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Scanning for a New Life in Print

(December 2011) posted on Tue Dec 13, 2011

How large-format scanners are driving new demand for print services.

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By Michael Antoniak

A scan for every plan
When building contractors, subcontractors, and construction engineers in the upper Midwest want to review plans or drawings, or see what’s out for bid, they can log onto the Online Planning Room, a service available to members of the Minneapolis Builders Exchange ( The non-profit association assists members of the construction industry with news and information on construction projects. At the site, they’ll find complete plans, architectural renderings, and blueprints for all types of current and upcoming projects in the organization’s service area of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and North and South Dakota. “We’ve got plans for all types of commercial and state construction projects –highways, schools, and every type of commercial building,” says Christopher Geiser, technical specialist.

On average, the organization processes documents for between 3000 and 15,000 projects a year. Geiser estimates 20,000 projects have been posted to the Online Planning Room since its launch about seven years ago.

As part of his varied responsibilities, he oversees conversion of paper plans and drawings for distribution in the Online Planning Room. Everything is digitized using an Océ CS-4342S large-format color flatbed/sheetfed scanner. The CS-4342S can handle originals up to 44-inches wide. “We spent a lot of time trying to find a scanner that could pick up the level of detail, the lines, and shading you’ll find in a blueprint,” he says.

The most common size for the original documents is either 24 x 36 or 30 x 42-inches. Each is manually fed or loaded onto the scanner by him or an assistant. “We try to keep the scans at 300 dpi, but can go as high as 600 dpi if we need to,” he says. If there are any issues, the page is scanned in the preview mode, and adjustments made with built-in software. “When the image comes out, it’s good to go.”

A typical project requires scanning anywhere from 50 to 100 sheets, he says. “On special projects like the Minnesota Twins stadium built a few years ago, there were between 600 and 700 sheets,” Geiser reports. Once the scans are complete, they’re assembled and published as a project to the interactive website.