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From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 18 No 01 - JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2005
HP’s new DesignJet 4000 provides significant performance enhancements over its predecessors, and provides an embedded web server to keep the beast under control!
It’s quite simple, really! If you want to keep ahead of the market you have
to turn out new and improved printers on a regular basis – just like
Hewlett-Packard does! They’ve been the dominant force in ink jet printing for
more years than I care to remember, both at the consumer end of the market, and
to a more marked degree – in wide format printing.
Not only does each new model come with increased speeds, resolution, colour capability and connectivity, but also with the software to handle the extra power. The Designjet 4000 series is no exception to the rule.
Aimed at any company that has a requirement for sizable amounts of high quality images – the AEC or GIS markets, perhaps, for churning out architectural visualisations and plans, or maps – or even for the graphics industry, the Designjet 4000 is a 2400 x 1200 dpi printer capable of producing up to 100 A1 prints an hour. For printing line drawings, that’s twice as fast as the Designjet 1000, three times faster than the 500/800 series and 6 times quicker than the Designjet 700!
When it comes to complex images, the difference in performance is even more impressive! Take a 340Mb PDF file – a high quality GIS image with loads of text and fine detail, for instance, where processing power becomes a factor as well as pure speed. Compared to the Designjet 1550cm plus, the DJ 4000ps was able to process such a document in 2mins 11 secs, and print it out in a further 5 mins 15 secs. The 1055cm plus struggled a bit in comparison, returning times of 24mins 9 secs and 15mins 26secs, respectively. The latter printer was no slouch, either! Productivity is improved even further by processing print jobs whilst the previous jobs are being printed!
How is this achieved? The Designjet 4000 uses HP’s Double Swath technology, doubling the performance of the DJ1000 without sacrificing colour quality. It has 2 staggered printheads for each colour, producing a 1.66inch print swath. Each printhead has 524 nozzles, producing an astonishing 36,000 drops per second per colour! All of this is controlled by a new vacuum system with dual controls and high precision media advance, ensuring that accuracy of colour placement is maintained at such high speeds on different types of print media.
Vacuum control? Nothing to do with Dyson, I assure you, but a unique system that uses an advanced platen design with two different width channels – wide to take the expansion of standard paper into account, and to prevent head crashes, and narrow to hold stiff media flat to improve print quality. The vacuum level is optimised and set for each channels needs.
Simultaneous processing and printing is achieved by using an embedded processor, with 256 Mb of memory, which can be expanded up to 512Mb if required. Further time is saved by using a driverless multi-file printing workflow. Formats supported by the printer include TIFF, JPEG, CALS, Adobe Postscript Level 3 ad Adobe PDF 1.5.
In the early days of colour printing, calibrating the RGB screen colours to produce exactly the same colour in CMYK on the printer required a fair bit of manual colour calibration, using specifically designed instruments and software. All of this is now handled by HP’s professional Colour Technologies, which also maintains colour consistency throughout print runs. The Designjet 4000’s colour capabilities are further enhanced by incorporating sRGB, AdobeRGB, Closed Loop Colour, TIFF, JPG ad embedded ICC profiles. Print and media supplies and print quality is also maintained by HP’s Smart Printing Technology. The DesignJet 4000 also provides black point compensation, offset emulation (the simulation of the images produced on offset web presses) and pantone calibration.
The most interesting software tool, though, has to be the Embedded Web Server that provides a complete remote print management solution for the printer – accessible from a PC or server, wherever the printer may be situated. This enables users to monitor the printers supplies, providing email alerts whenever they are getting low, and eradicating nasty surprises when you go up to check the output from a print job.
This is the software that handles multi-file printing and previews, allowing multiple users to post jobs to the printer, and to monitor their status. It can also be used to provide a permanent job storage medium for frequently required prints. Throughput of supplies are recorded, and can be extracted onto Excel spreadsheets to provide accounting information. In addition to all of this, the web server can be used for remote diagnostics – troubleshooting problems on the printer from remote servers.
A lot of capability and information, but little effort needed by the user to access and understand it. It’s all available from the printer drivers, and under the HP DesignJet 4000 Printing Preferences, the user can select, from a number of clear icons, a check on printer status, media available on the printer, management of the printer queue, and access to user documentation, besides the normal functions for paper quality, finishing, effects, colour settings, job storage and services.
All available print media can be used on the printer, from plain paper, to heavyweight coated papers, glossy, translucent bond, natural tracing paper, photo, vellum, film and canvas – the latter for graphic purposes! Maximum print width is 1067mm, and the printer can take both sheets up to A0 in size and rolls up 91mm – which, co-incidentally, is the maximum print length! The output bin for collecting finished prints can hold up to 50 A) sized prints.
Print supplies are at the level that you would expect from a printer designed for lengthy print runs – 225cc or 400cc for each colour, and 400cc for Black,
Drivers available with the printers – there are two versions available, a standard printer, and, of course, a Postscript version – include HP-GL/2, HP-RTL for Windows, Postscript Windows, ADI for AutoCAD R14(?), support for AutoCAD versions 2000 inwards and support for Citrix mainframe environments. Postscript drivers are also available for the various Mac OS’s.
Connectivity is via Fast Ethernet (10/100 Mbps), FireWire, and EIO slots, with additional interfaces, such as HP’s JetDirect 40d Gigabit Print Server and a high speed USB card and HP’s JetDirect 620n and 625n LAN cards.
Ink Jet printing seems to be on a never ending upward path, in terms of performance and quality of output. In fact, the quality you see in your local PC World on photo quality printers is echoed, shortly afterwards, by wide format printers – the constraints on immediate implementation having more, probably, to do with memory sizes, and processing power, than the printing technology – the data files are substantially larger than 5 x 5 inch photos!
More information on the capabilities of the Designjet 4000 are available form Art Systems, a company well versed in Hewlett-Packard technology –and both the CAD and Graphic industries, which they have been supplying for years.
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