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How do Digital Copiers Work?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 16, 2024
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Digital copiers have largely replaced analog photocopy machines as standard office equipment throughout the world. The advanced technology is better for the environment than the old machines, and may also be easier to maintain and repair. By combining the functions of a document scanner and a laser printer, the device has revolutionized the field of photocopying.

Traditional, or analog, copiers work by combining a positively charged drum and negatively charged substance called toner to recreate the image of the original document on a new piece of paper. To create additional copies, analog machines would have to recopy the original each time. Digital machines work like a computer document scanner; they store the data as a file that can then be reprinted repeatedly, altered, or saved.

The printing mechanism acts like a modern laser printer. The printer quickly memorizes the entire document scanned through a Raster Image Processor (RIP) and creates the page in the raster memory. Through lenses and mirrors, a laser imprints a piece of paper with the image, which is then made visible through toner with an opposite charge.

One of the benefits of digital copiers is the ability to create multiple sets of copies from one scan. If a person needs five copies of a packet of five papers, he will only need to run the original through once and the copier will produce the copies freely. While on small jobs this may not seem like a time saver, when the person is making 100 or 1,000 copies, it enables him to walk away from the copier and work on other things while it makes completes the job.

Image quality is usually considerably higher on a digital copier than an analog model. Because of the scanning technology used, duplicates can be indistinguishable from the originals. If the original is not clear or not vivid enough, these copiers also allow the user to change the intensity and saturation for the copies, so the duplicates may actually look better than the original document.

Nearly all copiers on the market currently use digital technology. Their advanced capabilities make them faster, quieter, and less time consuming to use or set up than traditional versions. Business models can be quite expensive, and the price rises with additional advanced features.

Almost all major copy machine makers use digital technology exclusively. Shoppers should consider the needs of their business or enterprise carefully they choose which copier to buy. It may be one of the most useful machines in an entire operation, and an office's administrative assistants may quickly become frustrated with a low quality machine.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for EasyTechJunkie. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By Pharoah — On Aug 23, 2012

@Ted41 - Wow, all the spying at offices has really gotten out of hand. I've heard of companies installing security cameras, looking through emails, and even installing key loggers on computers. But I have never heard of anyone checking the files on digital color copiers to see if employees are misusing them!

By Ted41 — On Aug 22, 2012

It sounds really great that a digital copier laser printer will store a digital file of whatever it if you're copying. However, I have a friend who actually got in trouble at her office because of this!

She used the office copier to make a copy of something that was personal, not work related. She didn't realize that her boss was able to look at all the stuff that was copied throughout the day (and did so, frequently). She got a warning, and had to pay for the materials she used to make all those copies.

By LoriCharlie — On Aug 21, 2012

@KaBoom - A digital printer copier can definitely increase productivity. However, sometimes they can be a huge pain. At my old office, one of the computers just wouldn't connect to our printer. This doesn't seem like a big deal, but it was.

Since the computer wouldn't connect to the printer, the person who used the printer couldn't print anything. However, they also couldn't make scans or do anything else that needed the computer to "talk" to the printer. It was annoying, and we never were able to fix the problem.

By KaBoom — On Aug 20, 2012

We had a digital copier printer at my last office, and it definitely came in handy. As the article said, it was great to be able to step away from the machine while it was making copies and go do something else. Standing in front of a copy machine and making a hundred copies is definitely a waste of time!

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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