An auto document feeder is an electromechanical device that accepts a stack of documents and feeds them one at a time into another device such as a fax machine, printer, scanner, or photocopier. An auto document feeder is a very desirable feature on any office machine. It spares human beings endless hours feeding sheets into a device, waiting for one to be processed, and feeding another. You want an auto document feeder in any device regularly used to process multiple documents at once. Typically, only infrequent home users can be satisfied with devices that lack an auto document feeder.
Key features are speed and document capacity. The price of an auto document feeder varies directly according to these features. So does the repair frequency of an auto document feeder. Keep these factors in mind when shopping for a device with an auto document feeder, and choose one that is only as fast and has as large a capacity as your actually need.
The speed of an auto document feeder is measured in pages per minute (ppm). Note that the auto document feeder's speed has nothing to do with the speed of the device it is feeding. It may take one second (60 ppm) to feed a page into a scanner, but it may take the scanner much longer to process the page depending on the desired resolution of the output image, and whether it is color or black-and-white.
An auto document feeder's capacity is simply the number of sheets its tray can hold. This capacity will vary depending upon the thickness of the sheet stock. The standard for measurement is 20 pound bond paper, the most commonly used type. You should also check the maximum sheet thickness that an auto document feeder can handle if you plan to use unusually thick stock.
An auto document feeder is a complex electromechanical device with many moving parts: pulleys, cables, gears, drive train, scanner head, etc. The auto document feeder is often the most failure-prone part of an otherwise perfectly functioning printer, fax machine, photocopier, etc. Any such device you purchase should have a flatbed scanner included, so that you can feed one sheet at a time manually if the auto document feeder fails.
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