Defining our terms: MFDs, MFPs, & Smart MFDs

MFD = A Multi Functional Device (a copier that scans, prints, faxes, and copies)

MFP = A Multi Functional Printer (See above)

These multifunctional digital copiers were originally called MFPs because “printing” was the first dominant function beside copying. Today as we move towards a paper-less society scanning has taken precedence as the more important function. It makes more sense to simply call them MFDs or Multi functional devices.

All modern MFDs should be able to truely multi task, Print while scanning or fax while printing. Only when they share hardware, like the ADF (Automatic Document Feeded) should you have to wait to do a second function. So you would have to wait until the originals were scanned for faxing before you could scan originals to scan and email. To make sure that you get the most productivity out of your MFD you should ask and even test the MFD that you are considering buying.

Smart MFD (or Smart MFP) = a Multi Functional Device that has an operating system that allows you to add applications that will extend the abilities of the MFD. The two major flavors seem to be a Java or HTML type of applications, both have separate strengths and weaknesses that we may discuss in a future blog. This is the future of our industry. Like Harley Davidson we find that customizing a good product to better meet your customers wants and needs will build a loyal following of customers that will tell their friends and colleagues about you and your company.

Vince McHugh
VP \ Network Solutions


  1. Interesting seeing a different viewpoint. From my perspective within the industry, the MFP term represented Multifunction Peripheral, originating from the time that printers and scanners were components peripheral to computers; i.e., attached to a host computer through a local interface such as RS-232 or IEEE1284 (Centronics). As some devices became stand-alone with powerful processors and network interfaces, it was more appropriate to distinguish them by calling them Mulifunction Devices. Nominally, simple multifunction imaging units that have only a local interface (e.g., USB) should still be called MFPs. On the other hand, MFP is such a well recognized term that particularly marketing people still insist upon upon it for all hard-copy devices. Multifuntion printer was largely a way of justifying the continued use of the MFP term, although also came to mean a basic printer with some additional imaging services. Also, the MFD term does not mean that all imaging hardcopy services are supported, only more than just one. And relatively few MFDs will run all services independently. Again, just my take on the origin and use of the term.


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