Aperture Card Scanning Price Secrets Revealed

This, of course, is the number one question asked about aperture card scanning. While it is naturally an important question when budgeting for a conversion project, it is usually not the most important question one should ask. In a previous blog, I covered the questions and considerations necessary to achieve a successful scanning project (see “Six Steps to Successful Aperture Card Scanning”). But today, I will provide the secrets to the most commonly asked question: “What will it cost to scan my aperture cards?”

Secret #1 – Fully Automated Aperture Card Scanning

If you have excellent quality aperture cards that were produced to the industry standards for: (1) controlling uniform density, (2) controlling magnification per drawing size, (3) key punching data with desired metadata fields required for indexing images, and (4) providing the correct drawing size code punched on the aperture card, then you have won the lottery! You will be able to have your cards scanned at the lowest possible cost. Your cards will be able to be scanned with fully automated equipment at maximum throughput.

Unfortunately aperture card files are generally compiled over many years, and typically, aperture cards from many different time periods are interfiled causing a mixture of conditions to exist in most decks of cards.  Quality standards may not have been consistently followed or monitored over the years under various managements and budget constraints. Therefore, due to many circumstances, only about 20% of aperture card scanning projects can meet the criteria stated above.

Secret #2 – Semi-Automated Aperture Card Scanning

Aperture Card Scanning ServiceMost aperture card scanning projects are missing one or more of the criteria listed. This means that the scanning project will have to be accomplished in a semi-automated process. Depending on the unique mixture of aperture cards, the labor and time to complete the project will be 2-3 times the fully automated process. About 60-70% of aperture card scanning projects require a semi-automated process.

Secret #3 – Manual Aperture Card Scanning

Some aperture card scanning projects involve aperture cards that were not produced anywhere close to industry standards. In this case, the cards are either missing all of the criteria listed above or the image is of such poor quality that the only way to produce a reasonable image is by scanning one aperture card at a time. This allows for adjustments to be made for each card and for finding the metadata to index each image.  This manual process is very labor intensive and will further increase the cost for scanning aperture cards.  Fortunately, this is limited to 10-20% of aperture card conversion projects.

Budgeting for Your Aperture Card Scanning Project

Now that you know the secrets to the number one question about aperture card scanning, here is a ball park guideline for budgeting your project. These prices are based upon outsourcing the project to an experienced supplier that produces high quality work. If you are going to undertake the project internally, you will have to also allow for the training of personnel, the development of processes to address the issues encountered in your mix of aperture cards, the cost of acquiring and maintaining necessary equipment based upon the size of the project, and the desired time frame to complete the project.

  • Fully Automated – 15 to 20 cents per aperture card
  • Semi-Automated – 20 to 28 cents per aperture card
  • Manual – 30 to 70 cents per aperture card

If you are outsourcing your aperture card scanning project or setting up to scan your aperture cards in house, the best way to determine the potential actual cost for a project is to examine a representative sample of your aperture card deck along with desired output results.

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