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    Printing & Photocopying, what's the difference?

    There was a time when photocopying is something you do not consider an option for your printing materials. That you would rather have them printed and spend more money to have a presentable print result, it cannot be denied though that copiers are getting more sophisticated and going digital as time goes on. This development is indeed creating a thin line between photocopying and printing.

    Photocopiers are standard pieces of office equipment and have been since the 1970s. As technology has developed, the majority of photocopiers in offices today are 'multifunction' devices. It can be hard to distinguish the difference between a photocopier and a scanner as they appear to operate in similar ways, yet the method of output is vastly different.

    The beginning processes of photocopying and scanning are identical. You place a document on the platen - the flat glass surface on the top of the device, or in the document feeder (which allows multiple sheets to be copied or scanned at once). You then push a button and the machine acquires a digital image of the document.

    The next stages of the process are quite different, however. If the machine is a photocopier, it merely prints the digital image onto one or more blank sheets of paper. If the machine is a scanner, it stores a digital copy of the image and transmits it to a computer (via email or network), or stores it on a USB or memory card.

    Copying documents is a simpler process than scanning. Most photocopiers require users to press a button to start the photocopying process. Additional buttons are available to change the print quality or increase the number of copies. In contrast, scanning requires users to have a basic knowledge of computers to manage the transmitting, storage and editing of scans. When you press the button for scanning, you may be faced with a pop-up message, asking you what to do next - scan to folder or email.

    Scanners are the tool for business owners that want to go 'paperless', yet if the paper is your medium of choice for document transmission and recording, then a copier will suffice. However, any devices combine the two functions today. Multifunction devices combine a printer, copier and scanner into one device, giving you all the options, as well as the option of fax.

    In photocopying, especially digital photocopying, a fast turnaround is given not only in large quantities but also in smaller ones. Copy shops now have more machines ready to cater to the copying needs that people require. This saves their customers the trouble of waiting in line and wasting a lot of their precious time. Besides that, preparations are not anymore needed as digital copiers are always ready for the next copy job. Moneywise, fixed and affordable prices are associated with the number of copies the customers may wish to have. This makes copying more ideal for lower quantities than for larger quantities.

    In printing, on the other hand, a printing job will take longer because of the pre-press preparation that should be done initially. Direct-to-plate printing could have done the printing job faster but only a few printing companies offers this kind of service now. If people choose this printing type, they would have to wait for the others who may want to have the same service. The customers can get the best quality in prints that the company can offer using their sophisticated tools. The money you pay for is justified by the best result you will get.

    Comparing these two in terms of quality, printing wins hands down. You would not be able to get the same or even close to the quality of printing in copying. You can have a variety of paper stocks to choose from that will best suit your printing needs. The cost is the downside, though. Printing is much more expensive, and only the people with enough budgets can afford having them done this way.

    Photocopying, obviously, is cheaper. If time is a consideration and not the quality, this is how you should go about reproducing your project. Also best for small amounts and budget-conscious people.

    Printing and photocopying have their advantages and disadvantages that can be likewise compatible with what suits the needs of their customers. It will all sum depending on the different needs that different people have. Knowing these facts would surely help them decide which is best for their printing needs.

    What Is Photocopying?

    A copier is a photocopying device that allows users to make duplicate copies of a document or an image, that too cheap. Copiers use xerography technology that is similar to the technology used in a laser printer. The printer is a peripheral device that creates a solid copy of the digital data that is represented on the computer screen. Printers can be used to connect to a computer using a USB or wirelessly.

    A copier is a machine that makes exact copies of something along the lines of a document, photograph, drawing, etc. The very first basic copy machine was released onto the market around 1959. Although they are not as popular as they once were as individual pieces of technology, copy machines can still be found being used in many places.

    You could expect to see one in many of the same places that you would see a printer. Despite similar technology, they serve a much different purpose. For example, a professor may use a copy machine to make copies of a chapter in a book for a class homework assignment. This situation would call for a copy machine instead of a printer.

    In the previously mentioned scenario, it can be assumed that the professor has a physical copy of the book needed. The copy machine would be used because the professor would need exact copies of the chapter in the book. In a slightly different scenario, maybe the professor wants to share an article that they found on a webpage with the class.

    A printer would be used in this case because the information needed is on a computer. Technically speaking, the professor could make copies of the article with the printer. However, it would certainly not be the same as making the copies with the photocopy machine.

    When thinking about creating duplicates for a document, two things come to mind; one can print two or more copies or one can photocopy the original document. These two options are because of two devices a copier and a printer. With the increasing technology, many people are confused in these two different devices as many multi-purpose printers come with copier features. It's quite simple to distinguish as a copier's main purpose is to make duplicate copies, while a printer's main goal is to print. However, a multi-purpose printer is able to do both and much more.

    A copier is a photocopying device that allows users to make duplicate copies of a document or an image, that too cheap. Copiers use xerography technology that is similar to the technology used in a laser printer. Xerography is a dry process of creating an image by applying toner and heat to the paper. The purpose of a copier is to create a duplicate document that is available faster and cheaper. Copiers were an alternate option to printers, which were initially expensive and time-consuming. Modern copiers have become multi-purpose and are available with features such as printing, faxing, stapling, hole punching and other capabilities. Patent attorney, Chester Carlson invented copier. It was also popularly known as Xerox machines with the process being referred to as Xeroxing for a while, before the Xerox Company fought to keep the trademark from becoming genericized.

