If you want to buy an A0 flatbed scanner, we have bad news for you. Scanning fragile documents that are up to A0 requires a special equipment.
The good news is that we know most scanners that can do this. Even more important is the fact that we know which one can deliver superior color quality and will work for most large documents.
Initially we will look at what makes a great large flatbed scanner and then we will show you some of the machines available on the market.
|Scanning Area||1270 x 915 mm||1270 x 915 mm||841 x 1189mm|
|Optical scanning resolution||1200dpi||1000dpi||600dpi|
12 sec 300dpi
17 sec 300dpi Fast Mode
|60 sec 300dpi|
|Foldable machine for normal door access||YES||NOT POSSIBLE||NOT POSSIBLE|
|Flat surface 3D Mode||YES||Not mentioned||Not mentioned|
|Weight||250 pounds||400 pounds||400 pounds|
|Price||Get The Price||Get The Price||Get The Price|
How an A0 Flatbed Scanner Works
An A0 flatbed scanner works in the following way:
- Place a document on the scanning area. The size of the scanbed glass has to be at least 914mm by 1189mm. The material you scan can be a paper document or a flat surface of different composition. It can even be fragile artwork.
- Once you have aligned the material on the glass, press the scan button.
- The scanning head will move from one side to the other and capture the document or the surface of your object. It should capture the entire A0 scanning surface by doing image stitching.
- As soon as the head movement is over, you should have your image on the computer monitor. Analyse if you have captured every detail.
- If the result is good, you have successfully scanned using your A0 flatbed scanner.
Specifications of a good A0 Flatbed Scanner
Lets say you are in the market for a good flatbed scanner that will scan large format documents up to A0. Let’s dive into the most important aspects you should look into.
Optical resolution is usually defined as the physical resolution at which a device captures an image.
In more simple terms, the optical resolution will be critical for the level of sharpness an image will have. For example, if you capture an A4 document at an optical resolution of 300DPI, the generated file should have 2480 pixels by 3508 pixels. When the pixels are under this value, your A4 does not have an optical resolution of 300dpi.
If you need a flatbed scanner to capture large documents, you will need an optical resolution of at least 600dpi. This means that your A0 image file should have 9933 pixels by 14043 pixels. The value should be native, and the resolution should not be interpolated.
Resolution interpolation is splitting each native pixels in more pixels. In reality, this won’t give you better sharpness. That is why the industry standard is the optical resolution. The bigger the optical dpi the better the sharpness. Interpolating the resolution will only give you a heavier file, with more pixels, but the sharpness and accuracy of the image will stay the same.
Our article explains how to choose the scanning resolution based on certain requirements.
Scanning Area and Speed
Having a high optical resolution is one thing, the duration of the scanning process is another.
First of all, the scanner should be able to scan an A0 document. Such a large document will be 841mm by 1189mm, or 33.11 by 46.81 inches. The second thing is to make sure the scanner will achieve 600dpi optical for this scanning size.
If the above requirements are completed, you should now check the actual scanning speed. For an A0 at 300dpi, the scanning speed should be around 10-12 seconds. Given that you will scan most drawings at this resolution, you should be able to easily scan 2 every minute.
Scanning at 600dpi should take a bit more, maybe even double, somewhere around 20 seconds, give or take. Remember, you won’t scan many materials at this resolution, but you need the machine to be able to work at this DPI in a decent time. If it takes a minute to scan each one, when you also add the time lost with manipulating materials, the scanning process won’t be feasible.
A large flatbed scanner does not need very complicated software. At the same time, it still needs specific settings which will be used for different materials, documents or even specific artwork.
First things first, the scanner and software must offer superior color quality. This means that when you scan in color, it should allow for basic adjustments, such as brightness or contrast. It must also feature more complex settings, such as exposure, threshold and even ICC color calibration.
The second features refer to cropping and deskew. What we love about A0 flatbed scanners is that you can lay more materials on the glass, and capture them separately. This means that you can do multi cropping in the same image. A feature like multi-cropping is great to reduce processing times for larger batches of documents.
