What is an MFP, how does it differ from a printer, which is better


The MFP is such a real lifesaver for any office. Despite the gradual transition to electronic documentation, paper document management still has a huge scale in the work of any private or public enterprise. To optimize the associated processes, the presence of a special universal device will be required.

What is the device

Deciphering the abbreviation «MFP» — a multifunctional device. This technique combined the capabilities of several devices with scanning, printing and copying functions in one case. In some cases, a fax is also attached.


The history of the creation of such a device is interesting. The idea to combine several devices in one came from the Garther Group, an organization engaged in consulting services. The decision was made after calculating the cost of maintaining office equipment. So in the 90s, an MFP appeared, which at first could only make copies and scans of documentation, but did not print. And the first device, as we are accustomed to seeing it in its modern form, was the brainchild of Japanese firm Okidata — in this unit there were already all the necessary components.

The MFP is perfect for installation in small rooms, for a business that is starting to develop, and simply for those who have no time to monitor various devices in search of the best options for themselves. In any case, such a device has a long service life and makes it possible to save money.

The difference between technology and other printing devices

The purpose of printers is a standard printout of text documents, photographs, promotional material. Special thermal sublimation printers are able to transfer the image to any surface and are more often used in creative workshops. The similarity of the MFP with the printer can be seen in the following details of the work.

  1. Both devices have the same imprinting methods: MFPs also use inkjet, laser or LED technologies.
    Inkjet MFP

    Inkjet MFP

  2. On both types of equipment, you can print both color and black and white texts, as well as images, photographs.
  3. are the same and expendable materials. As them, either powder toners (in laser models) or ink cartridges (inkjet options) are used. In LED and sublimation, their types of consumables are crystalline toner.
    Expendable materials
  4. Equally and connection to a printer or laptop – via dedicated ports or USB input.
  5. In both cases, an important characteristic of print quality is permissionmeasured in dots per inch.

The main difference between an MFP and a printer is its advanced functionality that complements the capabilities of the printer with a scanner and copier.. This allows you not to think about allocating amounts to the budget for other office equipment.

See also: how to scan and photocopy on a printer.

Another difference is that the printer only works when the computer is on. Multifunctional equipment is capable of doing many operations even without such a “manager”.

Types of MFPs

The method of printing information divides such devices into laser, LED and inkjet. Such a purpose limits some of their functions and scope of use.

  1. Laser Models will feature high print speeds while maintaining good quality. It is these two characteristics that served to popularize such devices for use in the office.
  2. Inkjet MFPs provide excellent print quality. They are widely used for printing photographs and graphics.
  3. Concerning LED samples, these include expensive units. It makes sense to acquire them only in specialized firms (for example, advertising agencies and photo judges).

Laser devices are more popular — they practically do not require repair and do not need constant refilling with ink.. However, these models are more expensive than inkjet options.

See also: what are the printers.

Additional features of such devices

This is not all that such technology is capable of. The description in the manual will definitely tell the user about the possible additional amenities that the equipment is equipped with. Of particular interest are duplex and autofeed.

  1. Under the concept «duplex” refers to duplex printing – that is, the machine can print on both sides of the paper.
    Two-sided printing

    Duplex printing

  2. And if the printer has a duplex function, then it must also be accompanied by auto paper feed without human involvement.

Such innovations will be perceived with a bang in those organizations where you have to constantly scan and photocopy a lot.

Pros and cons of this technique

What are the advantages of purchasing a multifunctional device?

  1. Small dimensions. This is convenient for small rooms, where one appliance replaces three.
  2. Economy of consumables — it is enough to buy just one cartridge for all types of devices.
  3. low cost. The purchase of even an expensive MFP will cover three amounts needed to purchase individual devices.
  4. Possibility to send the document immediately by fax.
MFP with fax


There are also disadvantages that cannot be ignored.

  1. If one of the components of the device turns out to be faulty, then there is a chance of losing the printer, scanner and copier immediately.
  2. Slow operation of the copy element.

What to choose: MFP or printer

The choice between stand-alone office printers and a multifunctional device is highly dependent on what exactly the device is needed for, what functions it is supposed to assign to it, and what quality of work is expected.

At home, the printing function is most often in demand, for example, when there are schoolchildren and students in the family, while other office options, such as scanning documents, copying them, are not in demand. In this case, it is better to pay attention to a regular printer with a single function. It’s smaller, costs less, and prints faster than an MFP. The price in terms of a printed sheet will be much lower, and in that rare hour when a copy or scan of a document is needed, it is wiser to contact the nearest photo salon.

If work is in full swing at home like in the office, and the functions of a copier and scanner are constantly needed, no less than just printing, then it is better to choose an MFP. Many options in one case will cost less than a whole rack of office equipment. You can also save space on your desktop. Now a home office device takes up no more space than a regular A4 printer, provided that it works with paper of this size. If there is a need to process larger documents, then the dimensions of the device will be larger. At the same time, it must be understood that most often a device “sharpened” for A3 can work with smaller sheets, but vice versa — no.

See also: how to choose a home MFP.

This is just one side of the coin. The question of choice is worth looking at from the other side. The MFP has a rigid package with the characteristics of each component laid down by the manufacturer. Usually they are average, and the settings there are at a minimum. It will not be possible to choose a printer faster or a scanner with a better resolution. You have to take what is given. Therefore, if you need an emphasis on one of the devices in your work, the quality of its work and the ability to “play” with the settings are of key importance, then it is better to purchase the devices separately. Only this option will allow you to adjust the parameters of all components to your taste and needs.

See also: how to choose a good copier.

If you can find an MFP option that matches the performance of each element for your request, then this is the best choice. Buying an MFP has several advantages over a printer.

  1. A single device that performs several tasks will be more compact than even the smallest devices with the same functions, arranged on a single shelf.
  2. The price of a good MFP is lower than the total amount that you have to pay for several devices, even with average technical characteristics. Maintenance of one device is also cheaper than several.
  3. It is more difficult to organize communication and coordinated work of several devices than to work with one device, even with a large number of options.

A reasonable choice will allow you to rationally use the place and means and get the maximum efficiency in your work. If any of the devices, be it an MFP or a printer with a scanner and a copier separately, is chosen correctly, it will last a long time, it will cope well and rationally with its tasks.

See also: how to choose a printer for printing photos.


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