By Jamie J. Gooch
The “paperless office” has gone from a seemingly reasonable prediction popularized in a 1975 Business Week article, to a myth as paper consumption doubled between 1980 and 2000, to a somewhat plausible scenario while U.S. office paper declined 40% from its peak in 2000.
But engineering schematics are still easier to read on 44-in.-wide sheets of paper than 10-in. tablet screens. Large-format printer and scanner manufacturers haven’t sat on the sidelines as design engineers have become increasingly mobile though.
“We’ve seen people becoming more mobile and the wanting the ability to access content remotely, but there wasn’t really a clean way to handle secure access, revision control, and printing,” says Todd Hatfield, HP’s Designjet large format category manager for the Americas.
HP needed ways to make printers and scanners available in an always-connected world. The company’s answer was to web-enable its printers via a set of features it dubs ePrint & Share, which allows engineers to directly scan project files to the cloud, print and access plans from the road, share designs with remote project teams and collaborate with design partners around the world.
In addition to printing to registered printers via the ePrint & Share desktop or iOS apps, Eric DuPaul, Designjet business development manager for HP, says users of AutoCAD 2009 and later can print via a plug-in that allows them to create a PDF while printing a file, including all the print settings, and save it in the cloud. Users can also access the ePrint & Share application from the front panel of certain printers, including the HP Designjet T790 and T1300, and the HP Designjet T2300 eMultifunction printer.
HP’s recent announcement of its plans to merge its printer and PC/workstation business could lead to further integration of web technologies into its printers, but it’s not the only manufacturer looking for expansion via the cloud.
HP’s Large-Format Offerings
HP’s portfolio of web-connected, large-format Designjet ePrinters includes the HP Designjet T1300 for large work groups, the HP Designjet T790 for small, mobile technical design teams, and the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP that has print, scan and copy functionality.
The HP Designjet T790 is designed to enable small teams to produce computer-aided design drawings while collaborating with colleagues in a connected work environment. It is available in 24- and 44-in. models, which feature a top-loading roll and 8GB of memory.
The HP Designjet T1300 has two media rolls and smart switching technology, as well as the ability to print up to two A1-sized prints per minute. It can print on paper up to 44-in. in size.
The HP Designjet T2300 eMFP was designed for medium and large architecture, engineering and construction firms and enterprise businesses. It has two online media rolls and simultaneous copy and scan functions, a color touchscreen interface, and driverless printing for direct printing from a notebook PC or USB drive.
Océ Goes Mobile
Océ, which joined the Canon Group of companies in 2010, has introduced two cloud products: Océ Mobile Tools and Océ Mobile Plot.
With Océ Mobile WebTools software, users who have access to a Wi-Fi router on their network can retrieve technical files from the cloud using their mobile device and send a print request to their Océ PlotWave 350 printing system. Users can also print from, and scan documents to, a USB flash drive or to their mobile devices using Océ Mobile WebTools software to capture changes and documents on the go, or print via Océ Publisher Select software to produce documents for complex projects.
“That’s accessing the device via a browser from any mobile device,” says Andrew Vecci, director of Marketing at Océ North America, Inc. “Users are able to submit prints to the printer and pull scans from it to view on their devices.”
Océ Mobile Plot is an iPad app that, after a one-time setup, allows users to print files they can access on their iPads via email or other apps, including cloud-based apps such as Dropbox, and print to up to five Océ TDS, TCS, PlotWave and ColorWave plotters, old or new.
“As long as you can access the file on your iPad, you can send it to the printer,” says Vecci.
He notes that, while mobile printing and scanning is still in its infancy in the technical document market, many of Océ’s customers are interested in adding cloud services to their workflow. Large enterprises often have their own cloud networks, allowing engineers to access their files from multiple office locations, for instance. But smaller firms often don’t have that luxury. That’s where cloud printing services can really shine.
Both Océ’s Vecci and HP’s managers say they are still discovering how engineers want to make use of being able to print and scan via the cloud.
“We want to present more options,” says Vecci. “As we see more customers moving from print shops to internal, decentralized printing environments, we’re trying to develop tools to accommodate any workflow out there.”
“As more and more people use the cloud, they’re finding it’s able to accelerate turnaround time for changes,” says HP’s DuPaul. “It helps facilitate a faster workflow. The use of tablets and smart phones is going to drive demand for print mobility much more significantly in the future.”
Océ Launches New Large-Format Systems
Océ recently announced three new large-format printing systems. The Océ PlotWave 350 monochrome printer, the Océ ColorWave 650 printing system that can print in color or black and white, and the Océ PlotWave 900 monochrome printing system, which is designed for high-volume production printing.
Océ says the WebTools-enabled PlotWave 350 can print up to six D-size plots in one minute, with virtually no warm-up time. It uses the company’s new 2.0 print driver for Microsoft Windows, which includes a “What You See is What You Print” preview. It is designed to print, copy and scan low volumes of technical documents.
The Océ ColorWave 650 printing system uses the company’s CrystalPoint solid toner technology to print in black and white and color at up to 210 D-size prints per hour. The system can hold up to six media rolls and prints come out dry, cut to size and ready to use. It also features copy and scan templates that can be customized to simplify routine tasks.
The Océ PlotWave 900 printing system is designed for high production users. It prints up to 10 E-size prints per minute, even when printing mixed sets, according to the company. Users can print on different sizes of media from six media rolls, at consistent speeds, with automatic switching for uninterrupted printing. It delivers 600 dpi print quality.
Jamie Gooch is the managing editor of Desktop Engineering. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.