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RE: Buying a plotter

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When I started my one man business back in 2002, I couldn't afford a full
size plotter. I previously worked at a firm in San Francisco that did major
projects (i.e. high rises up to 90 stories). The first day of work, they
brought me around to introduce me to everyone. I quickly made friends with
the head draftsman because I knew how to do cad and he appreciated that.
He was showing me where to look at past projects and everything was on a
bookshelf in 11x17 sets. I asked him where the plotters were and he pointed
to the HP5si printer in the middle of the office. It was a laser print that
can print letter and tabloid size. He explained exactly what David mentioned...
we reduce our line weights so they are legible when printed at a reduced
scale. We don't have to buy ink cartridges, paper rolls, or stand around
for hours (or in line) while a job prints. We just zip the cad files and
send them out to be printed. He said I'd get used to it when back checking
and about a month into it he was correct.

So when I started out on my own, I picked up a used HP5si printer on Ebay
for 300 bucks. It's still going strong and it's all I need. I spend about
200 bucks for a toner every year and that's it. Most of the printer companies
use PLANWELL, you just get an account, make PLT files in cad like you'd
do anyway in batch plotting. Zip the files, send them out, they deliver
to your office for 5 bucks and you have your sets. The first run of plots
can be expensive. BPS in San Francisco charges about 3 bucks a sq.ft. for
the first run then the standard 25-27 cents a sq.ft for the additional sets.
I have found places that charge as little as 10 cents for the first run,
but the print quality and paper are cheap. I use a place that charges 75
cents (just raised it from 50) a square foot for the first run on good paper.
It's the way to go if your local printer has the set up...almost all do
around here.

Hth,
-gm

>-- Original Message --
>From: "David Fisher" <dfisher(--nospam--at)fpse.com>
>To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
>Subject: RE: Buying a plotter
>Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2005 17:31:51 -0500
>Reply-To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
>
>
>Jim:
>
>If you can avoid it, DON'T BUY ONE...
>
>I bought the HP "state of the art machine" two years ago....no one in this
>offer 
>EVER uses it!
>
>*(*&^%^%$#$@$%^&*(*
>
>What a waste of money!
>
>
>Its one of the few things I really get tick about...
>
>
>
>
>Plus, getting reimbursed is very difficult!
>
>Clients tend to be better about paying plotting bills when they come from
>an
>outside vendor rather than your "plot log"
>
>
>
>If you can, have everything sent out to a printing service and get a decent
>copier that does 11x17s.
>
>
>That?s what 99% of our in-house printing is.
>
>
>
>That way, the service takes care of maintenance, upgrades, supplies, etc...
>
>
>One less headache!
>
>
>
>David L. Fisher  SE  PE
>Senior Principal 
>Fisher + Partners Structural Engineers inc
>372 West Ontario 
>Chicago 60610         
> 
>312.573.1701
>312.573.1726 fax
>312.622.0409 mobile
>www.fpse.com         
>
>David L. Fisher  SE  PE
>Director
>Head of Design and Construction
>Cape Cod Grand Cayman Holdings Ltd
>75 Fort Street
>Georgetown Grand Cayman BWI
>mobile 312.622.0409
>www.ccgch.com
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Jim Wilson [mailto:wilsonengineers(--nospam--at)yahoo.com] 
>Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2005 5:13 PM
>To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
>Subject: Buying a plotter
>
>Does anyone have any good or bad plotter buying
>experiences that you would like to share?  I'm looking
>to buy my first plotter to handle up to 36" wide B&W
>prints.  
>
>Is the safest bet to buy through a reputable dealer
>with a service plan, or should I be looking to buy a
>used plotter somewhere?  
>
>And is there a particular brand to avoid, or one I
>should consider?  I'm only familiar with HP's, so I
>suppose that's what I would ask for.  There are just
>so many models to search through.  The few numbers I'm
>familiar with seem to be discontinued (HP 650 Design
>Jet series).
>
>Speed plotting is not really a concern.  I also don't
>need much for bells and whistles as I will be the only
>user.  I'm figuring on spending up to $1500 for a
>simple machine, but would be willing to spend more for
>"must-have" upgrades.
>
>Thanks in advance,
>Jim Wilson
>
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