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Author Topic: Z3100 Re-design ideas  (Read 3409 times)
Mark Lindquist
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« on: October 26, 2007, 12:36:22 PM »
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After having gone through several rolls of 44" and 36" canvas with my Z3100 I can't help but think about a few things that would make my day in the way of improvements.  (Since I build robotics as part of my work as an artist and have been at it for over 35 years I guess I am arrogant-qualified to make some suggestions)...  

It occurs to me how awesome it would be if there was a way to add a finish coat onto the finished print after an extended drying time.  If they have added a gloss enhancer cartridge, why couldn't there be an option to have a "Top Coat" cartridge as well?  What better way to apply a super  precise finish coat?  I envision an option to either roll the canvas back up after an extended time and then "re-print" with just a finish coat.  A re-iteration of this would be to be able to reload a finished print and go through a finish coat cycle where the printer applies a finish coat only, with a specified amount (thin, thick, etc.)  (Think about a pressure washer where there is a hose going to a container of detergent to add to the mix - just an idea)...

While I'm at it, how about some kind of way to trim or cut the canvas?  I'd pay a lot more for an external feature where there was an auto trimmer on the outside, (I say external because trimming canvas on the inside might lead to build up of lint, dust, etc., which is definitely the enemy).  If I was designing this, it would be a trimmer thingy that sits under and out of the way of the print path, then when ready to trim, swings up under the print.  Then a roller cutter goes along-manually would be ok...

OK, another gimmee would be a retractable roll cover or cowl over the roll like Epson has on their printers.  Dust IS the enemy...

I am totally sold on the Z-3100 as a canvas printer.  Side step any issues of other papers, pizza pepperoni marks, etc., and just make a specific model for people who print just canvas/cloth.

Everybody's got a dream, right?  That's mine.

So what's your's?  (Obviously limited to the question of design improvements wish lists).

Mark
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SeanPuckett
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2007, 03:51:05 PM »
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Mark,

Good comments!  Here's my cheap solutions to a couple of your issues --

Media cowl:  I bought a 4x6 foot tarp and some velcro dots from the dollar store.  Dots on tarp corners, dots on printer back and front.  The tarp hangs over the roll feed area and comes over the top of the printer just exposing the outfeed port.  This has cut down dramatically on the pre-print dust that ruins prints!    HP knows about media cowls; their other LF printers have very nice ones.  Not sure why they didn't add one to the Z.

Canvas cutter: If you look at the outfeed port, there's a groove between the grey plastic tray and the strip of aluminum along the front of the printer.  A groove that an x-acto knife just loves to ride along.  I push the feed button twice (thrice?) and just about the right amount of canvas comes out to cut off the print right at that groove.  It's not perfect and takes some care, but it works.  I just trim the canvas on the printer after the run of prints and then take it over to the work table for precision trimming -- I usually have to trim all four sides anyway.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2007, 03:52:01 PM by SeanPuckett » Logged

Mark Lindquist
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2007, 08:36:33 PM »
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Mark,

Good comments!  Here's my cheap solutions to a couple of your issues --

Media cowl:  I bought a 4x6 foot tarp and some velcro dots from the dollar store.  Dots on tarp corners, dots on printer back and front.  The tarp hangs over the roll feed area and comes over the top of the printer just exposing the outfeed port.  This has cut down dramatically on the pre-print dust that ruins prints!    HP knows about media cowls; their other LF printers have very nice ones.  Not sure why they didn't add one to the Z.

Canvas cutter: If you look at the outfeed port, there's a groove between the grey plastic tray and the strip of aluminum along the front of the printer.  A groove that an x-acto knife just loves to ride along.  I push the feed button twice (thrice?) and just about the right amount of canvas comes out to cut off the print right at that groove.  It's not perfect and takes some care, but it works.  I just trim the canvas on the printer after the run of prints and then take it over to the work table for precision trimming -- I usually have to trim all four sides anyway.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=148899\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Hi Sean,
Thanks for taking the time to reply.  I do know and use the "knife in the slot" trick - it's just not really elegant.  Plus, my post is about what would be nice in a future design improvement.  The tarp idea is good and I may experiment, but I am hoping to inspire some dialog about what would make a better printer in the future (what we might like to see in future iterations of the Z).
Again, thanks for your comments-

Mark
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rdonson
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2007, 09:23:54 PM »
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OK, here are the first two that come to mind for me.

