Flatbed Vs. Sheet-Fed Scanners

By Steven Symes

Scan a Document & Fill in the Blanks
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When it comes to scanners, there are two major designs: flatbed and sheet-fed. When you understand the major differences between the two designs, it's easier to determine which scanner type best suits your scanning needs.


A flatbed scanner has a large, hinged lid that folds back to reveal a glass top. The document to be copied is placed directly on the glass.


A sheet-fed scanner does not have a lid but instead a “feeder” platform similar to that of a printer. Documents are pulled through the feeder and are scanned, after which they exit the scanner onto another tray.


Flatbed scanners take up significantly less space than sheet-fed scanners, as the sheet-fed scanner has to have room for the feeder and exit tray.


Sheet-fed scanners can't scan books or anything other than unattached pieces of paper. Flatbed scanners are able to scan anything that can be placed against the glass.


Sheet-fed scanners are at their best when a large number of papers need to be scanned. Flatbed scanners require the switching of documents to be done by hand instead of through the automated process of sheet-fed scanners.