At the high end of the market sits Cruse. The Cruse dealer for North America is Cruse Digital Equipment. “We really add textural effect to what we scan,” says owner Mike Lind. “It’s very lifelike, as opposed to a flat scan...It’s a way to get almost anything in digital form. Some of our customers started out with fine art, but then may have expanded into other subject matter, including old fragile artifacts that can lie on a table, and because this is contact-less scanning, even wet art.
“Everything lies on a table, with the image up. The light is an inch or two away, and the lens and the scan head is a little farther away than that. We can even scan things in a frame, because we have the ability to have our lights a bit higher and more removed from the subject.”
This Cruse scanner can also scan older, very fragile documents, including large-format maps and books up to 7x10 feet and larger. This capability opens up new areas of revenue for providers, from museums and private individuals with collections of books, jewelry, and other priceless holdings.
“You name it, we can do it,” Lind says. “I sold one to a company that was scanning old hand-drawn parts drawings of helicopters. They’re so accurate they were able to vectorize the scanned images to enable them to create templates to manufacture those parts again. Art galleries will make giclee prints of an artist’s original, and sell them 100 times as a limited edition. If it’s an unknown artist, he can have five copies made, sell those, and come back for more.”
The highly textured, 3D effect scans generated by the equipment are so true to life that individuals looking at the scan of an oil painting are tempted to approach it and touch it, because they believe it is textured. “We actually made a scan of a pizza, put it in a box, and people thought it was real,” Lind says.
It’s true the equipment he offers is “pretty expensive,” Lynn says. But there are ways to access the quality even if that expense is prohibitive.
“We have over 100 scanners in the United States, and generally when [providers] find out about us, we try to refer them to scanner owners near them,” he reports. “This is a great way for them to expand their markets. Generally, if they are doing 20 or 30 of the scans a month, that begins to justify the lease payments. Once it’s been scanned in a high-quality way, they can take that file back to their labs and still do the printing themselves.”
There’s money to be made in the fine art space, says Steve Blanken, sales director, North America,Contex Americas. According to Blanken, people working in the fine art realm “are the least resistant to price, and the most interested in making sure it is well represented. They’re more concerned about their original artwork being accurate. That’s a space we’re trying to occupy.”
He says a comparatively untapped market is the scanning of artwork onto canvas. A bond paper print might command $4 to $6 a square foot, something on photo paper $5 to $9, but a canvas $8 to $12 a square foot.
Blanken also notes that the industry has arrived in the early stages of low-cost MFP, with prices in the large-format marketplace coming down to the point where a printer and a scanner can be packaged for under $10,000.
Print service providers can place one of these systems in the front of their store and reap revenues from walk-in large-format color copying. “And our software will keep track of what a customer just printed, allowing a store to charge the customer accurately for that service,” Blanken adds.
“They can also bring in scanning service work, that might not be printed out at all, but saved to a flash drive or a CD, whatever storage medium they might choose. And it can be printed out later at the customer’s location or at the service provider’s site.
Trends to Watch
Greater opportunity to profit through the use of these scanners is surely around the corner. So what trends should PSPs keep top of mind?
Cloud-based initiatives represent one area of interest, says DuPaul.
Another trend worth noting centers on an initiative by President Obama, who, according to Honn, has laid down the gauntlet to government agencies to improve records management by moving to electronic records. “We’re actually targeting government agencies,” Honn says. “We call on them at the federal, state, and local level and use this as an entrée to talk about electronic records.”