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December 13th, 2007
Review: HP Designjet T1100ps Large Format Printer

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HP T1100ps Large Format ReviewCAD and GIS professionals have unique and detailed graphic needs. Graphics are an integral part of a CAD and GIS professionals workflows. The HP Designjet T1100ps is designed specifically with CAD and GIS professionals in mind. It produces drawings and maps with highly detailed annotation quickly and clearly. The network capabilities of this printer enable work teams to combine printing needs into one manageable workflow which provides document accounting and individual configuration needs, all at the same time.

Operation of the HP DesignjetT1100ps is easy-to-understand and flexible, providing options for numerous paper types, sizes and quality. Print speed for large detailed maps and diagrams on this printer is exceptional. This printer reproduces very fine details and annotation at a rapid speed in both color and for needs depending on fine neutral and true black.

 

fig1

Fig. 1 – HP DesignjetT1100ps

CAD and GIS needs

 

In the world of graphics production and printing, computer aided design (CAD) and geographic information system (GIS) users have unique needs. CAD needs are usually centered around design drawings that include details pertaining to buildings, utility corridors, road and survey engineering details and similar design projects.

GIS publication needs are primarily focused on map production. In both cases, new developments in software and trends in spatial information use pushing the boundaries of conventional printing and requiring large format printing of highly detailed annotation, crisp and clear color reproduction and the increasing use of neutral grey and true black to achieve a higher level of professional graphic output.

At the same time, aerial imagery and satellite imagery are becoming part of CAD and GIS workflows.

And the addition of new surveying technologies including laser instruments is resulting in file sizes that are quite large.

Together this convergence of technologies is pushing data of higher resolution and finer detail into the spatial information workflows of CAD and GIS professionals.

fig2

Fig. 2 – The HP Printer Utility software program is the heart of the printing system.

The combination of CAD/GIS software enhancements capable of greater publishing quality and greater amounts of data of various types is demanding higher performance from large format printing hardware. But the needs do not stop there.

Most CAD / GIS work is conducted by teams of individuals working different parts of projects, and data – from maps to drawing to postscript documents; who must then coordinate their printing needs together.

Therefore, a printing ‘system’ must be in place that can account for documents, manage them and instruct printers, such as the HP DesignjetT1100ps, to print them.

Communication role

Printing documents in CAD/GIS workflows is an essentially part of most projects. For example, these documents are used to communicate instructions to construction workers, advise utility personnel, educate the public about land use changes, show sustainability issues and or indicate where houses are located.

The communication role of large prints is an important aspect to many projects success, and one sometimes overlooked.

Professional looking maps and drawings can instill a sense of greater understanding and a sense of security to those viewing them.

People like to read fine details on maps and in other cases, for example infrastructure projects, it is important to see and understand annotation.

The expanding area of 3-D maps and drawings has meant that graphics can convey features and objects in a more photo-realistic manner, and people are coming to expect to see subtle and fine details in the graphics related to projects they are presented with. The bottom line is – good looking maps and drawings lead to success.

Fig. 3 - Job and Accounting Management

Fig. 3 – Job and Accounting Management

Physical description
For this review I worked with the HP designjet T1100ps 44” Large Format Printer (see Fig. 1). It also comes in a 24 inch model.

 

This model has 256MB of RAM and includes a 40GB hard disk – the printer includes a onboard server. The ‘ps’ designation implies that this model has embedded Adobe Postscript (the T1100 does not). This printer can handle the following file types:

    • HP
    • RTL
    • HP-GL/2
    • CALS
    • TIFF
    • JPEG
    • Postscript
    • PDF

The HP Printer Utility software program is the heart of the printing system. This program is well integrated into printer operations (see Fig. 2). It includes five separate sections, each available through a tabbed Menu selection.

  1. Overview – general printer overview, paper status, cartridge status, print head status
  2. Color Center – calibration & instructions, printing properties, knowledge center, Pantone emulation
  3. Job Center – stored jobs, submitting jobs, accounting Settings – settings, job management, accounting, units, web server preferences (see Fig. 3)
  4. Support – firmware updates, date/time, HP Proactive support, instant support, contact a support person, documentation, troubleshooting

On startup the printer boots-up and the LED display on the front panel comes alive and a progression bar is displayed. After a short moment, the printer is ready and the Internet address for the printer is displayed (see Fig. 4).

The key point here is that each printer has its own unique IP Address. Subsequently, individual users can route their print jobs to the printer either locally or from remote locations. Since there is a server on board, then particulars pertaining to each job are held in queue. This also means each print job may be different – consisting of a drawing, GIS file of different size and so on. Essentially then the printer is network enabled into the workflow of a small team.

 

Fig. 4 - Printer Internet addressing

Fig. 4 – Printer Internet addressing

The HP Designjet T1100ps has a high level of automation I found.

The printer will grasp paper once fed into it, then align and calibrate the printer before asking for final selections (see Fig. 5) of paper types and information in the Color Center.

The ability to handle a wide variety of print materials and paper types means that users have greater flexibility to use cheaper or more expensive materials, or to select specific types of paper types for particular types of uses, thicker paper types for heavier uses, as example.

