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Profiting with Large-Format Scanning

(September 2008) posted on Thu Sep 11, 2008

Five shops share their viewpoints on digitizing on a large scale.

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By Clare Baker

Some jobs call for such precise image reproduction that even the highest-quality DSLR can’t do the trick. Or the sheer size of the image or object to be scanned logically requires a larger solution.

Enter the large-format scanner. Available in sheetfed, flatbed, and overhead formats, large-format scanners-those capable of handling originals 24-inches wide and larger-are the best solution for efficient and quality digitizing of the biggest source materials. For this reason, scanners continue to be a relevant tool in many print shops, and depending on the services a shop provides-like fine-art or blueprint reproduction-it’s can be a terribly important asset to many operations.

Here, a handful of print shop owners and managers discuss what role scanners play in their shops, their scanning workflows, how they’ve profited from scanning, and the role scanning will play in their shop’s future.

A one-stop shop
Digi-Type ( is truly a full-service print shop. With a staff of just five, the Rohnert Park, California-based operation can take projects from conceptualization to shipping, and offers business consulting, graphic design, prepress digital imaging, digital printing, and finishing along the way. For more than a year now, large-format scanning with a 36-inch Graphtec SK200 sheetfed scanner has been a necessary addition to the shop’s workflow.

Before investing in the Graphtec, Digi-Type offered scanning services in-house but these were limited to drum scanning. With its Howtek ScanMaster Pro 7500 drum scanner, the shop was able to reproduce high-quality fine-art images, but as Digi-Type imaging specialist Bruce McLeester explains, the time and cost of this procedure led the shop to investigate large-format scanning as an alternative.

"Traditionally, we would shoot a transparency of the artwork or stretched canvas with a view camera and the 4 x 5 or 8 x 10 transparency would be mounted on the drum scanner. While that’s still the way to get the highest-quality scan, the cost is pretty high." McLeester describes a typical conversation with a client before the purchase of the sheetfed unit: "A client brings in a piece of artwork and I tell them that we’ll first have to shoot a transparency, which will be $50, and then the scan will be $180 on the drum scanner."