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Copier vs. Printer — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Urooj Arif — Updated on May 7, 2024
A copier duplicates existing physical documents, while a printer creates physical copies from digital files.
Copier vs. Printer — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Copier and Printer


Key Differences

A copier is primarily designed to reproduce documents by scanning and printing them directly from physical templates. On the other hand, a printer receives digital data from computers or other devices and prints this information onto paper.
Copiers often feature the ability to produce multiple copies from a single scan, making them ideal for quick document duplication. Whereas, printers might require multiple data transmissions for several copies, although they offer more flexibility in terms of input and output formats.
The functionality of copiers is generally more limited to duplicating documents, with some models incorporating scanning and faxing. In contrast, printers can vary from simple document printers to multifunctional devices that print, scan, fax, and more.
While copiers are essential in environments like offices where there is a frequent need for mass document reproduction, printers are more versatile, suitable for both home and office settings, accommodating a wide range of printing needs from photos to business reports.
In terms of technology, copiers typically use a photocopier technology, which involves light, mirrors, and toners to reproduce the document image. Printers, however, may employ various technologies including inkjet, which sprays tiny droplets of ink onto paper, or laser printing, which uses static electricity and toner.

Comparison Chart

Primary Function

Duplicates existing physical documents
Creates physical copies from digital files

Input Type

Physical documents
Digital data

Output Flexibility

Limited to copying
Wide range, including text, graphics

Common Use

Office settings for mass duplication
Versatile, used in homes and offices


Uses photocopier technology
Uses technologies like inkjet or laser

Compare with Definitions


Primarily used in business environments.
Every floor in our building has a dedicated copier.


Used for a range of materials from photos to high-volume reports.
The printer handled both the photo prints and our monthly reports.


A machine that makes copies of physical documents.
The office copier is essential for duplicating contract documents.


Available in various types, including inkjet and laser.
We use a laser printer for its quick printing speed.


Relies on internal scanning mechanisms.
The copier scanned the document before printing it.


Can connect to multiple devices.
Our wireless printer connects to both laptops and smartphones.


Typically includes functions like sorting and stapling.
The copier sorted and stapled the meeting handouts automatically.


A device that prints text or images onto paper.
I used the printer to create posters for the event.


Often larger and designed for high-volume tasks.
Our new copier can handle 100 pages per minute.


Often part of a multifunctional device.
Our home printer also serves as a scanner and fax machine.


A machine that makes copies of printed or graphic matter.


A person whose job or business is commercial printing.


One that transcribes or copies
A copier of ancient manuscripts.


One that prints, especially one whose occupation is printing.


A machine that copies graphical material; a duplicator.


A device that prints text or graphics on paper.


A person who copies documents.


A 3D printer.


(computing) A program or process that copies.
A file copier; a disk copier


One who makes prints.


One who copies; one who writes or transcribes from an original; a transcriber.


The operator of a printing press or the owner of a printing business; (metonymy) any printing business.


An imitator; one who imitates an example; hence, a plagiarist.


A device, usually attached to a computer, used to print text or images onto paper; an analogous device capable of producing three-dimensional objects.


A machine that makes copies of documents, especially by xerography; a photocopier; as, to run twenty copies off on the copier.


One who prints; especially, one who prints books, newspapers, engravings, etc., a compositor; a typesetter; a pressman.


Apparatus that makes copies of typed, written or drawn material


Someone whose occupation is printing


(computer science) an output device that prints the results of data processing


A machine that prints

Common Curiosities

Which is better for quick document duplication?

A copier is generally faster for duplicating physical documents.

What is the main difference between a copier and a printer?

A copier duplicates physical documents, while a printer produces copies from digital files.

Can a printer also function as a copier?

Yes, many modern printers have multifunction capabilities, including copying.

What type of printer is best for high-quality images?

Inkjet printers are typically better for high-resolution image printing.

Do copiers also offer color duplication?

Yes, color copiers are available, although they may be more expensive than black and white models.

Is there a significant difference in maintenance costs between copiers and printers?

Yes, copiers generally have higher maintenance and operational costs due to their complexity.

How do I decide whether to buy a copier or a printer?

Consider your specific needs: volume of copies, need for color, and multifunctionality.

Can I connect a copier to my computer?

Some modern copiers can connect to networks, functioning similarly to printers.

Which is more cost-effective for office use?

This depends on the office needs; copiers are better for high-volume copying, while printers offer more versatility.

Can printers handle different paper sizes and types?

Yes, most printers can accommodate a variety of paper sizes and types, including glossy and heavy stock.

What advancements have been made in copier technology?

Modern copiers often include digital connectivity, higher speeds, and improved image quality.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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