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cassilly

Print speed horror

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We're using a HP 2000CP with Microspot Rip Vectorworks 10 and OS 10.2. Our files are up to 100meg large and at that size essentially won't print at all. Tried the PosterJet Demo with their tech person on the line today and after our file converted to postscript it crashed their software at about 180megs. We're ready to buy another printer, but need workable print speed. Right now even one page of a simple line drawing (granted from a layered 3D file) takes 20 minutes to print. Help!!!

Any suggestions on which printer to buy for between 2 - 7 thousand and what printer software interface to use would be greatly appreciated. PosterJet tells me we are far from alone in having this problem.

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Sounds like you need alot of ram. How much do you have ? You could also try gimpprint. it is free and apple includes it in OS10.3 so if you upgrade to panther you get it otherwise get it off the web. I had problems with really slow printing and hanging up in the print center with stock HP driver fo a 1220 and when I used gimp to drive it it just printed it with no big deal. The Hp driver just would go so slow it was rediculous. I also tried posterjet and was not impressed and the amount of money they wanted was way to much.

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Kurt, I didn't mean to send my reply privately. Briefly for anyone else reading we have 1280 ram on a 1G G4. Microspot, PosterJet and Vectorworks technical service dept. have not been able to offer a solution to unworkable print times for our files that have grown from 200k to over 100mb in less than two years as we have moved from 2D drawings to 3D models with imported objects.

I don't think Gimp has a driver specifically for the 2000cp, but had read somewhere that another driver might work. I don't know which one.

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Well I guess ram is not an issue. I suggested gimp because it is free and you can at least try it with a similar machine driver to the 2000. Maybe it will work, maybe no. Only your time is lost. Even though you have large file sizes, I have noticed that the problems of slow printing only occur when printing saved sheets that have alot of info versus every sheet. Is this true with you ? Some times I export things to photoshop to print, like renderings or presentation stuff. Since photoshop is a raster program versus a vector based program, it does not have to convert to raster to print (That is what a RIP does). Although an image export can take forever on a large image size it seems to not stall so bad as printing directly out of VWKS. So the same image prints way faster out of photoshop. Also if you haven't done it, to print a perspective or such, I use convert copy to lines or export image and paste the image into another layer and print from there, versus trying to print from the 3d model layer. This speeds up things alot. Seems like the program is trying to process every 3d object if you do not convert everything to a 2d drawing. Also I try to separate the working drawing files from the 3d presentation file, just to get rid of all that extra mbs of file size that are not necessary to the working drawing. I also have a epson 9600 printer that I use that has no RIP software and it prints fine from VWKS. HP says you got to have a post script RIP in order to print on a mac. But not true on the epson. Postcript really slows things down. Do you have your RIP on a separate computer print sever or do you RIP on each machine ? On my HP 455 it worked way faster if you had the RIP on a separte machine so each workstation partially process the print file through the laserwriter driver and then it would be sent to the RIP machine for final processing. This worked way better and you could que up alot of drawings too and keep working on the workstation. Kind of works like the fiery RIP option for Posterjet. Do you have that option with the microspot driver? I think it was available in the professional version but i am not sure.

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Wow! You've really been working with this. So, what you're saying, really is that I can't just set up my plotter and send the files to print and forget it. This is like service bureau stuff. I'll have to process it tomorrow.

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OK

1. Saved sheets. We crashed PosterJet the other day when we were printing one saved sheet of a rendered model so I guess we weren't printing every sheet, or am I misunderstanding what you mean?

2. Exporting to other programs to print renderings. We have done this, but sort of as a last resort. We HAD to get a big job out once that required architectural review and lots of rendered images and we exported and printed from Photoshop on a large format laser printer in someone else's office. We did get the job printed with someone not sleeping, but we still couldn't use the 2000cp and the exporting seemed to add another layer of complexity and it's own set of issues.

3. Separating the working drawings form 3D seems promising, but how do you do that? We don't really have any 2D pages or use 2D tools any more, but we do have 2D views that the printer handles much more easily than the rendered 3D views. Do you make a copy of the file, do some sort of separation, then print, then go back to the original file to make any changes?

4. We do dedicate one computer - a G4 - to printing. I think we are doing what you describe. We're on a network. There seems to be 3 steps to printing a larger file. Someone at a work station will hit print and the file will do something for awhile at that computer, then it will spool to the Microspot on the print server computer where it will queue up, then it will print form Microspot. Usually we by-pass the first step by sending the whole file to the print server and opening and printing the file from there.

5. Postscript RIP. I've heard exactly what you are saying, that if you can bypass postscript you can really speed things up. I'd love to consider this option.

