Set Up High Res Plotter For Large Bitmaps

This Tech Tip explains how to Set Up A High Resolution Plotter For Large Bitmaps

Often we experience problems printing a drawing with a large bitmap on new high-resolution printers. During printing you will receive an "Out of Memory" error or the print takes a very long time to complete. To make things more confusing for the user, the same drawing and bitmap would plot on an older printer without any problems.

The problem is related to the size of the plot file that is created before generating the plot. On older large format printers, the printing resolution was 300 dpi (dots per inch). When generating a print, the printer has to create a file in memory of the entire plot before actually sending the file to the printer for printing. The latest large format printers can print up to 2400x2400dpi which requires substantially more memory.

A0 Bitmap resolution vs Memory required:

You can see that the plot files will grow approximately 48 times on the newer large format printers.

If you are experiencing plotting problems follow these troubleshooting steps.

Clean out the temp folder

Before cleaning the temp folder, reboot the computer (make sure no applications are running then follow the steps below)

For Windows 9x based systems (Windows 98,98 SE & ME excluding 95)
Click on the Start › Run option and then type cleanmgr, select the boot drive and then select the option to delete temp files.

On Windows 95, cleaning of the temp folder has to be done manually. The temp folder is c:\windows\temp.

For Windows 2000 and XP
Click on the Start › Run option and then type cleanmgr, select the boot drive and then select the option to delete temp files.

(the screen shots below are of Disk Cleanup running on Windows XP, the dialogs and options should be similar on other operating systems)

Do you have enough memory and hard drive space
Based on the list above, make sure that there is enough RAM in the computer and that there is enough space on the hard drive to create the plot file. Windows will use virtual memory if there is not enough RAM on the computer. Virtual memory uses free hard drive space to simulate RAM and is significantly slower. If the computer is using virtual memory, there will be lots of hard drive activity. The space required for virtual memory is usually 1.5 times the size of the amount of RAM installed on your computer.

Printer driver settings
How the printer and computer processes the plot is specified in the printer driver settings. Depending on your version of Windows how to access the printer drivers varies (consult the Windows Help file more more information).

Right click on the printer icon, and then select properties. The printer driver dialog will look different for each printer, but most of the options are similar. In this tech tip we will look at the various options for the HP DesignJet 1050c and 800.

a) Timeout Settings:

The timeout settings for the printer port can be modified, the default setting is ideal for printing small documents, but causes problems with large bitmaps.

Click on the Ports Tab (for these printers the ports tab are identical)

Select the correct port. Then click Configure Port

Change the default value to 999999

If the printer is on a network, select LPT1 as the port. Make the changes and then set the port back to the previously selected port. Once the port settings have been changed, this becomes the default settings for all ports.

b) Quality and Optimize Settings:

For HP DesignJet 1050
On the General tab, click Printing Preferences and then click on the Advanced tab

Make sure you have made the changes as shown above.

For HP DesignJet 800

Make sure you have made the changes as shown above.

Summary of changes made: Change the Quality setting to Fast (Draft) and the Optimize setting to Drawing/Test for normal drawings and to images for bitmaps or drawings with bitmaps.

c) Advanced Settings:

If you have the HP 800 printer clicking on the Advanced tab, gives a few more options that will assist in printing problems.

There are two options for Document processing. (options will vary depending on printer and drivers)

The Maximum performance option, provides maximum printing speed.

The Avoid out of memory option, is used if your printer displays the error message "Out of Memory" on the printer screen or if the plot is not plotted or only partially printed. The "Out of Memory" error occurs if the print file size is bigger than the available memory on the printer. Printing might be noticeably slower when using the Avoid out of memory option, because the printer will now use the computer's memory for the printing operation.

It is particularly important on Windows 9x (Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98 SE and Windows ME) systems that you make sure that the Windows temp folder is free of old temporary files, as the Operating system seems to have a limitation on the number of temporary files in the temp folder, as well as a size limitation on temporary files. With Windows 2000 and Windows XP, you will find that memory handling by the Operating system is far superior, and are the recommended operating systems for memory intensive operations.

Also make sure that you have the correct drivers for the printer installed, and if you are using Windows 2000 or Windows XP it is also recommended that you only install WHQL drivers, these drivers have been tested by Microsoft and provide the best stability and functionality.

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