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Scanning Methods & Formats

There are several methods of scanning that could be used to convert your materials in to a digital format.  As to what method, would be determined by the source needing to be converted.  The are seven standard methods that are used today for scanning. Once the materials or objects are scanned in then they are converted to a digital file to be stored for later use.  These file formats are also determined by the future use of that digital file.  See (File Format & Definitions) for additional information.

Below is a brief listing on the different scanning methods.

Flatbed scanners are the best-known and largest selling scanner type, and with good reason. They're versatile, easy to operate, and widely available. Their popularity for Web publishing has opened up a huge market.  At the other end, professional units for the color graphics market now rival drum scanners in quality. All use the same basic technology, in which a light sensor (generally a CCD) and a light source, both mounted on a moving arm, sweep past the stationary document on a glass platen. Automatic document handlers (ADH) are available on some models, and can increase throughput and lessen operator fatigue for sets of uniform documents in reasonably good condition. A specialized variant of the flatbed scanner is the overhead book scanner, in which the scanner's light source, sensor array and optics are moved to an overhead arm assembly under which a bound volume can be placed face up for scanning.

Sheet feed Scanners 
Sheet feed scanners use the same basic technology as flatbeds, but maximize throughput, usually at the expense of quality. Generally designed for high-volume business environments, they typically scan in black and white or gray scale at relatively low resolutions. Documents are expected to be of uniform size and sturdy enough to endure fairly rough handling, although the transport mechanisms on some newer models reduces the stress. Using roller, belt, drum, or vacuum transport, the light sensor and light source remain stationary while the document is moved past. An important subclass of sheet feed scanners are upright models specifically designed for oversize documents such as maps and architectural drawings. 

Drum Scanners 
Drum scanners produce the highest resolution and highest quality scans of any scanner type. In addition to the higher cost, drum scanners are slow, not suitable for brittle documents and require a high level of operator skill. Thus they are typically found in service bureaus that cater to the color pre-press market. 

Microfilm Scanners 
Microfilm scanners are highly specialized devices for digitizing roll film, fiche, and aperture cards.

Slide Scanners 
Slide scanners are used to digitize existing slide libraries as well as photo intermediates of 3-dimensional objects and documents that are not well-suited for direct scanning, though more and more such objects will be captured directly by digital camera. The use of transparent media generally delivers an image with good dynamic range, but depending on the size of the original, the resolution may be insufficient for some needs.

Digital Cameras 
Digital cameras combine a scanner with camera optics to form a versatile tool that can produce superior quality images. Though slower and more difficult to use than flatbed scanners, digital cameras are adaptable to a wide array of documents and objects. Digital camera technology continues to improve, helped along by the growing consumer market.

3D Scanners 
3D scanners are a fast way of placing the measurements of an object onto the computer in an detailed manner, resulting in what is known as 3D scan data. Generally, the 3D scan data is represented with an accurate digital scale model or a 3D graphical rendering. Once the data is on the computer, all of the physical dimensions of the object can be taken, such as length, width, volume, height, size, location, surface area, etc.


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