By Olivia Cahoon
Part 1 of 2
Wide format scanners are used in storage and archiving for technical document printing to recreating a fine art print. Many models are combined with a printer to create a multifunction device for a one-stop shop.
In part one of this two-part series, we discuss the importance of high-end scanning and how recent advancements position multifunction devices to serve beyond technical markets.
The Importance of High-End Devices
The market for wide format scanning technology is based on how an image is captured and the sophistication of the software. Image capture is divided into Contact Image Sensor (CIS) and Charge Coupled Device (CCD). CIS is LED based and CCD is camera based technology.
CIS scanners are used to capture drawings in architectural, engineering, construction, oil and gas, and utility environments. For geographical information systems (GIS), land management, photography, and applications where full-page graphics are captured, CCD scans are utilized. Gregg Kockler, product manager, HP, Inc., shares that CIS scanners offer convenience scanning while CCD scanners are for more demanding customers that require production scanning.
Randy Geesman, president, Paradigm Imaging Group, adds that standalone wide format scanners—both CIS and CCD—are used for historical documents, fabric and garment patterns, and objects like wood, tile, or jewelry. “One recent trend in wide format scanning is the growing need for desktop scanning and for scanners that are portable so they can be moved easily to temporary or remote locations where the use of the scanner is short term,” says Geesman.
Construction industries utilize this technology because scanning is often needed on the jobsite. Geesman explains that scanners used as part of a multifunction or copy application are in two forms—single or dual footprint configurations. Single footprint configurations have the scanner positioned above the printer while dual footprint configurations have a separate footprint with the scanner and printer.
Geesman stresses that high-end scanners provide greater productivity based on the scan speeds. He says that CCD scanners, while at the high end of the price spectrum, aid color critical applications while CIS technology provides sharpness and detail at a lower price.
The Evolution of Scanners
In the late 1980s, wide format scanners took three to five minutes to capture a B&W document. Geesman says that color scanners didn’t exist and optical resolutions were 200 dpi. “Today, a document can be captured in eight to ten seconds in full color,” he adds. Now dpi is as high as 1,200, and software features exist to create filters that improve image quality and direct the image data to a printer using ICC.
Shortly after they became popular, wide format scanners were used to bring analog documents into the digital world so that paper archives were transformed into digital data for easier storage, management, and access, says Steve Blanken, GM, Contex.
As technology advanced, wide format combined with printers to create a multifunctional device. These machines surpass scanning and offer printing, copying, and sometimes faxing. However, this technology has not yet been perfected. Blanken believes that standalone scanners are more productive than multifunction devices and deliver higher quality scans, especially in color.
“They are usually much slower and the software is very basic and limited,” says Geesman. He adds that multifunction devices are at an uncomfortable position and height, and they are not well suited for documents where color is critical.
Despite these challenges, wide format scanners remain relevant as recent trends appear. Geesman notes that there is a growing need for desktop scanning, printing, and copying and portability is essential for easier transportation from temporary to remote locations during short-term usage.
Blanken sees these devices used as communication tools with the capability to connect physically or virtually to computers, tablets, phones, printers, and the cloud.
Going Beyond Technical Markets
Traditionally used in the technical market, wide format scanners—and more specifically multifunction devices—are being used elsewhere thanks to technology advancements. Scanners using CCD technology are configured with high-end output devices for giclée printing and fine art reproduction.
“In the large format scanner world, it is imperative for our survival that we get outside of the technical space as the technical now creates everything digitally, so scanning is not nearly important,” advises Blanken. He adds that market share growth has expanded since multifunction scanners came underway.
Kockler points out that several HP products use a CCD scanner in applications that involve land management, photography, and GIS like maps and satellite images. He adds that different government defense agencies also use them heavily.
Wide Format Scanners
Wide format scanners are now used in numerous environments including architectural, fine art, photography, and technical markets. They have wide format scanners have advanced to multifunction devices that include copy, print, and fax capabilities. In part two of this series, we provide a roundup of available wide format scanners.
Click here to read part two of this exclusive online series, The Scanning Space.
Click on the link above to get more information on the vendors mentioned in this article.
Feb2017, Digital Output DOSCA1702