6. Your print speed. How large are your files and what is your print speed? If you print from a 3D file in 2D view, how long does the process take from the time you hit "print?" Do you ever print a rendering directly to the printer, and, if so, how long does it take? When you export an rendering to another program, how long does that process take including the export?

-Thanks loads for your time. I was beginning to feel lost in the wilderness with this whole thing. I'm also wondering about the future of Vectorworks if they can't simplify this thing. I mean, we went to our AutoCad based engineer's office where they were spitting out drawings like crazy. BUT, they do the same simple 2D operation over and over again. We even had to go to their office to show them how to open our emailed files which were already AutoCad documents on their desktop. Still, it's super simple and all 4 people there can do every operation.

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One little thing here -

When comparing VW printing to AutoCad printing, keep in mind the AC station was printing 2d, not 3d. THere's a big difference in vector data between 2d and 3d in any vector based cad application.

Second, they are using a PC, not a MAC. On a PC, you don't have to go through all the RIP processes to print, which can make a HUGE difference.

The ammount of RAM on the physical printer itself can make a huge difference in print time, mostly for the spooling and ripping processes.

The RAM on the computer with the RIP software and the processor speed there can make a difference also.

These are critical things to think about when comparing apples to oranges.

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Yes. But we are using a 1G G4 with 1280 ram as a dedicated print server and still having these problems. I fully appreciate that 2D and 3D are worlds apart, but printing still needs to be a relatively simple operation for most users who are not service bureau technicians to use the program. Many of the "solutions" being proposed are way behond the scope of the average user and light years away from plug and play.

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Katie, I'm not trying to be negative and I fully appreciate that the huge leap in capacity 3D allows. I'm also willing to accept that there is an accompanying increase in cost to print in a workable fashion. I'm willing to spend the money even for our tiny office. I'm willing to dump our printer and get a new one and even get different RIP software, but in the end I need to be able to print documents in a workable amount of time without so much complexity that I need an in-house print technician.

My problem is no one has been able to tell me what to do at ANY price level with ANY equipment that will solve this problem. PosterJet swore they could rip our files like nobody's business. When they couldn't they blamed Vectorworks.