1.) a print catcher that's a soft as a baby's bottom rather that the current plastic cheese grater

2.) a single sheet feeder that will support at least a 13x19 with a much better edge guide for aligning the paper

more later I'm sure...
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[span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'][span style='font-family:Arial'][span style='font-family:Geneva'][span style='font-size:8pt;line-height:100%']Regards,
Ron[/span][/span][/span][/span]
Mark Lindquist
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2007, 10:22:21 PM »
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OK, here are the first two that come to mind for me.

1.) a print catcher that's a soft as a baby's bottom rather that the current plastic cheese grater

2.) a single sheet feeder that will support at least a 13x19 with a much better edge guide for aligning the paper

more later I'm sure...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=148940\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


OK, now we're talking.  Totally agreed.  That basket is a POS really.  Flimsy and cheesy.  It would be great to have something that actually kept the print from just folding over on itself.  So much of the vulnerability of the print is contact with surfaces and itself.  A take-up roll might be a nice option.

Agreed, a sheet feeder or at least an edge accessory would be great.  Actually, while we're at it, how about a sheet cassette feeder that could be plugged in?  A fantastic feature on the Epson 4800 is the cassette feeder that holds 17x22 sheets.  If I had that capability on the Z3100 I'd get rid of my 4800 in a heart beat.  I know of no other wide format printer that has a sheet cassette though.

Excellent suggestions!

Mark
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Colorwave
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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2007, 12:15:48 AM »
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I'd like to buy the square for a quiet or non-existent muffin fan.

I whole heartedly second the take up reel (as an accessory is fine), cassette sheet loading tray, and  post-printing topcoat in-printer capability.

Keep 'em coming . . .
Ron H.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2007, 12:21:13 AM by Colorwave » Logged

neil snape
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2007, 07:39:25 AM »
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OK, now we're talking.  Totally agreed.  That basket is a POS really.  Flimsy and cheesy.  It would be great to have something that actually kept the print from just folding over on itself.  So much of the vulnerability of the print is contact with surfaces and itself.  A take-up roll might be a nice option.

Agreed, a sheet feeder or at least an edge accessory would be great.  Actually, while we're at it, how about a sheet cassette feeder that could be plugged in?  A fantastic feature on the Epson 4800 is the cassette feeder that holds 17x22 sheets.  If I had that capability on the Z3100 I'd get rid of my 4800 in a heart beat.  I know of no other wide format printer that has a sheet cassette though.

Excellent suggestions!

Mark
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As I have said before, you can take the catch tray fabric off the rod that holds it and manually wind the media onto a take up roll or simply on the rod. This works, as the catch tray is okay for short prints but long ones just don't work.

As for the other ideas, they have already been presented to HP , a long time ago. Well not the tarp, but that wouldn't make it into the top of the list anyway. Do keep writing though as HP read this forum, and if it reinforces the need some things could surely be included in the next gen Z series.
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Fred Ragland
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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2007, 08:43:47 AM »
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Since we're accepting problems that are known to HP, here are two that come quickly to mind.

Hue and saturation problems on matt papers must be addressed.  Fixing this may require new dye recipes (different dye colors) and the firmware to use them.  All of which would be very expensive but bringing the new dyes in with new firmware and a process for line cleaning seems workable.

Harman and others are producing new papers with exceptional color and feel, but their surfaces are fragile.  We need to be able to print on fragile surfaces without leaving marks.

Fred
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SeanPuckett
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« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2007, 09:49:26 AM »
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Suggestions for the next model are good.  Hacks and workarounds for the current model are very much appreciated.  I like Neil's idea of taking the catch fabric off and using the rod as a roll winder.  Clever!  With a seam cutter and some velcro, the fabric could be pop on - pop off without disassembling anything.

I'd like to be able to front load sheet media.  Pull the handle up, slide the paper in, manually align it, put the handle down and the printer does it's little scanny thing.  I really dislike using the rear sheet loading thing -- it's non-optimal in many, many ways especially when dealing with thick traditional media.  I wind up bending corners, and when trying to run final prints, that ruins the job right there (unless I allow for trimming, which is wasteful).

I'd like the printer to handle cartridge changes in mid-job without terminating the print -- that's just dumb.  It makes no sense at all to ruin a big job because a cart ran out -- especially when there are twelve of them, and running out happens constantly in heavy use.

