What is a Duplex Scanner

Starting in the early 1990s, a few men in a laboratory in upstate New York were up to something. They were engineers and employees of the Eastman Kodak company, and even though most printers of the time were of the buzzing, ‘dot-matrix’ variety, Kodak was spending R&D money to do something radically different.

They intended to create a printer that had the ability to scan pieces of paper on both sides. These types of scanners already existed, though at that time you had to go to a dedicated copy shop or to a place like a law office or a government building to find one.

Some consumer models already had similar scanning capabilities as well; though they were very expensive and took a lot of time to scan even one piece of paper.

Even though it took time, these high-volume clients that needed to scan a lot of documents were looking to do it in a quicker way; before this invention you literally had to take the stacks of documents out of the tray and then re-feed them back into the printer facing the other way to get the job done.

Kodak accomplished this by basically beefing up the entire operation. Image-scanning devices already existed, so instead of the printer/scanner having just one image-acquisition system (the phrasing used in the initial patent application by Kodak) they decided to shoehorn a second IAS (image acquisition system) into the machine.

The first image went to its own data storage area, and the 2nd image scanned by the second apparatus went to a second data storage area. Then, the machine combined both images to create the finished document.

We don’t have time to go over the nuts and bolts of how this all takes place… but this Kodak system is a lot simpler than the system that was patented by the Xerox Corporation in the late 1980s. This new Kodak system allowed for duplex scanners to become a lot smaller, a lot cheaper, and a lot faster.

In risk of losing you as a reader, this system is faster and easier versus the budget option…which is using an RADF; a Reversing Automatic Document Feeder. This device is a small motor that powers a wheel/axle in the printer that removes, reverses, and re-feeds the documents back into the printer for a second scan.

In this second case, the machine in question may be called a duplex printer but possibly not a duplex scanner. Of course, advertisers and companies that wish for consumers to buy their products sometimes confuse one for the other.

So it’s important for you if you’re a buyer or even just someone who plans to use a duplex scanner what it is your machine actually does. The faster, Kodak system is called ‘’single-pass’’ duplex scanning, while other types similar to the second option outlined above are usually described as RADF.

Single pass is obviously much faster, but as it involves basically double the machinery involved, those types of machines almost always cost more and are larger in size.

Again, in short: a duplex scanner is a scanner and or printer that can scan two sides of paper at once. This makes it able to scan and or print and reprint these kinds of documents much faster than other types of machines.

Types of Duplex Scanners

As mentioned a little bit above, there’s actually a whole range of machines that can do duplex scanning.

The thing is, most duplex-scanning machines are advanced models; having the ability to scan dual-sided documents isn’t the first feature on most printers or scanners.

Basically, if you’re looking for a machine that can do this kind of thing, you’re probably also looking for a heavy-duty machine that can handle a lot of work and can get that work done fairly quickly. So most of the machines that can handle duplex jobs are of this type.

However, if you’re only looking to do this occasionally, a lot of more entry-level devices have manual-duplex features.

Basically, a lot of entry-level gear will allow you to scan a sheet, then flip it over and re-feed it to get both sides taken care of. Then even if your machine only has one printing element, you can re-feed the blank paper just like how you re-fed the original once it’s time to initiate the printing process.

This is the lowest level of printer for this type of job; manual-feeding basic duplex scanning. All this basically means is that your scanner or printer actually has the ability to ‘forge’ or ‘meld’ two files into one so that you can print them on 2 sides of 1 paper.

The step up from that is an ADF (automatic document feeder) equipped scanner or printer that can also do duplex scanning. If this machines is especially spiffy, it will allow for the papers to be ‘sent back’ or ‘re-scanned’ without human interference.

Finally, you have ‘single-pass’ dupex scanning and copying, which is the most efficient and best way to do the job! However, expect to spend at least a couple hundred dollars on a printer with this type of feature at minimum.

How to Initiate Duplex Scanning

When confronted with your scanner’s menu, you want to go into ‘Custom’ or ‘Advanced’ once you get into the area where the scan options are. There should be a check mark or area on the menu that indicates dual-side scanning/duplex scanning. Usually these options are turned off from the factory, so right now your mission is just to find where the features are located on your printer or scanner and unlock them.

Some of these menus might be called ‘Control Center’ or ‘Options.’ Either way, just make sure that the check mark or option for double-sided scanning is engaged.

Then everything should work fine, or at least according to how your machine was designed to operate.

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