"In reviewing the past year in southern Africa, certain definite trends have emerged in the purchases of large format monochrome and colour scanners," says Aubrey Lindemann of Imaging Innovations, sole distributors for sub-Saharan Africa of the scanner range from Contex A/S of Denmark. "Whereas previously the market demand had been exclusively for A0 (914 mm) scan width - as nothing else was available - the emergence of true wide format scanners, catering for scan widths up to 50" (1270 mm), has allowed organisations to address scanning needs which have long been unsatisfied," he said.
The mining industry has many very old and cracked plans of surface workings that are at least 40-50" (1016-1270 mm) in width - which would have required drawings to be cut in order to scan using A0 scanners. In addition a lot of these drawings were covered in Mylar for protection, with media thicknesses in excess of the 0,5 mm capability of existing A0 scanners.
The availability of the new Contex Chroma (40" = 1016 mm scan width) and Magnum (50" = 1270 mm scan width) colour scanners, and the Panorama 50" (1270 mm scan width) monochrome scanners, with their ability to accommodate media up to 15 mm in thickness has changed this picture. Further, the scanning speeds (up to 2,5"/s at 400 dpi for the colour scanners and 6"/s (equivalent to scanning an A0 print in 7 s) for the monochrome products) and colour correction features provided in the hardware and software mean better quality scans overall. A similar position prevails in the seismic arena and in the architectural market where the facility to scan a number of wide prints mounted on gatorboard or foamboard as input to a specific design is often a need.
Local organisations that have committed to these new scanners include:
* Engen Africa - Chroma 800 dpi colour scanner.
* Namibian Geological Survey - Magnum 800 dpi colour scanner.
* UCT School of Architecture - Magnum 600 dpi colour scanner.
* Seqtor Technologies (bureau) - Panorama 800 dpi mono scanner.
* Scanco (bureau) - Magnum 800 dpi colour scanner (2).
Another growth area this year has been the large format colour copier market. As opposed to the conventional A3 copier market there has been no easy way to accommodate A0 and larger prints. Using the Contex range of scanners and the exciting new JETimage wide format copying software (drivers available for HP, Encad, Epson and Xerox wide format printers) a large format colour copying solution has been provided.
JETimage BASE (supplied free of charge) with its 'wizard-based' scan to copy facility (via either touchscreen or conventional display) and JETimage PRO with its ability to nest, tile and panel drawings have received a tremendous response.
"We would expect to add this functionality to many existing installations in the colour reprographics market," says Lindemann.
The free WIDEcapture software provided with the scanners, which allows the user to scan images directly into either AutoCAD 2000 (CAD/CAE users) or Photoshop (Graphics arts/repro users) enhances their functionality even further.
"These solutions have not been restricted to the South African market - with products also being sold into Namibia/Botswana/Malawi, Zambia and Kenya", commented Lindemann. "We anticipate further growth both locally as well as into other African countries - watch this space!"
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