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Blueprinting, reprographics, large format, and other namesI interviewed Ewan Tallentire, owner of Denver-area reprographics shop Albion Repro & Graphics, about the changes he’s seen over a couple decades in the blueprinting industry, and the history before that. Yes, I know, reprographics doesn’t sound like an exciting topic. But it’s related to both architecture and printing, so between great buildings and Johannes Gutenberg, there's a lot of related history. Reprographics goes by many names, such as blueprinting, large format printing, wide format copying, digital publishing, and document printing. The name changes because the product changes, as new technology comes into use. It’s always been about those drawings you build from: construction plans, blueprints, architect drawings, house plans, home plans, engineering drawings, floor plans, landscaping plans, etc. But as the drawings went from pencil to computer, how they got copied also changed. What hasn’t changed: the job hazard of paper cuts! Reprographics industry trends - less space, price, and smellReprographics became a business independent from architecture because architects and contractors didn’t want big, noisy, smelly machines in their offices, not to mention the training, experience, and money the machines required. Recently, printers, plotters, and other reprographic equipment have become small, cheap, and non-toxic enough to fit many offices. Today’s prints are usually black-and-white printing on bond paper, most often the 24x36 size. There’s no need for the variety of media and printers that existed in the past, and the shelf life of supplies is much longer. As a result, many architecture firms and contractors do their own printing, and many reprographics shops have gone out of business or changed focus. Like blacksmithing after cars replaced horses, reprographics is changing as an industry, but it still has its uses. The search for the ideal: reprographic media and printersTo understand where things are going in reprography, you have to look at how it got where it is today. From the beginning, it’s been a search for the fastest, easiest, and cheapest solution to three problems: something to draw onsomething to make copies onsomething to keep for a recordThe following timeline shows some of the types of printers and media used for copying, and what order they came in. I do wonder what the first architects of the US Capitol would have thought of AutoCAD and floor plans that could be emailed rather than engraved. Architectural originals: the need for stable and reproducible recordsOnce you’ve designed a building, you want to keep the records for very practical reasons of knowing where you can make changes or how repairs will affect it, but also for historical reasons to show future generations what you did. So it would be nice if the original plans could last as long as the building itself. You don’t want to expose the originals to the wear and tear of the construction site, so you want copies made for actual use. You also may want what I’ll call semi-originals; copies of all or part of the original printed on something stable enough to treat like an original. That way an architect in Denver can keep his originals while sending the semi-originals to a building site in Kansas City, without fear of losing everything in the mail. Before the digital age of large-format printing (which didn’t really arrive until this millennium), there were several processes for copying. All these processes were variations of shining light through the original onto a print which was treated with chemicals so shadows turned a different color from light areas. So for fastest and best results, originals needed to be transparent, or at least as translucent as possible. Architectural originals: linenTwo hundred years ago, linen was often used both for the original drawings and for hand-tracing the plans from the original onto a copy for record. This linen was the same stuff that's used in high-quality old books: it looks like paper but it’s actually a thin woven fabric without the acidic wood pulp of regular paper. It had a paraffin-based coating to make it easier to draw on. Ewan tells of a linen original brought into his shop which was dated about 1872 and was probably drawn on with a quill pen. Architectural originals: vellum and paper sepiaLinen tended to shrink slightly, so the standard for originals became vellum, which, like linen, is fairly translucent. This is not true vellum; real vellum is made from animal hide stretched and scraped (rather than tanned, which makes leather). What is called vellum now is made of 100% rags (as opposed to the wood pulp that regular paper is mostly made of). Vellum was the standard drawing base for 50 years or more, starting in the early 1900s. In the early years of vellum, part of the drawing might be copied to paper sepia (in a diazo process which exposed the sepia to light then developed it with ammonia). Paper sepia was vellum-based with a sepia-colored emulsion. The sepia was then a semi-original that could be copied from and/or kept for record. Another use of paper sepias was to save time and effort by copying the base floor plan of a multi-story building onto paper sepia, then drawing in the details of each floor separately. Paper sepia was still being used in the 1990s; a floor plan might be drawn on vellum, then the electrical plan filled in on the paper sepia. Since architects can now draw on a computer and print directly from the file, vellum has gone out of general use for drafting (though some colleges teach hand drafting on vellum so students aren’t completely dependent on computers). Artists still use vellum, for tracing over a pencil sketch and transferring it to canvas. Architectural originals: tissue paperEwan’s shop scanned some prints, dated from 1932 to 1936, from a mansion in Denver. These were the landscaping prints, and they were on tissue paper (also known as sketch, or tracing, paper). While buildings would have been drawn on vellum, landscaping was usually just one plan, a quick sketch drawn while talking to the customer, so it was reasonable to use something as fragile but cheap as tissue paper. See this HubPage for a picture of what landscape designs look like today (hint: it's sure not a quick sketch!) Architectural copies for record: MylarMylar was, and is still, used as semi-originals, as copies for record. Mylar was developed in the 1950s, and is used in many applications (such as balloons). Its value in record-keeping is that it doesn’t rip easily, and doesn’t fade or change color as other kinds of copies do. Bluelines and paper sepias tend to go on changing when exposed to light or heat, so lines fade or images get transferred to the next paper in the stack. Mylar was first used in reprographics as Photomylar; the original was literally photographed onto the Mylar film (I'll eventually explain what kind of camera makes poster-sized pictures!) But it was a messy, expensive, wasteful, and time-consuming process. And though the result was fairly stable, it wasn’t durable: the emulsion was so soft you could scratch the image off with your thumbnail. Eventually Mylar was developed to run through printers in a xerographic process like paper. That way, the emulsion is actually infused in the Mylar instead of sitting on top of the film. Modern Mylars have mostly replaced Photomylar, but there are rumors of municipalities around the country that still require Photomylars for records, assuming (and I can't say I blame them) that an older process must be more trustworthy than something digital. Architectural record-keeping issuesOne question record-keepers have to face is the value of the records compared to the expense. Ewan says Mylar prints cost about 6 times more than bond paper prints, and he questions whether their advantages over bond paper are really worth that cost. The main point of a Mylar was to be a stable translucent base to copy bluelines from, and since bluelines have been superseded, translucency in an original isn’t important anymore. Ewan also points out that reprographers dislike Mylar since the edges are tough enough to scratch the glass on printers. On the one hand, he would like to see all Photomylars scanned to file and stored digitally on disks, but on the other hand, there is a reason record-keepers trust older formats more. Who knows what digital storage format will be in 10 years? It may be worth more to print expensively now than to convert files to a new format down the road. Physical copies are comfortingly compatible with the real world. Ewan likes to say he’s never seen a pencil be incompatible with another pencil. The copies and copiersThere is much more to say, about the copies (blueprints, bluelines, and bond) themselves, and the printers, plotters, and giant cameras that did the copying. Read Part Two to find out which is a blueline and which is a blueprint.Read Part Three to find out how big a room-sized camera is.
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#1 HP LaserJet Pro 400 MFP M425dn HP LaserJet Pro 400 MFP M425dn is a monochrome laser printer for everyday office tasks such as faxing, scan to email and network folders, copying and printing jobs. The scanner has two scanning heads so you can scan double-sided pages at once. Save energy with the HP Auto-On/Auto-Off technology. The tray has a capacity of 250 sheets. With an optional tray can be raised to 500 sheets Pros Fast printing up to 33 pages per minute. Automatic two-sided printing. Wi-Fi: print directly from your smart phone or tablet. DADF: automatic two-sided scanning / copying. HP Auto-On/Auto-Off technology saves energy. Downsides Does not print in color. Suitable for work groups or departments up to 8 people (750-3000 pages per month). Print