Tips for Large Format Scanning for Raster to Vector Conversion

As a company that specializes in raster to vector conversion, we see a lot of scanned raster files…many that have not been scanned properly, which can make for difficulties when converting from raster to vector.  Coincidentally, we also sell large format scanners, so we’re in a good position to provide tips for all you do-it-yourselfers out there who are planning to buy a large format scanner to scan your paper construction drawings, engineering or mechanical drawings, maps, or other large format information in order to convert from scanned raster files to CAD or GIS vector files. Tips for Large Format Scanning

Good Scanned Images Aid Raster to Vector Conversion

How do you get good scanned images?  The obvious answer is to start out with the right scanner for the type of large format documents you have;  perhaps not so obvious is paying as much attention to who does the scanning for you as you pay to the scanner you purchase.

But, first things first…let’s talk about scanners.

In the interest of honesty, let’s be clear that we sell Contex scanners, and one of the reasons we sell Contex is because that’s what we use in our scanning service bureau, and our experience tells us that we get the best scanning results with Contex.  By all means, look at the competition and see how they compare, but keep in mind that there is a reason why Contex is the largest seller of large format scanners.

Branding aside, let’s look at the important aspects of choosing a scanner:What do you need to scan?

  • What do you need to scan?  There are two basic categories of large format documents:  (1) technical imaging (drawings, blueprints, and maps, etc.); and, (2) graphics (artwork, photographs, etc.). Technical imaging is in monochrome or limited color while graphics are in full color.  Always choose a scanner that will effectively scan the highest level of a document that you have.
  • What is scanner technology best?  There are two different types of scanner technology:  (1) CCD (Charge Coupled Device; and, (2) CIS (Contact Image Sensor). These differences in technology affecWhat is scanner technology best?t how the scanners capture data, especially in regards to fine line sharpness and color.  Most scanner experts agree that CIS scanners give sharper results with the fine line detail found in technical drawings, while CCD scanners are better for demanding color graphics applications because of their ability to capture a wider range of colors more accurately.  There are exceptions to every rule, so make sure that you consider all the types of large format scanning that you will need to do, in order to make the right choice.

With a good quality scanned image, good results with the raster to vector conversion process are much more likely, whether you go the do-it-yourself route and use automatic vectorization software or whether you outsource the raster to vector conversion.  In either case, starting with a good image will save time, money and improve the likelihood of a good conversion result.

And now a few words about scanning personnel…

It’s really tempting to figure that you can cut costs by hiring a minimum wage temporary worker to handle your scanning project.   After all, haven’t you just done your homework and picked exactly the right scanner for your type of scanning project?  And didn’t the scanner manufacturer and the dealer you purchased it from telling you how easy iscanning personnelt is to use, with all the automatic settings and fool-proof technology that’s included in today’s large format scanners?

The manufacturers are right…today’s large format scanners are much easier to use than scanners were when they have first introduced Today’s automobiles are easier to drive and much safer than the old Model T’s, but you’re not going to put your unlicensed teenage son behind the wheel and turn him loose, are you?  It really is the same with today’s scanners.  While the operation is easy, scanning experience is necessary.  An experienced large format scanning technician knows which automatic settings to use in order to compensate for various forms of degradation in the original paper drawings.  An experienced scanning technician also knows what scanner settings will create images that convert well.  So, do yourself a favor…buy the right scanner and hire the right scanning technician.

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