Imagine a gigantic exhibition hall crammed full of huge printers of every description and youÝve got Oc? Openhouse, but this year it was a complementary software solution that caught the eye. Greg Corke reports.
Oc?Ýs annual Openhouse event has to be seen to be believed. Held at the companyÝs vast German headquarters in Poing near Munich, the five day event is EuropeÝs largest annual digital print fair, featuring everything from book production to giant display graphics.
Hands on demonstrations of all the latest technologies are central to the event and it is refreshing to see a company happy to share with customers not only products that are shipping now, but those that are set to be introduced over the course of the year. It is a very relaxed affair, interspersed with fine food, excellent German beer, and ÙinterestingÝ entertainment in the form of string quartets, theatrical presentations and catwalk shows.
ýWith the development of innovative products like Print Exec Department engineering customers are not only able to get the most out of their Oc? print investment but to optimise and manage the entire departmental print workflow regardless of brand¯
Despite regularly drawing crowds of 5,000 over its five days, the event seems to emit less noise pollution year on year, perhaps a testament to Oc?Ýs advances in engineering for improved acoustics, driven by a broad industry trend for de-centralised printing.
AEC MagazineÝs area of interest is of course in wide format, and Openhouse 2007 delivered some interesting additions to the companyÝs ever expanding printer and scanning portfolio.
Taking centre stage this year was the TDS700, the latest addition to the companyÝs productive Technical Documentation System family. The TDS700 is a flexible mid-volume monochrome system that prints, copies and scans with a huge variety of different hardware and software configurations, including optional colour scanning. The system is driven by Oc?Ýs third generation Power Logic controller and boasts an impressive print throughput of 4.7 A0s/min, but Oc? was keen to point out that having a fast print engine is only one aspect in overall print speed.
Productivity is also a critical factor and the system features concurrent printing and scanning, instant on (so there is no waiting for the system to warm up) and the ability to sustain this level of print speed even when changing one of its rolls (up to a maximum of six).
Software also plays a critical role and the TDS700 can be coupled with a diverse range of complementary software tools including the Oc? Account Center, which allocates printing, copying and scanning costs to the appropriate department or client and Oc? Print Exec for optimising the entire technical document printing process. In the UK, Oc? also offers the Digital Distribution Manager (DDM), which streamlines and automates the distribution and issue management of technical documents.
The software advantage
Building on this strong foundation of software, Oc? used Openhouse to launch a brand new product, Print Exec Department. There are two main ways of printing large format documents: direct from the CAD application (Windows Print Drivers or dedicated CAD drivers, such as AutoCAD HDI) or a job submission tool for printing sets of drawings. The latter is ideal for users such as project managers who often do not have direct access to the appropriate CAD application.
Oc? Print Exec Department not only enables these non-CAD users to print documents with ease, but print to virtually any printer, large or small format, regardless of brand including HPÝs popular DesignJet 105X and 4X00 large format colour inkjets.
With Print Exec Department print jobs can be automatically routed to the most cost efficient printer or queue, each of which has pre-defined, centrally controlled settings. Queues can be programmed for a variety of print speeds, paper sizes or media types and can also be restricted for use by specific individuals. For example, the system could be set up so only certain users can send jobs to a printer with photo quality paper.
The software can also be integrated with the Oc? Account Center for accurate job costing and features such as stamps, banner pages to separate jobs and job tracking, which are all included as standard.
With the intricacies of printing files such as AutoCAD DWG, OceÝs Print Exec Department job submission tool cannot be used to print from all Windows applications and in this case printing needs to be direct from the CAD application. This is delivered through a uniform interface and users still have access to key functionality including all of the centrally managed queues.
Of course, this is an industry wide issue and file formats such as AutodeskÝs DWF and PDF already provide the mechanism for non-technical users to view and print engineering documents.
Oc? Print Exec Department provides direct support for both of these file formats and users can view, zoom, and pan around these documents (and in the case of DWF turn layers on/off) prior to printing. Oc?Ýs Power Logic controller automatically converts these files into a format that can be easily understood by a variety of printers.
In addition to its huge range of monochrome wide format print systems, Oc? also used Openhouse to showcase the latest additions to it CS family of wide format inkjets printers which it delivers through a partnership with Canon. The CS2124 (A1) and CS2136 (A0) are designed for the production of both standard engineering line drawings and full colour renderings and are targeted at workgroups.
A trip to Oc?Ýs Openhouse always throws up some exciting new developments in wide format printing. However, it is with the continual evolution of its comprehensive portfolio of complementary software products that Oc? is pushing the boundaries in this sector. Oc?Ýs wide format TDS range has long been respected in wide format, but with the development of innovative products like Print Exec Department engineering customers are not only able to get the most out of their Oc? print investment but to optimise and manage the entire departmental print workflow regardless of brand.