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Best Color Laser Printer for Home and Small BusinessBlueprinting, reprographics, large format, and other namesI interviewed Ewan Tallentire, owner of Denver-area reprographics shop Albion Repro & Graphics, about the changes he’s seen over a couple decades in the blueprinting industry, and the history before that. Yes, I know, reprographics doesn’t sound like an exciting topic. But it’s related to both architecture and printing, so between great buildings and Johannes Gutenberg, there's a lot of related history. Reprographics goes by many names, such as blueprinting, large format printing, wide format copying, digital publishing, and document printing. The name changes because the product changes, as new technology comes into use. It’s always been about those drawings you build from: construction plans, blueprints, architect drawings, house plans, home plans, engineering drawings, floor plans, landscaping plans, etc. But as the drawings went from pencil to computer, how they got copied also changed. What hasn’t changed: the job hazard of paper cuts! Reprographics industry trends - less space, price, and smellReprographics became a business independent from architecture because architects and contractors didn’t want big, noisy, smelly machines in their offices, not to mention the training, experience, and money the machines required. Recently, printers, plotters, and other reprographic equipment have become small, cheap, and non-toxic enough to fit many offices. Today’s prints are usually black-and-white printing on bond paper, most often the 24x36 size. There’s no need for the variety of media and printers that existed in the past, and the shelf life of supplies is much longer. As a result, many architecture firms and contractors do their own printing, and many reprographics shops have gone out of business or changed focus. Like blacksmithing after cars replaced horses, reprographics is changing as an industry, but it still has its uses. The search for the ideal: reprographic media and printersTo understand where things are going in reprography, you have to look at how it got where it is today. From the beginning, it’s been a search for the fastest, easiest, and cheapest solution to three problems: something to draw onsomething to make copies onsomething to keep for a recordThe following timeline shows some of the types of printers and media used for copying, and what order they came in. I do wonder what the first architects of the US Capitol would have thought of AutoCAD and floor plans that could be emailed rather than engraved. Architectural originals: the need for stable and reproducible recordsOnce you’ve designed a building, you want to keep the records for very practical reasons of knowing where you can make changes or how repairs will affect it, but also for historical reasons to show future generations what you did. So it would be nice if the original plans could last as long as the building itself. You don’t want to expose the originals to the wear and tear of the construction site, so you want copies made for actual use. You also may want what I’ll call semi-originals; copies of all or part of the original printed on something stable enough to treat like an original. That way an architect in Denver can keep his originals while sending the semi-originals to a building site in Kansas City, without fear of losing everything in the mail. Before the digital age of large-format printing (which didn’t really arrive until this millennium), there were several processes for copying. All these processes were variations of shining light through the original onto a print which was treated with chemicals so shadows turned a different color from light areas. So for fastest and best results, originals needed to be transparent, or at least as translucent as possible. Architectural originals: linenTwo hundred years ago, linen was often used both for the original drawings and for hand-tracing the plans from the original onto a copy for record. This linen was the same stuff that's used in high-quality old books: it looks like paper but it’s actually a thin woven fabric without the acidic wood pulp of regular paper. It had a paraffin-based coating to make it easier to draw on. Ewan tells of a linen original brought into his shop which was dated about 1872 and was probably drawn on with a quill pen. Architectural originals: vellum and paper sepiaLinen tended to shrink slightly, so the standard for originals became vellum, which, like linen, is fairly translucent. This is not true vellum; real vellum is made from animal hide stretched and scraped (rather than tanned, which makes leather). What is called vellum now is made of 100% rags (as opposed to the wood pulp that regular paper is mostly made of). Vellum was the standard drawing base for 50 years or more, starting in the early 1900s. In the early years of vellum, part of the drawing might be copied to paper sepia (in a diazo process which exposed the sepia to light then developed it with ammonia). Paper sepia was vellum-based with a sepia-colored emulsion. The sepia was then a semi-original that could be copied from and/or kept for record. Another use of paper sepias was to save time and effort by copying the base floor plan of a multi-story building onto paper sepia, then drawing in the details of each floor separately. Paper sepia was still being used in the 1990s; a floor plan might be drawn on vellum, then the electrical plan filled in on the paper sepia. Since architects can now draw on a computer and print directly from the file, vellum has gone out of general use for drafting (though some colleges teach hand drafting on vellum so students aren’t completely dependent on computers). Artists still use vellum, for tracing over a pencil sketch and transferring it to canvas. Architectural originals: tissue paperEwan’s shop scanned some prints, dated from 1932 to 1936, from a mansion in Denver. These were the landscaping prints, and they were on tissue paper (also known as sketch, or tracing, paper). While buildings would have been drawn on vellum, landscaping was usually just one plan, a quick sketch drawn while talking to the customer, so it was reasonable to use something as fragile but cheap as tissue paper. See this HubPage for a picture of what landscape designs look like today (hint: it's sure not a quick sketch!) Architectural copies for record: MylarMylar was, and is still, used as semi-originals, as copies for record. Mylar was developed in the 1950s, and is used in many applications (such as balloons). Its value in record-keeping is that it doesn’t rip easily, and doesn’t fade or change color as other kinds of copies do. Bluelines and paper sepias tend to go on changing when exposed to light or heat, so lines fade or images get transferred to the next paper in the stack. Mylar was first used in reprographics as Photomylar; the original was literally photographed onto the Mylar film (I'll eventually explain what kind of camera makes poster-sized pictures!) But it was a messy, expensive, wasteful, and time-consuming process. And though the result was fairly stable, it wasn’t durable: the emulsion was so soft you could scratch the image off with your thumbnail. Eventually Mylar was developed to run through printers in a xerographic process like paper. That way, the emulsion is actually infused in the Mylar instead of sitting on top of the film. Modern Mylars have mostly replaced Photomylar, but there are rumors of municipalities around the country that still require Photomylars for records, assuming (and I can't say I blame them) that an older process must be more trustworthy than something digital. Architectural record-keeping issuesOne question record-keepers have to face is the value of the records compared to the expense. Ewan says Mylar prints cost about 6 times more than bond paper prints, and he questions whether their advantages over bond paper are really worth that cost. The main point of a Mylar was to be a stable translucent base to copy bluelines from, and since bluelines have been superseded, translucency in an original isn’t important anymore. Ewan also points out that reprographers dislike Mylar since the edges are tough enough to scratch the glass on printers. On the one hand, he would like to see all Photomylars scanned to file and stored digitally on disks, but on the other hand, there is a reason record-keepers trust older formats more. Who knows what digital storage format will be in 10 years? It may be worth more to print expensively now than to convert files to a new format down the road. Physical copies are comfortingly compatible with the real world. Ewan likes to say he’s never seen a pencil be incompatible with another pencil. The copies and copiersThere is much more to say, about the copies (blueprints, bluelines, and bond) themselves, and the printers, plotters, and giant cameras that did the copying. Read Part Two to find out which is a blueline and which is a blueprint.Read Part Three to find out how big a room-sized camera is.
