Both a photocopier and a duplicator will make copies of documents, but what’s the difference between the two? And, crucially, which is the right choice for your business?
What’s the difference?
The modern photocopier is actually far more than just a copier. An all-in-one, multifunctional machine will also print, scan, fax and even email documents if it has internet connectivity. Some at the higher end of the price spectrum will also staple or bind pages into booklets. A duplicator, on the other hand, will only copy your documents. While this may sound like a step down from the versatility of the all-in-one photocopier, the reality is that a duplicator is much faster, can print on more mediums and delivers a significantly lower cost per copy.
How do they work as copiers?
A photocopier uses something called a Xerographic process to produce copies of your document. When the document is lit the white areas are illuminated onto an electrostatically charged drum. The black areas are negatively charged. Positively charged toner will stick to the drum which transfers, melts and bonds the image onto paper. A colour photocopier includes toner of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) which it combines in varying quantities to produce full colour copies.
A digital duplicator, however, uses a drum and a wax-like material known as a master. When a document is scanned, miniscule holes are burned into this master, reproducing the image in dots. The master is then wrapped around the drum which contains a single colour of ink. The drum spins to release the ink through the miniscule holes and onto the master. The master then rolls onto the paper, leaving the original image behind.
Which is better?
Is a high volume photocopier enough?
One big advantage that duplicators have over photocopiers is the speed at which they can print. They can reach speeds of up to 180 pages per minute while most high volume photocopiers cannot copy more than 80 pages per minute. If your business is printing in very high volumes on a regular basis for newsletters or regular mailers this could be a significant point to consider.
While photocopiers are generally restricted to printing onto various sizes of paper, a duplicator is able to print onto a range of other mediums such as heavy cardstock, labels, envelopes or even business cards.
Quality of finish
If your business needs to be able to print in more than one colour, a duplicator is not the right choice for you and a photocopier is your best solution. Photocopiers also have a reputation for producing copies in a higher quality because of their excellent colour reproduction and inline finishing such as stapling, stitching and binding. Duplicators are capable of printing in two colours but this usually involves passing the document through the process twice.
Cost per copy
Photocopiers use toner to reproduce colours, whereas duplicators use a single colour of ink. Ink is generally cheaper to buy which should make the ongoing running costs of a duplicator less than that of a photocopier. With a duplicator, the highest cost is the creation of the original master impression. However, the more copies you make from this master the lower your cost per copy. When using a photocopier the cost per copy never changes no matter how many you make. This means that for businesses needing a high volume of copies of the same document, the cost per copy is more economical when using a duplicator.
Both modern photocopiers and duplicators are fitted with security features and encryption to ensure your confidential business information is secure.
Which is best for your business?
The all-in-one photocopier which also prints, scans, faxes, emails and binds your documents is a common sight in most business offices today. The sophisticated technology available today means the quality, speed and volume of the copies they produce has never been better. Their full colour printing also makes them a must-have for some businesses.
Where a duplicator comes out on top is for businesses needing to produce long runs of the same document at high speed. A duplicator is significantly faster at producing multiple copies of a document with speeds reaching up to 120 pages per minute. This could mean 1200 copies produced in 10 minutes! They use only ink which is cheaper than toner and, because the cost involved is down to the creation of the master image, the cost per copy reduces significantly when working to high volumes. A duplicator is also ideal if your business needs to be able to print on a range of different media such as cardstock or envelopes.
If your business’ copying needs largely centre around small runs of paper documents such as invoices (i.e. less than 20 per run) then a photocopier will not only print high quality documents but will also serve as a multifunctional piece of office equipment.