speed black and white: 33 ppm #2 HP LaserJet Pro 400 Color MFP M475DW The HP LaserJet Pro 400 Color MFP M475DW is a business color laser printer, scanner, copier and fax machine with networking capabilities. The integrated duplexer and automatic document feeder (ADF) provide convenience, combined with efficiency for office use. The printer is easy to install using HP Smart Install without any CDs. The HP LaserJet Pro 400 can be accessed by any mobile device with a network connection via Wi-Fi using HP ePrint and Apple AirPrint. You can send your scans directly via email and / or save to USB / network folder. Through the 8.9-inch color touch screen you can manage all your print jobs and also have access to several online applications. Pros Network connectivity for sharing the printer with multiple users. Wi-Fi for wireless connection to send print jobs from any device with WiFi. Scan to USB, email or network folder. Integrated duplexer for automatic two-sided printing documents. Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) of 50 sheets. Includes printer cable for wired connection to laptop / PC. Downsides Capacity is 300 sheets of paper trays and expandable to 550 sheets if you purchase an additional paper tray for 250 sheets. Print speed black and white: 20 ppm #3 HP LaserJet Pro 300 Color MFP M375NW This printer combines convenience with efficiency for the home or office. With print and copy speeds of up to 19 A4 pages per minute and a 600 x 600 dpi print quality will not only increase your productivity but also the look of your documents. The printer is using HP Smart Install which is easy to install without CD and share it with multiple users. Using the 8.9-inch color touch screen you can manage all your print jobs and also have access to several online applications. Furthermore, you can easily print documents from or to a USB memory stick. You can send your scans directly via email and / or save to USB / network folder. HP's Auto-On/Auto-Off technology saves energy and money. To increase productivity, the HP LaserJet Pro 300 Color MFP M375NW also features an automatic document feeder (ADF) for 50 sheets. Pros Network connectivity for sharing the printer with multiple users within the existing network. Wi-Fi for wireless connection to send print jobs from any mobile device with network connection. Scan to USB, email or network folder. Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) 50 sheets. High capacity black toner available for 4,000 pages. Includes printer cable for wired connection to laptop / PC. Downsides No integrated duplexer for automatic two-sided printing. Printer is suitable for workgroups (up to 500-1500 pages per month). Print speed black and white:18 ppm #4 HP LaserJet Pro 200 color MFP Printer The HP LaserJet Pro 200 M276NW provides each office with a user friendly machine for color laser printing, scanning, copying and faxing. After an easy installation, this multifunction printer can be accessed from any device on the network, using both Ethernet and wireless (including smart phones and tablets). The 256 MB of memory, combined with the 750 MHz processor for fast processing of each print job makes this on the top list. Pros Multifunctional color laser printer, scanner, fax and copier in one. Network connection. Wi-Fi: wireless networking and mobile printing from Android and Apple devices with HP ePrint and Apple AirPrint. Includes a 750 MHz processor (ICM memory) for high-speed processing of large documents Scan options for e-mail and PC & from USB and scanned using the automatic document feeder (ADF). HP Smart Install: plug & play installation for immediate use. Downsides No duplex printing automatically. Print speed black and white:14 ppm #5 Samsung Xpress M2875FW The Samsung M2875FW Xpress is a fast mono laser printer, color scanner, copier and fax machine. With a print speed of 28 pages per minute and convenient features like automatic two-sided printing and skip blank pages, you are assured of an efficient printer. The Samsung Xpress M2875FW also has a network and Wi-Fi connection. This makes it possible to share with multiple users within the network and to send print jobs from any device wirelessly. Install the Easy Printer Manager, so you can manage the printer from any location. Pros Fast monochrome laser printer, color scanner, copier and fax machine. Two-sided printing, automatic skipping of blank pages. Network connection, so that you can share with multiple users. Wi-Fi connection. You can set the printer to work with the 40-sheet automatic document feeder. Downsides It is possible to print in black and white only. It is not possible to add an additional paper tray. Paper capacity of the printer is limited. Print speed black and white: 28 ppm #6 HP LaserJet Pro 100 color MFP M175nw A color laser printer perfect for the home or office. That is the HP LaserJet Pro 100 Color MFP M175nw. With this you get the