What to Look for in a CAD Printer11 Apr, 2023 By: Jacob Hardin
Viewpoint: Six top considerations when investing in a new printing solution.
A lot has changed in the world of technology in the last decade. From the rise of cloud computing, mobile phones, apps, VR, AI, machine learning, and Software as a Service (SaaS), these technologies are just a few that aim to solve almost any conceivable problem.
While it may not be as evident, this same level of transformation has taken place in the realm of printers. In fact, a printer from five years ago probably wouldn’t be able to keep pace with the demands of today’s leading engineering and architectural firms.
Here are six key requirements to keep in mind for any organization looking to invest in a powerful, modern CAD printer designed to meet the needs of the most effective architectural and engineering firms.
Determine Your Usage and Your Users
Before you do anything, it’s important to evaluate a few things — the environment the printer will be used in, the people and workgroups that will be using it, and the kinds of projects that will be printed.
For example, an entry-level CAD printer might be perfect for a small home office or a hybrid environment. A mid-range CAD printer might be good for a busy team that doesn’t have time to spare and needs a fast solution. A top-of-the-line printer designed for production CAD and graphics may be what’s needed for a large enterprise that’s on a steady growth trajectory. And if you’re not sure, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that the more teammates you have, the faster your printer should be.
In addition, if your team is often scanning, archiving, sharing, or making copies, make sure to consider a multifunction model to help enhance your workflow. Many multifunction options allow you to email scans directly to colleagues, scan from shared network drives or scan-to-USB to easily share files across team members.
Connectivity = Productivity
For many architects and engineering teams who have made the transition to remote and hybrid work, the importance of printer connectivity has become top of mind. For best results, a printer that supports Wi-Fi and high-speed LAN connections will enable a team to print from practically anywhere on most devices, and jobs can move more quickly through the queue to help increase a team’s productivity.
Trying to print something only to see a job stalled in the queue can be more than frustrating. The best printers are self-correcting and can identify these kinds of issues and automatically remedy them before they knock your machine offline. On top of that, technicians can manage printers remotely via a web portal to help ensure a distributed team’s printers are all working as they should.
Look for flexible solutions that have their own fleet management solutions and/or are compatible with third-party fleet management services. By doing so, you’ll be able to keep your fingers on the pulse of all the printers in your ecosystem and can stay on top of things like output rates, ink levels, printer statuses, errors, and more.
Ink costs are always something to keep in mind when it comes to purchasing a new printer. Generally speaking, printers that can hold large ink containers are more cost-efficient, and the bigger the container, the better the value. Another option is to look into printers that use low-cost ink bottles instead of cartridges, which can help reduce the total cost of ownership. Cartridge-free solutions feature easy-to-fill, refillable ink tanks to eliminate time spent purchasing and changing cartridges.
In the age of high-profile data hacks, security is more important than ever before. And this is something that isn’t going away. It’s important to know your IT network’s security requirements and seek printers that have the IT and security functions to meet those requirements.
What Fits… Physically
Size matters and desk and floor space is often a coveted resource. It’s important to invest in a printer that will fit seamlessly into your workspace, whether you’re working at the office, at a jobsite or in a production environment. While some of us may be used to large and bulky office plotters, CAD printers today have become much more compact, delivering outstanding quality graphics efficiently — all in a small footprint. Ideal for space-constrained production environments, there are modern solutions featuring space-saving designs with complete front operation so they can be pushed against a wall, leaving more room for walkways or other equipment.
Printing plays a critical role in the success of every architectural and engineering firm, so choosing a printer can feel like a major decision. It’s important to do due diligence to ensure you are investing in the ideal printer to meet your unique requirements.