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Copiers and printers: Defining office photocopiers in 2024 – and choosing the right model

Reading time: 9 mins

A small office photocopier used to be an oxymoron. With the introduction of multifunction printers, it’s definitely no longer the case. In just a few years time, all the lines have been blurred. Printers can copy, and copiers can print. Inkjet can be faster than inkjet. And smaller means cheaper- but only in the short run...

How can office photocopiers be defined in 2019? How do they work and what are their advantages?

Which criteria can be used to choose a model, and which photocopiers can be recommended as the best on the market?

Office photocopier basics

Office photocopiers are now no longer necessarily the huge machines commonly seen in offices worldwide. Both office copiers and multifunction printers work according to similar operating principles and bring the same kind of benefits – however, not to the same extent.

An increasingly uncertain definition

The problem with office photocopiers is that they have become very difficult to define.

Traditional office copiers, which were as big as an office desk, and 50 times heavier, used to be clearly different from office printers, which would sit on the office desk and weight 50 times less.

Disruption happened when office copiers got hooked to computers and became printers, and when printers merged with scanners and became copiers, and even started to get their own dedicated controls so there was no need for a computer anymore to pilot their operations.

So in 2019, there are only small office photocopiers and bigger office photocopiers. Still, to be qualified as office photocopiers, these machines need to be at least a little more productive than office multifunction printers, and have networking capabilities, fast copying speeds, and a decent paper capacity so that users don’t need to insert sheets regularly before a task is finished.

Easily understandable operating principles

How to photocopy is easy as ABC – it’s what’s happening inside that’s interesting.

Scanners digitise the image which needs to be printed in order to be duplicated. Feeders can automatically push one page after the other so that no human has to be there during long copying jobs. Advanced scanners may even allow automatic image resizing so that the results fit on A4 documents when it’s printed.

Laser printers (and LED printers, a closely related technology) and inkjet printers are the different printing technologies used to put the copy of the image on paper.

It’s quite interesting in itself, as the first laser printers were derived from the first laser photocopiers, as much of the technology is shared between the scanning part and the printing part.

Unquestionable benefits

A good quality office photocopier is an invaluable investment, and with the right servicing, one that will last for many years.

The benefits it may bring include:

Fast copy speed. A standalone office copier will have a much higher ppm (pages per minute) rating than a multifunction photocopier, with high end models reaching over 90 pages per minute.

Low printing cost per page. The photocopy machine may be expensive in the first place, but per page, the cost of copying is very low, especially in the case of laser printers.

Durable. This type of office copier is designed to withstand very heavy use, making it the best choice for businesses that need daily copying.

Document finishing features, such as binding, sorting and stapling. These features are far less common and less durable in multifunction photocopiers.

Excellent functionality. Because standalone copiers are designed to do just that, copy, they are extremely fit for purpose. This means that they can cater for complex copy needs, such as duplex printing, different paper sizes, paper thicknesses and alignments.

Multitasking features. The best photocopy machines, connected to several workstations, can do multiple jobs at the same time for different users.

-  They’re easy to use and control with large, clear display panels.

-  No need to connect the photocopier to a desktop so that it can start making copies, although it can work as a printer or scanner should the need arise.

Inbuilt memory means that documents can be backed up for quick access and amendments.

office photocopiers

Choosing the right office photocopier for one’s needs

When comparing office photocopiers, several factors may be researched in order to find the best machine for one’s specific needs, including form-factor, colour, speed, quality, document management features, price and cost-per-page.


As mentioned above, office photocopiers can now be several different types of machines.

Multifunction printers which can be used as copiers are much smaller and can be put on desktops, while office copiers are much faster and much, much bigger and heavier.

That being said, both a multifunction printer and an office copier can do the same things (print, scan, copy or even also fax) when the office copier is connected to the local network (and phone network for faxes).

Colour or monochrome?

Monochrome machines, that is, machines only capable to print in black-and white, are still somewhat cheaper than colour photocopiers, especially when laser printing technology is concerned, which is almost always the case with large office copiers.

It should be remembered however that if only occasional colour copies are needed, even monochrome copiers or MFPs can be used as colour scanners.


Speed is sometimes difficult to evaluate for an office photocopier as it’s often only the printing speed that is mentioned in commercial documentation.

Scanning speed has to be taken into account, as should be the printing speed for different document sizes and different resolutions. Some manufacturers however indicate a cpm value, or the number of copies per minute.

Another related important specification, especially for laser models, is the time needed for the first print, as components need time to heat in order to start working.


