What Is a Multifunction Printer?

What do you get when you put a copier, printer, fax machine, and scanner together? You get a multifunction printer, one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can have in your office. Multifunction printers are the smart choice for small offices that want to maximize productivity without maxing out their available space. For larger offices, multifunction printers offer a one-stop-shop for their document needs, giving users a centralized place to create, copy, digitize, and send documents. However, there’s much more to a multifunction printer than just its basic functions.

A Powerful, Versatile Device

Printers are arguably the linchpin of any modern office, but it takes more than just a single type of equipment to help office workers stay productive. Your employees also need to make copies, scan documents for digital conversion, and distribute them electronically. All of these tasks can be accomplished with separate devices, but the time and effort wasted at each step can eventually bog down your organization.

Multifunction printers make things simpler by combining all of these tasks into one central machine, eliminating multiple unnecessary steps, and ultimately streamlining your employees’ workflow. Multifunction printers come in a variety of sizes to suit nearly any use scenario, from small home offices to entire departments of large organization:

All-in-One MFP – Compact and light enough to fit on a desk, AIO MFPs are geared towards home and home office use. Nevertheless, these devices offer powerful capabilities, including basic networking and digital camera support, along with their standard printing, scanning, copying, and faxing functions. The underlying printing capabilities of AIO MFPs are typically split between inkjet and laser technologies, with each variety having its respective pros and cons. AIO MFPs are also at the lower end of the price scale.

SOHO MFP – SOHO or “Small Office/Home Office” MFPs are the upsized counterparts to their AIO kin. Most share the same freestanding form factor of larger MFPs, especially when add-ons like extra paper trays are included, but many are available in compact desktop form. SOHO MFPs give you access to more features, including automatic document feeding and enhanced security. Some SOHO MFPs even include production finishing features normally found on bigger devices, including hole punching, stapling, and duplexing. SOHO MFPs are a good option if you want better capabilities than an AIO unit, but at a lower cost than a typical office MFP.

Office MFP – if you’re looking for a full-featured multifunction printer that can support workgroups, office MFPs are the way to go. Typically bigger than their SOHO MFP counterparts, these devices also offer the full range of MFP features, including advanced networking options, data encryption, and a host of useful software applications.

Production Printing MFP – For businesses in need of high-speed, high-quality printing, these devices are a common go-to. So, it’s not surprising to find a comprehensive array of document finishing and book creation features included. Production printing MFPs are also fast, capable of printing over 100 pages per minute. They’re also among the most expensive of MFPs. As the name implies, production printing MFPs are largely focused on mass-producing books, brochures, and other documents. Despite being double or even triple the size of office MFPs, most production printing MFPs only offer basic scanning capabilities alongside their printing functions.

Things to Consider

It’s never easy sourcing the right equipment for your office. The sheer number of different multifunction printers on the market can easily lead to analysis paralysis–not a pleasant situation for any decision-maker to find themselves in. When your office needs a new multifunction printer, it’s important to keep these considerations in mind:

  • What are your print volume needs? Your office’s workflow will determine the type of MFP it needs to stay productive. Before you buy, consider the type of print work that goes on throughout the day and the volume of physical documents that are created during that period.
  • How mobile-friendly is your office? Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are commonly used nowadays in most offices. Fortunately, MFPs have risen to the occasion with Wi-Fi connectivity, which means your employees can print on the go using a variety of apps and cloud printing protocols.
  • How serious are you about security? Network security is a must for businesses, so any MFP must boast robust network security features, including powerful user authentication and file encryption. Consider what types of information your MFP will be processing and what types of security features you’ll need in a device.

Is It Better to Buy or Lease a New Device?

At this point, you’re probably wondering whether you should lease your multifunction printer or buy it outright. Leasing enables you to afford the latest MFPs at a relatively low cost, with manageable monthly payments instead of a large upfront payment. Maintenance is also typically included with your lease, giving you greater peace of mind while making repairs and support more economical. Best of all, you’ll have the option of upgrading your MPF to the newest and most advanced model at the end of the lease.

However, outright total ownership of a device has its perks, too. A one-time purchase of your MFP lets you avoid interest payments, plus it opens the door for a tax deduction. You can also recoup some of your costs by selling it when the time comes for a replacement, but rapid depreciation can easily eat away at its value.
Consider your next multifunction printer as a welcome investment for your Minnesota-area business. Once you’re ready to make the next move, contact DTS today and let one of our sales consultants walk you through your available options.