Designs on your site

HP's current round of DesignJet printers offer market-leading capabilities to all drawing and document users in the construction industry, either on-site or for production printing in the back office

Hewlett-Packard has released details of its full range of DesignJet production printers, covering all areas of the market from A2 CAD drawings and visualisations to A0/A1 multifunction printing using HP's inkjet technology, instead of LED technology used by its rivals. Hewlett-Packard are, of course, the leaders in the field of wide format printing - I have been following their progress since the early pen plotter days - and new models are eagerly scrutinised to see the areas in which the technology is developing, and the performance enhancements that users expect.

It is also refreshing to note that hard copy printing is still a vital requirement for the construction industry. There is still a need to provide detailed drawings for some of the workforce, instead of the obligatory iPad, and to share their decisions with their workforce with reference to a paper set of plans, rather than resorting to a 3D digital model.

One of the advantages promoted for server hosted digital models is that they are as up to date as the last addition or edit to the design, whereas paper documents printed centrally and distributed are out of date as soon as they are printed. In reality, being able to print out detailed plans on-site gives workers the level of construction detail they need, and as fresh as they need to be, in the assimilable and familiar format they are most used to.

Hence the need for the DesignJet T100, which HP says is the smallest A1/A0 capable printer available, designed to be conveniently placed within the restricted office space of the standard site cabin. To encourage its distributed use on-site, the printer comes in at a budget price and is supplied with Wi-Fi capabilities that simplify the distribution and printing of up to date documents.

HP has brought the printing process up to date with its Click app for direct printing of PDF documents, and the SMART app that allows users to select and print documents directly from the server using their smartphones.

Despite its size, the T100 is capable of printing full A0/A1 drawings and high quality prints in as little as 35 seconds. Even more impressively, it comes with an integrated cassette that can handle A4/A3 single sheet documents, colour matched to the highest spec colour printouts in A1/A0 format, using HPs Bright Office inks. Combining wide format printing capabilities with standard office document printing using the same technology is one of the easiest 'no brainers' in the printing industry.

The T100 is actually a series of printers - the T125, T130 etc. - using dye-based CMY and pigment-based K or black, security protected, HP inks and thermal printheads capable of printing at 1200 dpi. HP says that protecting the ink cartridges with HP original chips enables them to guarantee the quality of the printed product.

Most of the above applies to the DesignJet T500. The main differences are that it can print at higher resolutions - up to 2400dpi - and is floor mounted, rather than a desktop device. Like the T100 it comes in 24 and 36-inch versions, and can print an A1plain paper document in around 30 seconds. The T500 series also come with the A3/A4 cassette for small document printing. Despite their floor-based configuration, HP still quotes them as being the smallest available wide format printers for their capability.

For companies that still rely on the rapid production of multiple drawings and high quality renders produced in the main office, HP has produced the T1600. This is a floorstanding dual roll feed device with a multiplicity of security and fast printing features. The "One Click Print" capability enables multi-page documents to be selected with a range of formats - PDF, JPEG, TIFF, DWF or HP-GL/2 - and then print the entire file without modifying the print settings.

The DesignJet T1600 is essentially a design office-based production printer, and HP claim a number of 'best performances' in that field: fastest print speed, most compact in operation mode and quietest.

Too many claims? HP explains that 'fastest print speed' is based on sustained print speeds during operation, and 'most compact footprint' is based on all devices in Operation Mode, with an Open basket and the arm of the front panel spread out to allow access to users. 'Quietest?'. HP tested the sound pressure level during operating mode (plain paper, line drawing, Normal mode) and compared it to the published specification of competitive printers. On a more practical note, to achieve the highest level of accuracy and finest details for your drawings, you will need access to Adobe's PDF Print Engine. This means you will need to purchase the HP DesignJet T1600 PostScript model or the optional HP DesignJet PostScript/PDF Upgrade Kit. Without embedded Adobe technology, unless you are already a RIP (dedicated Raster Image Processor) user, you can’t take advantage of PDF files containing special fonts, PANTONE colours, smooth shading, overprint, and transparencies, which can only be reproduced using the Adobe PDF Print Engine. You can learn more about this by searching for 'pdfprintengine' on Adobe's website.

The T1600 also has the ability to print from two separate rolls of paper, but only if you opt for the DesignJet T1600dr version.

In terms of print security, the DesignJet T1600 has HP's SecureBoot and whitelisting technology embedded, to control access to the printer or who can print private documents - a feature of HP's JetAdvantage Security Manager.

As an alternative to the DesignJet T1600 professional printer, you have the DesignJet 3600 Multifunction printer, which incorporates a high quality scanner allowing users to digitise existing documents for editing, fast reproduction or archiving. It also boasts the fastest time for first page printing at a mere 29 seconds.

Multifunction printers from other manufacturers traditionally use mono LED technology for rapid and finescale drawing production, but the DesignJet XL3600 retains HP's Thermal Inkjet technology, producing comparable performance levels in a 30% smaller configuration - and in colour. Despite its smaller size, it comes with automatic paper handling, especially useful for the dual paper rolls, and single sheet stacking up to 100 pages for traditional office documents in A3/A4 formats.

ArtSystems is a Gold Standard Hewlett-Packard distributor, and has developed considerable expertise with all HP technologies, supporting a nationwide network of dealers and local suppliers, assisting them and their customers with technical know-how, training and regional promotional activity.