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Well you would think a simple thing like printing would be easy. But no. Plotters tend to take alot of extra time and frustration to get to work properly, so be patient. I know these things can be really frustrating. What Katie is saying is true there are alot of variables out there. But i do not think the amount of ram on the plotter makes any difference on a Mac. All the processing goes on in the computer ( a HP tech guy told me this after a HP salesman got me to buy more ram). The grass is not always greener on the autocad side. I have been in my engineers office before where they are going nuts over having plotting problems with simple 2d drawings, so don't get too envious. I also seen the fax machine at a big name firm just stuffed with questions for tech support for other cad programs too. Printing simple line drawings with one geneva font is not like printing 3d models, imported graphics, and multiple fonts. You are on the cutting edge of CAD software programs here. To answer your q's. 1. What I mean is if you have a 10 mb file and are printing a saved sheet of say a 2d detail sheet or such, only the info on that saved sheet is processed while printing it, not the whole 10 mbs. So if you were having problems printing any saved sheet, then there might be a problem with the whole file. 3. So you can see 2d stuff prints much faster. What I do is start with a 3d file for design development, presentation, etc. purposes. Creating "convert copy to lines", "doodle" drawings, or exporting renderworks images of 3d models and reimporting them into another VWKS file or a photoshop file. At some point where i feel the design is finialized, I create a clone of the file and split off a file for 2d working drawing stuff from the 3d stuff. This works well for me because I give the 2d stuff to my draftsmen to work on and do the 3d & presentation stuff myself. If there are any major changes later I just have to change both files or only the working drawing file or what ever is appropriate. It may seem like a pain but waitng for a file to print that won't, is a much bigger pain. I try not to get too hung up on having everything in one file. But why would you want to bog down a 2d working drawing file with 3d info or big presentation bit maps images anyway? This might come from my background of starting with Minicad 3 on a Mac Plus machine with 4mb ram and a wopping 40 mb hard drive. This was before saved sheets so I had a file for each plan, elev, section sheet, etc. I always look for some way to reduce file size, mb wise. I have noticed new people to cad drafting tend to cut & paste like crazy, multiple copies of things every where off screen, bit map graphics with large dpi's, dwg imports, pdf, etc and soon the file gets so big or just weirded out and you can feel the file wanting to crash. I try to be very careful with what I put in a file. Dwg imports from autocad like surveying stuff, lots of polylines, etc seem extra problematic. I trace what I need in VWKS and dump out the dwg import as soon as I can. Tracing may seem a waste of time but what is waiting for a file to print ? If you select a dwg imported contour polyline for example, it may have hundreds of control points where as if you can trace it you can reduced the control points to only a few. I have had too many problems over the years with weirdness happening with dwg imports. they work but they do not act like native VWKS stuff. 4. It seems what you describe is how a network printing setup should be. I noticed however, with my hp 455 and it's rip software, (in OS9 since HP does not support the 455 in OSX), that if I print from the workstations it prints much faster than if I open the file on the print server computer. Go figure. But I suspect is, that was the way the software was written for. Or maybe spliting the processing helps with speed. May be try to print from a work station and see if that helps. 5. Unfortunately with HP printers on a Mac they require a postscript rip to work. Not so on a pc. Thank you very much HP. Yes you get better output in some cases with postscript, but for working drawings who cares, if the pens are squares instead of circles. I print high res photographs or vwks renderings of 3d models out of photoshop on my epson at up to 2770 dpi with out postscript just fine. Most of my presentation stuff I use photoshop with imported graphics from VWKS. Even gimp print has a postsript rip ( ghostscript software emulation), but it seems to work much better than HP software ever did, as far as speed is concerned. Epson is the only large format printer I know of that does not require postscript. Here are some printing issues you may be not aware of: Corrupted fonts will hang up a file printing forever. OSX & VWKS 9 & 10 are way more sensitive to this, than VWKS 8 or OS9. It may print fine on your non postscript desktop 8 1/2 x 11 inkjet but not so on a postscript RIP plotter. If you use a lot of fancy fonts, one or more may be corrupted. How do you know ? Try printing the saved sheet with only geneva fonts and see if that makes a difference. If it does then try one font at a time till you find the bugger. There are many posts here about this issue but reinstalling it from the original cd is best. You also may have conflicts with fonts stored in OS9 and or doubles in OSX. I try to stay away from postscript and use only truetype. There are also postscript level 1, 2 & 3 fonts. OSX does not like level 1. Pattern fills are also very problematic with my HP 455 rip. Who knows why, but I do not use any fills beyond the first row. If I do it will crash the rip when it gets to the fill. As far as texture maps on 3d models, try to use shaders as much as possible versus photo based textures. Texture maps can ballon up a file really quick. Reduce dpi of the photo based textures (in photoshop) as much as possible. This is also true with image props. Watch your dpi of your imported images. You don't need 1200 dpi to get a nice picture. Try 300 or 150. I think the 2000 is only a 300 dpi printer anyway. Always try to reduce the file size as much as possible. Be religious about it. I noticed you said in one post your files are 100 mb's and then in another place 10 mb's . Mine are around 10-15 mb VWKS files but some photoshop files go to 100 mbs. Some times the computer or the rip will stall out because of memory leak problems such that you may think you have 1080mbs, but not really. If your hard drive on the rip printer is grinding around like crazy then your out of memory and the computer is trying to use virtual memory to process the file. Way slow. Try clearing out the print que, shutting down and restarting the computers ( both the workstation and the RIP computer) if problems arise. Optimize and defrag your hard drive regularly. Run disk doctor too. I also have my HP 455 print quality default at fast mode versus best mode for every day printing. Again for working drawings who cares if it is 300 or 600 dpi. I noticed that HP as a OSX driver for the 2500. Maybe that will work on the 2000. A lot of this requires you to spend a lot of time fiddling around to find out what works. If you do not have the time, hire a tech guy to do it. It would be nice if they were independant and not a hp tech. Did you have problems in OS9 ? Good Luck.

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First of all I have to say an extremely sincere, "Thank you!" You are giving me more meaningful information that anyone I've talked to, and I've spent lots of time on this with Vectorworks staff and every manner of hardware and software rep you can imagine. We still love the program, but I've come to believe the company is critically dropping the ball by not dedicating one staff person to pay real attention to this whole new area of printing issues that have obvoiusly arisen only recently as the 3D aspects of the program have become the focus of Vectorwork's development and usage.

Here's what I'm taking away from your last post:

1. 3D and 2D printing issues are altogether different, and we need to recognize some fundamental limitations here.

2. We need to reexamine our approach to using Vectorworks. Our focus has been on building our entire office from design to construction documentation to job management (we GC our jobs too) around the 3D model in much the same way Microstation intends. The possibility of multiplied errors resulting from transfering mediums by say tracing over the survey instead of importing the dwg file and going directly from there drive me NUTS, but what you are telling me indicates that we need to do a reality check and possibly let go of some of the rigors of our goals.

Clearly, the sophistication of the program is up to the task, but output issues have been left so completely in the hands of third parties like HP that it is this side of the equation and the inherent limitations there that will define the our use of Vectorworks.

