By Melissa Donovan
Technical documents include everything from blueprints, instructional booklets, operator manuals, and assembly guides to geographical or topographical maps. Used in architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC); computer aided design (CAD); or graphic information system (GIS) industries, these documents benefit from advanced digitization and remote printing capabilities found on both multifunction products (MFPs) and standalone scanning devices.
Above: The HP DesignJet T1700 is a large format workgroup printer that can be bundled with the HP Pro Scanner or HP SD Scanner.
Read and Distribute
The manner in which technical documents are read and distributed is heavily influenced by the evolution of today’s MFPs and standalone scanners, particularly digitization and remote printing.
Digitization is a natural fit for AEC, CAD, and GIS industries. For example, Marilu Lopez, marketing manager, Paradigm Imaging Group, points out that AEC companies coordinate a lot during the design, approval, and construction stages and it is often essential that this information be shared between multiple parties. “Often, documents need to be sent to the field or remote office personnel. With MFPs, drawing sets can be printed at half the size so they are referenced more easily at a job site,” she continues.
Digitization decentralizes the entire printing process for technical drawings. What was once printed by the architect and distributed at a construction site to all the stakeholders is now sent over PDF or uploaded to the cloud and printed ad hoc, shares Bryan Martindale, HP DesignJet category and sales manager; Eddie Anderson, wide format graphics technical consultant; and Sergi Gilabert, worldwide product manager, HP Inc.
Ray Bauer, production marketing manager, commercial and industrial printing business group, Ricoh USA, Inc., says documents are kept in the electronic form longer. “With smartphones, tablets, and laptops it’s easier to view documents and specifications quickly without having to print a huge piece of paper,” he admits.
“Everything can be communicated, almost in real time, with the specific need for that recipient. Ten or 15 years ago, it had to be printed and mailed. Today, as soon as hard copies are digitized, it can be shared and printed locally,” explains Steve Blanken, GM, Contex Americas.
Distributed printing is a direct result of digitization and remote printing. Bauer provides an example of an architect with a 250 page document. Thanks to distributed printing, he no longer has to print 30 copies and mail them to contractors. The architect sends a PDF version to contractors and denotes which pages are relevant to them. The contractors then print select pages either in house or at a shop.
“Having access to all documents on the go is crucial for any technical printing environment. The need to be able to view, edit, and share technical documents is necessary to achieve maximum efficiency. From a printing standpoint, there’s an increase in the demand to print directly from mobile devices and tablets without the use of a PC,” says Matt Kochanowski, product manager, professional imaging, Epson America, Inc.
Bob Honn, senior director marketing services, Canon Solutions America, argues that printing from handheld devices hasn’t really taken off in terms of remote printing. “Where we see strong remote printing is through the use of plan rooms that remotely connect project documents online where they can be ordered and shipped or picked up from the reprographer.”
Users in the technical printing space demand security, mobility, speed, and color. MFPs and standalone scanning equipment are equipped to meet these needs.
“In the digital age, sharing information via printers and other networked devices is vital to working efficiently, but it also involves a certain level of risk. We see an increased demand for advanced security functionality such as e-shredding and removable hard drives. Both are frequently used in high-security environments such as companies involved in defense and energy,” says Honn.
To combat this, companies like Canon Solutions America create products like the Océ PlotWave and Océ ColorWave series with features meeting high security standards and reducing high security vulnerabilities. For example, the Océ PowerSync Controller protects confidential information with the latest security and protection features supported by a Microsoft Windows 8 embedded platform.
Lopez says mobility is increasingly popular. Paradigm distributes standalone scanners from Colortrac and Graphtec. The Graphtec DT530 desktop scanner comes with an optional mobile carrying case and can be easily combined to an existing large format printer with the Scanning Arts 2 interface. The Colortrac SmartLF SC 36 scanner is also available with an optional mobile carrying case.
Most technical documents now require some element of color. “Color is now the norm, monochrome is the exception. The technology has come down so much in cost, it has created this change. Scanning color is as fast as monochrome, which is equally true for scanning and printing,” shares Blanken.
Martindale, Anderson, and Gilabert agree, citing the increase of color versus B&W as one of two demands that are more rapidly adopted. “The increase of color versus B&W is due to the democratization of colored inks. The second demand is for the gradual replacement of single functions to MFPs to enhance collaboration and sharing.”
HP responds in particular to enhanced collaboration and sharing by offering a range of compact and intelligent MFPs that integrate with phones, tablets, and the cloud. With HP Mobile Printing customers are able to print wherever and whenever they need it. The HP Smart application allows for access to extra printing and scanning features for better and smarter collaboration.
“The trend of keeping documents electronic for longer is driving the demand for multifunction machines. With fewer larger runs, customers in the AEC market look for devices that print and scan and have a smaller footprint,” adds Bauer.