all in one solution for all your printing needs. A laser printer, copier and scanner with Wi-Fi. With a print speed up to 16 pages per minute, you never have to wait long. For copying this printer has a knack. The automatic copy optimization can improve the quality of the images to copy text. The printer has a paper tray that can accommodate 150 sheets and an output tray for 50 sheets. The recommended print volume to 950 prints per month, but HP LaserJet Pro 100 Color MFP M175nw can print even up to 20,000 pages per month. This printer has an automatic document feeder (ADF) for 35 pages. Print speed black and white:16 ppm #7 Samsung Xpress M2070FW The Samsung M2070FW Xpress is a compact and fast monochrome laser printer, scanner, fax and copier. With a print speed of 20 pages per minute and a print resolution of 1,200 x 1,200 dpi, you are always assured that you are ready to print fast with excellent quality. Using the automatic document feeder (ADF), you can scan, print or fax multiple documents. The M2070FW is suitable for printing (text) documents, reports, presentations and articles. Its compactness ensures that you can place the printer. Anywhere you like. You can send print jobs via Wi-Fi or use the NFC feature of your smart phone. This allows you to send a print job by simply keeping the Samsung Xpress M2070FW in touch with your smart phone Pros Fast monochrome laser printer, scanner, fax and copier with 20 pages per minute. Compact. Wi-Fi and LAN connection: via Samsung Mobile Print App you can easily send print jobs. NFC printing Just by pressing the WPS button, the printer connects to Wi-Fi. Automatic Document Feeder (ADF), so that you can copy, scan and fax multiple documents simultaneously Downsides Print only in black and white. It is not possible to duplex printing. Paper tray sticks out when it is loaded with paper. Print speed black and white: 20 ppm #8 Samsung Xpress C460W Samsung Xpress C460W is the all-in-one printing solution for everyday use at home or at your office. Connect it to your PC via USB or to the network through the Ethernet or Wi-Fi and your printing, scanning and copying projects can be started in a snap. In addition, it is even possible to use NFC to send print jobs. Due to its compact size, the printer can be placed virtually anywhere. Samsung has also carefully considered the user interface of this printer. The control panel is simple and intuitive. With convenient buttons as One-Touch Eco, WPS and Direct USB, working with Samsung Xpress C460W is made easy. Pros Color laser printer, scanner and copier in one. Network connection Wi-Fi: via Samsung Mobile Print App you can easily send print jobs. NFC printing. Scan to PC / USB / Application. User-friendly: simple control panel and easy replacement of the toners. Downsides The paper sticks out when paper is loaded in the tray. Fax functionality is not supported. It is not possible to print duplex automatically. Does not have an automatic document feeder (ADF). Print speed black and white: 18 ppm #9 Xerox WorkCentre 3325DNI The Xerox WorkCentre 3325DNI is one mono laser printer with which you can also scan, copy and fax. The network and Wi-Fi connection make sure that connectivity will not be an issue. With print speeds up to 35 pages per minute, you never have to wait long for your documents. The automatic duplexer and automatic document feeder makes it convenient to use and saves you lot of money on paper. In addition, the printer is equipped with other convenient features such as: scan to email, USB, FTP or PC (local / network) and the WorkCentre 3325DNI can also be expanded with an additional 520-sheet paper tray. Pros Fast monochrome laser printer with print speed up to 35 pages per minute. Scan, copy and fax with duplex automatic document feeder for 50 sheets. Network & Wi-Fi connection, so the printer can be shared with everyone on the network. Automatic two-sided printing using the integrated duplexer. Scan to e-mail/USB/FTP/PC (local / network) Save costs by using the XL-toner. Downsides The USB printer cable for connection to PC / laptop is not included. Prints only in black and white. Print speed black and white: 35 ppm #10 HP Laserjet Pro MFP M125NW This compact monochrome laser printer is suitable for the office. Despite its small size it is a hard worker. It can take up to 20 pages per minute. It can also scan both sides of a document. Thanks to the network connection and Wi-Fi capabilities, it is easy to share the printer in a network. Pros Print, scan and copy. Suitable for home or small business use. Wi-Fi network connection and wireless printing. Compact so you can place the printer anywhere Printing via smart phone or tablet through WiFi. Downsides Does not have an automatic document feeder (ADF). Duplex scanning or copying is not possible. Only black and white print. Print speed black and white: 20 ppm
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