An MFP, or multifunction printer, is an all-in-one machine designed to eliminate the need for a separate copier, fax machine, scanner and printer. A MFP combines all of these machines into one piece of equipment. There are both disadvantages and advantages to this multitasking approach.
Disadvantage: Black and White
Many multifunction printers only print in black and white. This is due to the fact that the scanner, copier and printer use the same ink or laser reservoirs, which is difficult to use with color ink. Because of this, many multifunction printers come with black ink printing capabilities only.
Disadvantage: High Costs
Operating a multifunction printer is expensive. The amount of power necessary to keep the machine running is expensive, and when maintenance is necessary it is also often expensive. Ink for multifunction printers may be used faster than that in other machines because of all of the functions that use ink such as printer, faxing and copying. The maintenance cost of a MFP is also high.
When the MFP breaks down, the printing, faxing, scanning and copying capabilities of that business or home are completely shut down. No one can complete any work when the printer is out of service. This can be a problem for businesses that have a lot of printing, faxing and copying needs.
An MFP operates on the "first in, first out" rule. This means that tasks stack up in a queue that can take several minutes to more than an hour to get through depending on the speed of the machine, the length of the tasks and how many people share the machine. Some people may have to wait to use the machine, halting their production time.
Advantage: Initial Cost
Since only one machine is necessary, companies do not have to purchase as many machines. This can save money initially because rather than purchasing 20 printers and fax machines, the business has to purchase only one large MFP for each department or floor.
Advantage: Space Saving
A multifunction printer saves a lot of floor space. This is beneficial in a home and office setting. Machines and computer equipment produce clutter, so anything to lower that space allotment is beneficial.
Advantage: Speed and Flexibility
MFPs typically operate faster than laser printers or other printers. This speed comes from the multitasking nature of the printer. Some MFPs can send faxes, print documents, scan images and copy all at the same time.