Price is a factor with standalone scanners and MFPs. While MFPs generally carry a higher price point, that doesn’t deter buyers. If a technical document user requires multiple functionalities at once, they are prepared for a higher investment that benefits them in the long run.
Canon Solutions America does not disclose pricing, but Honn shares that the percent delta between the two types of systems is in the 30 percent range—and ironically the vast majority of systems sold are multifunction.
Paradigm offers standalone scanners from Colortrac and Graphtec ranging from $3,350 to $15,995. Its multifunction Flex Systems—combining the scanner with a large format printer—range from $4,995 to $15,995.
Blanken says a standalone scanner is about 50 percent the cost of an MFP. “The advantage of a standalone scanner is that it can connect with the existing printers, which gives greater value for the investment. The acquisition of a printer isn’t necessary, since a scanner can connect to any device on the network, or print to a device wherever the sender chooses,” he continues.
Epson understands that customers don’t always know from the get go whether they require a standalone or MFP for printing and scanning, so it designed a modular solution that allows customers to add a 36-inch wide scanner. The street price on the MFP option in its Epson SureColor T-Series printers is $4,195.
“Compared to a standalone printer or scanner, MFPs are typically more expensive. We find that most customers who buy a printer do really need a scanner and vice versa, so the multifunction option is a practical one,” says Bauer.
Martindale, Anderson, and Gilabert say running costs are nearly identical when it comes to comparing its standalone scanners and MFPs. This is because they use the same platforms and supplies. Specific to the hardware, the delta between standalone and multifunction device pricing is based on a number of factors. If there is an HP-sponsored national promotion, for example, the pricing can be close. But, according to Martindale, Anderson, and Gilaber, other times a device with an integrated scanner may command a premium of up to 50 percent over its standalone counterpart.
Serving AEC, CAD, and GIS
MFPs and standalone scanners service the technical printing space. Here, vendors share specific feature sets on products that target AEC, CAD, and GIS industries.
Canon Solutions America’s Océ PlotWave and Océ ColorWave series offer a simple user interface, the Océ ClearConnect Panel, which is a touchscreen with multi-touch features similar to tablet and smartphone interaction. An integrated top delivery tray neatly stacks and collates documents. Océ Image Logic technology allows for better copy and color scan results thanks to its ability to automatically compensate for wrinkled and light colored originals. Instant print engine startup occurs with Océ Radiant Fusing technology. Effortless roll changing, reliable print quality, and performance round out some of the features targeting technical printing.
Contex offers the IQ Quattro scanner series, with options in 24, 36, and 44 inches. For the technical print market, it interfaces with all printing devices, directly or via the network, as well as smart devices. The IQ Quattro scanner can be networked with an entire workgroup and cloud enabled so anyone from a project team can access it from a smartphone. Fast and efficient, the scanner series’ scan speed is up to 14 inches per second.
The Epson SureColor T-Series printers have the ability to make a full-color copy of a D-sized print in less than 40 seconds. With an MFP instead of a standalone scanner, the ability to make a copy of any technical document increases productivity. The T-Series includes the SureColor T5270/D and SureColor T7270/D printers, which have a 36-inch wide scanner option.
The HP DesignJet T3500 is a 36-inch print and scan device. It offers an integrated stacker, dual roll capability, a wide variety of preset options for printing and scanning, an i5 core processor for faster processing speeds, plus an integrated SD scanner. It is designed for technical offices that do a fair amount of scanning and printing but not on an industrial scale.
In January 2018, HP announced its HP DesignJet T1700 large format workgroup printer. It features advanced security technologies designed to keep corporate network printers, documents, and data protected. The printer can be bundled with either the HP HD Pro Scanner or HP SD Scanner.
Paradigm offers Flex Systems, adding a high-quality scanner to an existing large format printer. The floor stand provides four height adjustments with clearance to accommodate printers from 39 to 45 inches high so that it can be coupled with a variety of technical printers. The Flex System can optionally add Paradigm’s Rocket Scanner Controller. It brings performance, ease of use, excellent scan quality with a fast processor, upgraded graphics capabilities, and network readiness—all ideal for technical printing.
Ricoh’s AEC portfolio includes the MP CW2201SP. It offers high-resolution scanning, as well as the ability to scan to a variety of endpoints like USB, email, folder, and file on a network. Scanning solutions detect title blocks and name scanned documents accordingly, minimizing wasted time spent sifting through a number of randomly named files.
MFPs and Standalone Scanners
The digitization and mobility requirements lead to advancements in how these files are shared. AEC, CAD, and GIS professionals in the technical printing space look for user friendliness, ease in media handling, high-quality output, productivity, and reliability from both MFPs and standalone scanners. dps
May2018, DPS Magazine