3. I'm going to take another look at Epson. The fact that our $60 Epson 777i has bailed a couple of huge jobs makes some sense now.

4. We're going to follow up in a highly specific manner on some of your suggestions for reducing file size. Maybe some smaller questions will follow.

5. I don't know if we'll go back to 2D production drawings, but we'll at least look at setting up the files so that 2D and 3D printing are handled differently.

6. I'm still sort of pissed at Vectorworks. In truth, for our office to use Vectorwork's 3D functions, we are having to devote as much of our resources trying to print the documents as learning the program itself. Let's face it. HP can't neglect Autocad or they'd lose market share to Epson overnight. Vectorworks has to devote some meaningful resources to these third party printing issues if they are going to take advantage of the market opportunities their development of 3D capacity affords. They can't leave it entirely to the users to work out the print issues. Not with the complexity of issues arising from the larger file size of 3D documents.

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I see several problems here.

1. Over expectations of a computer program. VWKS and all CAD programs sell the features of their programs to get you to buy their product. Salespeople are great at talking up the product but the reality is not always what you expect. It's the tech guys that take the brunt of the abuse which is ironic since they are the ones that help you the most.

2. People make mistakes, do stupid things, get lazy,and are unaware of issues that cause less than satisfactory results. I took my car in to get fixed one time, it was overheating. I say to the guy, "what's wrong with my car". The first thing the mechanic saids to me was " You sould ask yourself why your car is overheating". ie: take responsibility for your actions ( no water in the radiator). This is my office mantra.

3. Technology marches on. You are attemping to use a older plotter (hp2000) with the latest software ( OSX, VWKS ) by using a 3d party solution. A classic "it's not my problem, it's the other guys" situation. If there is not an documented solution, then Tech guys love this easy way out.

4. The promise of a easy 3d solution hitting the reality of a 2D world. I have listened to many a sales pitch from all sorts of CAD vendors saying how fast and easy and how much time you will save, etc. doing everything in 3D. As usual, reality is different.

5. HP plotters & Wintel machines dominate the A/E industry. Macs have a small share of the A/E plotter biz such that like any company trying to make a buck, HP puts their energy where best for profits. For Macs that translates into: less than satisfactory software, less than knowledgable sales people, understaffed tech guys dealing with mac problems, and older equiptment not getting updated software . Hp is in the business of selling equiptment, not writing updated software for products they do not manufacture anymore.

So, The first thing I would do is try to fix the things in my control which doesn't cost much( except your time). I would check your fonts and look for those fill patterns . It could be just 1 bad font in your title block, wouldn't that be nice.

Find the threshold in file size that makes the printing process stop or slow to a crawl and then try to keep below that in the future. Split the file up into more than one file, it's not so bad. Then when it crashes and corrupts itself at least you will have part of the project.

Get efficent in your CAD drafting as suggested in the previous post. I bet there is a lot of things you can do here to reduce your file size and still acheive your dream of all 3d. Trace info as required in VWKS, dump scans or dwg info ASAP from the file. Or import it into a separtate file and trace and then import only the VWKS info.

Try gimprint. It is free. Only your time is not.

Leave plenty of time to plot. For some reason, things break down just before a deadline.

If you plot at the end of the day, restart all the computers or plot in the morning. Memory leaks happen progressively over the day making things slower and slower. Listen to your hard drive and optimize it if it sounds like a coffee grinder.

Buy a new plotter as a last resort. Chances are you would have the same problems with a new machine. Check out the Epson printers, but don't buy thinking it is a silver bullet. Macplot or gimpprint should work regardless of file size.

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Well now,

I was thinking of updating my printing capabilities because my older Epson will only print to a C-size sheet. I'm new to VWKS, having spent plenty of time trying to get DataCad to print my drawings. Running WinXP. Sure sounds like the best thing to do would be to get a wide format printer, that all the plotters will make you crazy. And maybe a plotter will work OK for a year or 2, then you upgrade your OS or your software, and then nobody will give you the time of day.

Does this sound like it represents the consensus of irritated plotmeisters?

Who do you suppose makes a nice big printer?

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It looks like beaster is on a wintel machine. gimp is mac only. Although I think HP has more wintel drivers for their older plotters. Check out their web site before purchasing. Ebay is a great place for older large format printers. May be beaster will buy the 2000cp from cassily.

