Most offices have a photo copier or a machine that does the job of a copier, such as a multifunction printer that scans, copies, and faxes. But a copier may not serve your mass printing needs. While it gives you versatility, it can't match the speed of a duplicator. Depending on the type of work you do, a duplicator might be a better fit.

What Copiers Do

Photocopiers or all-in-one printers are standard fare in most small offices. These machines do exactly what their name suggests: they copy documents. Depending on the make and model of a copier, it may take dozens of pages and create and collate copies. Some will staple documents automatically and print double-sided. You can also make a single copy of a single document with a copier.

All-in-One Copiers

All-in-one printers usually have all of the functions of a photocopier but also serve as a printer and fax machine for your office. Most printer companies make all-in-one printers for even modest budgets. At the high-end, photocopiers can print in color, process dozens of pages per minute, scan and email documents to users on a network, and send and receive faxes. These high-end machines may be outside of the budget for your small business, but mid-range options may perform all the tasks your company needs for day-to-day printing, copying and scanning.

What Duplicators Do

A duplicator is similar to a copier in its basic function: it creates a copy of a document. The catch is that it copies one page at a time and usually in a single color. The output and technology of a duplicator are different than a copier in a few respects. Duplicators don’t use toner and ink; instead, a duplicator creates a stencil and uses thermal imaging to press copies onto pages.

Advantages of Duplicators

While copiers may give your office a printer and copier in one, a duplicator has two distinct advantages over a photocopier. Duplicators print very fast and are considerably cheaper. Duplicators print up to 180 pages per minute and for as little as a third of a cent per copy, according to Buyers Lab Advisor, an imaging industry intelligence provider. If you need to print single documents in very high volumes -- posters, single-page newsletters, mailers -- then a duplicator might save money and time in the long run.