A few years back HPÝs large format DesignJet printers were just that ± large format printers. Now with the DesignJet 4500 series, the company has added a range of technologies to streamline production as well as raw print speed.
Over the past decade HP has transformed the large format inkjet printer from a machine that delivers one off colour line plots, to one that is capable of delivering full colour in a production environment. The DesignJet 4500 is the latest printer in this evolution and combines lightning fast printing, a huge capacity for unattended operation, and a set of impressive remote management tools. Integrated copying is also available with a standalone scanner and for the first time HP offers an optional stacker. ItÝs a very impressive workhorse system, so letÝs take a closer look at the technology behind it.
At the heart of the DesignJet 4500 is a new print technology called Double Swath. Put simply this means that the machine uses two print heads for each colour (Cyan Magenta, Yellow, Black), which nearly doubles the printable area in each pass, and as a result the speed of printing. To accommodate this increased printing zone (which at 6cm, is double that of traditional wide format printers) HP had to develop a vacuum system, which works in conjunction with the media feeding system to ensure accurate delivery of the paper. Sucking the paper down not only means that the paper is held in place as the print heads pass over the print zone, but ensures that the media does not expand when it takes in ink. This is particularly critical when working with plain paper.
The main benefit of doubling the size of the print zone is of course a huge increase in print speeds. As a result, the DesignJet 4500 is able to print an A1 line drawing in an extremely impressive 25 secs. While you wonÝt get this performance at the maximum resolution of 2,400 x 1,200 dpi, print quality is still impressive at lower settings.
While raw printing speed is hugely important, so is the processing time required prior to printing, and for some this has been a major bottleneck with some previous DesignJet models. HP dramatically increased this processing speed with the DesignJet 4000 and now with a faster processor the DesignJet 4500 takes this a step further. The machine ships with 256MB as standard, but can be expanded to 512MB. This will be of particular interest to for those printing full colour graphics.
The DesignJet 4500 plugs into a standard Ethernet port and appears as a network device. Most jobs will be sent with the standard Windows print driver installed on each client computer, but thereÝs also a dedicated AutoCAD driver available to provide greater control over pen settings etc.
The standard driver includes an impressive print preview capability which enables users to zoom and pan around their print before itÝs sent. Jobs can also be submitted via any standard Web Browser in formats such as TIF, JPG, PDF, and HP-GL/2, and these are processed on arrival.
In addition to job submission, the DesignJetÝs Embedded Web Server provides a full set of remote print management tool accessible from anywhere in the world using a standard Web browser. Users can remotely monitor printer, ink, and media status and usage and email alerts can also be provided when consumables are getting low. Multiple files can be submitted, queues can be managed, and accounting information can be viewed and saved in Excel and XML formats. This is particularly useful if users are submitting print jobs under different project codes.
The DesignJet 4500 also includes a 40GB hard drive so jobs can be stored up and reprinted at a later date if required.
The new DesignJet 4500 includes several features that are designed to make true unattended printing much more realistic. For one, black ink capacity is available in the extra large cartridge size of 775ml as well as the standard 400ml (Cyan Magenta and Yellow cartridges are available in 225ml or 400ml). The machine can also hold two high capacity paper rolls up to 1067mm width and 175m in length, and includes automatic paper switching between the two. This can be different paper sizes or types.
Anyone who has experience with inkjet printers will know that the paper has a natural tendency to roll back up after printing and this can be a major problem when the machine is unattended as multiple prints can soon clog up the drop tray. This is particularly troublesome with thicker media types. HP looks to overcome this problem with an optional stacker for the DesignJet 4500 which is capable of flattening and stacking up to 200 plots. However, it does substantially increase the overall footprint of your machine.
While unattended operation is great for achieving maximum throughput, it doesnÝt mean you have to waste paper. If smaller drawing sizes are used, the machine can automatically queue these up and collate with others, depending on their priority of course.
The DesignJet 4500 can also be bought with an optional scanner, which transforms it into a integrated colour copy system, or Ùmulti function printerÝ. The DesignJet 4500mfp features a touch screen, which makes it incredibly easy to scan and copy. Realtime printer, media, and queue information can seen in the scanner user interface along with copy accounting in the printer and copy job priority capability. The machine boast scan speeds of 3 inches per second in colour and 10 inches per second in black and white.
The new DesignJet 4500 series is transforming the role of the wide format inkjet printer by only taking it to new levels of performance (both in terms of raw print speed and processing), but bringing an impressive suite of remote management tools to the table. ItÝs a workhorse system designed to deliver serious throughput, and with the optional stacker offers true unattended operation, commonly only seen with LED technology-based systems.
The DesignJet 4500mfp brings integrated scan/print/copy functionality to the table and unlike the many LED systems which have flourished in this role, offers full colour, which is increasingly becoming a valuable asset in many areas of the construction sector.