    A copier is usually a vast device that takes up room and can duplicate multiple different types of paper and documents.

    The device works in 5 steps:


    1. Charging
    2. Exposure
    3. Developing
    4. Transfer
    5. Fusing


    A cylindrical drum present in the machine is charged electrostatically by a high voltage corona wire. The drum then develops photoconductive material. A bright lamp scans the document that is to be copied and reflects the white areas of the form on to the photoconductive drum. The photoconductive drum becomes conductive when exposed to light. The black portions on the document do not reflect, and that portion on the drum remains negatively charged. The negative charges pick up the positively charged toner, which is then transferred on to the document and fused by heat. Viola! The form is copied and printed.

    Photocopiers don't use liquid ink; they use what's called toner, which is a dry powder contained in a cartridge. While the process is pretty complicated, it's basically a combination of light, heat and static electricity. In ultra-simple terms, photocopiers use light to illuminate the image or text be copied, then charges the toner with a positive charge. At the same time, the page itself carries a negative charge to attract the toner. The charged toner jumps to the page while heat fuses the toner to the paper.

    What is a Printer?

    The printer is a peripheral device that creates a solid copy of the digital data that is represented on the computer screen. Printers can be used to connect to a computer using a USB or wirelessly. One printer can also be connected to many computers allowing all computers to be able to print on that printer. Many newer printers are also able to support memory cards, digital cameras or scanners. Higher-end models for offices also come with other features such as scanner, copier and fax. These models are known as Multifunction printers.

    A printer is defined as a machine for printing text or pictures onto paper, especially one linked to a computer. Now indeed you have at some point used, or at least seen a printer. They are widely used around the world in a multitude of spaces and for an extensive range of purposes.

    A few places that you are almost guaranteed to find a printer include schools, offices, libraries, photography studios, design studios, and a million other locations. They can be used to make tangible printouts of almost anything, from essays and webpages to posters and photographs.

    Printers take information from a device, such as a computer or a cell phone, and transfers the data onto any given paper type. Different types of printers have been created to tailor to specific industries. Some of the most popular printers are inkjet, laser, solid ink, and LED.

    They each have slightly different qualities that make some of them better suited for the printing of high-quality photographic works versus being solely used in an office setting.

    There are various different kinds of printers that are available. These printers are classified depending on the type of technology that is used in printing. Technology includes Toner-based printers, Liquid inkjet printers, Solid ink printers, Dye-sublimation printers and Inkless printer. Toner-based printers use dry powered toner as ink, which is then fused on the paper by hot rollers. Liquid inkjet printers use liquid ink that is heated into a vapour bubble and then sprayed onto the paper. Reliable ink printers use thermal transfer technology and use solid sticks of colour that are wax-like in texture; these inks are melted and then sprayed on a rotating, oil coated drum, which passes the image onto the paper. A dye-sublimation printer uses heat to transfer dye to a medium such as a plastic card, paper or canvas. Inkless printer printers work by heating regions of a heat-sensitive form that creates images or text on it.

    Many believe that printing multiple copies is more expensive than photocopying it. However, it depends on the number of documents, pages and the data on the paper that need to be printed. If many copies are to be published, then copiers are usually a cheaper option. However, if only a few pages need to be printed, then printing becomes much cheaper. Another major difference between the printer and the copier is quality. Printers usually produce high-quality images as they use the inkjet process (which is also available in copiers but quite rare), while images are produced using xerography are low resolution.

    Copying vs Printing

    When some of us think of copying, we think of placing a sheet of paper face down on the glass of a copier and keying in quantity on the control panel, pressing start and waiting for the copies drop into a tray on the side of the machine. Others may imagine even dropping coins into the device at a dime or a quarter a copy! The process is actually called photocopying and describes the process of transferring images and information to paper with toner, a dry agent that is transferred electrically and adhered to the page in a heated process. Copiers have evolved in the last 25 years from the descriptions above.

    Copy machines with document handlers were designed to accept stacks of paper so multiple page documents could re-circulate again and again for each copy that was made. Machines got bigger and faster, accepting larger quantities of paper and going longer between paper jams that seemed to be unpreventable. Copy machines still exist and still make copies, but most produced these days are utilized as printers connected to a network of computers and incorporated with scanning and fax capability. Colour copying too has evolved, and colour printers are becoming more common, although still more expensive to operate than basic printers.

    Documents can be shared electronically now over networks and emailed from one user to another. And when paper copies are needed, the document can be sent to a multi-function printer designed to collate, staple, 3-hole punch and even stitch into booklets. The document goes straight to the printer from the user's computer, and each "copy" is actually an original "print"! So the term "Copying" is often misused referring to "Printing", not to be confused with offset printing where images are transferred in ink from a plate to a blanket to the sheet. But that is another story for another day.

    Photocopy And Print Cost?

    While photocopiers generally cost more upfront than copiers, the per-copy cost when running a photocopier is much less. For example, a single toner cartridge typically produces thousands of copies, while an ink cartridge only gets you to the hundreds-of-copies range. However, the real cost to you and your business depends on how often you make copies. A good way to put everything in perspective is to determine how much it costs you to copy each page. To do this, determine how many copies you regularly make over a certain time period, such as per month. Then find out how much an ink cartridge costs as well as how many copies it yields per cartridge, on average. Do the same for a toner cartridge. Divide the cost of the cartridge and toner by their respective yield rates, and that's the per-copy cost. Multiply that by the number of regular copies you make to tell you how much you're spending.