Which plotter for CAD, GIS, line drawings or graphic design? Oce, Encad, or Hewlett-Packard DesignJet?

Tips on CAD plotters, help, assistance for choosing a new CAD plotter or inkjet printer for GIS or graphic design. What's the difference between Xerox XES Xpress, ColorgrafX X2, Oce, Hewlett-Packard DesignJet 430c, 450, 650, 750c, 1050c, 1055cm, 500ps, 800ps, Encad CadJet2 E, Encad CadJet D, Encad 3D? Introduction to plotters models from all various manufacturers for architects, engineers, GIS, and anyone who needs a simple printer primarily for line drawings.

The crucial differences are in technology and whether the plotter can also do full-color photographs.

Making a decision on a color or monochrome plotter can be a challenge. You have lots to chose from: Oce plotters, old Selex-based Canon BJ-W3000, Canon BJ-W3050, Encad CadJet2, Encad CadJet3, Gerber plotters, atypical oil-based Xerox Engineering Systems XES Xpress, ColorgrafX X2, Kip America plotters, all the more obscure pen plotters, electrostatic, JRL Systems, CalComp TechJet, Oyo, Veritas for architectural drawings, engineering drawings, maps, and other line drawings.

Among the array of HP plotters there are tremendous differences, pros and cons. How can you figure out which Hewlett-Packard plotter or graphics printers to select? Your choices are among the older 488CA, 750C, 755CM, 430C, 450C, 1050, 1055, and newer 500ps, HP 800ps color inkjet printers.

FLAAR is interested in CAD plotters because FLAAR has a background in architecture. If you are an architect you may know the company named HOK Architects. That is Hellmuth, Obata, + Kassabaum. The president of FLAAR is a Hellmuth, so you can expect he has a solid background in architecture. Indeed our boss studied architecture at Harvard but decided to move into architectural history and then into archaeology rather than into HOK. Two brothers and a cousin are architects (two of them with HOK). Grandfather and great-uncle were architects, as was father (who founded HOK). The initial company was Hellmuth, Yamasaki, and Leinweber. That's the Yamasaki who subsequently split to form his own company and go on to design the World Trade Center twin towers in New York. Actually that departure is what gave rise to the newer company, Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum.

At the two universities where FLAAR has offices we are affiliated with the architecture department. Thus we are familiar with the kinds of plotters used in the past generation and the newer inkjet printers which continue to take over.

Mutoh, Mimaki, Epson, and Roland all use Epson piezo printheads and hence are too slow. Gerber AccuPlot TM and AccuJet TM is not mainstream any more. Ioline 28, diazo, xerographic and other traditional equipment is outmoded. You can't get drivers for Macintosh and not even for newer PC Windows platforms

FLAAR has produced a brief report on printers for CAD, engineering and mechanical design, GIS, and graphic design. There is no charge. Just go to any Inquiry Form (either Downloads or Contact links). Describe what you need to print. If you already have a printer you can explain what you need in a new better printer to overcome your problems in the older printer.

We started out with an HP 1055cm; added PosterJet RIP to get more speed. If you need information on this combination contact [email protected]

Then we added an HP 800ps; the university also obtained an HP 500ps. But we note that the students don't tend to use the HP 500 very much. Instead they come across campus and use our 1055 and 800. Downside is the banding of the 1055 and the lack of pigmented inks. So we decided to go for the best and now tend to use the HP 5000 for lightfastness and bright color gamut from UV pigmented inks.

For additional information and for help making your decision, ask for the FLAAR report on CAD-GIS plotters.

If this will be your first printer or your first printer where you need help understand what a RIP is, then we have a special report that holds your hand and leads you through all the basic questions that will assist a first-time buyer of a large format printer. Purchase the FLAAR report on "RIP + Help." This explains what RIP software is, why this is useful, and includes tips, warnings, information, and help for a wide range of matters for a newbie. Here you will really appreciate that FLAAR is based at a university; Professor Hellmuth has plenty of experience writing in a manner that explains what you need, and why.


Most recently updated June 1, 2002.
Previous updates: March 7, 2001.