Signs You Should Invest in Microfiche Scanning

When Should You Convert Microfiche?

Okay, so you either work with microfiche in your office OR you have come across a project which requires microfiche conversion. What are the signs saying you should invest in microfiche scanning?

You Have Too Many Microfiche

It may be hard to organize and work with thousands of microfiche cards on a daily basis or even to deal with the occasional microfiche request. On one end of the coin, you may have gotten used to dealing with so many microfiche- and perhaps it is even job security- but if you want to make your life easier and save your organization money, you might as well bite the bullet now. In fact, you may be surprised how inexpensive a microfiche conversion is compared to the labor already invested.

scan microfiche

Your Microfiche is Decaying

Microfiche will get damaged from overuse, light, poor humidity, chemicals, water, cockroaches, and poor storage. If the microfiche starts to smell badly (like vinegar) you need to scan that microfiche as soon as possible or risk catastrophic loss. If you are not currently using standard microfiche preservation techniques, you are in trouble.

How to Perform Microfiche Scanning

If you or your organization has COM fiche, 35mm or 16mm microfiche jackets, step and repeat microfiche, or other types of microfiche, I’m sure you have wondered about how to digitize microfiche to PDF. The simplest way is to simply e-mail or call a scanning company like Generation Imaging to get a microfiche scanning quote.

Microfiche scanning requires specialized machinery called microfiche scanners, manufactured by such companies as Mekel, Sunrise, NextScan, and others. Microfiche scanners are not easy to set up and require microfiche scanner maintenance plans, experienced labor, and a whole network configuration. They also cost a ton of money.

Converting microfiche to digital images makes your life easier. Many microfilm government RFP bids require microfiche conversions as well, so if you come across a microfiche conversion job, feel free to contact this scanning company and see how you’d like to partner up. CONTACT US

Myths About Transferring Microfiche to Digital Image

Microfiche Myths

There are a few misconceptions about microfiche in general and microfiche conversion. Here are some good ones:

People don’t use microfiche anymore

Do people still use microfiche? Actually, yes, they do. Schools still use 16mm microfiche files which contain your dreaded permanent record. City or country land records and blueprints are stored on 35mm microfiche. Electronic payroll records are exported to COM microfiche. The U.S. government gives veterans their service records on microfiche. Automobile and vehicle manuals exist on microfiche and are used by mechanics and part order companies.There are many industries which still use microfiche.

Microfiche scanning is expensive

Converting microfiche to digital images is not expensive if Generation Imaging is performing your project. Pricing is based on volume and larger volume microfiche projects are very cheap per image.Even if you only have one card or a one batch, the cost to convert microfiche is much lower than you would expect if you send the work to a microfiche scanning company. Now, if you buy a microfiche reader printer or scanner, you need to invest thousands of dollars in the microfiche machine alone.

Microfiche is microfilm

roll film

Microfiche means “little card”. Microfiche are flat plastic sheets with small images. Microfilm are rolls of film, which look like small movie reels. Confusing microfilm and microfiche is common. The less frequent all-encompassing term is “microform”, which covers all micrographic media. To make matters even more confusing, something microfiche was actually microfilm- cut into strips and placed in microfiche jackets.

Microfiche is not produced anymore

Believe it or not, but a quick look at government bids reveals that microfiche generation still happens today. Many states have data retention laws which require microfiche as hard copies for legal reasons and for disaster plans. (For example, imagine if one day an EMP bomb destroys our digital computer systems or the cloud.)

Microfiche lasts forever

microfiche vinegar

Although microfiche was originally created to preserve history and civilization, depending on how they are created, they can deteriorate if not stored correctly. There are many industry standard preservation techniques. The basic assumption of microfiche preservation was that they had to be stored in a climate controlled room and kept away from the elements. Unfortunately, because so many people do not follow these strict standards, microfiche can fade, smell like vinegar, become brittle, or actually lose their images. CONTACT US

Microfiche RFP Government Bids

What is a Microfiche RFP?


RFP is an abbreviation of “Request for Proposals”, or in layman’s terms: a bid for a contract. Government entities, such as cities, counties, states, and federal, in addition to education institutions seek proposals from qualified firms to provide services for microfiche conversion in accordance with the terms, conditions, and specifications contained within the bid document.

Microfiche is a analogue media which contains tiny documents. RFPs usually need the microfiche to be converted to digital image, such as TIFF or PDF. Many times they also require indexing by title bar or the fields within the actual documents. Other times, OCR searchable PDF images or text files are required. Some government offices have an existing database with the data already there, but it needs to be merged with the digital output. Images can be stored on hard drives, CDs, DVD, USB flash drives, transferred via FTP, or hosted.

microfiche RFP

Microfiche RFPs are rare compared to the larger universe of government RFPs, which have every category you could imagine, from healthcare to building walls. Sometimes they are only a small part of a government bid which has document scanning, cameras, data entry, microfilm scanning, or cloud server solutions. In addition to microfiche conversion bids, there are actually microfiche creation, microfiche duplication, and microfiche equipment and supplies RFPs.

Many RFPs have insurance, logistics, company standards,and experience requirements. Although much of it may seem like boiler plate legal templates, the government will hold you accountable for everything contained within your submitted, signed RFP document.

