What Is a Flatbed Scanner A Guide on its Functions and Advantages

There are different types of scanners. Scanners are not just the ones you see with your printers, nor the big ones that come with the photocopying machines. Believe it or not, the different types of scanners correspond to specific things to scan. But before anything else, we are going to discuss what is a flatbed scanner. In order for us to explore this type of scanner, we should also talk about the other types for comparison.

Generally speaking, scanners can produce images that are digital which are taken from different media, such as, magazines, pictures, books, etc. At the same time, they can also read the texts of any printed documents and copy them to software made for documents. Lastly, they can also produce images taken from slides or projector acetates.

With these basic functions in mind, we can now determine which type of scanner is best for a specific function. Additionally, we can now clearly determine and differentiate what is a flatbed scanner. Read on to find out more about scanners.

What is a Flatbed Scanner?

It is a type of scanner that uses a flat surface to scan different documents. You can also refer to it simply as, flatbed. Moreover, its distinguishing feature is, you do not have to manipulate the document to capture all of its elements. This is the reason why using this type of scanner is best when you are working with fragile documents.

As for its usability, all you have to do is to lay down the document on the glass surface of the scanner and close the lid. It is as simple as that. For documents that are a bit thicker, flatbed scanners almost always come with lids that are adjustable. Other features that are exclusive to flatbed scanners are Bluetooth connections and document feeders that are automatic.

They are the number one choice for a high-quality scan because of their capacity to scan objects that are thick. Likewise, the various media that this type of scanner can take is impressive. You can scan glossy pages, regular paper, even things such as leaves. Further, you can scan these things and documents all in one go, while the result is still very clear and almost identical with the original.

Of course, there are also disadvantages. They can be more expensive than others. Also, they tend to come in big machines, so they take up too much space.

How Do Flatbed Scanners Work?

The most commonly used lights are fluorescent or LED. In line with this, there is also a regulator for voltage which allows the light to evenly spread all throughout the document. Essential parts to note are scan head, CCD array, mirrors, filter, and lens.

1.  Once the document is illuminated, the document encoding begins. This is done by the scan head that is located on top of the machine.

2.  The scan head moves on top of the document, other times, it rolls over the document. At the same time, it is attached to a bar, so it will stay put and will not scan in a wobbly direction.

3.  A mirror that is angled will then reflect the document image to an opposite mirror. Once reflected, it will be reflected again towards the lens.

4.  The lens, in turn, will project the image that was captured to a CCD array, with the use of a filter.

5.  Once the image is captured in the CCD array, the computer can now decode it, and that is the time where the document will be shown on the screen.

6.  You can then store a soft copy of the image, or print out a copy.

Types of Scanners

You now have a clear idea of what a flatbed scanner is, now you will be able to compare it to other types of scanners. Also, knowing the other types can help you in your decision on what scanner to get in the future.

Photo Scanners

As what it is called, this scanner is best used on photos. This is due to the fact that it has specialized technology within them that can process negatives, pictures, and slides—better than other scanners. They are usually set with high resolutions, and they often come with software that can retouch old photos.

Sheetfed Scanners

This is the most basic type of scanner because you literally just feed the document to the scanner. This makes it best for documents and not slides nor pictures. Using this scanner can take a lot of time, because you have to feed documents one at a time, and usually the result is a low-resolution copy.

Portable Scanners

These are scanners that you can carry around with you, like pen scanners. They scan a document by line, and they copy it to your computer or laptop.

Negative Scanners

These were designed specifically to process film negatives.

Advantages of Using a Flatbed Scanner

They can process a lot of different documents, so these type of scanner is very versatile. You can scan small things, to thick and bulky documents. You can even scan the print of clothing, and the cloth itself. Further, you do not have to adjust a lot to accommodate different media. All the needed controls are already on the machine.

Choose a flatbed scanner for high-quality scans. The quality of the scan may be attributed to the fact that the document is laid on a flat surface, and it is not really touched, so when the scan happens, it can capture all the details.

This last advantage is in connection with having a good quality scan. For flatbed scanners, they do not really need any document holding, adjusting, or manipulation because all you have to do, is to set what you want to scan on the glass plate and close the lid. Unlike for sheetfed ones, the scan might get disturbed due to paper jams and other circumstances.


The flatbed scanner is really the best option when you want to invest in a scanner that will last you a long time. However, you do need to make space for it as they tend to be bulky. But once you have one, you can get to scan anything you want, so technically, it is a one-time, big-time purchase. No more taking close-up pictures from your smartphone, this time, all you have to do is run your flatbed scanner.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *