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Features List 13
From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 22 No 7 - JULY/AUGUST 2009
Canon's new wide format printers provide extra security for architects and design engineers, says David Chadwick, simplifying routine maintenance tasks like changing inks, producing print logs, and diagnosing and rectifying rare faults
The astute printer user will want to know how much ink he has left in his ink cartridges before he attempts some heavy printing. To be on the safe side, though, he would also like to know that running out of a particular colour in the middle of a print job won’t be the end of the World - or of that particular print job at least, as he should also be able to reload a new ink cartridge 'on-the-fly'!
It's what you might call 'belt and braces stuff' or 'covering all the bases'. In actual fact, users will want to delay loading fresh ink cartridges to ensure that they have extracted the last few precious drops of ink before loading a new cartridge.
The printer LED may tell you that ink levels are low, but not with a sufficiently accurate readout to prevent cartridges being replaced before they are completely empty. Nitpicking, I know, but over a printer's life, 5-10% saved here and there could amount to a significant sum. In the course of delaying the switchover, however, it is inevitable that the cartridge will expire in the middle of a print job. You've saved on ink economy, but you don't want to blow the saving on loss of productivity - so you would expect to be able to change the ink cartridge whilst the printer is still working.
IMAGEPROGRAF IPF 650, 655, 750 AND 755
Canon's latest range of wide format printers address both of these issues. They provide a more accurate management of printer costs, ink usage and, of course, ROI, than the printer based display, and they facilitate 'hotswapping' of ink tanks during printing.
The new range provides two versions of each of the 24 (A1) inch - imagePROGRAF 650 and 655 - and 36 (A0) inch - imagePROGRAF 750 and 755 - models. They have the same high accuracy of their predecessors, with an 0.02m minimum line width and +/-0.1% line accuracy. They come with the same six colour ink system as the iPF 610 and 710 range as well, with both pigment and dye reactive inks that include two Matte black cartridges (MBK), a further black cartridge (BK) and the three colours Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Print resolution is a high 2400 x 1200 dpi, with each printhead comprising 2,560 nozzles and the MB having 5,120 nozzles, reflecting the use of the higher density head for denser print quality. The high degree of accuracy is obtained through the use of droplets that have a volume of a mere 4 picolitres.
Printing speed is high as well, with A1 printing on the 650 and 655 coming out at 30 seconds in draft mode, up to two minutes six seconds in high quality mode.
FULL ACCOUNTING AND EMAINTENANCE
You get a printer Status Monitor when you buy the imagePROGRAF 610, the predecessor to the 650 and 750 - and probably the rest of them, as well. That provides detailed information about the printer whenever you send it a print job. Besides showing how much ink remains in each cartridge, with an explicit warning if ink tanks are getting low, it also provides an indication of how full the maintenance cartridge is - the one that collects all of the waste ink, and which has to be emptied periodically. The different paper feeds that are active are also listed, showing the type of paper that you have loaded, or intend to load, and whether it is
loaded or empty. The job status lists print jobs in the queue, giving details about the name of the document, its owner, and size. Once it has been printed, the details go into the Print Log, which gives a complete rundown of who used the printer and when - how many pages were printed, how long it took, the type of paper used and so on - accessible in a text file or as a printed document. With the new printers, you get an enhanced and much more useful version of the accounting function. You can assign explicit costs to each user.
You enter the costs of each type of paper and the different ink cartridges, and the software will use the information, plus all of the other information listed in the Status Monitor about who printed what and when, and come up with a detailed report, which you can then output to Excel or in PDF format. Besides apportioning costs for each type and quantity of paper used, it also factors in the print quality used - economy, draft, standard or high quality.
You can't dig any deeper than that! The accounting function also, well, accounts for the difference between the 650 and the 655 models, and the 750 and 755. Both the 655 and the 755 come with an 80Gb hard drive, so that many more records can be stored in the Print Log, beyond the 30 or so with the other two models. The Status Monitor will tell you whether the paper is jammed in the printer, and give you a couple of other clues if the printer stops working. If that doesn't go far enough you can dial into Canon or the Dealer you bought the printer from using the eMaintenance facility, and have them check the printer out remotely.
They will then use their expertise to run it from their end, and either diagnose or fix faults. The 'HotSwap' feature is precisely that, allowing users to reload ink cartridges in the middle of a print job - i.e. whilst it is still printing. It works a bit like the fuel gauge in your car, and you have a bit of time to fill up once the red light has come on. There are intermediate reservoirs between the ink cartridge and the printhead. If you ignore the successive warning levels and try to eke out the last drop of ink from the cartridge you will, of course, also drain the reservoir - but you do have a bit of time before that happens.
Talking earlier about saving costs, there is a new Economy Print Mode that optimises print levels even further than before - as long as you remember to switch it on. We tend to get a bit ambivalent about printing out drafts in lower modes in the interests of speed. If you want to improve printing performance then you can use the Microsoft Office Plug-in, which allows you to print directly from Excel, PowerPoint and Word documents, with the dedicated features that each of these has. It saves a bit of time and is rather like the PhotoShop printing plug-in that Canon has.
Canon has also introduced a cheeky little feature that allows you to emulate the output from Hewlett-Packard printers. Put it in a line-up with half a dozen HP printers, or other Canon printers, and you can set it up to produce identical documents; a facility that is achievable because of the great precision that Canon printers have with regard to matching industry colour standards. And you can use the colours to their absolute full effect (all six of them, although two of them are Matt Black) by printing A1 and A0 documents using borderless printing!
The imageProGRAF 650 and 750 are more compact and lighter than the older printers, and come with simple front loading roll feeding systems, so that they can be used against the wall to save space. The 655 and 755 versions of the printer also come with media mismatch detection, a useful tool for minimising printer downtime through media mismatch - that frustrating situation where the printer is loaded with a format other than the one it thinks it has, and sulks when it is asked to print something out. It can't read your mind, and needs you to tell it what you have loaded! www.canon.com
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