A Market Overview
by Melissa Tetreault
Part 1 of a 4-part exclusive online seriesWide format scanning continues to grow mainstream. Once thought of as a technology exclusively supporting CAD, architectural, and archive markets, improved technology and lower price points have opened the door to uses within the graphic arts.
In the next few issues of the Digital Queue we will explore a few of the unique business opportunities that have emerged. For our discussion we will include scanners with a scanning capability of 24 inches or wider.
Over a dozen wide format scanner manufacturers offer stand-alone and bundled solutions.
The past year experienced a shift towards all-in-one solutions. Barry Symonds, wide format product marketing manager for Xerox states, "The scanner market has become integral with the printing market. More and more we see customers that want to integrate scanning and printing functions in one device."
Whether scan to print, scan to file, or scan to copy, you can be assured that someone has a device suited to your needs.
Aztek Digital Photolab 2054
"The wide format scanner does its job very well – it has a niche," explains Aztek, Inc.’s VP of sales, Haddon Stevens.
The company, who became a player in the wide format scanner market in 1998, believes its Digital Photolab 2054 scanner is one wide format device that does its job very well. It can scan up to .6 –inch-thick originals ranging from foam board, gator board, and canvas art frames. The 54-inch scanner is used in a variety of applications, including color posters, architectural sketches, maps, drawings, and fine art professional media.
Canon imagePROGRAF W8400D with Colortrac Scanner System
This past May, Canon and Colortrac joined forces to create a premiere scanning workflow solution. Rich Reamer, senior manager of product marketing, says, "There’s a huge demand to bring everything in-house. This machine is really an all-in-one solution that can add more value to a print shop owner’s capabilities."
The W8400 D can scan to print in color or B&W at 3.36 inches per second (in/s) and 10 in/s respectively. At 44 inches in length the device is ideal for scanning maps, blueprints, etc. up to 40 inches wide. According to Brian Coombs, product planning associate for Canon, the decision to use Colortrac’s SmartLF Cx 40 scanner was based on its, "ability to capture fine detail, fine lines, and line renderings." One of the more attractive features is the variety of compatible software solutions that are available, such as PosterArtist, allowing users to custom create posters.
Colortrac SmartLF Cx 40
Colortrac’s SmartLF Cx 40 series scanners also operate as stand alone devices. There are three different versions of the Cx 40 – the 40m, 40c, and 40e. The 40m is a monochrome scanner that scans at 10.1 in/s; the 40c is a color scanner, scanning at .84 in/s (10.10 in/s monochrome); and the 40e is an enhanced color scanner that scans at 3.4 in/s (10.10 in/s monochrome).
A majority of the Cx 40’s customer base is found to be involved in scan to print applications, scan to archive, or scanning for data capture and data sharing. A benefit of the Colortrac scanner line is that they are created to be customer installable. Roger Ilgen, national director of sales for GEI Wide Format, the North American distributor for Colortrac SmartLF shares, "The technology that Colortrac uses to make the scanners is very user friendly so you don’t have to constantly re-stitch or re-calibrate the scanner. You just set it up and are ready to go, making it inexpensive to maintain."
Contex Chroma G600 and Crystal G600
Contex Scanning Technology’s marketing manager, Robert Gonzales, cites both their 42-inch Crystal G600 and Chroma G600 scanners as, "strong points in color and monochrome markets, particularly because of their use for CAD, GIS, and reprographics."
Helping to differentiate these two scanners from Contex’s competitors, continues Gonzales, is Contex’s advanced 48-bit CCD Technology. "We pride ourselves on scanners capturing 48 bits of color data." The technology is targeted for 90,000 pixel image capture, which Contex believes is four times more pixels than most other scanners on the market today.
Cruse Synchron Table Fine Art (STFA) Scanner Series
Mike Lind, North American dealer for Cruse Digital Equipment, sees a lot of Cruse Digital’s customers in the art market. "A lot of our customers are museums that love to be able to scan their artwork in one piece. We want to help them do that," he states. The company has already started in that direction with their 4GB size file feature available with the STFA scanner series. The scanner is used for mapping, color paintings, and fine art reproductions. Cruse has even sold STFAs to NASA and Pentagon.
One popular option that comes with the machine is variable texture. If you use this mode, Lind explains, the result is that people end up wanting to touch the scanned piece, "because they can’t believe it is flat." To get this result, shadows are created in the texture mode to give the illusion of dimension.
Graphtec America CS500
Jane Hicks, GM of marketing at Graphtec America Inc. observes, "customers are using scanners as more than simply an input device. We are seeing more customers using scanners as a total scanning and copying solution." Graphtec’s 42-inch CS500 is one example of a total solution. The scanner is used for applications ranging from architectural, archiving, GIS, and reprographics.
Hicks explains that the CS500 is so popular because it uses CIS technology. "CIS technology provides higher geometric scanning accuracy, higher scanning reliability, higher scanning productivity, and the lowest technology cost," she states. Also, thanks to CIS technology, there is no warm-up time required.
GTCO CalComp ScanPlus Series
GTCO’s scanners are strongest in three applications, CAD -- architectural and engineering; mechanical CAD – manufacturing; and GIS -- mapping and planning. Their 36-inch scanners, the ScanPlus 6 LF436C and 6 LF736C, according to Bill Mitchell, product manager of large format scanners, are prevalent in the CAD market because of their primary usage to scan blueprints.
The scanners can scan 10 in/s and 12 in/s in monochrome, respectively. Mitchell believes this is their most appealing feature. Additionally, he feels the scanners offer maximum value because of the additional option of scanning in color. Another bonus is that the scanners possess the ability to serve as generic front ends to any digital printer. With this added functionality Mitchell categorizes both, "stand alone solutions with generic applications."
