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A look into the different types of photocopiersBlueprinting, 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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Copier and laser printer repairInkjet Printers Can Save You Money at HomeAn all-in-one printer may be a better multifunction solution than many realize. While a laser printer may, on average, have a lower cost per page, it's typically much more expensive and out of the question for those looking for a simple solution for the occasional print job. In this post we'll take a look at 5 inexpensive all-in-one inkjet solution and talk about a few more of the pros and cons for going with an inkjet printer. I recently decided to upgrade my old printer to something with a few more options. By that I simply mean that I needed something that could copy, scan, and print when I couldn't use a digital document or wanted a quick photo. In the course of searching for the best all in one printer for my needs, I came across a technology that was much more refined than I remember it being. Unlike a few years ago you can now find inkjets that are faster, wireless, more reliable, and cheaper to use per page. Advantages and Disadvantages to Using an Inkjet PrinterAdvantages: Perfect for photos and Colored Documents Can Print on various types of paper and even some types of fabrics Refilled Cartridges and generics are less expensive Prints in Color Disadvantages Ink is water-based and can be damaged if exposed to water or fade if put in the light Cartridges occasionally need to be cleaned Tray holds less paper than laser printers Doesn't print as many copies as a laser printer Refills or Generic Print Cartridges Create Low Cost Per Page Options:Save up to 80% Vs. Cartridge Purchases: If you go out and purchase a brand new ink cartridge every time you run out, then you might start questioning why you bought an inkjet printer in the first place. Consider using an ink refill kit, going to a local refill store, or purchasing a generic model online. Generic models have typically been filled and refilled before and can be found for very inexpensive prices. Using generic ink cartridges or refilling them yourself can save you nearly 80% of your overall cost per page. Types of Inkjet HeadsThermal Design - This is the design used in most common consumer printers.It heats the ink and pushes into the page like a bubble and uses only water-based types of inks. This type of head is cheaper to produce than consumer piezo electric heads. Piezo Electric - This head type takes electricity to a crystalline inside which then releases the ink in droplets. This type of head is used more on commercial inkjet printers because it allows for more ink types and it eliminates the ink buildup sometimes found with thermally designed heads. Types of Inkjet InkDye Based Wide variety of colors Less expensive because it uses less ink in the droplets Not the best with fine details Almost no water resistance Pigment based Sits on the surface of the paper Less color options Better for fine details More expensive More water resistant Best Multifunction Inkjet Printers for the Money in 2016Under $100 - Brother MFCJ450DW Inkjet Vs. Epson C11CC87201 XP-410 Brother MFCJ450DW Any time you can purchase a printer that prints, scans, copies and even faxes for under $100 you may begin to question its reliability. However, seeing as this product was from trusted manufacturer Brother I decided to give it a chance. I was surprised at how quick it prints, up to 33ppm black and 27ppm color) and I was able to find a complete 5 pack set of the ink cartridges for under $20. The black Cartridge alone I was able to find for under $6. Other great features like double sided printing, an ink level display, automatic feeder, and a web connect option which allows you to directly scan or print from the cloud or even your cell phone. Final Thoughts: It's possible that Brother is selling this printer so cheap in the hope that you'll continuously buy expensive cartridge refills. If you stick with generics at under $20, then this is a great overall value for a home or small business. Epson C11CC87201 XP-410 Another solid option in the under $100 category is the Epson XP-410. Like the Brother model it has Wi-Fi direct so you can easily print from wherever you are and includes double-sided printing. This includes your tablet or cell phone. The Epson model also includes a 2.5" LCD touch panel looks good and the compact design works well in small offices. Final Thoughts: Compared to the Brother model above it doesn't have the speed printing or feeder tray option. If that's important to you, then go with the Brother model, if not, then you can save $20 and go with a printer that's nearly as good. Good Inkjet Printers Under $150 Canon is well-known for their popular compact and DSLR cameras. If you're looking for an option that will allow you to create unforgettable photos or posters, then I recommend going with a Canon Pixma model. Specifically the ix6520 is a great option for those specifically looking for a photo image option because of its Full HD movie print. This allows you to record video from your DSLR, play it back, and choose that perfect moment to print. Canon gives you the best overall value: For a better multifunction option, the MX712 still gives you high resolution, 9500 x 2400, quality prints and has more overall features. For Under $200 Consider the Epson Artisan 50 Color Injket Printer: If you want something that pretty much does every type of print you need in the quality you want it in, then you should definitely consider the Epson Artisan 50 for around $200. Professional Quality Photo and DVD Printing: It gives you better than lab quality photos, can make professional looking CDs and DVDs and is smear resistant. Overall inkjet printers have come a long way in the last couple of decades. Spending over $100 doesn't seem to be necessary for most homes and with readily available generic ink cartridge products printing is less expensive than ever.
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