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What Is A Flatbed Scanner?

A scanner is an electrical device used to optically scan printed texts, images, handwritten documents and more. It then converts the scanned document into a digital image which is then saved on a computer. Different types of scanners are available for purchase, examples are the flatbed scanner and the hand-held scanner.

A Flatbed Scanner is a type of optical scanner which uses a flat glassy surface for scanning documents. Its main outstanding feature is that it is capable of photographing an entire document and does not require movement of the document during the scanning process.

This scanner can be used to scan frail materials such as papers, vintage photographs and other delicate documents. It can simply be called a flatbed.

Flatbed scanners use the data fed into it to produce high-quality scans. Normally they have a max resolution of nothing less than 300 dpi and 256 grey tones and are capable of scanning thick objects. This means that they have a wider range of use than the sheath-fed scanner. Flatbed scanners reduce the risk of document damage during scanning because documents don’t need to be moved about during the scanning process, unlike in drum or handheld scanners. Flatbeds can be used on magazines, books and other thick objects. This scanner saves your time as it works at high speed.

Sheet feeders are present in flatbed scanners and this is what makes it possible for this device to scan multiple sheets of paper rather than one at a time. This makes it better than your typical sheet fed scanner, which accepts only a paper at a time. Flatbeds offer a better-quality scan than others like the handheld scanner as the original material remains fixed in a flatbed throughout the scanning process, therefore, reducing chances of error.

Last update on 2021-10-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Types of Flatbed Scanner

There are two main types of flatbed scanners.

  • The CCD (charge-coupled device): this type of scanner offers a large colour gamut and work at high speed, this makes it efficient. The only problem is that it has to be regularly calibrated and does not have the ability to capture extremely wide images.
  • The CIS (contact image sensor): this is a newer model of a flatbed scanner and so it uses a newer technology. It is a power-saving scanner. In this type of flatbed scanner, the image sensor is positioned much closer to the document which is to be scanned. It has a much shorter warm-up time and does not require frequent calibration as the CCD scanner do. They produce lower quality images.

How Does a Flatbed Scanner Work

A flatbed scanner works like a digital camera only that it uses its mechanical and optic parts to create a digital image from the inputted document. A flatbed scanner only needs you to load the document and start the device.

Inputting the Document to be scanned

Position the document on the glassy surface of the scanner and close the lid of the machine. The glassy surface and the lid holds the document in a fixed position so the sensors can scan the document.

How the Scanning Happens

After inputting the document, a mobile belt which is located in the flatbed slides a light source across the surface of the document. This light is then reflected back onto the machine and then to the lens by a set of mirrors. Its lens contains a photosensitive element which detects differences in reflected light as different shades of colour while the electronic light-sensitive circuit which is also present in the flatbed converts the reflected light into digital information. This digital information is then saved in JPG, PNG or TIFF formats and sent to a computer device through a cable to be saved.

How is a Flatbed Scanner Used? 

To use a flatbed scanner, there are some steps that must be followed and they are explained below;

Step 1: Connect the scanner to a wall socket and put it on.

Step 2: Connect the device to the computer you which to use in saving the scanned document.

Step 3: start the scanner by following these steps: click on Start then All Programs. After this has been done, click on Epson and then Epson Scan.

Step 4: Set the mode of the scanner to ‘professional’.

Step 5: put the document you wish to scan in the scanner and click on the scan option. After you do this, a window showing “File Save Settings” will appear.

Step 6: Click ‘OK’ on the file save settings and the document will be scanned. When you are done scanning the document, you will be provided with the options to either add or save the document.

Step 7: if you wish to scan further, click on “Add” but if you wish to end the scanning there, click on “save”.

If you’ve followed the processes I have up listed, then with your flatbed scanner, you have successfully scanned your document. The scanned document will be saved in a default location which is ‘my document’.

What Technology does a Flatbed Scanner use?

There is more than one type of flatbed scanner and these different types use their own technology.

One type of flatbed is the CCD (charge-coupled device). In this type of flatbed, a bright light shines on the document to be scanned while an array of capacitors transverse the image, reading its entire surface. When light strikes a CCD’s in the array, electrons in the semiconducting materials are let loose.

These electrons then create a charge that is equal to the intensity of the light. This whole process takes place over and over again until the array of capacitors gets to the end of the image and the consequent sequence of charges is digitized. In flatbed scanners, a one-dimensional array which moves over the surface of the image is used unlike in digital cameras where two-dimensional arrays are used.

Another type of flatbed scanner is the Contact Image Sensors (CIS) flatbed scanner. As the name implies, this type of flatbed uses Contact Image Sensors. This scanner also makes use of red, green and blue LEDs to produce the white light they need, unlike the CCD which uses mirrors and lenses for the same function.

In CIS scanner, the document to be scanned is kept in close proximity to the LED sensors which are placed in a single row. This technology consumes less power than the previous because it uses LEDs instead of xenon or cathode lights. One setback to this technology is that it requires the document to be so close to the glass due to its poor field of focus which is not acceptable. This makes scanning of the gutters in thick books really difficult.

How Do I Calibrate a Flatbed Scanner?

Firstly, calibration is done so your scanner can represent colours accurately. This is necessary for a quality scan.

How is it done?

Step 1: Connect the scanner to a computer if it’s not already connected.

Step 2: Your calibration target should then be scanned and saved as a TIFF file.

Step 3: Type the settings in the activity overview.

Step 4: Click on settings then devices in the sidebar.

Step 5: Open the panel by clicking on a colour in the sidebar.

Step 6: Select the scanner you wish to calibrate.

Step 7: Click on calibrate.

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Last update on 2021-10-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How do you scan negatives using a flatbed scanner? 

Some of us have some old negatives which we wish to digitise for easy storage, sharing, and management and don’t have the fund for powerful and costly slide scanners for developing negatives. Don’t worry with a less costly scanner like the flatbed scanner you can still achieve this.

What are the negatives?

Before the invention of digital cameras, photography was done with analogue cameras. Those analogy cameras made use of negative films to capture images. Negative films are made of plastic materials. In film negatives, films are black at areas where the subject is lightest and clear at the darkest areas of the subject. This arrangement makes it possible for the images to be converted into photographs by returning light and dark areas of the image to their original shade.

How it is done;

Step 1: From the film strip, cut out the negative you want to scan. Next using a micro-fibre cloth, clean out any dust or fingerprints that may be on the negative.

Step 2: On the scanning bed, place the negative you want to scan and make sure to position it properly. Next, when the negative is still in that position, place an 8-1/2 x 11 paper on it.

Step 3: Illuminate the negative so you can project the image you wish to scan. The illumination should be done by directing light from a lamp to the negative. When the lid of the scanner is open, change the position of the lamp to one which is 4 to 6 inches higher than the paper and the negative inferior to it.

Step 4: Activate the software for scanning and then click on “Scan” or “Preview”. When the scan is done, crop the image leaving out only the one on the negative. When you are done cropping the image, scan it again. The resulting image should then be stored in JPEG or GIF format.