Regardless of whether your office has a standalone laser printer and scanner, or an all-in-one machine that does everything, there are creative things you can do with the scanning and printing functions.
And the best part is that you don’t have to be a “creative” type to produce impressive results with your projects.
Here is a brief round-up of some tips, tricks and techniques to create some fun and useful items using your laser printer and scanner.
Five Ideas for Laser Printer and Scanner Projects
A word of caution before we jump into these ideas: always test your printer for the types of materials you hope to run through it. While newer and higher-end laser printers can manage a wider variety of paper stocks and thickness than lower-end models, it’s best to test.
Also, be very cautious and gentle when placing anything on the glass platen of your scanner bed. It’s not designed to scan bricks, rocks or dumbbells! And anything with grit or sharp edges are quite likely to scratch the surface – something you want to avoid at all times.
While some projects may look better by using an inkjet printer because of the nature and quality of ink compared to toner, today’s laser printers hold up on their own quite well in terms of image quality and durability.
Customized Business Cards
This requires the use of a standard 8.5 by 11 inch business card sheet template that can be downloaded here. The one downside to this approach is that, by using your own paper, you will have to cut the cards by hand, preferably with a cutting machine.
However, the big upside is that you can use almost any style and color or pattern of 8.5 by 11 inch paper, up to the maximum thickness your printer can handle. This can mean manufacturer paper colors and designs, as well as creating and then printing your old image on the paper and then printing your business card images on top of those sheets.
MS Word has default template tools for creating your business cards and you can use these as guides for adding more custom touches such as individual photos on the backs of the cards.
Personalized Paper Napkins
If you’re having an office party or a small client event, you can create personalized napkins or paper coasters with your printer by using basic cocktail napkins. Because the napkins are usually folded in fours, simply unfold it so that it’s only folded once before running it through the printer.
You can scan your company logo, a photograph, or any number of things to create a customized image to print on the napkins (or coasters.) Because of the size and shape of paper coasters, you may need to tape a number of them to a sheet of paper using a custom template of your own design, say six to a sheet. Then use this template to guide the placement of your images.
Creating Collage Art
One creative use for your scanner serves no “practical” purpose, but can be incredibly fun and interesting, while resulting in some impressive pieces of artwork.
Although scanners are designed to scan flat originals, you’re not limited to that and can actually scan dimensional objects, as well. This could be anything from old keys, matchbooks, and other odds and ends, to intricate leaves and wild flowers. Better yet, you can create your own artwork in a collage-style and then scan the original piece.
This can then be rendered as a large format and unretouched photo image, or further enhanced with your computer’s photo editing software or graphics program.
Reproduce Children’s Art
Similar to the collage art idea, scanning and digitizing copies of your children’s artwork is a great idea. Not only does this provide you with permanent copies that you can save and share with grandparents, you can also use the images to create albums or unique photo books and other digital and printed keepsakes.
But don’t stop with just your kid’s artwork – try scanning their hands and maybe even their faces to add the “artist’s” personalized touch to the finished printed projects.
Old print images can be scanned to create high definition digital copies, but you can also use your scanner to create original photographs. And they can be dimensional, not just flat.
This is done by arranging objects on the scanner’s glass platen with the lid either propped open or removed. This allows you to use your scanner as a specialized camera to capture an image of whatever you place on the glass
There are limitations, of course, and part of the fun is in the experimentation. Because the depth of field is usually limited to less than half an inch from the glass surface, any part of an object further than that from the glass with be out of focus. On the other hand, anything touching the glass will be in extreme and detailed focus.
Custom Paper Bags
Similar to the napkin project, creating small, customized paper bags is a snap with your scanner and printer. You can use pretty much any type of paper bag providing it has no handles and is no larger than 8.5 by 11 inches when lying flat.
After creating or scanning your image, simply place the bag with the flap side down and tape it to a regular piece of printer paper using low-tack tape. Once it has gone through the printer, simply remove the tape and repeat the process.
Have Fun With Your Laser Printer and Scanner
Remember, the versatility of your printer and scanner device means you can stretch your creative abilities and push the limits of what these machines can do. The world of scanning and printing is not limited to business documents and two dimensions!