Copy quality for an office photocopier can be evaluated by researching two specifications: maximum print resolution and maximum scan resolution.

Values over 1,200x1,200 dpi or dots per inch for the printing, and over 1,200x2,400 dpi for the scanning are considered respectable for most business applications.

Document management features

Document management features are in fact productivity features and they’re important for any company with serious copying needs.

These document management features include:

Paper capacity, and the number of different paper trays,

-  Number of different paper formats supported, for scanning and for printing,

-  Automatic document feeder availability, and the paper capacity of this document feeder,

Automatic double-sided printing or “duplex” printing,

-  Automatic double-sided scanning or “duplex” scanning,

-  Binding,



Large volume office photocopiers can be expensive pieces of office kit, with big, free-standing traditional office copiers starting at over £2,000 and climbing up to the £10,000 and beyond price league.

So firstly, prospective buyers need to make sure that it will be a sound investment and there is really a need for it in the office. Evaluating the number of prints and copies needed per month is a good start to do that. Secondly, if photocopier prices are just too high, taking out a leasing contract could provide the perfect solution. Office photocopier lease also gives the advantages of including comprehensive plans covering all “photocopying services”, with maintenance, repairs and consumables. Because these service plans can be completely different from one provider to another, it’s always a good idea to ask for quotes when comparing photocopiers .


Photocopier costs are as important as photocopier prices, or even more important. Printing costs are evaluated as cost-per-page by dividing the price of ink supplies by the number of pages which can be printed with new ink toners or cartridges.

In order to get an accurate idea of the costs-per-page, regular maintenance costs, such as the price of the “maintenance kit”, should be included, especially for laser printers which require regular maintenance – and even more so for LED copiers.

A selection of the best office photocopiers in 2019

It’s getting more and more difficult to make a selection of the best photocopiers, as the number of models and the number providers never stops growing in the UK. But photocopiers form manufacturers such as Xerox, like the Workcentre 6515DNI or the VersaLink C405, Brother, with the MFC-1910W, Samsung with the SL-X7600GX or Canon with the MF733Cdw are certainly among the best deals for small businesses.

Xerox Workcentre 6515DNI A4 Colour multifunction

Xerox, which invented modern photocopiers, is still going strong in the market. That’s because of innovative and very competitively priced models such as the Xerox Workcentre 6515DNI, an entry-level LED, colour multifunction printer which sells at under £300.

For this amazingly low price, and even though the printing speed is just decent at 28 pages per minute and the machine only supports A4 documents, users get a crisp, modern colour touchscreen interface, Wifi connectivity, a duplex 50-page automatic document feeder, double-sided printing and a big 250-page tray.

Xerox VersaLink C405 Color Multifunction Printer

Xerox also proposes a more advanced solution with its C405 Versalink, which supports faster printing speeds (35 pages per minute), a very big colour touchscreen for easy controls, a 550-page tray (with another optional 550-page tray) and the same convenient duplex 50-page automatic document feeder, for just under £400.

Brother MFC-1910W Wireless Compact Mono Laser

Brother’s MFC-1910W is a remarkably compact laser machine capable of printing, scanning, faxing and copying A4 documents. Even though the size of the machine doesn’t allow it to compete with bigger models in terms of resolution or printing speed, a 150-page tray and 10-page feeder are good enough for the needs of many small businesses.

And this machine costs less than £160...

Samsung SL-X7600GX A3 Colour Laser Copier

Samsung’s SL-X7600GX is the machine in this list which comes the closest to a traditional office copier, as it supports A3 scanning and printing, and has a huge paper capacity for both printing and scanning (the feeder is made of cassettes containing hundreds of pages). Scanning can be done at 250 images per minute and copying at an amazing 60 pages per minute. The machine has one of the biggest colour touchscreen control displays available.

It can be yours for slightly more than £6,500...

Canon ImageCLASS MF733Cdw Colour Multifunction Laser Printer

Canon’s MF733Cdw is in the same league as theXerox Workcentre 6515DNI as a 4-in-1 laser fax, copier, scanner and printer which can perfectly be used as an office photocopier. There’s 50-sheet duplex document feeder, a 250-page paper tray (an optional 550-page tray can be added) and scan resolution can be as high as 9,600x9,600dpi.

This machine can be found at under £400.

More information on Copiers and Printers

How does a laser photocopier work?What is a stand-alone photocopier?What is the difference between a photocopier, printer and multifunction device?