In the realm of technical inkjet printing; precision, reliability, and efficiency are all important. When it comes to technical inkjet plotters, choosing the right brand can significantly impact quality and efficiency. With three major manufacturers in the field, each offers their own strengths and weaknesses, the question though: which brand stands out as the best? Herein, we’ll look into each of the the top three brands of technical inkjet plotters, exploring their distinctive features, advantages, and performance; additionally, we’ll also highlight the potential issues to be aware of to help you make an informed choice.
HP – Precision Pioneers
Just like “Xerox” has been synonyms with the paper copy, or “Google” with the internet search, so to has the “HP DesignJet” with technical series plotters. The HP DesignJet series has been a line of large-format printers developed and manufactured by Hewlett-Packard, now known as HP. These printers have played a significant role in the field of computer-aided design (CAD) and technical drawing since their introduction. The history of the HP DesignJet series dates back to the late 1980s when HP introduced its first large-format inkjet printer, the HP DesignJet 650C. This printer was designed to cater to professionals in architecture, engineering, and design, providing a more efficient and precise way to print technical drawings compared to traditional pen plotters. Soon after, HP released the very popular dependable, long lasting HP DesignJet 1050C series. And later came out with the more economical HP DesignJet 500 series. HP stands as a pioneer in the technical wide format printing industry, renowned for its precision and reliability. HP DesignJet technical inkjet plotters became synonymous with impeccable print quality and consistency, making them a top choice for architects, engineers, and design professionals. With a wide range of models catering to various needs, HP established itself as a trusted name brand in the field.
Yet, if you have ever consistently worked with an HP DesignJet printer, I’m sure that you’d agree that these plotters are finicky when it comes to loading paper. It often takes several attempts to get the plotter to accept the paper, a definite frustration point! Another issue with the HP DesignJet printers is that over time print quality diminishes; this is usually caused by wear & tear of the printheads. Fortunately it has user replaceable prinheads, but unfortunately, the user has to purchase these prinheads, which increases the total cost of ownership.
Canon – A Worthy Competitor
Next came the Canon imagePROGRAF series; a line of large-format inkjet printers manufactured by Canon. These printers are designed for professionals in various industries, including architecture, engineering, graphic design, photography, and fine art. The Canon imagePROGRAF series made its debut in the early 2000s as Canon’s response to the growing demand for high-quality, large-format printing solutions. The Canon imagePROGRAF iPF600 & iPF700 printers were initially designed to cater to professionals in the architecture and engineering fields, where the need for precise and detailed large-format prints was significant. Canon incorporated advanced technologies such as Lucia pigment inks for improved color accuracy and longevity. Their technical inkjet plotters excel in reproducing true-to-life colors and intricate details, which is particularly valuable for professionals in fields where precise color matching is critical. Canon plotters are favored by those who demand the utmost color precision in their technical prints. These imagePROGRAF printers are known for their high-quality color accuracy, versatility, and reliability, making them popular choices for a wide range of applications.
Canon’s wide format plotters also have a user replaceable printhead, that although requires replacement less frequently than its HP counterpart, the Canon prinhead is significantly more expensive; so this too has a piercing impact on the total cost of ownership.
Epson – Known For Color
The early Epson printers have been well known for their high-quality color accuracy, advanced printing technologies, and versatility, making them popular among professionals in various industries. The Epson Stylus Pro series plotters made its debut in the late 1990s, initially targeting the graphic design and pre-press industries. These printers were designed to offer higher color accuracy and resolution compared to consumer-grade inkjet printers. One of the notable features of the Stylus Pro series was the use of advanced printing technologies, including Epson’s proprietary MicroPiezo inkjet technology. This technology allowed for precise droplet placement, resulting in sharp and detailed prints. Epson then introduced the SureColor series in the early 2010s as a successor to its earlier Stylus Pro line of large-format printers. The series aimed to set new standards for image quality and color accuracy in the professional printing industry that also tapped into the architectural, engineering, and design professional communities. One of the standout features of the SureColor series has been its PrecisionCore printhead technology. This technology allows for incredibly precise droplet placement and control, resulting in sharp and detailed prints with accurate color reproduction. Additionally, Epson’s UltraChrome inks have become a hallmark of the SureColor series. These UltraChrome pigment-based inks were developed to provide not only vibrant and accurate colors but also long-lasting prints resistant to fading and environmental factors. Epson has a reputation for delivering precision with an artistic touch. Their technical inkjet plotters are celebrated for their exceptional color gamut and image depth, making them a preferred choice for those who need detailed, high-quality prints with stunning visual impact. Epson’s plotters are well-suited for creative professionals who prioritize aesthetics. The Epson SureColor T-series also focus on workflow efficiency, are designed with user-friendly interfaces, and seamless connectivity options, ensuring a smooth and productive workflow for businesses and design professionals alike.
Epson’s printhead is a non-consumable part. So, if print quality were to degrade due to printhead issues, it would be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, or extended warranty. Though, if the plotter is out of warranty, this could be a very expensive item to fix or replace (so play it safe and budget for the extended warranty)! The draw-back of the Epson SureColor is the user maintenance functions: after a few days of inactivity (like a weekend) it’s advisable that the user perform some on screen functions: a nozzle check, which prints a small grid to signify print quality; if that displays an issue, a self sustained function of pressing a button to clean printhead.
The quest for the best brand of technical inkjet plotters is subjective and depends on your specific needs, preferences, and priorities. They each have their own particular pros & cons; so, the driving factor should be in evaluating what is going to work better for your workflow. Carefully assess your project requirements, budget, and workflow to find the brand that aligns best with your professional goals. Ultimately, the “best” choice is the one that complements your unique technical printing objectives. We primarily sell technical inkjet plotters because technical inkjet printers are more suitable for the overwhelming majority of our customers.
If you want more help deciding which brand is right for you, or want our expert opinion of which specific plotter is right for your particular needs, call us at (602) 224-9971 or contact us now, we’re happy to help!