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Digital Copiers:

How they improve on conventional photocopiers

"Digital" — whether referring to recorders, video players or cameras — has become the watchword for all things new and innovative. Given this fact, it's not surprising that digital technology has also revolutionized copy machines.

When they first appeared a few years ago, digital copiers were 20 to 50 percent more expensive than conventional copiers. Now they're often just as affordable — and better.

Digital — and fundamentally different

Traditional photocopiers use either a moving or a static scanning device to capture images for copying. Moving scanning devices pass over a document multiple times, once for each copy being produced. Static devices use repeated flashes — one flash per copy (think of them as clicks of a camera).

A digital copier, on the other hand, uses optical technology to scan the image once. It then stores that image and prints copies using either inkjet or laser printing methods.

The advantages of digital copying

The difference between conventional (or analog) and digital copiers is great enough that analog copiers will eventually be phased out altogether. Digital copiers are superior because they:

  • Make less noise: Even if the old photocopier is down the hall, everyone can hear it churning out copy jobs. The noise is the result of the repetitive scanning methods it uses. Digital copiers have fewer moving parts and are much quieter.
  • Are better at reproducing fine details: Digital copiers, and most conventional copiers, produce copies with sharp text. Digital copiers, however, are better at rendering graphics and the small lines that appear in graphs and blueprints.
  • Have a broader reduce/enlarge scale: All digital copiers can reduce and enlarge copies by 50 and 200%, respectively, and many reduce/enlarge by 25 and 400%. Most conventional photocopiers reduce/enlarge by 70 and 141%, while only high–end models have a range that extends to 50 and 200%.
  • Often require fewer repairs: Digital copiers have fewer moving parts than conventional copiers. This means fewer parts that can break or malfunction and need repairing. While this isn't always the case, and there aren't any guarantees, many users find digital copiers require less maintenance.
  • Often double as printers and scanners: Many digital copiers can attach to a computer, or to a network, and serve as a printer and scanner. This saves money by collapsing several machines into one. And it saves time by cutting down on trips between the printer and the copier.

Inkjet and laser

Digital copiers use either laser or inkjet technology to produce copies. The main difference: inkjet digital copiers can produce color copies, laser copiers can't. One exception: Digital color laser copiers. Digital color lasers copiers cost more than inkjet and laser copiers, however, and are suited only to businesses that produce large volumes of color copies.

If you plan to print mostly in color, but not in large volumes, then you might want to opt for an inkjet digital copier. If you plan to copy in black in white, opt for a laser digital copier.


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