Digitizing long or wide documents can create enormous challenges. A large format scanner is your best solution.
Scanners allow us to create digital reproductions of the objects around us, from paperwork to entire books. Sometimes, however, organizations need to digitize something huge — posters, banners, complete newspaper sheets, engineering diagrams, or even architectural blueprints. In these cases, a large format scanner is essential for capturing every detail from any document in the highest possible resolution.
When choosing a large format scanner, you need to consider which ones meet your requirements, such as size or how they handle delicate documents. This guide will help you review key features for large-format scanners and make an informed decision before you buy.
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A large format scanner — sometimes called a wide format or blueprint scanner — is a device capable of digitizing oversized documents. Some models use an integrated flatbed, while others use a wide automated feeder. Whatever the approach, each model is capable of scanning surfaces of 11 by 17 inches or larger.
Thanks to all of this available space, large format scanners are ideal for digitizing any of the following:
- Newspapers, magazines, and oversized books
- Blueprints, engineering drawings, and architectural renders
- Product designs for manufacturing industries
- Topographic maps, aerial photographs, and satellite images
- Posters and banners
- Circuit drawings for electricians
- Fine art, such as canvas paintings and portraits
Many workplaces scan documents into digital formats for storage purposes, reducing the need for physical backups. Unfortunately, most scanners cannot help you with documents of larger sizes than standard letter paper. Without a digital backup option, businesses are forced to maintain physical archives that — thanks to the large document size — take up far more storage space.
Some industries work with oversized documents by default. Most notably, architects and engineers use 17 x 22-inch blueprints or larger to ensure small details are clearly visible. However, when it’s time to digitize these pages, these workplaces need something more than a traditional scanner. A blueprint scanner makes this process far easier in engineering fields, particularly when processing a high volume of documents using an automated feeder.
Modern businesses use standard paper sizes to keep their documents compatible across industries and borders. Unfortunately, organizations that deal in historic or cultural preservation rarely have that luxury. Even the relatively recent news broadsheets that inspired modern-day newspapers had an average length of 22 inches. In these cases, historians need specialized equipment for any hope of digitizing documents at high resolutions.
A large format scanner is an effective and scalable solution for documents of various sizes and materials. Models with an integrated flatbed are especially advantageous because they can scan thick and oversized objects. Large scanners are essential for museums, archives, and art galleries that aim to preserve classic works for future generations.
Some documents are so fragile or sensitive to environmental changes that the scanning process can damage them beyond repair. This creates unique challenges for anyone working with vintage books or delicate paper. Large format scanners with a built-in flatbed address this problem, keeping documents away from paper feeders and moving machinery. Once you’ve guaranteed the object can sit comfortably within the scanning space, it’s far easier for an operator to create copies and protect the original work.
Did You Know? The SV600 can scan documents up to 30mm thick - completely contactless. Click here to learn more.
The most crucial consideration when choosing any scanner is whether it supports the documents you will scan most frequently. In North America, these measurements are standardized using a model created by the American National Standards Institute.
|Document Size||Dimensions (Inches)|
|ANSI A||8.5 x 11 (Letter)|
|ANSI B||11 x 17 (Ledger)|
|ANSI C||17 x 22|
|ANSI D||22 X 34|
|ANSI E||34 x 44|
Although there is no universal standard as to what is considered a large format scanner, it would be fair to label a scanner that can support ANSI B or above as such. However, that does not mean every large format scanner supports every large document. For example, if you are scanning ANSI C engineering paper, a scanner with an ANSI B maximum cannot meet your needs. Nevertheless, these measurements can act as a helpful baseline for determining which model is suitable.
Of all scanners, large format models generally take up alot of space in a room. That’s not necessarily true for every device — especially if it uses a wide paper feeder instead of a flatbed — but anyone working with ANSI E documents usually needs a dedicated scanning space. Before purchasing a large format scanner, find out whether your work area can accommodate an oversized device.
Some businesses use document scanners to create digital reproductions of unique items. Others simply need to scan multiple oversized documents as fast as possible. The former group is best served with a flatbed that accommodates objects of varying sizes and thicknesses. The latter will prefer an automated document feeder that scans poster and banner-sized paper at high speeds.
Some large format scanners have both a feeder and a flatbed. When choosing between two devices, always check to see which one fulfills your most urgent requirements.
Did You Know? ScannerNote hailed the fi-7700 as “one of the best document scanners on the market,” praising the fact that users can feed the scanner without interrupting the scanning process. Click here to read the full review and learn why it earned a 5 out of 5 rating.
Those in the market for a large format scanner have no shortage of options. We take great pride in having spent the last 50+ years researching, designing, and developing some of the most advanced and powerful electronics in the world, including our production grade fi and SP Series scanners.
Built to purpose for the most demanding document handling jobs, fi and SP Series scanners are capable of processing tens-of-thousands of pages per day at the highest levels of accuracy. Their intuitive integration capabilities with all existing work suites minimize time-to-value for businesses looking to invest in tools that will pay dividends for years to come.
For businesses that need an adaptable large format scanner for professional workloads, we recommend the fi-7700. This model features a 300-page automatic document feeder for standard-sized documents and a 12 by 18 inch flatbed for larger scans, each with an impressive optical resolution of 600 DPI. The flatbed’s cover-open cropping feature makes it fast and easy to scan a series of large documents, as well. Click here to learn more or shop the rest of our production scanner line.