Monday, December 27, 2010

Buyers’ Guide – Large Format Printer (Plotter)

One of the most frequently asked questions that come to me in daily basis is comparing the HP Designjet wide format printer with Canon imagePROGRAF large format printer.

Answering such questions over and over again has been quite frustrating. Hence, I started to post LFP products reviews and related applications at this Large Format Printer Blog. Whenever I received questions as such, I will refer them to this blog, or sometimes send them the direct link on the subject matter.

How to choose the right Large Format Printer/ Wide Format Printer?

One of the common mistakes made by the buyers is they are sourcing the alternative or replacement large format printer (LFP) based on the existing model of wide format printer at the office.

HP Designjet 4020

Let say HP Designjet T1100, 44-inch wide format printer is the existing LFP unit at the buyers’ office. Probably the buyer will ask questions like below while he or she is looking for a new printer:

“What is the equivalent model for HP Designjet T1100?”
 The buyer assumed that the HP Designjet T1100 is the right choice during the last purchase. He or she also assumed that the user requirements are the same for now as compared to 5 years ago.

“Please quote me a 44” large format printer model.”
The buyer thought that wide format printer is differentiate by its printable width alone. For CAD application, models at 44-inch printable width are HP Designjet T770, HP Designjet T770HD, HP Designjet T1200,  Canon iPF815, Canon iPF825. Normally 36-inch (A0 size) will be the maximum print width required for CAD drawing, the 44-inch LFP models will just take up extra foot print of the precious office space and add no value.

Unfortunately, such procurement procedure is not effective due to 2 reasons as below:
1.    The users’ requirements may have already changed since the purchase date of the existing LFP.
2.    If the decision of the earlier unit of LFP is not done proper in the past, and the new purchasing consideration is based on the said decision, it will just lead to another wrong buying.

User Requirements

Instead of specifications comparison or price analysis, buyers are recommended to go back to fundamentals of procurement which is detailed user requirements studies.

Mandatory information for large format printer selection:
1.    Print Volume per month (by size- A2, A1, A0)
2.    Maximum wide format document size (A0, A1)
3.    Workgroup size (The LFP will be shared by how many users?)
4.    Installation space (This is critical for offices at corporate towers where space is scarce)
5.    Types of media rolls (Plain Paper, Linen, Transparency, Etc)
6.    Etc (special remark from users)

With the above information, it will enable the sales consultants to propose the right large format printer model for the buyers’ consideration.
To ensure the proposed models are suitable, buyers need to ask questions focus on the result from the user requirements studies.

It will be meaningful to evaluate strength and weaknesses of  the shortlisted models such as cost per print, total cost of ownership and after sales technical support upon the buyers are cleared on the users expectations.

Monday, December 13, 2010

HP Designjet T2300 eMFP – Preliminary Review

HP Designjet T2300 eMFP and ePrint & Share is the first-ever wide format printer that comes with web-ready printing system with MFP benefits. The new HP Designjet T2300 eMFP promotes sophisticated workflows with HP ePrint & Share.

HP Designjet T2300 eMFP

Compare HP Designjet T2300 eMFP with HP Designjet T1200 HD MFP
The HP Designjet T2300 eMFP has integrated the HP Designjet wide format printer, 36-inch large format scanner and the PC that served as the connectivity interface for both scanner and printer into one single device.

HP Designjet T1200 HD MFP

Printer Specifications:
There is no significant improvement in term of print productivity. The mechanical printing time exclude file processing time is still maintain at 28 seconds per A1 size with Economode on.

In term of color images printing, the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP is able to produce 41m2/hr (445 ft2/hr) with ‘Fast’ settings under Economode as compared to 51m2/hr (549 ft2/hr) for HP Designjet T1200 HD MFP under the same settings.

But there is no improvement on printing speed for images printing with ‘Best’ settings. Both HP Designjet T2300 eMFP and HP Designjet T1200 HD MFP mechanical printing time for color images at ‘Best’ settings with Economode on is 3.1m2/hr.

The print quality of HP Designjet T2300 eMFP with Fast mode settings as compared with HP Designjet T1200 HD MFP with the same settings is questionable as the printer driver development of HP Designjet T2300 eMFP may had compromised the print quality in exchange with higher productivity.

Evaluation on this doubt will be published upon further review is done.

Optical Scanner Specifications:
Apparently HP Designjet T1200 HD Multifunction Printer comes with a better performance and more versatile scanner.

The HP Designjet T1200 HD MFP color scanning speed is at 5.1cm/sec (2 in/sec) while the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP color scanning speed has reduced to 3.81 cm/sec (1.5 in/sec).

For black and white or greyscale scanning performance, the HP Designjet T1200 HD MFP is rated to be at 15.2 cm/sec (6 in/sec) while the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP is performing at 11.43 cm/sec (4.5 in/sec).

The media thickness for the HP Designjet T1200 HD MFP is up to 15mm (0.6 in) while the thickness allowance for the new HP Designjet T2300 eMFP has reduced significantly to 0.8mm (0.03 in).

It seems like a total downgrade on the scanning capability of the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP over the previous generation, HP Designjet T1200 HD MFP. A further review on the scan quality will be posted upon scanning test is done between them because the comparison need to made to justify if the scanning speeds of both series of MFPs are done under same quality settings.

Software Versatility:
The HP Designjet T2300 eMFP is a new milestone in the wide format printer world via its software capability.

Instead of performing file opening, sharing and sending via PC, the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP users have the option to perform some of these tasks via the touch screen user interface on the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP.

The HP Designjet T2300 eMFP executable tasks via the new touch screen interface with enhanced connectivity are as below:
1.    Scan and upload content to the Web.
2.    Print and share files over the Web/ touch screen (HP ePrint & Share)
3.    Print direct from USB memory device.
4.    Print to any web-connected HP Designjet (HP ePrint & Share)
5.    Share files via email links
6.    Etc.