Hewlett-Packard (HP) Designjet 4500 Scanner
The HP Designjet 4500 scanner accepts original documents up to 43 inches wide, which allows for the archiving of maps and other architectural, engineering, or construction drawings a customer may need to scan. Michael Swack, graphic arts PR manager for HP, sees the scanner as a, "simple integration into the production environment, with powerful performance, and complete ease-of-use."
Another selling point is its, "seamless, simple integration into the workflow," which occurs because it is designed and optimized for use with HP Designjet printers including the 5000/5500 series, 4000/4500 series, 1000 series, and 500/800 series.
IDEAL.com Software Solutions
Scanning systems, hardware, and software working hand in hand, are the difference between an efficient system and one that is lagging, according to IDEAL.com’s Diane Mitol, director of marketing. She elaborates, "they improve communications and accountability, and reduce the time required for repetitive tasks."
This philosophy is evident in this Contex distributor’s ScanOS scanner operating software and ArchiveCenter large format document management software. The ScanOS is key for any scanner according to Mitol because, "it is versatile, the machine becomes an affordable multifunction scan to print system with it and allows you to use your multifunction scan to print device for scan to file."
Presently, Mitol shares, IDEAL/Contex’s Crystal 42-inch scanner is its most popular product on the market for a scan to print application. The scanner is one of the company’s Green scanners just released this past spring. Both environment friendly and energy efficient the Crystal 42-inch is certified Energy Star Compliant by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
KIP America KIP 2200
KIP America offers a wide range of both monochrome and color scanners. Its four stand-alone scanners scan B&W image data and grayscale at 400 dpi. The difference between the four is that they range in speed from 50 mm/s to 160 mm/s.
The company’s biggest selling stand-alone scanning system is the KIP 2200. A monochrome and color scanner with a scanning width of 36 inches, the machine scans any standard paper thickness including bond paper, film, and vellum. According to Steve Kozle, national marketing manager, it is the most popular stand alone scanner that KIP offers because it performs a, "full range of applications and eliminates the need for two different devices -- color and monochrome."
Used in the graphic arts for scanning photos and graphic renderings, the scanner’s differentiating factor as Kozle indicates is that it comes with KIP color and monochrome software.
Kyocera Mita KM-4850w MFP
Kyocera Mita America’s scanners are integrated with either its wide format MFPs or wide format plotters/printers. One such scanner is the KM-4850w MFP, which can scan documents up to 36 inches wide. The KM-4850w MFP is one of its more successful units because it can print, scan, and copy, and offers customers a, "single-footprint."
"The single-footprint is one such feature that Kyocera was the first manufacturer to market," says William Cassidy, associate director, product and solutions marketing for the company. "Kyocera’s reputation for reliability and durability, as well as the overall value we provide this market, have been some of the keys to our success."
Océ Scanning Systems
36-inch scanners are generally the most popular color scanners available from Océ. They attract more customers according to John Gallo, product manager of the color wide format printing systems division of Océ, because, "For color scanners, they are frequently teamed with inkjet printers to create an affordable copy device. This width scanner is also the most popular size for archiving purposes."
Among the monochrome scanners, Ana Versaggi, product manager for Océ’s monochrome line, observes that the Océ TDS600 is the most popular choice. "Besides the fact that all Océ monochrome scanners can also be connected to Océ printers to create integrated multifunction print/copy/scan systems, the Océ TDS600 is popular due to its ease of use, reliability, and versatility."
One of the key components of any Océ scanner is its Image Logic technology, which automatically retains the appropriate detail of the object being scanned and eliminates any background noise – "leaving crisp, clean drawings."
Vidar Wide Format Scanners
In July 2006, Vidar introduced several new scanners. The Lynx 25e color and monochrome scanner has a 48-bit CCD technology and is perfect for documents up to 25 inches. An additional feature, an industry benchmark for Vidar, is the machine’s scan accuracy of 0.1%+- 1 pixel. The 600e 42-inch family of color and monochrome scanners includes the Spectra 600e, Surveyor 600e, and Flash 600e. All of which, based on Vidar’s research, have an image capture that is four times higher than most 40-inch and 42-inch scanners offered by its competitors. The new Latitude 54-inch scanner can scan in 12 in/s in monochrome with the ability to scan anything from color posters, architectural sketches, detailed maps, and fine art.
Widecom Inc. Wide Format Scanners
According to Widecom Inc., it is the only manufacturer that offers 72-inch scanners. Its SLC Series 72-inch models are used in government organizations for scanning topographical data and aerial maps.
Kandarp Joshi says that his company’s most popular products, however, are the 36-inch SLC series scanners, used for scanning both blueprints and constructional drawings. Besides dodging the competition in the 72-inch market, a Widecom scanner can differentiate itself when it needs to with its Single Line Contact technology. Joshi explains, "the Single Line Contact technology was developed by Widecom. The end result of this technology is faster scanning speed and crisp scans."
Xerox 6204 Wide Format Solution
Xerox’s 6204 printer, copier, and scanner solution, "is a great option for customers transitioning from analog to digital printing or those entering the wide format printing market," shares Barry Symonds, wide format product marketing manager, Xerox Corporation.
The device scans images up to 36 inches in width and is easily a fit for any office because of its small footprint. Used for engineering, mechanical, and architectural drawings such as mapping the device is a, "low cost, fully featured, entry-level solution that has proven to be quite popular."
In Part 2 of the Wide Format Scanning series, we hear from manufacturers and end-users of scan-to-file technology.