As the demand for GIS information continues to increase, organizations that rely on printing GIS applications (e.g. topographic maps, population overlays and aerial photographs) must ensure that they select the proper printing solution that maximizes productivity, reduces turnaround time and provides user-friendly operation.
Océ, a Canon Group company and an international leader in digital document management, outlines what goes into printing GIS applications and the three main considerations for selecting a large format printer that will help organizations achieve the most optimal output.
Printing GIS Applications: What is Involved
The majority of GIS users spend a significant amount of time managing information to create a geographical representation of that data. The final step of this process – printing that representation – is often the most daunting. Unlike printing routine documents to a common printer, where almost all document preparation is automatic, GIS applications require operators to select a variety of settings to ensure optimal output. These settings include the printing method used, output size, print setting quality, media selection and finishing options.
These decisions are often influenced by the features and capabilities of the printing devices that the GIS organization uses, which is why it is critical to select a large format printer that has the specific capabilities that your organization needs.
Influencing Your Decision: The Most Important Capabilities of Your Printing Device
There is a wide variety of large format printing devices available, and while most share a common set of features and benefits, there can be differences – and limitations – in specific capabilities. These limitations can affect the time it takes to produce output, leading to additional project time.
When selecting a large format printing device, it is critical to evaluate the following three areas:
Print Submission: The printing device that you select should be flexible, offering features and settings that make it compatible with your organization's applications/operating system and encourage ease-of-use. This includes the ability to adjust print settings like scaling, rotation and media selection from within the selected print tool and apply these settings to individual files within a set, without affecting other files. The device should also offer a preview to help ensure files print the right way the first time and that large and complex files process quickly and accurately.
Media Handling: Like print submission, media handling should be frustration-free and intuitive. The printing device you select should have capacity for multiple rolls of different sizes, the ability to detect the end of the roll to help prevent partial prints and the capability to switch between rolls without user intervention. Media loading and unloading should require minimum effort, and the device should provide automatic trimming of the leading edge and width detection.
Finishing: This final stage of document output should not be overlooked when selecting a large format printing device. Ensure that the device eliminates manual work by neatly stacking and collating multiple prints and multiple sets and automatically folding documents, when necessary. Available stacking options for high volume print production are also critical to reducing the need to break up large print jobs and eliminating frequent trips to the printer to keep the output area from overflowing. Last, ensure that multiple delivery destinations can be selected from within the print submission tool – eliminating the need for manual configuration for each destination.
It is important for organizations of all sizes to select a large format printing solution for GIS applications that maximizes productivity, provides superior usability and supports new technology and processes.