Plotters / wide format printing

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by johnh57, Dec 16, 2014.

  1. johnh57 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2011
    Location:
    Montana
    #1
    I'm looking to get a plotter for the home office. Any volume printing goes to the print shop so I'm looking at occasional use. Engineering/Architectural type plotting. Probably 24", though 36" would be nice.

    For new under 2k there are a few options.

    Used there are dozens of plotters on eBay and craigslist. Some very expensive plotters going for $0.10 on the $. Some are junk, some are just older.

    I am running a macbook pro mid 2010 and yosemite. What I'm wondering about in evaluating older plotters is drivers and connections to actually be able use them. I have a usb 2.0 ports, an ethernet port, and wireless and thats about it. I don't know much about printer language and drivers.
     
  2. gsahli macrumors 6502a

    gsahli

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2007
    Location:
    Chicago
    #2
    I recommend you use this Apple Support article as your guide:
    http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201465

    Yosemite has changed the location of print system files - that's why it's important to get print drivers updated for Yosemite (in the list of drivers, updated ones are indicated by * - most listed are).

    Find what you believe is a good deal, then check to see if the drivers are available & updated.

    Note how Apple is centrally serving drivers now - you don't download anything - you add the printer in Print & Scan prefs, and the driver gets downloaded/updated.
     
  3. campyguy macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2014
    Location:
    Portland / Seattle
    #3
    I've been in the A&E industry for about 25 years, working on everything from retaining walls to earthwork profiles to building plans to light rail alignments...

    I have a few tips for you to consider, especially since you're a bit off the urban path in Montana - and that's not a rub.

    First, ditch the idea of finding a plotter or wide-format printer unless you're looking for an expensive per-sheet solution, unless you're considering a new printer. If you're looking for simple cut sheets or something like that, look no further than the Epson wide-format printers (like the SureColor P600 or WorkForce WF-7110) - but you'll spend bigtime on ink, but it'll be cheaper than finding plotter pens.

    The WorkForce WF-7110 costs about $200 retail but it's often out of stock everywhere. It's a nice plotter/printer and cross-platform friendly. The SureColor is far more durable but 4 times the cost.

    The knock against Epson printers is the printhead being built into the printer - let it dry out and you'll be tossing the printer or using it as a doorstop. Epson does provide decent support.

    You're seeing cheaper plotters on eBay, etc. because lots of engineering and survey firms are going belly up, largely since Congress hasn't passed a transportation bill in years - not a week goes by when I get an email from friends informing me of consolidations or office closures. The worry there is that the companies that supply product for those offices are also shrinking - you might score a deal on a printer, but if you can't find pens or cartridges you'll have a really big door stop in your office. You might check with your production agent to find out what they have that they'll support - they also may know someone who's gone the way of the dodo and make you a deal - the end of the year is coming up, and I'm sure they'd be happy to sell you something they don't have to inventory come January 1.

    I've found Kinkos to be more cost-effective now as we can email them plot or PDF files and get a hard copy the next day, but I'm in generally urban areas for my work. For our two rural jobs, we went with the SureColor and stocked up on ink and farm out the production stuff. Good luck, and cheers!
     
  4. johnh57 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2011
    Location:
    Montana
    #4
    For any significant printing I go to any of a number of blueprint shops here in town or kinkos. They are all relatively fast turnaround and reasonably priced.

    I was looking more for the ability to run off a print or two to proof before sending out a multiple print order, or take it to a client or job site without having to run by the print shop first.

    I have a HP photosmart 8550 that does 11x17 color for smaller prints.
     
  5. campyguy macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2014
    Location:
    Portland / Seattle
    #5
    Ah, forgive me, you indicated "wide format", which to me is 11x17 or portrait, so now I'm surmising that you're looking for a "large format" solution!

    There I can offer my input, and since you're already HP friendly, we use 2 HP Designjet T520 ePrinters which get us up to half-size sheets - and the output looks pretty damned good IMHO - and one HP Latex 330 which gets us up to 64" wide plots. The Latex 330 is a bit more than we wanted, but the 310 has a "fall to floor" (lack of) option, and I wanted a take up reel. The Latex printers have VERY durable print output. All three models have remote print capability, so if there's a change and no one's in the office I can make changes and print out remotely - so the output is waiting for me or (more likely) the person I send back to the office.

    The T520 has a 36" model, and we almost pulled the trigger on one but opted for a 24" unit and have no regrets with the Latex available.

    HP has Mac, Windows, and Linux firmwares - for most of their large format printers, excellent support, and leasing available. I think HP also has iOS and Android apps that can control what goes to these and other printers if you have an HP account (we do). I tired mightily of janking around with used printers and lease them - for under $200 per month we get all three printers new, and supported. Heck, my cell phone bill is more than that each month! I'm not a fan of cheap HP inkjets, but I am a fan of their large format printers.
     
  6. johnh57 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2011
    Location:
    Montana
    #6
    Thank you.

    For a new printer the T520 is looking fairly promising. I may pull the trigger on one before long. Another vendor is trying to sell me a Cannon 24" desktop unit, IPF605. I've never been real lucky with Cannon inkjets though.

    There are 2 Hp 800PS printers here in town (craigslist) - one 24" and one 36", both under $1000. These were $7k printers new - 10 years ago give or take. I've no idea how 'used' they are, nor how much money I'd have to allocate to get them going and keep them going. From what I can tell there are mac drivers for them, and they are not wireless, but they do have an ethernet port.
     
  7. campyguy macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2014
    Location:
    Portland / Seattle
    #7
    I love Canon home inkjets - I have one, and it's bulletproof. Their larger printers? I have 3 words of advice - Don't. Do. It.

    As for the HP 800PS - I last used them in 2005 at a small engineering firm I was working with, and they were decent but finicky to work with. The nearest "repair firm to you is in Austin TX, and for $800-1000 more you can get a refurb and decent support (look up TAYVA - I used to live in Austin, good firm to work with) - there's no way I'd buy a 10-year old one, what with the specialized print kits and hard drive for them. If they're that old, they're "amortized" (read: "junk")- if they still worked as a production device, they'd still be in use!

    As I wrote before, the T520 hits the right performance and price points for me, and I'd buy/lease another tomorrow. Good luck!
     
  8. johnh57 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2011
    Location:
    Montana
    #8
    Thanks. I hate buying used stuff anyway. I'll start budgeting for the new HP :)
     

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