Major website with government RFPs are,,, and

Thousands of organizations or individuals keep track of RFPs. If you are one of them but do not have microfiche scanning capabilities (since they are rare skills), consider outsourcing to a microfiche subcontractor such as Generation Imaging. Subcontractors are not frowned up, and are even permitted in most RFPs nowadays. Generation Imaging’s microfiche scanning work is performed in the United States. Generation Imaging has the RFP experience and microfiche scanners to partner with you for a government bid contract. CONTACT US

Microfiche Scanning Costs: How much does converting microfiche cost?

How Much Does it Cost to Scan Microfiche?

The price of a microfiche scanning project varies from vendor to vendor, just like other free markets. However, you may be surprised just how much it varies and the reasons why they do.

Let us compare the public advertised prices from four microfiche conversion companies:

cost to scan microfiche

Company A’s microfiche scanning price


microfiche conversion quote

Company B’s microfiche scanning price


microfiche scanning cost

Company C’s microfiche scanning price


how much microfiche scan

Company D’s microfiche scanning price

Why Are There Price Differences in Microfiche Digitizing?

Let’s pretend you have a collection of 500 microfiche jackets, containing 45 images each, and want them to be scanned.

Company A: $600.75 to $1000 (says a card has 75 images, so looks like they could charge you price per card if you have 45 images)
Company B: $1,800
Company C: $3,000
Company D: $1,350

The sad part? Our company, Generation Imaging, is so much lower than these four prices that it makes us feel sad that so many people overpay. It makes us want to vomit.

Microfiche Scanner Speed

If a microfiche scanning service bureau has high-production scanners made by NextScan, Mekel, Sunrise, and a couple of others, they could convert more microfiche per hour than a cheaper scanner or reader printer. The high-end scanners cost tens of thousands of dollars and require expert technical skill to operate. The lower-end microfiche machines still could run you $10-$15,000 but the time it takes to scan one microfiche is time consuming. A microfiche machine like reader printer could be much slower, especially if you could only capture one frame at a time manually. There are also “mid-level” microfiche scanners which cost tends of thousands of dollars but do not have superior scanning speed like the above listed microfiche scanners.

Subcontracting or Commissions

Because microfiche scanning is such a niche market, many companies which advertise that service actually use a subcontractor to perform the work. There is nothing wrong with this, per se, however since the large company is the lead generator and assumes the risk of the transaction, they have to mark-up the microfiche scanning price, as capitalism dictates.

Similar to subcontracting, salespeople work on commissions. Whether it is an independent salesperson who sets up a website or one which works for a large company which advertises microfiche scanning but does not have microfiche scanners, they need to get their percentage.

Cost of Labor for a Microfiche Conversion

A microfiche scanner operator’s salary varies from state to state (and country to country) and varies on scanner operator experience and technical skill. Larger projects require more operators, supervisors, and managers.

Greed or Ignorance

It is very possible that a document scanning company simply does not know what the current microfiche scanning prices are. They may not have done their market analysis or due diligence. More insidious, is that they do know the market but continue to charge high prices simply because…they can. Most people looking for microfiche scanning prices online will click on the first ad or website that comes up via Google search and not even check out the other websites to compare prices.

Be sure to contact Generation Imaging for a free microfiche scanning quote.


COM Microfiche Scanning

What is COM Microfiche Scanning?

One of the most popular types of microfiche is COM (computer output microfiche). In fact many veterans in the microfiche conversion industry have the picture of a COM microfiche in their mind when they use the word “microfiche”.

Back in the day, the micrographic industry was all about creating microfiche and microfilm. Salespeople would sell COM machines, which would out the computer data to the microfiche cards. Accessories included COM duplicator machines. COM microfiche scanning is the process of converting those cards to digital images.

Scanning COM fiche is necessary if you are working with account records contained on the fiche and you grow weary of using a microfiche reader printer or EyeCOM fiche viewer. With the images digitized and indexed, you could search for specific accounts easier.

How Many Images are on a COM microfiche?

Generally there are 208 images (16 columns x 13 rows) or 270 images (18 columns x 15 rows) on COM fiche, with some variance in-between. For example some columns may not be filled with images and some people do not count the index frames. There is a special type of COM fiche called ultrafiche, which could have hundreds more of images!

microfiche scanning

The Microfiche Scanner

Most microfiche scanners must be set up to create a grid to line-up over the microfiche card. Other scanners can create image ribbons which can be broken down into individual images. Still other scanners could take a snapshot of the entire microfiche card, however you need special software to view that type.

For most microfiche scanners, the digital format received would be single page images or multi-page images. These types are usually PDF, PDF/A, JPEG. JPEG 2000, bi-tonal Group IV TIF, uncompressed greyscale TIF, and LZW TIFF.

There are many microfiche scanners sold online. These can be bought second hand from a microfiche equipment dealer, directly from a manufacturer, or from a reseller who makes a commission from the manufacturer. In addition to buying the microfiche scanner, you may have to get a license or maintenance plan. You must know how to operate the microfiche machine, and be able to train others.

Or, you could outsource your microfiche to a microfiche scanning company who will give you a price per image (or price per card). If you are on the fence about if you should purchase a microfiche scanner or have a company scan the microfiche for you, feel free to contact us for a free estimate and guidance to help you come to a decision.