The Datamax Thinking Blog

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Do-It-Yourself Large Format Scanning

Does your business offer large-format printing services? Here are some key tips and tricks that will help you remain productive when undertaking a large format scanning production and process.

Prep Your Documents. Large-format drawings can require a lot of repair and preparation. Always check for staples and notes—some of which may be attached to the middle of the document—and tape torn edges. If a large document has been rolled up and stored, it may need to be reverse rolled or flattened out for at least 48 hours. Dust can damage a scanner’s glass, so be sure to vacuum stored drawings. Don’t be scared to get out an iron and ironing board to get  drawings flat enough to scan.

Sorting Methods. Determine whether your project’s drawings should be sorted by size and/or by quality. This minimizes the time spent changing settings during the scanning process. Remember that PDF and JPG formats have limitations—up to 100 inches—to scanning.

Drawings-by-Numbers. Consider applying a unique ID number based on project and drawing. Labeled stickers instead of stamps or ink, which bleeds on Mylar, will help identify that the drawing has been scanned. ID numbers also help with quality assurance and avoid duplicating work.

Name Your Files. Unless you have a document management system, you will need to have a special file naming system. When scanning projects, use a constant file name for the project and have sequential numbers to identify and follow individual drawings.

Multi or Single Page Scanning. Sets of drawings can be scanned as a single image or a multipage document. You will need to change your format to a PDF to get monochrome and color images into one file.

To Color or Not. Highlighted data can become a black block if you scan it as a monochrome with incorrect setting. Scanning in grayscale or color allows you to capture the information so that data is as easily readable as is the original. With the correct software you can convert grayscale images back to monochrome images.

Resolution. According to AIIM Standards, large format, 11 x 17 or larger, documents should be scanned at 300 dpi resolution.

Quality Assurance. All drawings should be verified to confirm that the edges have not been cut off and the settings were correctly set to capture the image at the highest quality. If a line is found from dirt or scratches, then the document will need to be rescanned.

Large format documents can be difficult to work with, but are essential to many industries and complete enterprise-wide document management.