Individual sheets may also be fed into the printer via a drop down back panel that can be returned to the main body once completed. I did use this feature and found it easy to switch from roll to single feed using the front panel display, and or selecting paper type via the utility software. On another note, this printer is fairly quiet. I was able to work near it while it was printing without much problem.

 

Fig. 5 -

Fig. 5 – HP Printer Color Centre

Color and qualityColor reproduction and management is a key point with this printer. Using a 6-color system, neutral grey and true black inks (see Fig. 6) are unique to this printer.

Today’s CAD and GIS software are capable of very high quality map and drawing production on the software side.

Symbology is intricate in many cases and annotation must be able to scale from small to large sizes. As well, this annotation is often following objects on map and drawing sheets, curving around roadways and along angles in drawings.

The ability to reproduce very fine shades of black ensures a fine quality product that appeals to viewers and instills a higher level of professionalism in documentation creation while allowing for improved communication.

 

Fig. 6 - Printer Color Ink System

Fig. 6 – Printer Color Ink System

The 6-color ink system

is an advancement for CAD/GIS users with these needs. I think it is important to understand that many CAD/GIS users today are also including airborne and satellite imagery into their workflows.

This means their print needs are becoming much more photo-realistic, demanding higher fidelity and trueness to color matching, since these images are also high resolution.

 

Speed
I have singled speed out here for one reason. This printer is one of the fastest that I have used. I found that I was reproducing 112cm drawings and map sheets in full color, at highest quality, in under 45 seconds each, in almost all cases – many were even faster. I tried to overload the printer queue, preparing files in a continuous fashion, but I could not do it.

 

fig7

Fig. 7 – Plotter configuration and setting

Again, this attests to the speed of this printer.

This will of course depend upon numbers of users and amounts of documents, but I suspect a small project team would find this printer could easily keep pace.

Each document is accounted for in the management software and a history is established for individual users.

This means numbers and types of documents per person can be assessed on a per project basis, furthermore, it supports the operation and maintenance of the HP Designjet T1100ps for scheduling.

fig8

Fig. 8 – Configuration and printing.

 

 

 

 

Configuration and Printing
Printing to the HP Designjet T1100ps is straightforward. Since drivers are loaded at time of setup I was able to load several files into AutoCAD Map 3D 2008 that contained design drawings from AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008 and print them.

 

fig9

Fig. 9 – Setting Designjet Properties

The Plotter Configuration Editor allows users to select and set Device and Document settings quickly and easily. Graphics and Custom Properties may also be adjusted and media sources and size can be changed here as well.

These settings may be saved for later use on the network. Alternatively, users may import settings that others have already created. I experimented with these and adjusted them to several types before selecting the one I liked (see Fig. 7, 8).

Autodesk Design Review software ships with the printer. This software allows users to import drawings and designs, annotate them and share them others and to print them. This does not require a full Autodesk product to be loaded, meaning that users can mark-up and print files directly to the printer and converse between the printer and other users with Autodesk Design Review.

Because the software can be global positioning system (GPS) enabled, data may be collected and features printed through a wireless connection back to the printer IP Address. GIS data users can also perform the same field-to-printer functions using a tablet PC or other field notebook. The Settings of the printer may also be adjusted to print field files (see Fig. 9).

It should be noted that print quality can be adjusted, thus print speed. This can be set using the Document Properties, although I found myself almost always choosing the highest quality for most of the maps and drawings I produced. This was probably due to the large number of smaller fonts and fine symbology contained within them.

Finally, I found that this product is very well supported through online documentation, live support, forum discussions and driver updates. The knowledge base is above average in terms of quality and completeness.


Reviewer Positives: The HP Designjet T1100ps is a versatile large format printer that can handle most of the needs any CAD or GIS project team or individuals can throw at it. In my mind 3 key factors stand out in this printer.

  1. The printer performs well, is easy to use and integrates firmware to software well. It prints fast. Something which is very important for complex map and drawing documents.
  2. The color reproduction and fidelity is exceptional. The ink system of this printer creates that.
  3. The software link of this printer to CAD/GIS workflows through Internet.

Reviewers Negatives:I found that the instructions for replacing inks are not well documented.

Reviewer Summary: The HP Designjet T1100ps is excellent value for the price – and HP does publish price. From the start, I installed this printer and worked with the software without any problems. I was able to load all kinds of GIS and CAD data files into it and print without issues. The software integration with hardware of this product and the very good online support are strong positives for this product. Overall, if you are thinking of purchasing a CAD or GIS large format printer, then you should be considering this printer. The superb reproduction of fine details coupled to improved color shading are integral factors for GIS and CAD production workflows. The fast print speed adds performance to this printer that is going to be hard to beat.

Model: HP T1100ps 44”

Manufacturer: Hewlett Packard

Product: Available in 24” and 44” (T1100 version without added files support)

Manuals: Included Online support: Live and forum support

Web Information: http://h41186.www4.hp.com/country/uk/en/accounting/T1100.html

*Note: This product was blogged online leading up to this review. You may see details online at the following locations. Blog Series:

http://vector1media.com/vectorone/?p=170
http://vector1media.com/vectorone/?p=172
http://vector1media.com/vectorone/?p=174
http://vector1media.com/vectorone/?p=198


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Jeff Thurston is editor for V1 Magazine and is based in Berlin, Germany. He has reviewed leading geospatial hardware and software for nearly 10 years internationally.

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