While buying a scanner, the first question you might have to deal with is whether to choose flatbed or a sheetfed scanner.
So to make your life easier, here we have compared flatbed vs sheetfed scanners.
Both flatbed and sheetfed scanners are types of scanner that work differently and are designed to meet certain needs.
Each has its need and advantages so choosing the one is easy if you know how these two are different and what are their individual benefits.
You can match them to your scanning requirements and go for the one that best suits your objectives.
In this article, we will compare Flatbed vs Sheetfed Scanners and see how they are different and what their advantages are.
First, let’s see how they work.
What are Flatbed and Sheetfed Scanners?
Before we delve into the comparison between flatbed vs sheetfed scanners, let us look what they really are.
A flatbed scanner has a lid and underneath it, a glass panel.
The document is placed on the glass panel, the light illuminates the paper, and with the help of lens and CCD rays, the data is captured from the surface of the paper and later converted into digital data.
Read: Best Flatbed Scanners
Sheetfed scanners are also called Automatic Document Feeder. Though they use the same CCD rays but functions differently than the flatbed scanner.
Instead of a glass panel, they have a feeder in which documents are placed; they roll down to its image sensors ending in an output tray.
There are certain scanner that combine the function of both Sheetfed and Flatbed scanners.
These are generally a lot more expensive than singular function scanners, but they are worth it.
The scanners can be used for both high speed scanning when utilizing the Automatic Document Feeder or can be used for scanning documents that require a higher DPI using the flatbed.
Difference Between Flatbed Vs Sheetfed Scanners
Let’s see how these two scanners are different from each other.
1. Simplex VS Duplex
Typical Flatbed scanners work on one side of the document at a time.
As the paper is placed on the glass panel for scanning, it needs to be flip manually for scanning the other side of the paper.
Sheetfed scanners, on the other hand, have options of simplex or duplex scanning.
Simplex scanning is when information is captured from only one side of the paper, as in flatbed scanner.
Duplex scanners are also called single pass scanners, and in them, the document passes through its image sensors one time and its system capture both sides of the paper in a single pass.
2. Scan a Batch of Documents
Flatbed scanner deals with one paper at a time while Sheetfed scanners allow you to feed a batch of documents in its feeder.
The scanner automatically scans each page one by one without having to insert pages one by one manually.
3. Size of Scanner
Sheetfed Scanner are slightly bigger than Flatbed ones.
Obviously they need to include an input feeder, and an output tray too. So they may cover more space as compared to a portable flatbed scanner.
Though sheetfed scanners are also coming with compact and portable designs but flatbed still has an edge in terms of compactness.
4. Fast Scanning
Sheetfed scanners are designed to deal with heavy scanning needs. They work with great speed and scan a whole batch of documents in a snap.
A typical high speed sheetfed scanner has the speed to scan 35 page per minute or 70 images per minute.
Flatbed scanners are a bit time consuming as it works on pages one by one and you have to place the document, then remove it and place another one, so the whole process is time-consuming.
5. Manual Work Involved
Sheetfed scanners are efficient in working on many documents at a time and do not require any manual work in this process.
Most allow batch scanning of 50 documents at a time.
The flatbed scanner requires manual work in the scanning process. It needs to have someone right there for putting each document on its panel and reversing it.
6. Scanning Books and Magazines
Flatbed scanners are excellent for scanning books, magazines, newspapers, or any paper. It comes with a removable lid so you can put anything on its glass paper and with even an open lid you can scan it easily.
Sheetfed scanners, on the other hand, can deal with only loose sheets. They cannot scan books or magazine’s unless they are in the form of loose pages.
7. 3D Objects and Art Pieces
Flatbed scanners can scan 3D objects, art canvas, sketchbooks or even objects like flowers etc.
They have no comparison with a sheetfed scanner in this regard they can scan only pages. 3D objects cannot simply pass through its document feeder.
8. Odd-Shaped Documents
Flatbed scanners can scan even odd-shaped documents with equal ease. They can deal with thick pages or cards too.
For a Sheetfed scanner, you may risk the sheet or a card jamming the system if it is too thick.
9. Old Documents and Archives
Flatbed is excellent for scanning old photographs and documents that are not in good shape and can easily get damaged. Putting them into a document feeder is too risky.
Scanning on the flatbed is easy and convenient for such documents as you only have to palace it carefully on a glass panel. You can even opt not to close the lid too if it seems too risky.
10. Scanning Results
If we are talking about scanning results, then flatbed scanners are considered experts in capturing the minute details out of the surface of a page.
They are excellent for scanning photos and scan sharp and crisp images with better color range and depth.
Sheetfed scanners can scan photographs too, but they are designed for offices with heavy scanning needs of documents.
So the scanning result is not that sharp as compared to a flatbed scanner. Though many latest ADF scanners are available which gives the excellent result of photos too.
Finally, both sheetfed and flatbed scanners are excellent and have their own utility. It all comes down to scanning objects and also a matter of personal preference.
Sheetfed scanners suit workplaces with substantial scanning needs like offices, banks, sale points, or law offices.
Flatbed scanners are more useful for personal purpose; when you need to capture artwork, photo canvas, art pieces, or photographs.
They are also used for scanning books, magazines, business cards, or newspapers. So the focus in flatbed is more quality, and sheetfed scanner are a more practical option if your concern is quantity.
With the ever developing technology, nowadays scanners are available that combines both flatbed and sheetfed option in a single scanner. You may not have to choose one over the other at all if you need both designs.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.