Scanners

Need a Scanner?
Test My Scanner
Recommended Scanners
Problematic Scanners
Tips For Scanning
Further Reading

Introduction

FormReturn Optical Mark Recognition software directly integrates with any TWAIN compliant scanner for one-click scanning within the program. For scanners that are not TWAIN compliant, simply scan to a folder on your hard drive, save as PNG or TIF file type, and import the electronic forms into FormReturn to be processed. In both cases, not all scanners are created equal. Here are some key items to consider while evaluating your scanner options:

Need a Scanner?

FormReturn teamed up with RentScan to provide high-speed document scanners for your OMR & Bubble Sheet scanning projects. For over 15 years, RentScan has provided Flatbed and ADF scanners throughout the USA & Canada, with the cutting edge Image Cleanup/Enhancement and Ultrasonic Double Feed Detection features you need. Get started quickly with a variety of convenient and affordable options:

"Try Before You Buy" by renting the desired scanner for a week or a month, and earn credit toward your purchase of a new scanner. Visit the RentScan Website to learn more.

Test My Scanner

Testing your scanner's performance with FormReturn is an excellent way to evaluate the product and eliminate compatibility concerns:

To get started with FormReturn, watch the Quick Start Guide or other videos. The FormReturn Help Manual contains everything you need to know about how to use the software.

Recommended Scanners

When recommending a scanner, it is important to consider the work the scanner will be performing. Here are a few low, mid range and high volume scanners to look at:

Low volume - We use the Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S50 Document Imaging Scanner. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux. It has TWAIN drivers for both Mac and Windows and performs well when scanning around 200-300 pages per day. The Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S80 Document Imaging Scanner is a slightly faster model. Bear in mind that these scanners do not have ultrasonic page detection and can cause double feeding if you stack your paper tray with too much paper.

Low to mid volume - We recommend trying the Fujitsu Workgroup Series of scanners (fi-6130Z Sheet-Fed Scanner model and higher - Windows only scanners). These scanners have ultrasonic page detection and work well for the 500-1000 page per day range.

Mid volume - Fujitsu Departmental Scanners, Canon DR-X10C and mid-volume production scanners, Xerox DocuMate production scanners. These are good for 1000+ pages.

High Volume - Xerox digital press systems, etc. These machines are sometimes used in large scanning outsourcing companies. For scan volumes of this size, it is often cheaper to outsource the scanning to a company that owns one of these machines.

MAC TIP: If you are using a Mac, make sure the scanner has Mac support first and if it doesn't, make sure the scanner can scan files to a network folder so FormReturn can use its folder monitor to automatically process scans.

Problematic Scanners

Not all scanners are made the same and some will cause problems with FormReturn. We will briefly outline a few of the most common issues that we've experienced in our tests with scanners:

Photocopiers - These scanners are the most frequent cause of problems when used with FormReturn. A problem often arises with the "speckle" that they place on a page, often making barcodes unreadable by the software. By default, FormReturn can deal with a small amount of speckle, but not a large amount.

In FormReturn 1.6, an option has been added to blur an image before it is processed. This fixes the majority of issues experienced by photocopier users. To enable the blur enhancement, click the "preferences" button at the top of the screen, then click the "image enhancement" tab. Tick the blur image checkbox.

Blur Enhancement Option

The following is an example of an image made with a photocopier that has white speckles.

Speckled Scan

After this enhancement is applied to the above image, the speckles are automatically removed.

Blurred Scan

Scanners that don't support TWAIN - While this is not a big problem and irrelevant if you are using a network scanner with a folder monitor task; the lack of TWAIN will require more steps in order to get an image into FormReturn. This means that you will need to scan the image to a file first and then upload the image into FormReturn either manually or via the folder monitor task.

Avoid using inexpensive Multi-Function Centers (MFC) or Fax Machines - Many MFCs and Fax Machines that we have tested will often double feed pages or warp the scan.

Tips For Scanning

Do not overload your paper feeder - Overloading the paper feeder will often cause pages to be double fed. It is wise to put less paper in the paper feeder than what it is rated to handle.

Align the paper guides - If the scanner has paper feed guides, align them to the size of the paper, but don't make them too tight. This will help reduce the incidence of skew or warping issues when the paper is being fed through.

Clean the scan head regularly - We recommend cleaning the scan head after every 500 scans. Bits of debris can often get stuck on the scan head which will cause a white streak down the scanned image. White streaks will cause barcode and bubble detection to fail.

If you aren't using TWAIN, scan at 300 DPI, black and white, TIFF or Multi-page TIFF - You can also use PNG. Alternate to JPEG, PDF, grayscale or color if you have problems. Do not upload files into FormReturn that are over 12MB in size for a single page scan.

Get your own dedicated scanner - If you rely on having a machine that doesn't have dirt on its scan head and you need it close by for testing, ask your boss for a dedicated scanner.

Replace the traction wheels in the scanner when required - The wheels will need replacing in most document scanners every 10,000 pages or so. Consult your manual to find out when and how.

Don't fold any forms - Fold marks will often show up as black lines when you scan which can interfere with the detection process. If you need to fold forms, place a "fold here" line across the page and leave enough space on either side of the line for people to fold.

Fully test forms that you design with your scanner first - Adjust the detection thresholds to match your scanner. The mark threshold will be different for each scanner. While the threshold may not need adjusting, it is important to fully test each form with at least 10 scans before proceeding with a live publication.

If the scan forms button doesn't work - Make sure you have a TWAIN scanner, that the TWAIN drivers are installed, the USB cable is plugged into the scanner and into the computer, you are running the 32 bit version of FormReturn (or 32 bit version of Java). If you installed 64 bit TWAIN drivers, install the 64 bit version of FormReturn (or 64 bit version of Java).

Consult the Help Website for answers to problems - http://help.formreturn.com/faqs/ - We frequently add solutions to common problems in this site. If you experience a problem that cannot be found in the site, email us your issue at support@formreturn.com.

Further Reading

Articles on document scanning can be found here: