Microfiche Scanning Cost: Ugly Truths

How much does it cost to scan microfiche?

How much does it cost to scan microfiche? What is the price to convert microfiche to digital images? The cost of microfiche scanning depends on the microfiche type. 

Step 1 is to identify the type of microfiche to be digitized.

Step 2 is to determine the estimated volume of the microfiche digital conversion.

  • COM fiche has around 208 to 270 frames and is computer generated.
  • Jacketed microfiche generally contain under 70 images per card (usually they have a few rows of 16mm film strips).
  • Step-and-repeat microfiche can fall under either fiche category depending on the image layout on the fiche card. The same can be said for rewritable microfiche.
  • 35mm microfiche jackets have a minimum fee per card since there are only 1 to 6 images on them.

Published Microfiche Scanning Prices

Taking a look at four microfiche scanning companies who advertise online, we get varied pricing structures:

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

 

Let’s pretend you have a collection of 1000 35mm microfiche, containing 6 images each (ergo, 6000 images), and want them to be scanned. Granted the price lists seem a bit confusing, but this is the best we could interpret them to be:

Company A: $2,000
Company B: $1,800
Company C: Doesn’t say 35mm fiche, but let’s hope it’s less than $6,000
Company D: $2,160

Our microfiche scanning company, Generation Imaging, would be way under all of those prices.

Why is there such a variance in microfiche scanning costs?

Not Knowing the Microfiche Market

It is possible that a document scanning company simply does not know what the current microfiche scanning prices are because they are not focused on the microfiche industry. Many large corporations sell software, document scanning, or equipment sales. They may not have done their microfiche fiche scanning market analysis.

Middlemen

Microfiche scanning is a niche market, and many companies which advertise microfiche digitization services may use a subcontractor to perform the work. There is nothing wrong with this, however since the corporation  assumes the risk of the sale, they mark-up the microfiche scanning price. Salespeople work on commissions. An independent salesperson may set up a website which advertises microfiche scanning but may actually not have microfiche scanners. They get their commission, which increases your price.

Cost of Labor to Convert Microfiche

Worker salaries vary by jurisdiction and is based upon microfiche scanner operator experience and skill. Every project needs a client representative, microfiche preparer, microfiche scanning operator, quality control auditor, supervisor, manager, shipper, and accounts payable.

Microfiche Scanner Speed Times

If a microfiche scanning company has scanners made by respected manufacturers such as NextScan, Mekel, Sunrise, and a couple of others, they have the ability to convert more microfiche per hour than a lesser known scanner. The high production microfiche scanners cost tens of thousands of dollars and require expert technical skill to operate. The lower-end microfiche machines still could run you up to $15,000 but the time it takes to scan one microfiche is time consuming. A microfiche machine like reader printer is slower, especially if you are forced to save out 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 or quality enhancers. CONTACT US

What is a REAL Microfiche Scanning Company?

Real Microfiche Company vs Fake Microfiche Company

There are some so-called microfiche scanning companies online which advertise microfiche conversion services but really pay someone else to do it or just collect your information and sell it. A real microfiche scanning company has a few traits which you could test and check yourself.

microfiche scan

Listed as business in Google Maps

You may have noticed that when you search for local auto mechanics, restaurants, or other places that businesses near you, Google will list the companies with their addresses and telephone numbers and show them on the map. A legitimate microfiche scanning company is held to the same standards: the business is verified by Google, meaning it is a real brick-and-mortar business.

E-Mail address with business domain names

A customer service representative getting back to you using a Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, or weird looking domain name in their email address is very suspicious. The e-mail domain name should somewhat match the company name.

Client References

A microfiche scanning company ought to have testimonials or references and be willing to share them with a potential client. Having these shows experience and capabilities.

Quick Communications

There is no reason not to get a response by phone or e-mail over a 24-hour period. If you are waiting a long time for a response- especially for a microfiche scanning quote– it is possible the person is trying to get pricing as they do not have microfiche scanners themselves and subcontract the work.

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Scanning Oversized Microfiche (Wide Format Microfiche)

The Problem with Oversized Microfiche

Some 35mm and even 16mm microfiche jackets are oversized. They sometimes are called wide format microfiche or large format microfiche. Oversized microfiche have an abnormally wide length. These rare, large microfiche jackets are too big for the standard glass platens that come with microfiche scanners. In other words, they cannot be scanned using normal equipment.

The good news is that some microfiche scanners offer large format microfiche adapters as add-on equipment. At Generation Imaging we have these wide format glass platens which enable us to scan oversized microfiche. These special oversized glass platens can also scan aperture cards and weird microfiche such ultrafiche and minifiche sizes.

Scanning microfiche requires the proper equipment and quality control procedures to make sure all of the images are captured. Since microfiche is different, making sure that you capture every image is critical. The benefit of converting microfiche into an electronic format centers around the ability to extract information off the fiche and then make it instantly available via searches within a document management system. It also provides protection against the media degrading over time.

Brief History of Microfiche Degradation

vinegar syndrome

Microfiche created before the 1930s were created on nitrate film, which poses high risks since it is flammable. In the 1940s to 1980s, microfiche were usually printed on a cellulose acetate base, which is prone to tears, vinegar syndrome, and redox blemishes. Vinegar syndrome is caused by chemical decay and produces buckling and shrinking, embrittlement, and bubbling. Redox blemishes are yellow, orange or red spots caused by oxidative attacks, and due to bad storage conditions. These issues can make microfiche unreadable and valuable information is lost forever

Generation Imaging can scan all sizes and formats, including jacketed fiche, computer output microfiche (COM fiche), 105mm microfiche, step-and-repeat microfiche. CONTACT US

Think You Know About Microfiche Scanning? Take This Quiz

Facts About Microfiche Scanning

Billions of paper documents have been converted to some type of microfiche so far, and a microfiche scanning company converts fiche to image, with the number of digital conversions are growing every year. Yet so many people do not know much about microfiche scanning.

buy microfiche scanner

Why do so many organizations transfer microfiche to digital image?

This process has served many industries well for various reasons. For one, it serves to protect the fiche from loss or damage. It also helps to store large quantities of data in an organized fashion, as opposed to archaic paper filing systems or microfiche drawers.

Organizations around the world have taken advantage of technology and have converted microfiche to digital images. The advantages of eliminating storage cost, instant retrieval of information, ability to transfer data anywhere have made it easy for such organizations to make this microfiche conversion decision.

What types of file formats do microfiche scanners create?

Microfiche scanners output TIFF, JPEG, PDF, and their many variations are created, such as Group IV, bi-tonal, LZW greyscale, uncompressed images, PDF/A, JPEG 2000, and more.

Should I Buy a Microfiche Scanner or Outsource Microfiche Scanning?

A microfiche scanner may cost tens of thousands of dollars or a cheap microfiche scanner may only cost $12,000, but consider the cost of labor, maintenance, software licensing, office space, and learning a new trade.

Outsourcing microfiche scanning could be priced by the image or card, and depending on the volume is usually much cheaper (and definitely easier) than buying or even leasing a microfiche scanner. CONTACT US