I'd like the printer to exercise a little more control over its environmental conditions.  If it had a small heated air blower on the outfeed side of the printhead to help cure the ink faster, that would mean less possibilty for smearing, roller marks &c.
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neil snape
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« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2007, 10:20:50 AM »
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Suggestions for the next model are good.  Hacks and workarounds for the current model are very much appreciated.  I like Neil's idea of taking the catch fabric off and using the rod as a roll winder.  Clever!  With a seam cutter and some velcro, the fabric could be pop on - pop off without disassembling anything.

I'd like to be able to front load sheet media.  Pull the handle up, slide the paper in, manually align it, put the handle down and the printer does it's little scanny thing.  I really dislike using the rear sheet loading thing -- it's non-optimal in many, many ways especially when dealing with thick traditional media.  I wind up bending corners, and when trying to run final prints, that ruins the job right there (unless I allow for trimming, which is wasteful).

I'd like the printer to handle cartridge changes in mid-job without terminating the print -- that's just dumb.  It makes no sense at all to ruin a big job because a cart ran out -- especially when there are twelve of them, and running out happens constantly in heavy use.

I'd like the printer to exercise a little more control over its environmental conditions.  If it had a small heated air blower on the outfeed side of the printhead to help cure the ink faster, that would mean less possibilty for smearing, roller marks &c.
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Sean,

As I said it's great that these requests are fronted here in writing. Believe me they were presented a long time ago. Either they think they weren't important enough to worry about or it wasn't possible. I wonder though , if we all write down all the requests, if they'll want to ask certain of us to come for have round table meetings....
The cartridge thing bugs me. I almost swear that I replaced a cart midstream on the prototypes. But then again I dream about printers. Which is reality I don't know. But we do know, that it must be addressed. Also if you didn't see it, when you are near the end of a roll, never change the slack of the roll. I did this and the paper sensor thought the end of the roll came through. Thus wasted a 3 metre print!
Since we are here, and I'd like HP to take me serious for once, I suggest (ed) a D50 fluorescent lamp embedded on an extended cover. I actually drew one up which would be easy to do.
Paper load, yes I asked for that too. I can't see why not, lever up front sheet load. Adding a heater is more of a change as the plastics aren't made to support heat elements.
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rdonson
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2007, 11:08:12 AM »
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Do keep writing though as HP read this forum, and if it reinforces the need some things could surely be included in the next gen Z series.
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Next gen Z?  Many of these could be implemented as accessories for the current gen Z as well as the next gen.  I'd certainly be interested in buying a decent sheet feed for my Z and won't react favorably if I have to buy the next gen to get it.

Given the physical design I see I can't imagine HP creating a whole new printer for the next gen.  Components that could fit the current gen Z as well as the next gen would make a great deal of sense.
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Mark Lindquist
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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2007, 12:57:02 PM »
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OK!  NOW we're talking.  Excellent discourse.

What has separated HP from the pack with the Z3100 is the current implementation of the closed-loop system of color management via the embedded photo-spectrometer.  They have broken away from the rest by applying the most fundamental approach to robotics which is feedback.  Closed-loop systems are by far the best in any robotic standard of machine building.
The other type of robotics are called "dumb-robots" (requiring user interface to complete processes).  What also is far and above the competitors is the elegance of the solution.  (Having the photospectrometer embedded is a non-kluge solution, in a way an eminent domain approach to the global problem).

This over-riding solution to the problem of color management occurs through the mechanics of linear motion utilizing existing stepper motion technology to perform precise measurements based on the feedback (printing and reading known quantity and universal color charts).

The point is, this is not a kluge (a tacked on fix) but an embedded process that takes user involvement out of the process.  Less user involvement creates less risk in the process.  (In this sense I refer to David Pye's writings on the nature of craftsmanship in discussing craftsmanship of certainty versus craftsmanship of risk; essentially the differences of working by hand versus working using jigs that enable repeatability with certainty.

Ultimately that is what is at hand in the chain of process in printing - the expectation of repeatabilty with certainty, lacking risk.  In this quest, HP shines in their new approach which will undoubtedly spawn a revolution amongst printer builders, leading to greater and greater closed-loop systems, sans user involvement.

This is the dilemma; to what degree is user involvement required or demanded that enforces the laws of economy that are the basis of a corporations decisions versus the excellence capable of a machine that not only delivers perfection but a particular user experience that again separates it, head and shoulders from the competition (think Rolls Royce or the top end automobiles that deliver high-end performance and the ultimate user experience).

