SEEING A FUTURE IN SCANNERS
Scan volume may be down at prepress and printing firms, but scanners aren't by any means out of the production picture.
by Susan Friedman, Editor
Decline, yes. Demise, no. Or is the picture that simple for the use of scans in graphic file production? A recent study conducted by TrendWatch/Cahners Inc. stated the percentage of creative professionals intending to purchase scanners is at its lowest level in years, primarily because of the rising use of digital cameras, digital file storage, and digital file transmission.
Dave Watson, VP/packaging at prepress trade shop American Color, reports a reduction in scan use that echoes the tone of the TrendWatch findings. "... it's not a decrease in just the last year," Watson elaborates. "It's been a steady decline to the point of not being worth it to even purchase a scanner."
Gerry Fitzgerald Sr., VP/technology and prepress at Color Associates, emphasizes the multiple forces at work in the evolution of scan use. "Over the past several years our scanning volume has declined due to several factors: software programs such as Adobe Illustrator, which reduced the number of scans of illustrated artwork; digital files supplied from our customers; and digital asset management that enables one image originally scanned many times at different facilities for separate purposes, to now be accessed immediately at multiple locations via the Internet."
The fact that scanning volume has declined doesn't mean scanners themselves are on the way to obsolescence. It's important to note that scanner technological advances, such as the ability to re-purpose and re-utilize scans, have made significant improvements in scanner productivity, Fitzgerald notes, reducing the time previously devoted to scanning.
Where the sales are
Technology providers depict scanner purchasing patterns as in more of a shift than a decline. Clive Green, UK sales manager for Global Graphics Hardware, comments, "The trend we observe is that image capture is shifting away from the printer towards the creative end of the process."