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What is a flatbed scanner?

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Quick Answer

A flatbed scanner is an electronic device that converts an image from a physical format into a digital format; it is typically of rectangular shape, consisting of a plate of glass set on top of several lights, mirrors and an image capture mechanism, all surrounded by a plastic outer shell. Flatbed scanners are commonly used in offices and homes.

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Full Answer

The image or object to be copied is placed face-down on the glass plate and a bright light is shone over the surface of the plate and, therefore, the image. This light is captured by mirrors which direct it into an image sensor, generally a charge-coupled device, or CCD, or contact image sensor, or CIS, which converts the reflected light into a digital format. The captured image is then transferred to a computer or computer network and the image file can be refined by specialised scanning software.

The speed at which the image is transferred to the computer depends on the type of connection used between the computer and the scanner, generally it can range from a few seconds to a few minutes. Most modern flatbed scanners are able to scan in high color depth and resolution, though this increases the size of the resulting image file. Other applications of use include as densitometers, colorimeters and as a tool in the photography of static subjects.

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