Large format scanning: Digitizing the big picture

What is large format scanning?

Large format scanning involves converting large or oversized documents, photographs, and artwork into digital formats. It utilizes specialized scanners designed to handle documents up to 60 inches wide, and – if the software buffer allows – almost endless in length.

Most large format scanners can be set to match regional paper sizes such as ISO, ANSI and Arch.

The primary goal of large format scanning is to create high-resolution digital versions of these large documents or images for purposes such as preservation, archiving, accessibility, digital workflows, and print inspection.

Some common examples of materials that might undergo large format scanning include architectural blueprints, engineering drawings, maps and GIS, historical documents and archives, paintings, artwork, posters, photographs, and technical diagrams.

Large format scanners are capable of capturing fine details, colors, and textures, ensuring that the digital reproductions maintain the quality and fidelity of the original materials.


Large format scanning examples of different media types

Unleashing the potential of large format scanning

In today’s digital age, where information is readily accessible and shareable, businesses and individuals alike are constantly seeking ways to digitize their valuable physical assets, whether it be CAD and engineering blueprints, maps and GIS, paintings, artwork and photos, or documents to archive. This is where large format scanning comes to the forefront.

In this comprehensive guide, we explore the benefits and many applications of large format scanning.

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Different types of large format scanners

  • Sheet-fed scanners for flat originals
  • Sheet-fed scanners for thicker originals
  • Flatbed scanners for delicate, thicker or odd sized originals
  • Contact-free scanners for art and other delicate originals

The use of either CIS or CCD camera technology captures every detail and nuance, making it a valuable and versatile preservation tool across various industries.

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Benefits of large format scanning

Preservation and protection

One of the most obvious advantages of large format scanning is the preservation of valuable, often fragile, and irreplaceable documents, such as historical maps, blueprints, and artwork. By digitizing these items, you ensure their longevity and protect them from physical deterioration due to time, handling, or environmental factors.

Space optimization

Storing oversized documents can be a logistical nightmare, consuming precious office or storage space. With large format scanning, you can free up physical space by converting these documents into digital files and ensure easy retrieval and organization.

Accessibility and searchability

Digitized large format documents are incredibly accessible. No more wasting hours searching through stacks of papers or oversized files. Digital files are easily indexed, making it simple to retrieve specific information or images from large collections of documents. This accessibility is a game-changer for businesses and institutions with extensive archives.

Sharing and collaboration

Large format scanning facilitates collaboration by enabling the sharing of digitized documents among individuals or teams, regardless of their geographical location. Whether you’re working on architectural plans, artwork, or historical research, this technology streamlines workflows and boosts productivity.

Cost savings

Over time, large format scanning can lead to significant cost savings. Reduced physical storage requirements, improved document management, and enhanced efficiency all contribute to a healthier bottom line for businesses and institutions.

Big ideas are often created on large format paper

Applications for large format scanning

Large format scanning is a versatile tool with applications across various industries, and the scanner requirements vary depending on the types of documents you work with. Find the right combination of speed, resolution and operational simplicity in the graphic below.

Large format scanning document types overview Contex


Technical documents

Engineering, construction, manufacturing and utilities companies rely on large format scanning solutions for flawless and efficient scanning, archiving and printing of technical plans, blueprints, CAD drawings, maps and CAD plots.

GIS and mapping documents

GIS, mapping and utilities professionals trust large format scanners to capture all details, small text and color changes in maps. And government agencies rely on these solutions to help modernize and digitize their archiving systems and infrastructure to create a more efficient workflow.

Arts and graphics media

Art museums, graphics professionals, material manufacturers, copy shops and other industries who work with diverse media rely on the versatility of large format flatbeds and art scanners to handle their scanning projects.

All document types

Whether you work in a high-volume, print-for-pay environment or handle lower volume in-house reprographics, a large format scanning solution helps you increase productivity and profitability.

Versatile, fast, and as high performing as you need them to be, many large format scanners and MFP solutions will consistently deliver the quality you are looking for – and the affordability and efficiency you need to run a successful business. A large format scanner with built-in large format printer drivers and intuitive software is also easy to set up and even easier to use.

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Embrace large format scanning

Large format scanning is a versatile technology with a wide range of applications. It’s a gateway to preserving history, improving productivity, and unlocking new possibilities for businesses. Whether you’re an architect aiming to streamline your design process, a historian preserving the past for future generations, or an artist looking to sell extremely lifelike reproductions large format scanning is the key to digitizing the big picture.

Large format scanner seen from below with CIS technology