HP Designjet T2300 eMFP Review in a Nut Shell:
This is a preliminary review on the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP with HP ePrint & Share.  It is definitely going to bring excitement to the wide format multifunction printer industry with the evolutional interface and advanced connectivity.

But, users are advised to go back on the fundamentals prior to decision making such as defining your needs as below:
1.    Print volume
2.    Copy volume
3.    Expected print productivity (Times needed to process, print and cut the paper, do not based on the mechanical printing time alone to make justification).
4.    Expected scan productivity (Times needed to scan a document at desired scanning quality).
5.    Existing technical documents workflows.
6.    IT Compliance and securities issues with the new connectivity features offered by HP Designjet T2300 eMFP.

Last but not least, the major concern of mine would be the practicality of having the scanner and printer totally integrated into one single device.

Concerns as below:
1. A scanner, being a static device, mounted on the dynamic device (while printing, the print head is driven to left and to right, this create vibration), would it deteriorate the scanning quality in long run? An optical device is highly sensitive to vibration as it will lead to focus point misalignment.

2. A dynamic device will normally have more down times than a static device. Will the downtime of the printer affects the scanner for HP Designjet T2300 eMFP?

3.  There are minimal mechanical parts for an optical scanner. The scanner will definitely outlast a printer for many times because the printer is considered a highly wear & tear device. Take HP Designjet T1200 HD MFP as example; if the printer is aged, and going for a replacement, the company has an option to maintain the scanner of the HP Designjet T1200 HD MFP, hence the capital investment would just be on the new large format printer.

Will HP Designjet T2300 eMFP has such flexibility?

*The large format scanner cost more than 2 times than a large format printer.

It is always a smarter way to focus on functionality and fundamentals over anything else.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Canon iPF750 vs. Canon iPF710 Review – What are the differences between Canon iPF750 and Canon iPF710 A0 Size Large Format Printer?

Canon iPF710 is reckon to be the most successful wide format printer model for CAD applications which has been launch by Canon under the sub brand imagePROGRAF.  In late 2009, Canon iPF750 has been introduced to strengthen the iPF series offering at A0 size technical document applications while maintaining the A0 size flagship model, Canon iPF710.

Canon iPF750 (36-inch/ A0)

Both Canon iPF750 and Canon iPF710 are categorized at medium end* A0 size wide format printer range. The differences between Canon iPF750 and Canon iPF710 which will be explained below serve as a buying guide to the A0 size large format printer users.

 *Medium end wide format printers (A0 size) for CAD applications available in the market as of 8th December 2010 are Canon iPF710, Canon iPF750, Canon iPF755, HP Designjet T770 (44”), HP Designjet T770HD (44”) and HP Designjet T1200.

Please read below for the review of the differences between Canon iPF750 vs. Canon iPF710:

1. Productivity- Printing Speed
Canon iPF750 takes approximately 48 seconds while Canon iPF710 takes approximately 55 seconds to process, print and cut an A0 size CAD drawing.

Canon iPF750 has improved the printing speed by approximately 13% over Canon iPF710.

2. Media Handling
Canon iPF710 media roll holder is located at the rear part of the printer. Users need to access at the back of the printer for media roll replacement.
Canon iPF710 rear view

Canon iPF750 is featured with front loading design. It means users can load the paper roll at the front of the printer without the need to move the printer away from the wall for paper loading at the rear part of the printer.

A part from the above, the Canon iPF750 has enhanced the paper/media loading design with the loading guide rail which automatic perform skew correction and alignment of the paper.

3. Space Saving Design 
Canon iPF750 has significantly reduced the physical dimension of the printer length from 1,507mm (Canon iPF710) to 1,304mm.

The Canon iPF750 space-saving design with fully front-accessible operation for flush wall installation is definitely a key feature for users with limited office space such as corporate towers, project site offices and SOHO (small office home office) environment.
Large Format Printer Length Comparison (Canon iPF series vs. HP Designjet series)
The above is an illustration to scale of the printer length of Canon iPF750, Canon iPF710, Canon iPF650, HP Designjet T770 (24-inch), HP Designjet T770 (44-inch), and HP Designjet T1200 (24-inch).

4. Ink Delivery System (Sub Ink Tank Design)
Canon iPF750 is the first imagePROGRAF 36-inch models to use individual sub-tanks for each ink color within the printer. Constantly reserving a preset ink level in the sub ink tank lets users replace ink tanks without having to stop printing. Even when ink runs out unexpectedly, users can continue printing using just the subtanks. This also enables full use of ink tank contents, eliminating wasted ink.

The ink volume in the sub ink tanks is equivalent to approximately 80 sheets of A1 plain paper for monochrome drawings depending on printing condition.

5. Media Cutter
The Canon iPF750 is equipped with dual blade design with lifetime durability and it is driven by an independent motor that improve the media cutting speed. Not user replaceable. Estimated yield of the Canon iPF750 dual blade rotary cutter is at approximately 100,000 pieces of plain paper.

The Canon iPF710 comes with the user replaceable cartridge type single blade cutter. The estimated cutter life span is at approximately 20,000 pieces of plain paper.

6. Accounting Functions
The Canon iPF750 Status Monitor is enhanced with the Accounting Manager that designed and built to collect Canon imagePROGRAF large format printer job log information and calculate printing costs. This collects job logs to identify who printed what document from what printer and calculates the number of pages and sheets printed together with printing costs.

7. Maintenance Cartridge Life Span
The life span of the MC-10 Maintenance Cartridge for iPF750 is 2 times more durable than MC-07 Maintenance Cartridge for iPF710.

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