Wide-Format Printers/Plotters

Canon Continues to Court CAD Market

25 Apr, 2013 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

Latest wide-format printers and multifunction devices are optimized for AutoCAD and more affordable than ever before.


Canon is not a newcomer in the CAD market; it introduced wide-format devices in 1999 with the BJ-W7000 bubblejet plotter sold under the Selex brand. In 2002, the company introduced the imagePROGRAF brand, and in 2007, the S-Series eight-color models came on the scene. In late 2009, Canon announced that Océ, a Dutch printer developer, would come into the Canon fold, forming a printing technology giant that offers a comprehensive range of low-, mid-, and high-production products.

What’s the company up to currently? Company representatives spoke with Cadalyst recently to bring us and our readers up to speed.

These days, Canon’s wide-format color imaging lineup comprises 23 printers. Of those, 10 five-color models are designed for CAD applications, including 17”, 24”, 36”, and 44” sizes. Some models add a hard drive, extra media roll, and/or support for high-volume production. The 36” and 44” models are expandable to full multifunction printers (MFPs) that include a scanner, computer, monitor, and software. As a price reference, the 36” IPF 760 costs $4,495, the IPF 765 adds a hard drive for $500 more, and both models are available in MFP versions for an added $4,000 each. “We have the versatility to hit many different markets,” said Richard Reamer, director of product marketing, Large Format & Photo Printing Solutions, Business Imaging Solutions Group — from small contractors who are watching costs to large architecture firms that demand high-volume production and the ability to easily print poster-size 3D renderings.

In 2011, Canon introduced its first wide-format MFP priced below $10,000. “That really changed things for us,” Reamer said. Five years ago, a large-format printer alone was $10,000–$15,000, he noted. “Now you can have an entire MFP for $7,500. It’s drawing in a lot of new users and getting people to include a scanner when they didn’t [have one] before.”

Multifunction Printers

Canon MFP products are essentially advanced large-format copy machines, explained Brian Coombs, senior specialist, product planning, Large Format & Photo Printing Solutions, Business Imaging Solutions Group. “But instead of embedding the scanner in the printer, we found there are advantages in tying multiple components together.”


Canon’s 760 MFP M40 multifunction printer integrates a scanner as well as an independently functioning PC and 22” touchscreen monitor.


Each MFP comprises the following five components:

Scanner. These are the “most improved component” of the devices in the MFP, said Coombs. Optical resolution has improved two-fold to 1,200 dpi (interpolated p to 9,600 dpi), and scanning speeds are now “some of the fastest on the market”: 13 ips in monochrome and 3 ips in color. Media as thick as 2 mm can be managed. Scanners are manufactured by Colortrac and incorporate Canon imaging technology.

Large-format printer. Customers can choose from one of five base models for output and price flexibility. The five-color models are designed for producing technical documents, line drawings, and other CAD- and AEC-related output. Media options are many, including banner materials and glossy paper in addition to standard bond, “and quality is consistently good,” Coombs said.

A 22” touchscreen monitor and onboard PC. These components run independently of the MFP for controlling the device, viewing and editing CAD files right at the printer, and running any other traditional PC-based tasks.

 


Stand. The MFP stand ties together all other components in one small footprint. Users can bolt the scanner stand to the printer stand to minimize overall footprint, or keep the components separate so the printer can be moved elsewhere if needed.


Canon MFP hardware components incorporate numerous advanced features.


Software. Launched in 2010, the software that powers Canon wide-format devices has been updated continuously based on customer and reseller feedback, Coombs said. It now includes a revamped home page displaying three main features: Copy; Scan (to file, e-mail, or USB drive); and Print (even allowing users to print a PDF, for example, without opening the file). The new user interface is designed to be navigable by beginning and experienced users alike and includes default and customizable presets; scan-to-cloud functionality; batch-scanning capability; and a variety of image-editing features.

The software can suggest output settings for beginning users based on the document selected for printing, Coombs said, or advanced users can set their own preferences and presets to use repeatedly. Users can set up parameters for a batch job and use them over and over as they scan dozens of documents, for example.

Direct Print and Share

MFPs now include integrated software that supports batch printing, cloud-based file sharing and printing from any desktop or mobile device, and AutoCAD integration. “One of the things that sets us apart is our very robust software,” Coombs said.


Canon MFPs are equipped with Direct Print & Share software to support a variety of tasks that facilitate CAD printing.


Optimized for CAD

Long-time customers are accustomed to the HDI driver traditionally found in Canon wide-format printers, but when it comes to processing AutoCAD files, today’s users have a second option: an AutoCAD-optimized driver allows users to very simply print from inside AutoCAD. Users can easily control print type (priority of image), print quality, color mode (including a new CAD option), and brightness, and the driver enables HP-GL/2 or HP-RTL nesting and autorotation of HP-GL/2 files. The driver works efficiently behind the scenes to produce high-quality output. “Sometimes vector files result in missing portions of the output. We’ve optimized this driver to overcome that,” Reamer said.

“There’s so much application of large-format [technology] today,” Reamer said in reference to the CAD market. “If you are using your devices for only printing your technical documents, you’re limiting use. You can use it to make a poster and not need to be a creative genius or graphic designer. It’s easy.”

Coombs added, “Smaller firms — and even larger firms — like to be able to do more with less. [We offer] ease of use, versatility, and flexibility. You’re getting everything you need for most environments right out of the box. You get more use and operation out of your printer.”


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