What is interesting about the Z series printers is that  HP has opened an entry level position for photographers seeking to do fine art.  No doubt the price point is at issue, considering the competition and market share.  Ultimately what is at issue here is the nature of this beast (a machine that single end users creating fine art can afford, versus what a company can provide in attempts to address the numerous problems involved in the process of creating art).

Let's face it, the idea of 200 year longevity inks, and the long lasting substrates address these specific issues that are the realm of museums and archivists.  In fact, it is the most basic premise this machine is built upon.  In essence it addresses the fact that we are in a revolution in photography and photographic output that is expected to supersede previous forms upon which the art has been based.

In applauding the efforts of HP, (history will no doubt note this printer as the catalyst for future earth shaking developments) I also urge them to keep going to continue the trend of excellence in design, taking the other "elephant -in-the-room" issues by the horns and providing equally elegant solutions to the looming problems, thus keeping them leaders of the pack.

On to some more of my basic concerns:

It seems there are issues with loading and unloading.  Talk about walking around and around the printer - go load the roll from behind, then come back and lift levers, press menu items etc.

What seems odd to me is that a lot of the activity is done from BEHIND the printer (loading paper) but the controls are IN FRONT, rather than where they need to be to minimize walking back and forth.  Why not either have the controls facing the back (or an additional LCD for messages, minor controls specific to loading/unloading) OR, put the roll in the FRONT, where the controls and levers are?

Much of machine design occurs in evolutionary sense - incremental improvements to pre-existing design, rather than re-design of fundamental issues. (Obviously tried and true issues reign in design re-thinks) but in an age where the machines that currently make machines are so much more sophisticated, new approaches or more global changes are easier to implement.

I advocate machines being in service to users, not the opposite.  When we are required to read the screen, told to lift levers, re-roll media until it shows "the blue line", we have become servants of the machine, not the other way around.  Unquestionably money could easily solve these problems, as price points can and often do.

So ultimately, the question is;  "OK HP, what's the real intent here into this foray into the world of fine art object producing machines?"  "Do you aim to be the best, or like always with all the companies, just sell a lot of machines..."

I advocate direct and brilliant solutions to the specific problems of this object making chain of manufacture.  Be assured, in every respect, each individual will stand behind the company that most willingly addresses the seemingly insignificant issues with innovation and design excellence.

In the interests of quantifying the issues it might be a good idea to categorize the areas:

1.  Color Management

2.  Paper handling

3.  Ergonomics

4.  Print Protection

5.  Machine maintenance

(add to list)

So that's my ongoing thinking about this great machine - if you've read this far, then maybe you have similar thoughts...

Respectfully,

Mark
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rdonson
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« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2007, 07:31:25 AM »
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I have a novel idea for HP that would help Z3100 owners and is not directly related to the printer itself.

Make the dang HP website useful and easy to use!  Its next impossible to find what you want and the response time stinks.  The site spends an inordinate amount of time trying to hook me up with an anonymous HP chat person.  Very annoying.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2007, 07:32:08 AM by rdonson » Logged

[span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'][span style='font-family:Arial'][span style='font-family:Geneva'][span style='font-size:8pt;line-height:100%']Regards,
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Mark Lindquist
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« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2007, 09:31:27 AM »
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I have a novel idea for HP that would help Z3100 owners and is not directly related to the printer itself.

Make the dang HP website useful and easy to use!  Its next impossible to find what you want and the response time stinks.  The site spends an inordinate amount of time trying to hook me up with an anonymous HP chat person.  Very annoying.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=149317\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Yeah, no question that's an issue.  When I first tried to get in touch with support the phone tree shut down on me after 20 minutes of holding listening to the worst music.  Once I found out the way to get to support (in Canada), wow the best Jazz I've heard in a long time and a quick connect.

They're a huge company - part and parcel of the process I guess...
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rdonson
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« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2007, 10:08:26 AM »
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They're a huge company - part and parcel of the process I guess...
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That fills me with warm fuzzies.... they're a huge company - expect them to not care...

[a href=\"http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/facts.html]Facts[/url] on HP
« Last Edit: November 02, 2007, 12:06:27 PM by rdonson » Logged

[span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'][span style='font-family:Arial'][span style='font-family:Geneva'][span style='font-size:8pt;line-height:100%']Regards,
Ron[/span][/span][/span][/span]
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