things, buying an MFP will be the most cost-efficient choice.

Especially that many MFPs enable the user to scan over a network, to multiple destinations, and a lot of other advanced workflow features.


If your office requires different machines to do the printing, copying, scanning, and faxing work, getting a single function or all-in-one printer would be the most optimum way to save some space.


AOI printers indeed have a higher price tag than the single-function ones, however, it’s more cost-effective if you consider the accumulated costs of all the other pieces of equipment combined.

Read more: Ways to Save Money by Picking the Right Printer

To put this in perspective, suppose that you need printing and scanning. The upfront cost of an inkjet all-in-one printer to be less.

If you do a lot of printing, however, buying the replacement ink and toner cartridges for the all-in-one device can quickly accumulate. This means getting a desktop laser printer and a separate scanner would be a better option.

Or your best option is to a multi-function laser printer. With these printers, you can cut the cost per page by getting a laser printer. Unless you won’t be doing a lot of printing, then getting an inkjet printer would be the better choice.


Having one device means you get fewer cables and therefore less clutter around your office.

Moreover, it facilitates maintenance such as downloading a single driver update instead of one for each machine. In addition, it cuts the costs of purchasing the required consumables such as ink, toner, paper, and other supplies.

Finally, one device certainly consumes less power than having multiple ones.


Making one or two copies won’t make a difference when it comes to the speed of operation. However, if you’re working with large volumes such as a thousand documents, a copying machine might be faster than an MFP.

User experience

MFP has made a lot of progress over time when it comes to the ease of use. They have a lot fewer buttons and settings that usually turn to copy into a tedious task.

Other factors

A major drawback to the MFP is that if you face a technical problem, you won’t be able to use any of the device’s functions.

Although issues like these aren’t that likely to happen, especially not when the device is new, as time takes its toll on it, this may cause a problem and a delay in –not one- but all the functions of the device.

Pros of Single Function vs Pros of Multifunction Printers

Single function printers

These printers (photocopiers) give you the optimum solution for large-volume printing with a high-quality finish in the shortest time.

Their pros include:

  1. Capacity to print large volumes
  2. Reliable and durable machines
  3. Provide you with all the paper-related functions such as staple, align, sort, hole-punch, and changing paper size with no need for continuous monitoring
  4. Super fast printing speeds
  5. Low cost per page printing
  6. High-resolution print quality
  7. You can perform one function as the other is in progress

Multifunction Printers

Multifunction printers combine between a printer, a photocopier, a fax machine, and a scanner in one, compactly designed design.

Their pros include:

  1. Saving space and energy
  2. A cheaper choice than buying separate machines with easy document management
  3. More choices on the market mean you can find a printer that suits your specific needs
  4. Cost-efficiency as you’d only need one set of consumables
  5. A multifunction printer with wireless capabilities can be connected to multiple PCs, laptops, mobile phones, and tablet around the office to get input from multiple devices.

Final Thoughts

It’s a rule of thumb that any time you can combine multiple functions into one device, you’re utilizing space, costs, and issues more optimally.

With either device, what determines the efficiency is the intended use. So you have to determine that before you make a purchase.

The more copies you make, the more advanced the printer you’ll need. Especially if you’re looking for specific things such as a high DPI (Dots per inch) and a high color depth.

So a single function printer can give you the most professional print finish and save considerable amounts of time.

On the other hand, multifunction printers are ideal for a business that lacks sufficient office space, make a lot of moves, and variable copying and printing needs.

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