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What are multi-function copiers? A thorough overview of MFCs.

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Multi-function copiers. Ever heard of them? Well, have you ever heard of a five-tool player in baseball? On the diamond, five-tool players can run the bases well, throw well, field the ball well, as well as hit for power and a high batting average.

Multi-function copiers (MFCs) are the four-tool player of the office equipment world. They perform four functions at a high level: printing, copying, scanning and faxing. Don’t mess with MFCs! 

What’s an MFC?

Industry insider Matt Lane said that multi-function copiers are “a hardware peripheral that is usually integrated into a network that will perform more than one typical document function, such as printing, scanning, copying and faxing. Some have embedded solutions too,” he said.

According to Xerox, a multifunction printer (MFP) is a “device that consolidates the functionality of a printer, copier, scanner and/or fax into one machine.”

What do they have in common?

Let’s run through each of the four functions of MFCs, one-by-one.

1. Printing

Of course, MFCs can print. MFCs can print anything you’d like printed in black-and-white or color, printing more than 125 pages per minute (PPM).

2. Copying

MFCs are, as their name suggests, skillful copiers, capable of quickly producing reams of copies of pretty much any document. In one duty cycle, MFCs can produce 210,000 copies a month in black-and-white and 105,000 in color. A duty cycle, according to Ricoh, “represents the absolute number of pages that can be printed per month at the rated print quality of a machine.”

3. Scanning

Don’t forget scanning. Most manufacturer scanners can produce 120 impressions per minute (IPM) simplex and 240 IPM duplex in a single pass using a high-capacity, high-speed Dual-Scan Document Feeder. A reversing automatic document feeder (RADF) handles fewer IPM.

4. Faxing

For those who still fax documents, be still and know that MFCs can (still) do that.

How do they differ from one another?

Although MFCs will all perform the same tasks in generally the same way, they vary from one another in some ways. Some differences include color, equipment design, component parts and user interface. 

MFCs have what’s known in the business as a lockout feature, which – according to Lane – is a unique characteristic of an MFC. For example, some manufacturers offer a tri-fold or Z-fold finishing option.

“Most folding finishers will do a single fold or bi-fold,” Lane said. “There are just a couple manufacturers, to my knowledge, that have the capability to do a Z-fold. In the right application, customer or market, if you’re the only one who does that, you’ve got a corner on that market. It’s a good advantage to have.”   

How should your business choose an MFC?

When considering which MFC to choose, your business should be aware of a couple key factors:

  • What processes do I need an MFC for?

Whether your business is sending invoices, printing brochures and/or scanning documents, you need to know exactly what your organization needs an MFC for. 

  • Document needs in the short-term future

What are your organization’s document-related needs in the next three to five years? Your organization should choose equipment that doesn’t limit its growth in any way. 

How much?

We here at ClearView Business Solutions don’t shy away from discussing everyone’s favorite subject: pricing. What’s your monthly total cost of ownership (TCO) for an MFC?

Well if you’ve partnered with ClearView, the average TCO for a Toshiba 35-page-per-minute system boils down to only about $148 per month. The MFC itself only costs $98 a month, and the monthly service agreement (including service, support, toner replacement and more) only costs $50 a month. The service agreement includes up to 4,000 black-and-white prints a month, and up to 200 monthly color prints. If a customer goes over these rates on a quarterly average basis, the price per page is 1 cent for black-and-white prints, and 5 cents for color prints.    

What kinds of MFCs can I choose from?

For organizations with a low volume of printing, HP and Lexmark printers are performance leaders. 

For organizations with a moderate volume of printing, organizations usually buy directly from a manufacturer or partner with an authorized dealer. Toshiba, Konica, Xerox, Sharp, Ricoh, Kyocera, Lanier and Savin – among other brands – are recommended for a moderate amount of printing in commercial environments.

MFCs for organizations with a truly high volume of printing are a bit more specialized.

“It really comes down to the processes and what their needs are again,” Lane continued. “So high-volume printer-wise, if it’s just high-speed or a lot of copies per month, those manufacturers like Toshiba have a segment within their product offerings that will handle those higher volumes. So it’s the same kind of names.”

What models can I choose from?

The kind of MFC you’ll get depends on the printing volume of your organization. Multi-function copiers are designed for a small to medium volume of printing can print around 35 PPM, and even sometimes have a web browser embedded within the system.

MFCs designed for a high volume of printing can print more than 50 PPM, and some feature various kinds of 50-sheet finishers. With a lot of these printers, you can print remotely by submitting print jobs from your desktop then swiping your card at the MFC to print the document.

Why bother to even get an MFC? What makes it special?

Lane said, and most organizations would agree, that MFCs are worth the price. MFCs are special because of their ability to include many different functions in one system.

If MFCs didn’t exist, organizations would have to acquire not only multiple machines (to do what an MFC can do), but also numerous, costly supplies for those machines. 

Now you know

Now that you know all about MFCs, why not consider getting one for your organization (if it doesn’t have one already)?

As you can see, MFCs are the four-tool device of the printing world, with their unmatchable ability to print, scan, copy and fax. Check out our website to find the right MFC (and MFC services) for your organization. While you’re at it, see what the right MFC has done for these organizations.   

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