An A2 printer is probably the smallest sheet size a professional designer could get away with, although I am sure there will be plenty of feedback from people who are quite happily getting along with A3 and A4 output.
It depends on what you are drawing and who needs to work with the sheets as to what output size is appropriate. We’re looking at A2 printers here because it is the smallest of the “large-format” printers on the market.
We look at the Epson Stylus Pro 4450 and Canon iPF510.
Many issues related to printers only reveal themselves over a period of time in practical situations. We’re interested to know about things like…
- Ink capacity
- Third party ink systems/supplies
- Print durability
- Printing speed
- Paper handling
Every manufacturer will tell you that using other than proprietary replacement cartridges will void your warranty. Why is that not surprising? The inkjet cartridge replacement business is much more lucrative than the hardware itself. Two or three cartridge set replacements is often equal to the cost of a new printer. I often wonder if the printer profits are being sacrificed in order to sell more ink or are they just skinning us blind on ink costs? But that is another story.
There are numerous third party ink and cartridge suppliers and their prices are significantly lower. It is very tempting to try them out.
Some suppliers even offer entire ink system replacements – a service that must horrify the manufacturers. Such systems typcially replace the ink cartridge system with a tube feed connected to external ink tanks, usually of capacious proportions. This allows you to print runs well in excess of anything the cartridges could allow. However I have not been able to locate a continuous ink system (CIS) that is specified to work with either of the printers mentioned in this article.
Ink cartridges now incorporate built-in chips that allow the cartridges to report their status to the printer. They also disallow refilling unless reset, a function not readily disclosed by manufacturers.
Epson Stylus Pro 4450
- Up to 17” (432mm)
- 4 x Individual Ink Cartridges
- Epson UltraChrome® Ink System
- Accepts up to 1.5mm thick board
- Perfect for CAD and GIS applications
The Micro Piezo print head enables even greater control of the printing process.
Epson says its UltraChrome™ Ink has a high colour gamut, lightfastness and water-resistance.
220ml capacity ink cartridges with Epson Intellidge (Intelligent cartridge) ink cartridge technology. The Intellidge system is designed assist greater ink and cost savings. An integrated circuit on each cartridge stores the remaining ink volume, ensuring accurate reporting via the on-screen status monitor while also allowing the user to change ink cartridges without loss of image quality or production time.
The Epson Stylus Pro 4450 promises line accuracy of up to +/- 0.01 per cent per metre, even on tracing paper and plain paper. This is a ten–fold improvement on earlier models and makes the Stylus Pro 4450 very suitable most CAD and GIS applications where accuracy is important.
The Epson Stylus Pro 4450 can be connected with built-in High Speed USB 2.0 (compatible with USB 1.1) or 10/100 Base–T Ethernet. Along with this is full driver and software support for the latest Windows and Mac OS X® operating systems.
Canon imagePROGRAF iPF510
- HPGL-2 and HP RTL Support
- 6 inks integrated type (6 chip per print head x 1 print heads)
- Resolution: 2,400 x 1,200 dpi
- Head replacement: User replaceable
- Ink Tanks: Matte Black x 2, Photo Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow
- Ink Tank Capacity: 130ml
- Roll and cut sheet media. Cut sheet feeds from cassette, top and front
The ink system with a separate “photo black” cartridge belies the fact that this unit was designed to print photo quality images. However a two matte black cartridges should give you a good number of CAD black-only prints before you need to attend to cartridge replacements.