Flatbed Scanner

What Does Flatbed Scanner Mean?

A flatbed scanner is an optical scanner which makes use of a flat surface for scanning documents. The scanner is capable of capturing all elements on the document and does not require movement of the document. Flatbed scanners are effective scanners for delicate materials such as vintage photographs, papers and other documents which are fragile.


A flatbed scanner is also known simply as a flatbed.

Techopedia Explains Flatbed Scanner

Unlike other types of scanners, a flatbed scanner only requires the user to lay the document onto the glass and close the lid. Almost all flatbed scanners have an adjustable lid which can be raised to allow thicker materials to be scanned. A transparent media adapter, found in some flatbed scanners, can scan film and glass negatives. Some flatbed scanners can also have additional features such as automatic document feeders and wireless or Bluetooth connectivity.

Flatbed scanners are known for their high-quality scans. Due to their ability to scan thick objects, flatbed scanners are more versatile than sheet-fed scanners. There is a significant reduction in risk of documents being damaged during scanning, as there is no movement required of the documents, unlike drum or handheld scanners. Again, compared to a sheet-fed scanner which can accept only paper documents, flatbed scanners can accept magazines, books and other thick objects. High speed and productivity are also possible through flatbed scanners.

Drawbacks of flatbed scanners include being large and bulky. They consume more space than other scanners, and they can also be expensive.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.