By Cassandra Balentine
Part 1 of 2
Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) professionals rely on blueprints, maps, and schematic drawings throughout product planning and development. While the portability, collaboration, and change management of tablets and smartphones is important, many professionals in the field still prefer or require paper-based versions of these documents.
The ability to print, scan, and copy on one small format, wide format device is a winning combination for the AEC trade. Color capabilities are in demand, especially as the cost of color continues to decline. Built in security functions, fine detail, and WiFi connectivity are additional features AEC professionals look to for a multifunction technical printer.
Features in Demand
Versatility and ease of use top the list of capabilities AEC professionals are looking for when it comes to technical printing solutions. It is also important that these devices be able to handle large files, complex data, and support digitization.
Bob Honn, senior director of marketing support, Canon Solutions America, says a range of features are attractive to AEC professionals looking for technical printers, including the ability to easily print, copy, and scan B&W or color technical documents from a single device; the ability to remotely submit prints through native windows applications or walk up and print/scan through a simple, intuitive interface; integrated color scanners for a space efficient single footprint; print quickly without having to wait for the device to warm up; converting damaged original documents and create high-quality scans; and the ability to share documents easily via the cloud from the device.
Reed Hecht, senior product manager, professional imaging, Epson America, Inc., says AEC professionals are looking for powerful printing solutions to keep up with their daily demands. “These professionals are seeking high-quality prints, extreme line accuracy, low running costs, fast print speeds, small footprint, ease of use, and the ability to digitize documents.”
Eddie Anderson, HP DesignJet presales technical consultant, HP Inc., believes that ease of use from software to the operation of the printers—such as front loading and media handling capabilities—are important to today’s AEC professionals. They also demand the “ability to handle today’s complex files and compatibility with archived files,” he offers.
The AEC industry is continuously evolving. The latest in digitization technologies supports a mixed use of computer- and tablet-based documents and hardcopy solutions. Therefore, a decentralized model for printing, scanning, and copying is the ideal setup.
The need for a centralized printer has decreased among AEC professionals as printing technologies become more reliable, smaller, faster, and easier to use points out Hecht. He shares that in the past it was common to have several print rooms where all the AEC printing was traditionally produced. “Over the past years, printing technology has become more versatile and traditional AEC printers can now produce signage, AEC documents, and in some cases, entry-level photography. This is due to the versatility of the hardware, ink, and the availability of media for the various applications,” he explains.
“Over the past few years, digitization of the workflow has caused needs to evolve as more users generate their prints at the point of need,” says Honn. He says this translates to the need for large format printers to integrate into office environments similar to the way a cutsheet network copier does. He likens the effort to a hallway device that anyone can use with minimal training. “This has led to improvements in industrial design, not only in user interaction for typical printing, copying, and scanning as well as routine maintenance such as adding media and toner but also with respect to environmental considerations so that the device blends in without notice. What I mean is that if the device is going to sit amongst the employees—rather than the CRD—it must be quiet, have low energy and writing requirements, and not give off excess heat or other emissions,” he explains.
With the increased need for digitization of AEC documents, the industry demands more versatile equipment that can provide multiple functions, offers Hecht. He says with the introduction with the SureColor T3170 and T3170x, he’s seen customers purchasing AEC printers for their desk or home.
Additionally, cloud computing plays an increasing role in the AEC space. “Cloud computing has continued to evolve over the past few years and engineering printing and scanning systems have not been left out this conversation. What is important is that this functionality to platform agnostic, and not tired exclusively to any single vendor,” says Honn.
There is also an increase in demand for advanced security functionality such as e-shredding and removable hard drives. “E-shredding, or data image overwrite, is frequently used in high-security environments such as those involved in defense and energy,” says Honn. He notes that with cybercrimes gaining attention in the news cycles, these features are becoming more commonplace in commercial organizations as well as ensure against breaches of confidential information and intellectual property.”
Technical printing has taken a shift of where prints need to go, points out Anderson. “Digitizing has been a fantastic solution for keeping documents current and everyone on the same page. Today, people who are working on site, like contractors, still need prints for many reasons, scaling, templates, and eliminate or reduce dependence on electronic power to access plots, and so the focus of the printers have moved on to support this demand.”
Modern Technical Printing
Today’s AEC professional seeks document strategy that incorporates both hardcopy output and digitized documents. A decentralized print strategy is ideal in many cases. The latest technical printers are designed to support modern AEC professionals with high-quality printed output as well as scan and copy functions.
In part two of this series we highlight features the latest technical printers on the market today.
Mar2020, DPS Magazine