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I have recently gotten into scanography, but I have not yet found a good method to protect the scanner glass from objects that will scratch or soil it. I need to find a material that is optically neutral and thin.

I have tried acetate sheets (sold as document protectors), but they are only optically neutral for perfectly flat items, such as documents. I got some clear plastic document protectors, but they crinkle and have undesirable reflective properties. I could use glass (I do have a broken scanner lying around), but unless the glass is incredibly thin, it will cut into my depth of field, which is important to me.

So what is the optimal material? It needs to be optically neutral, low-reflective, not prone to wrinkling, as thin as possible, and preferably cheap and/or reusable.

  • You're asking for a material that doesn't exist. Any high-quality optical material of significant size will not be cheap. Non-reflective doesn't really exist, and coatings to reduce reflections will add to the cost. You don't mention durability and scratch resistance, but you'd probably want to add those to the list as well. – xiota May 26 at 3:56
  • By "non-reflective" I really mean "low reflective". The acetate I bought seemed like an OK material, it's just that it is slightly rough and that is bad for anything not directly against it. Is the roughness essential for the anti-reflective properties? Is there no such thing as smooth, clear acetate scanner protector sheets? – Stonecraft May 26 at 4:42
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    Most people don't need to "protect" their scanners. I wouldn't consider them "optimal", but are you looking for overhead transparency sheets? – xiota May 26 at 4:54
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    google "clear polycarbonate sheet" – dav1dsm1th May 26 at 18:17
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There have been some years since I used a scanner. But I would probably buy one 3mm glass, sand the edges to smooth them round and use it if I am scanning rocks. When scanning other objects and need sharper look, remove it.

Just be careful that the "protective layer" does not become "the weapon of doom" for your scanner.


I have the feeling that this extra mm will not make the images blurier, just a bit dimm, but there is a chance you have some glare.

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You're basically looking for a giant protective UV filter. Many would argue that the best UV filter is no UV filter.

The "best" material would likely be glass that is multicoated and intended for optical use. It's unlikely anyone makes UV filters large enough to cover typical flatbed scanners. Even if such a filter exists, it's unlikely to be "cheap".

I have not yet found a good method to protect the scanner glass from objects that will scratch or soil it.

Transport the scanner with the lid closed and the scan head "locked". Handle the scanner with care around "objects that will scratch or soil it".

  • Yeah handling with care is what I have been doing, but if I do it enough accidents are inevitable. I'm amazed that there isn't something like the acetate sheets except not cloudy. – Stonecraft May 26 at 2:47

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