DENVER, CO (AIA 2013), June 22, 2013 - You've heard the old joke that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. The joke is not appreciated by camel lovers. Or engineers. Both groups would defy a horse to put up with what a camel is subjected to. Water storage in the hump, nostrils that seal out blowing sand? Genius.
Todd Hatfield of HP is undestandably proud of the HP Designjet T1500 ePrinter. He would not appreciate it being compared to an ugly beast of burden. He is quick to point out improvements made by the committee, which in this case, was formed of users who met at HP's large format printer division HQ in Barcelona with the express purpose of making a CAD printer more useful.
"They worked with cardboard and duct tape and showed us the printer they wanted us to make them," says Todd.
Todd Hatfield of HP presents the beast. The HP Designjet T1500 ePrinter large format printer won't win on looks but it can't be beat for functionality.
So the printer has a front loading roll paper input. It is lower than most large format printers. "We found users were rolling their office chairs up the check on the printer," says Todd. The stand is stiff and strong, more than it needs to be. But users didn't like the printer swaying back and forth, They associated that with flimsiness."
The result is an intensely practical machine that favors users' needs over showroom looks. You may never have thought of large format printers as sexy but next to the HP Designjet T1500 ePrinter, the typical printer will look sleek, like a sports car next to a truck. Or a camel next to a horse.
But you know 9 out of 10 engineers will pick the camel.
The T1500 does not stand totally on practicality, however. It's fast.
"It's 25% faster than it's predecessor, the T1300," Todd tells me about the swath path of the print head, a full 9/8" which allows it to cover the same print with less passes.
Repro Shops Lag
If the HP Designjet T1500 ePrinter is so good, what is stopping from all the architects using it? I can't resist being an instigator. It's well into AIA exhibit hours and I need to make my own excitement. Todd loves his printers and he's a super nice guy. Will he crack?
I'm expecting the usual answers: it's just a matter of time before we get market penetration, we've only just rolled this out, we're counting on you to spread the word, and so on...."
But apparently, the printer market is dominated by inertia and clings to old technology. "Architects sign contracts with reprographic firms that use mono LED printers." [the kind HP does not make]."We can't compete with them on speed. If an architect wants a hundred E-size drawings by tomorrow, that's a job for mono LED printers.
Todd tells me there is trend for general contractors, architects and project owners moving away from centralized reprographics houses and doing more of the prints themselves. "The industry is moving to more digital workflows in design and collaboration as well as using design approaches like BIM which will drive the adoption of color since nearly 100% of the designs are being done in color," adds Todd. "That's where we come in. And inkjets are getting faster all the time."
For economic justification, he points to a 2011 Lyra white paper (commissioned by OCE) that shows every $1 spent on color printing saves $4 of project costs. Clck here for the paper in PDF.
I'm thinking it just looks better in color.