Regarding print speed, the majority of the time it takes to print, from pushing the print button to getting output, is in the processing of the file not the speed of the actual print heads. Especially with large file sizes. Most printers in real life situations are not printing at their max speed because the info is not comming in that fast. It also depends on how you connect to the plotter. USB 2.0 is the fastest, ethernet is the slowest, etc. What quality you specify has a big difference too. Most printers in fast mode put down ink in both directions with little or no overlap and in best mode they put down ink in one direction overlapping more. Also if the processing of the file is slowed down by either not enough ram, hard drive performance or amout of fragmentation, or slower processor, etc then the info coming to the plotter is rarely at the max speed of the plotter. So you may not get the speed you think when looking at just the print head speed. I doubt if the sales person would ever tell you that.

Gimp is a little tricky to set up so you may want to tinker a little with it before giving up. If you are connecting through a HP jet direct make sure you have the correct ip address and all the settings correct before giving up. gimp has a message board which is helpful although people do not respond as well as here. I suppose if micro spot xrip works you will not see to much difference if you did get gimp to work although I saw a post here somewhere saying gimp was way better than xrip.

Additionally HP jet direct print servers need to have the lastest or close to the latest firmware to work in OSX. Hold the test button down for 5 or 10 seconds to get a configuration printout. You can then see what the ip address and firmware version is. If you get into trouble, HP tech will help you with the jet direct (ask for jet direct tech support) they should tell you if you firmware needs to be upgraded. Unfortunately the only way to upgrade the firmware is with a PC. You need to download it from the web with a computer (PC) that has a parallel port.

The HP500 series plotter seems to be problematic with macs with no OSX driver, so I would avoid it.

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Kurt: Here's what we're trying:

1. Gimp Print. Tried the 2500cp driver for our 2000cp and it does not seem to recognize the printer.

2. Have decided to separate 2D and 3D printing. In reality, even though the documents are all 3D 90% of printing is 2D view. We have decided to have a 3D working drawing file and a copy file in which we will save 2D view sheets to print from. As our 3D working file changes we will save and overwrite 2D views to the print file to keep the print file up to date.

3. We're going to follow through on buying a new plotter. MicroSpot seems to work fine printing our 2D views. We go from hitting the print button to output in less than a minute. Our research has told us that the 2000cp is one of the slowest printers out there in terms of the mechanics of the print heads actually moving and laying ink. Slower than even older, lower resolution printers.

4. We're still a bit stumped about how we will do the 3D output. I guess we're going to experiment with saving the 3D views as PDF or exporting them to another program to print. ???

Beaster: Boy do I feel sorry for you!! Just kidding. Really if you're doing mostly 2D printing you can pick up a serviceable used HP 400 or 700 series printer that can use a gimp print drive and you can happily crank out professional documents for years to come. Kurt is way right about the difference between the 2D and 3D world. The 3D features of Vectorworks allow you to do work on a world class level for an amazingly small price, but you're stepping through the looking glass into all kinds of complexity. I think we went a little too far too fast.

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You may want to think about doing a workgroup reference for this -

2. Have decided to separate 2D and 3D printing. In reality, even though the documents are all 3D 90% of printing is 2D view. We have decided to have a 3D working drawing file and a copy file in which we will save 2D view sheets to print from. As our 3D working file changes we will save and overwrite 2D views to the print file to keep the print file up to date.

Any data updated in the master file is updated in the other file (as long as the file stays in the same location).

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Actually, I'm stuck at the moment. Was trying to use Gimp Print driver for 2500cp for our 2000cp and when I downloaded Ghostprint it somehow eliminated all the printer settings in my Print Center??? Tried to re-add the printers, but I get an error message that stops me. Tried to uninstall Ghostprint to correct the problem and the uninstall stops 2/3 of the way through with an error message. Don't really know what to do but clean install the whole computer which will probably take a day.

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bummer about the weirdness. If you are going to reinstall the system software again you might want to install panther since it has gimp & ghost already in it.

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Got an interesting phone call today. Ran into an architect who has a larger Vectorworks based office at lunch and he had someone from his office call. She said they spent the money for a HP1055 and it will spit out 2D views from 3D files in one minute. They can also print renderings directly from their 3D files quickly. 8mg file size. For larger 100mg files, they export the rendering as a JPG then reimport it into Vectorworks to print. Most 3D renderings are printed on small Epson inkjet printers. They are using the HP rip software only.

I guess spending the money is an option. I'm thinking about taking a good look at the 800 and 1000 series printers.

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Actually, I do all my drafting in 3D. It was not a big deal in DataCad, 3D or 2D drawings just zip right through to my Epson. Setting up lots of details with different scales on one page could occasionally be maddening.

Everybody is pulling their hair out trying to plot with these older HP's. At least that's how the posts look. Maybe we don't hear from people who are doing fine.

It seems like a wide format printer would be more fun?

E-Bay sounds like a great idea.

Thanks

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