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Inkjet Printers with Lowest Cost Per PageWhat are the top rated wireless printers for the Apple iPad 2, 3, 4, Air or the Mini in 2014?I've narrowed down a couple of affordable wireless printers for iPad so that you can get the best one tailored for your custom needs. Since the iPad was released, Apple enthusiasts have been looking for ways to print their pictures, pages or documents that they have on their favorite tablet. Fortunately, in recent years, printers have increased their capability to produce quality images and documents via a wireless connection, making them fully compatible with the Apple iPad. I'll highlight and review the top rated and bestselling printers on the market for use with your tablet. They all have great reviews and high quality pages quickly with impressive results. Several of them are also lightweight and don't take up much space on your desk, freeing it up for more of the important things (such as sorting through bills, upcoming event calendars, and keeping pictures of family and friends). Sending important documents or photos from an iPad to a wireless air printer is a quick and easy process once you get the right model. The 3 Bestselling Air Printers Under $100 on AmazonIf you only have a few moments to spend here and would like to see some excellent budget iPad printer options over at Amazon, the products below are highly rated and have great reviews. Epson Expression XP-850 Wireless Printer**Top Pick** Affordable, space saving, and compatible with iPad, iPhone, and other tablets The Epson Expression XP-850 is a wireless all-in-one printer that is small and compatible with tablets, smartphones, and other portable devices. The XP-850 inkjet has a couple of key features that makes it really stand out among the crowd. The ink cartridges are high capacity saving you money on ink over the long term (up to 40% savings). Because I usually produce a lot of high resolution documents with my iPad 3 or the mini, I go through a ton of ink, and this wifi printer helps minimize the amount of additional cartridges I would typically have to buy if I went with another brand. The paper tray can hold up to 30 sheets, which is an added benefit for those who want to produce large documents. The photo tray also has it's own dedicated space. Epson Expression XP-850 All-in-One Printer High capacity ink cartridges keep replacement costs down Brilliant quality picture production Wireless set up is fast and easy Large touch screen gives you options for print finishing Two sided printing, faxing, scanning or copying Easy printing setup with your iPad using Epson Connect Energy efficient, saving up to 70% energy than traditional laser printers Epson Workforce 845 Wireless PrinterThe Epson Workforce 845 can save you up to 40% in printing costs over their color laser counterparts. The high capacity toner cartridges give approximately 2 times more production before having to replace them. The Workforce 845 has a massive 500 sheet capacity paper tray so you don't have to worry about feeding it new paper constantly. Worried about smudging the ink on the paper? It has an instant dry standard feature which also is water resistant and doesn't smear. Each ink cartridge is individually replaceable, so you don't have to end up replacing a full set when only one runs out. The Workforce printers are considered one of the quickest double-sided wifi printers on the market. Epson Workforce 845 Printer Seamlessly send photos or documents to the 845 with an iPad Large 7.8 inch touch panel with 3.5 inch LCD screen Uses noticeably less power than competition brands (up to 70 percent lower) Only con is that it does take up some desk space Option to scan directly to PDF from the touch panel HP Envy 120 Wireless PrinterPrint, copy, or scan with this handy and slim desktop machine The HP Envy can print, copy or scan documents, pictures and more. It works exceptionally well with Apple iPad devices by utilizing the ePrint feature. Setup is a snap with only three main parts (the unit itself, cord and the cartridges). You can use the included setup CD or go directly to the HP site to install drivers. There is are several mobile options, including an ePrint option that allows you to use a special email address anywhere from the web to print out your desire pages. Overall the HP Envy 120 has great performance packed into an affordable, durable and stylish solution for the iPad Air or Mini. 4.3 inch color touchscreen with ability to download free apps One of the great benefits of using the HP Envy 120 is its ability to automatically print double sided Retractable paper tray holds up to 80 sheets at a time and can publish 4 pages per minute in color and 7 pages per minute in black Automatic 2-Sided production saves you money on paper Operates very quietly in the background (with Whisper Quiet Technology) No additional software/apps needed to operate from your iPad, tablet, or mobile device using AirPrint Canon PIXMA MX892 Wireless All-In-One PrinterEasy, user friendly interface and setup for Apple iPad. "Pictures turned out beautiful" The Canon Pixma MX892 Inkjet printer packs a ton of performance in a small package. With this all-in-one, you can print wirelessly from virtually anywhere in your house. Since mobility is important with an iPad, it is nice to be downstairs and still be able to send my photos or docs to the printer upstairs. It is also compatible with online photo and document storage sites like Picasso, Google Cloud, Pixma Cloud, and Gmail making it really convenient to print out your stuff very easily and quickly. The touch screen lets you edit the image on a 3 inch LCD screen, creating the perfect picture before it actually prints. No drivers needed to operate the MX892 using the iPad, iPod or iPhone. The Pixma also lets you use both sides of the paper saving you money over time. Touchscreen viewing with editing 9600 max dpi means that pictures are going to have amazing resolution HD Movie option allows you to transform movie clips into printable images AirPrint and Mobile Device Printing lets you easily manage operations from iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone 5 ink system makes remarkably realistic prints (with very affordable ink options available) 35 sheet feeder tray
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