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Under the Hood

HP PageWide XL Pro 5200

Ideal for a number of industries, particularly for design, manufacture, and engineering, Brian Sims explores HP’s PageWide XL Pro 5200 multifunction printer

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Hp's PageWide XL Pro series' change in design has allowed set up and finishing costs to be reduced by 50%

A wide view on detail

HP has released a number of new printers which target the sign and wide-format print businesses looking to produce detailed and large drawings and other complex images at high speed on large sheets. We now live in a world where much of the information we need to process or use is computer based. We forget that there are still a large number of highly technical fields such as manufacture or design that would be reluctant to fully give way to the digital version.

Sign-makers, architects and engineers, whilst fully embracing the use of CAD (computer aided design) and CAM (computer aided manufacture), still have a need to review and utilise the hard copy drawing, for any designs or projects.

The original blueprint

These industries have been using drawings for many, many years with the original ‘blueprint’ being just that, blue. Whilst the history is somewhat disputed, it is generally believed that John Herschel (son of the famous Sir William Hershel who discovered Uranus) first developed a way to copy drawings.
In the distant past, drawings would have been meticulously traced from the original using ink, a very time-consuming and costly process. Herschel came up with the idea he called ‘cyanotype’. This is the process of completing the original drawing on a semi-transparent sheet and then placing that on top of the blank copy page which had been covered in a photosensitive but very unhealthy solution of potassium ferrocyanide and ammonium iron citrate.

A user-friendly touch screen makes the HP PageWide XL Pro 5200 efficient and simple to use

When exposed to bright ultraviolet light, the lines produced on the original shielded the cyanotype solution from exposure, leaving the line white but the rest of the exposed sheet blue; producing the erstwhile ‘blueprint’.

This process lasted for well over a hundred years until in the 1940’s a ‘whiteprint’ version using the diazo chemical process gave us the now familiar dark lines and white background for technical drawings and plans.

Extremely modern version

Of interest today are printers such as the HP PageWide XL Pro series which can do so much more than changing white paper blue.

The printer we are taking a detailed look at in this article is the 5200 version of the series which is likely to find itself installed in a number of architectural, engineering and manufacturing companies, primarily due to the output size being A1 for standard sheets and AO from the roll. This would make it ideal for the industries still requiring sheet drawings, albeit many wide-format print businesses would find it a useful addition to the capacity list should clients require these types of print.

Resolution from the printer is 1200 x 1200dpi so the level of detail provided to the end user is crisp, clear and even the smallest of detail is easily read as the minimum line width is 0.02mm.

The HP PageWide XL Pro 5200 allows the production of high resolution short term delivery products on a range of wide-format media

The machine as expected prints in four colours: cyan, magenta, black and yellow but these colours are doubled up to come from a total of eight print heads. Print speed is not compromised however and a maximum output of 15m/min is standard which gives up to eleven A0 pages per minute of technical documents and twelve B1 full poster pages per minute (400m2/min) if the media is from the roll. If the input tray is used for board etc, the full poster speed is three B1 posters per minute (100m2/min).

Substrate thickness is very generous with the PageWide XL Pro 5200 as it can handle paper up to 0.4mm in thickness if a roll is used but up to 10mm if a sheet or board is fed from the media tray. You have auto-switching between two rolls in the device with up to a total of four rolls being possible. Roll size is 297mm to 1016mm in width and 177mm in diameter. Standard board or sheet sizes are SRA3, A2, A1, B2 and B1. If grammage is still your thing then the PageWide XL Pro 5200 can cope with papers from 70gsm to 200gsm and sheets or boards from 80gsm to 1050gsm.

The PageWide XL Pro 5200 can handle rolls of up to 0.4mm in thickness and sheets or boards of up to 10mm thick

Aside from printing, the PageWide XL Pro 5200 has a scanner built into the machine which allows the copying of prints and drawings up to an optical resolution of 1200dpi.

Flexibility and production

Whilst a large majority of the work is destined to come from the PageWide XL Pro 5200 is likely to be single-sided, one-off work, this machine is by no means a ‘one trick pony’.

With the addition of some optional equipment, the printer can be set up in a matter of minutes to produce double- sided printed materials and multiple copy versions of each via a feeder/stacker. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) walks you through exactly what needs to be adapted and moved such that in a few minutes you can plug in and set up the stacker to feed and receive sheet material which can be tumbled and turned so that the second side can be printed via the HP SmartStream system.

With the addition of some optional equipment, the printer can be set up in a matter of minutes

The PageWide XL Pro 5200 has been designed with both the planet and pocket in mind and whilst the PageWide XL Pro series has been developed from the PageWide XL series of printers, the change in design has allowed set up and finishing costs to be reduced by up to 50%. Using up to one litre HP Eco-Carton ink cartridges which are recyclable and returned via HPs Planet Partners scheme, further costs and environmental impact is reduced quite significantly.

We have moved on a long way since John Herschel gave us cheap reproducible copies, and HP has advanced that cause still further with the PageWide XL Pro series of printers.

Brian Sims Principal Consultant, Metis Print Consultancy, www.metis-uk.eu

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