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andrew murdock

Printer recommendations anyone?

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I am researching large format (44inch wide) printers for vectorworks 10. I am currently running OS 9.0.4 on a G3 laptop, 500Mhz, with 640 MB of RAM. Would anyone be so bold as to recommend a printer for plotting as well as printing color 3-D renderings. (I also intend to upgrade in the future to OS 10 with a new G4 or G5?) Should I wait until I upgrade my system before I invest in a printer?

[ 09-15-2003, 04:21 PM: Message edited by: andrew murdock ]

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How much money do you want to spend ? Do you think you will want to network the plotter to more than one machine ? Does it matter if the printouts last more than a few months in regards to fading (dye versus pigment inks) ? Is space in your "office" and issue ( some 44" printers get pretty big ) ? New or used ?

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Thanks for the reply.

I would like to spend as little as possible- however I fell that I may need to spend up to $7000.00 if I go to 42" wide. Networking is not an issue I will most probably be the only user. Size is not an issue.

I have looked into the HP designjet 800ps- what do you think of that. Any other alternatives.

regards

AM

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The HP 800ps is supposedly a good machine. It has a hard drive in it which has the rip software on it. This may be problematic when the machine is older and you need to upgrade it to future software. I have had a HP 455 for years now and it has worked fine hardware wise, but the software has been problematic. This was the low end plotter of the time. But I use gimprint now to drive it in OSX and it works better than before. The HP500 seems to have software problems. I got frustrated with the HP plotter and so I switch to a epson 9600 ($4,995) which is 42 " wide and have been very pleased with the machine. It comes with a one year on site warranty and the output is beautiful. It also uses pigmented inks (ultracrhome) which last far longer than the dye inks which the HP800 uses. Epson gears it's machines toward the fine art photography businesses versus HP which is more into business /cad applications. HP says you have to have a post script driver RIP to run the machine in a Mac environment. Epson does not require a post script RIP. Their driver works fine without it but you can get it as a option. Post script is not required for vectorworks. Post script takes more time to process the print file which was frustrating and problematic with the HP455. The cheapest HP with pigmented inks was the 5000 series which starts at around $14,000 dollars for a PS version. All plotters take more time to setup than an desktop printer. My HP was difficult to get working and each time Apple changed system software, HP was very slow to write drivers for it. This was at a time when Apple was not doing that great though. The Epson was very easy to get going and they seem much more commited to the Mac platform than HP. Although HP tech support was very helpful when I called, I felt that HP was more interested in writing drivers for the PC world. It is also nice to have a service center close by in case the machine needs repair, but they do not break down very often. A very reasonable solution would be to buy a HP400 series used on ebay and drive it with gimprint. This kind of setup would be probably less than $1,000 dollars.

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Kurt,

Thanks for the info.

The Epson seems like the way to go. Have you had any problems when you upgarded to MAC OS X?

Also what paper type do you output your drawings on? Can you us vellum?

cheers

AM

[ 09-24-2003, 12:21 PM: Message edited by: andrew murdock ]

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Epson has both OS9 & OSX drivers. The first OSX driver had some issues but the current one seems to work fine ( same as HP). I had to do a firmware upgrade to the ethernet card but even than was simple. I had to do that to the HP for OSX too. It was difficult, required a PC (Parallel port) and lots of frustration. Velum works fine. Actually, higher quality papers seem to work better than inexpensive trans bond types. Blueprint shops usually carry HP compatible papers not Epson when it comes to media. I usually order my papers from my Epson dealer via internet. Hp uses thermal inkjet technology versus Epson's Piezo tech which is why you cannot use the same media. I highly recommend having your dealer help with the installation unless you like setting up computer hardware. Dealer support is very useful in trouble shooting problems too. Also as I said before, having service close by is a big factor in your choice of machines. The epson 9600 is a big machine. Takes 4 people to lift it out of the box. When they drop shipped it to my door, it was like, oh my god how am I going to move this thing? It really does not matter if you upgrade to G4 or G5 now or later in regards to the printer but, it does really matters with Vectorworks. The speed increases and usability of the program is a world of difference. You are really hampered by the G3 laptop, unless you are only doing simple 2d drawings. Please talk to others about the pros and cons of different plotters. The Epson works fine for me because I was concerned more with high quality archival fine art prints than with day to day CAD output. Noise output and working in your office environment is also issues you should consider. Keep in mind that plotter sales people are kind of like used car salesmen. They will tell you all sorts of things and bad mouth the other guy's product to get you to buy.

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Our office uses an HP800PS on a network (both macs and PCs). It's been very reliable, and we get good quality prints. I can't tell you much about cost (either initial or cost to run it), though.

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