Scanners Articles

What Is A Sheet-Fed Scanner? (Benefits & Usage Guide)

Sheet-fed scanners deal with only paper scanning and are not used for scanning 3D objects or books.

These scanners are also called Automatic Document Feeders. Sheet-fed scanners use digital imaging system that is specifically designed for scanning loose papers.

These are more business-oriented scanners that are used in offices and workplaces as opposed to those used in libraries or archives.

Let us learn about what is a sheet-fed scanner?

We will try to answer all the most common questions in our article.


RADF Mechanism [source: Wikipedia]

Sheetfed scanners use the Automatic Document Feeder (ADF). There are two types of ADFs.

In addition to understanding what is a Sheet-fed Scanner, you should also understand the ADF mechanism.

Reverse Automatic Document Feeders (RADF)

RDF works like a simplex scanner instead of a duplex scanner, in that it can scan one side of the document. For scanning the other side you need to manually reverse the side of the page.

Single-Pass Automatic Document Feeder (SADF)

Single-pass document feeder passes the page or a sheet through its feeder only once, and it is capable of scanning both sides of a document simultaneously.

The Single-pass automatic document feeder is a lot more convenient and saves a lot of time.

How Does a Sheet-Fed Scanner Work?

A sheet feed scanner closely resembles a compact laser or inkjet printer and has similar paper handling mechanism. In the sheet-fed scanner, the paper is drawn from a sheet feeder and passes across the machine’s image sensors, ending in the output tray.

This video shows a typical sheetfed scanner and its technologies.

The scanner’s software identifies the printed letters on the page and converts them into digital text with OCR Technology.

These scanners are perfectly capable of scanning graphic images and scan them into their original form.

What are the Benefits of Sheetfed Scanners?

Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of Sheetfed scanners.

To truly understand what is a Sheet-fed Scanner, you must get to know its benefits.

Great For High Volume Scanning

The sheetfed scanners are designed to deal with a lot of scanning needs. It can be of much use in offices with a lot of documents to be scanned in a daily routine.

Flatbed or overhead scanners are good, but if you need a few pages to scan. But if you need hundreds or more document daily, then these scanners are too much time-taking and inconvenient.

Fast scanning Speed

As we have just mentioned, sheetfed scanners are designed to cater to a large number of documents within a few minutes.

These are usually high-speed scanners that scan through a batch of documents in a very short time.

Less Manual Work Involved

Unlike flatbed or other scanners, that need a constant hand to turn pages or for placing pages on a glass panel, sheetfed scanners reduce the manual work involved in the scanning process.

You can feed multiple pages into its feeder(depending on how many pages your scanner allows), and the scanner can automatically scan through each page while you can do something else in the meantime.

Increased Productivity

Sheetfed scanner’s high speed and efficient management increase the productivity of any workplace.

With more readily available scans, and all documents digitally stored, the paperwork is more efficiently managed.

What Are Sheetfed Scanners Good For?

Offices and Busy Workplaces

These can make use of its fast speed and multiple document feeding. They can manage their work effortlessly.

Such busy offices like banks, companies, law firms, hospitals, or any workgroup with a lot of scanning needs can make use of sheetfed scanners.

Busy People

If you are committed to become paperless then certainly a sheetfed scanner can help.

It allows you to convert all your documents, photos, contract papers, or any kind of business card or receipts into digital forms so that you can manage them in a better way.

Scanning each paper manually, putting it on the glass panel would be a lot more time-consuming then simply feeding a batch of papers into its feeder.

Creating a Digital Library

Sheetfed scanners can scan pages but only in loose form. So if you can unbind the books or magazines for feeding sheets into the scanner, then it can be your best bet for scanning books.

As we just said, it can deal with a batch of paper at a time and all other types of scanners even overhead scanners require to flip the pages manually.

What To Consider When Choosing a Sheetfed Scanner

Now that you know what a Sheet-fed Scanner is, it is time to learn how to choose one.

Choosing a sheetfed scanner depends on individual needs. Few points to consider are:

How Many Pages Can You Feed At A Time?

Choose the scanner that fulfills your needs. Sheetfed scanners allow as 10- 200 feeds at a time. So there is no need to buy one that does not suit your needs.

Buying less capacity than you need would not serve the purpose and buying a more than necessary capacity would simply be an overkill with more restraint on your budget.

So look for the manual to see how many pages the sheetfed allows at a time.

The duty cycle of the scanner

Checking the duty cycle of a scanner and comparing it with your needs would be great.

As we understand, sheetfed scanners are bought for heavy scanning needs so check if the particular scanner can deal with the daily amount of scanning work that you require.

Exceeding the duty cycle will affect your device’s life and performance.

Do you need to scan photos or just documents?

Some very efficient sheetfed scanners are available in the market, and some of them can even scan polaroid photographs.

Check your needs and if you require scanning photographs as well then choose one with high resolution and color depth for better scanning results.

How Are Sheet-fed Scanners Different from Flatbed scanners?

Epson Workfoce DS-970 Sheet-fed Scanner


There are several differences between sheetfed and flatbed scanners. Unlike flatbed scanners that require the documents be placed on a glass panel for capturing their image, or the overhead scanners, that slides an LED light over the surface of a document, sheetfed or ADF requires you to feed the papers inside its feeder for processing.

Flatbed are generally used by those who have a low volume of documents to scan. They are also used by professional photographers and editors since flatbed usually have more DPI as compared to their sheetfed counterparts.

What is more interesting is that these document feeders can deal with multiple documents in time and are useful for scanning a batch of paper in a snap.

It becomes a lot more useful and convenient especially in places that requires scanning a lot of papers like busy offices, banks, courtrooms, sales point that deal with scanning receipts etc.