Tag Archives: microfiche scanner

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.


Converting Microfiche to Digital Images

Microfiche Conversion Benefits

A microfiche scanning conversion has advantages. The resulting images can be indexed and searched easily so you can find the document you want, irregardless if you know what other files it is goes with. The images can be accessed by many people at the same time, whereas whoever has the microfiche card only has the file.

Using microfiche scanners, it is possible to transfer digital images to microfiche so in the future, someone could look all vital statistics up online. If you have microfiche, that ought to be your source for digital images, not going back to original paper documents, which can be hard to handle or may not exist.

Should You Convert All Your Microfiche?

It is easier if you image every document, and more complex if you specify which documents to image. You may do usage studies, and solicit opinions about which documents should or should not be retained. However, the safest answer is to “scan everything”.

If you decide to exclude microfiche from getting digitized, someone will think it was significant. With the cost of digital storage media and microfiche scanning at an all-time low (if you use Generation Imaging), it will cost you more to get a legal opinion to explain why. The same goes for the “How far back do I go?” question. If you have microfiche sitting around, get them scanned and out of your your way as soon as possible.

What are the Types of Microfiche Images?

We digitize microfiche to PDF, JPEG, TIFF, and their varied subtypes. They can be multipage or single page files, in folders or the root. They can be imported into any electronic document system.

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What You Don’t Know About Buying a Used Microfiche Scanner

Looking to buy a cheap used microfiche scanner?

There are a handful of high grade technologically marvelous microfiche scanner manufactures. Because they put so much time and money into research and development costs in a competitive niche industry, they are very protective of their products. For the most part, the major microfiche scanners do not sell officially used equipment.
Yet third-party microfiche scanner sellers advertise discounted scanner prices and gave good marketing campaigns.
Before you buy a used microfiche scanner, consider these facts:

Software licenses are non-transferable

buy used microfiche scanner

Legally, microfiche scanning software is licensed to the original purchaser of the unit and is not transferable to the new owner without the software publisher’s expressed permission. It is possible that the software could no longer work should you purchase used equipment (and definitely forget about updates), and there will probably be an additional cost for a new software license.

Used Microfiche Scanners Are Bought “As Is”

When you buy a microfiche scanner “as is,” that purchase is from a private seller. If you agree to the “as is” terms, you may have little to no recourse under the law if something goes wrong or if the microfiche scanner turns out to not be what the seller says it was. To add insult to injury, you probably were already on the hook for shipping costs paid for all of half of the microfiche scanner at the point.
Caveat emptor is the principle that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality before the purchase is made.

Waiver of Rights for Technical Support

You will not be eligible for software updates, upgrades, or maintenance help. If you call the microfiche scanner manufacturer, you will not get technical help, equipment parts, or support. You will need to pay for a new service contract.


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.


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.