Yesterday, on the eve of the opening of the ISA Sign Expo, HP took the opportunity to launch five new products in its high-end Latex and Scitex families. These are the HP Latex 370, the HP Scitex FB550 and FB750, HP Scitex 11000 Industrial Press, and HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press.

Today, a continent away at the IRgA Conference in Atlanta, HP has officially announced a portfolio of products in its anticipated PageWide XL family of single-pass wide-format printers. The raison d’être of single-pass is speed, especially in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC), geographic information systems (GIS), and POP/POS and display print markets, the former two more so than the latter. At its fastest, the new PageWide printers can print “60-percent faster than anything in the market,” said Alex Moñino, Worldwide Marketing Director for HP’s Large Format Printing Business.  That translates to, at the fastest speed of the fastest member of the new family, up to 30 D/A1-size prints per minute, although as we always caution, your own mileage will vary. 

In a nutshell the new family consists of the PageWide XL 4000 printer and multifunction device (8 D/A1-size prints per minute), targeted at work groups and copy shops; the PageWide XL 4500 (12 D/A1-size prints per minute), targeted at work groups, including AEC graphics producers, copy shops, and print centers; the PageWide XL 5000 (14 D/A1-size prints per minute), targeted at small- to medium-sized repro houses and others with moderate technical document production requirements; and the high-end PageWide XL 8000 (30 D/A1-size prints per minute), intended for high-volume production.

The 8000 is slated for release in September, the 5000 in November, and the rest of the portfolio early in 2016.

Technical printing, especially in architecture and construction took its hits after the housing crash of 2008, but it has steadily been recovering. It’s also one of those areas where you come across some unusual applications that you never really think about, such as maps, which are always changing as the landscape changes, new construction occurs, or even, in the case of ships at sea, coastlines and other features erode and change. The latest developments in technical printing equipment are also bringing color to these applications, and color that is not appreciably more expensive than monochrome. The best of these devices also have applications in display graphics—POP/POS signage—allowing shops to affordably get into the color display graphics market.

Single-pass printing obviously has its limitations—it lacks the redundancy to cover up for misfiring or clogged nozzles—but for many of these applications, they’re viewed from a distance and a missing pixel here or there is hardly noticeable. Plus, we are starting to see some ingenious ways of getting around the problem entirely from a printhead design standpoint, are making single-pass more and more viable for a greater range of applications. It will be interesting to see how these machines perform in the wild.