If you want to learn more about this read our articles about how scanner cropping works and how scanner deskew works.
You should also look into digital file formats. The software must be able to export images to PDF, single or multi-page, TIFF, JPEG, PNG and even should be able to OCR to Word file formats.
In general, we buy flatbed scanners to scan documents that can be feed through an ADF scanner. More or less, the same thing applies to large flatbed scanners.
- Capture fragile documents – As you probably know, the alternative to an A0 flatbed scanner is the standard large format scanner, that drives the document through it’s rollers. When you are scanning large fragile documents, you can’t use a standard large format scanner. Therefore, A0 flatbeds are the only viable choice, without risking the integrity of your materials.
- Thicker or rigid materials – In some cases you will have to scan flat surfaces of thicker or actual 3D objects. A large flatbed is the only choice you have in such a case, especially when the surface is larger than your average A3 flatbed.
- Special materials – There are certain special materials that can be scanned while moving that material. In those cases, you should rely on a large scanning flatbed. It will yield the best scanning accuracy as the material is sitting still while scanning.
The best A0 Flatbed Scanner
We have identified a couple of A0 flatbed machines currently on the market. Only one of them really stands out: the SMA Versascan 3650.
Let’s dive a bit into the specifications of this scanner and see what it can do.
- Scanning Area and Resolution – Larger than A0, 1270mm by 915mm or 50 by 36 inch. This is larger than a standard A0. The optical capture resolution is 600x1200dpi. This means that even the smallest details will be visible in the image file.
- Color depth – This scanner will scan in Color 36/8 bit, Grayscale and Bitonal. It even has a photo mode which is more or less an enhanced halftone.
- Scanning Speed – The speed is around 12 seconds at 300dpi and 24 seconds at 600dpi. That is two A0 drawings per minute.
- The scanner is designed with Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. This results in very quick loading and transfer times. Remember, the files will be very large, so you need to make sure you can transfer them quickly after scanning.
- Dimensions and weight – The dimensions of the scanner are indeed large, as you’d expect from an A0 flatbed scanner. But the entire machine can be folded, and easily transported from a room to another. This is a major advantage, as you don’t want to take the building down when you do have to move it. Weight is pretty low too, around 250 pounds.
Competitors to the SMA Versascan 3650
There are 2 competitors to the Versascan 3650, the Kurabo K-IS-A0FW and the Microtek LS-4600.
Even though we have listed 3 alternatives, the SMA Versascan is the only machine that is market ready and has more than 100 installations. The other two are experimental products and they are not really market ready.
If you look carefully at the comparison table at the top of the page, you can easily spot what the problems are with the other 2 machines.
Operating the other two machines is not feasible in real life. They cost too much, they are underdeveloped and also take up too much space.
I really recommend you contact us to find out more why the Versascan is way better than the rest.
SMA Versascan 3650 Price
The price of the SMA Versascan 3650 or the other models of the Versascan series is more or less in the market region. To check for the exact price of the machine, just contact the manufacturer and they will provide the exact value in your market.
Even more, for light customization, you can check with us and we will try to help you with the manufacturer. There are numerous projects around the world which need modified scanners.
Let us know what your project requires and we will get back to you with the appropriate solution.
Which A0 flatbed scanner should I buy
From our point of view, it’s a clear win. The Versascan 3650 just makes sense. It has the following main advantages:
- It scans faster and at a much higher resolution than the other two
- The scanning size is bigger than the Microtek model and just as large as the Kurabo scanner.
- SMA’s machine is foldable, which means you can angle the flatbed at 90degrees and move it through just about any standard door. The other two scanners are giant boxes. You will either need a plane hangar or you’ll have to take doors and walls down to install one. And once you do that, it will not move out, as you’d have to take the doors down again.
- It is much lighter than the two which means it’s easier to move around.
- The best thing of all is the market feedback. There are lots of Versascans running well all around the world. I have never heard of installations of the other two machines.