31 Aug, 2015
By: Robert Green
In an age of cloud-connected devices and high-end CAD analysis, will we keep plotting to large-format paper? HP thinks so — and its new PageWide XL 5000 and XL 8000 printers are the proof.
Last month, Oriol Gasch, the director of Hewlett-Packard’s Americas Large-Format Printing division, lead an assemblage of reporters through product briefings and tours at the company’s Customer Experience facility in Alpharetta, Georgia. HP held the meeting to introduce the PageWide XL 5000 and 8000 high-volume color plotters in a hands-on environment, and to share HP’s strategies for high-volume printing for large engineering and reprographic firms.
"There are very few times in your career when you see a true revolution in technology, and now is one of those times,” commented Gasch as he began his presentation on the PageWide XL 8000.
The key components and technologies that Gasch touched on included:
Support for color and monochrome printing. Both full-color and monochrome print support are included at full 1,200-dpi resolution, making the XL 8000 both a workhorse CAD plotter and a large-format color device to print posters, renderings, and other marketing support materials.
High speed. The XL 8000 delivers as many as 30 D-size plots per minute in both monochrome and color modes.
Stable images. Pigment-based inks (as opposed to dye-based inkjet inks) create a durable image that won’t smudge.
Integrated Adobe support for PDF. True native PDF file handling is supported, eliminating the need to embed fonts or special characters into PDF files during CAD plotting operations.
Device consolidation. If companies can print their own color renderings and marketing materials on the same device as their CAD plotting, they won’t need multiple plotters — which saves room and power, and reduces consumable and support contract costs.
Simple design. By using multiple modular print heads, a 1-meter (40” wide) paper path is created where the print heads are stationary, with a moving sensor/cleaning head (as explained in the figure below). During printing, the only thing moving is the paper.
HP PageWide XL printers include a stationary 40” (101.6-cm) printbar (1) that spans the whole printing width.
The entire page is printed in one pass (2), enabling very high printing speeds. The printbar is built from eight identical HP 841 PageWide XL Printhead modules (3). Print quality and consistency are monitored by a closed-loop system contained in the service station (4) that detects nozzle status, and a densitometer used for color calibration and printhead alignment. All necessary corrections and cleanings are performed automatically. All images courtesy of HP.
Given the specifications and technology overview, the XL 8000 sounded like a device that would finally allow high-output monochrome CAD printing along with high-resolution color printing without sacrificing speed — a combination that has proven elusive over the years. I was already looking forward to some hands-on time with the unit, but a little more detail was yet to come.
The PageWide Product Line
The HP PageWide XL 5000 and 8000 printers join the already introduced 4000 and 4500 models in the new HP PageWide sub-brand. While all PageWide XL printers share common design elements, varying ink capacities and paper throughput rates differentiate the models. The PageWide XL printer portfolio specifications are as follows:
The PageWide XL 8000 produces as many as 30 D/A1-size prints per minute, has up to 3,900 linear feet of roll-fed media on board (using three dual-roll drawers), and features dual 775-milliliter ink cartridge supply bays with automatic switching and hot swapping.
The PageWide XL 5000 looks and feels very much like the XL 8000 unit, but its maximum capacity is two dual-roll drawers and 14 D/A1-size prints per minute, and it uses 400-milliliter ink cartridges.
The PageWide XL 4500 and XL 4000 printers max out at 12 and 8 D/A1-size prints per minute, respectively, and use the 400-milliliter ink cartridges. Given the consistent controller interface, roll feed procedures, and ink cartridges (except for the XL 8000’s extra-large cartridges), employees can work on an XL 5000/4500/4000 using the same techniques and parts as an XL 8000. Those commonalities should benefit large companies that are using multiple devices. -