LFP Road Test

Once you get beyond A3 size, scanning and printing becomes an issue for the copy shop - they just don't make copiers that big, well at least not conventional ones. Flatbed scanners take up a lot of room when they get large, and poster size printers also have a giants footprint in the space conscious workplace. Toner-based plan printers are functional but are built for speed not quality.Colotrac's solution is to mate a decent quality inkjet printer with a simple to use scanner in a piggy-back frame that means efficient use of the working
environment.We road-tested the Gx 42 A0 scanner matched with a Mutoh printer - we actually had the 36 inch - but they do go up to full A0 size.Allied Images, who handle a good range of Multi-Function Printers, have fifteen years experience with these type of products so are in a good position to advise and supply a suitable combination for print shop.The sheet-feed scanner is a proven machine. A series of rollers pulls the original across the light source and out through the back to complete the process. The top plate can be raised and lowered electronically with push buttons which gives a very precise control over capture of the original. Most other similar units
however are normally driven by one array of powered wheels, which can cause items to skew. With the drive coming from below a spring loaded lid normally keeps the scan in contact with the scan glass.However, this is quite a crude arrangement. If the pressure is too light, folded or crumpled documents scan poorly; if too heavy, delicate originals such as newsprint may get trapped and not scan at all. Instead, the Gx scanner uses an additional driven hold-down roller to ensure consistent glass contact and reliable throughput of all types of media, from thin paper to the heaviest. Access to the scan glass and hold-down roller for cleaning is quick and easy via the hinged assembly, enabling the glass to be cleaned of dust and smears from dirty artwork.The scanner can cope with thick material up to 20mm (that's just over an inch in old money) as long as it's not too rough or slippery. The motorised feeder wheels don't come with traction control. Anything heavy may need to be supported or it will over task the drive motor. Standard paper thickness whistles through.Most people are now familiar with the CCD which captures an image inside a digital camera. This scanner has five units each capable of scanning images at 1200 x 600dpi optical input resolution and captures 48-bit colour or 16-bit monochrome . The CCDs have 10,800 pixels of RGB triplets and monochrome, a total of 216,000 pixels in the scanner!As a result this 42" scanner will also capture accurately the finest details of maps, engineering drawings, blueprints, site plans, architectural renderings and many other technical documents at resolutions from 100 up to 9600dpi. Original images can be captured off media from as little as six inches wide, and any length you care to feed into it.The mechanical side of the scanner hardware is pretty straightforward. The techy stuff is all in the software. That's what enables high resolution scanning to be done speedily and efficiently. But you don't need to know too much about the detail. When you press the green button of a copier, you don't expect to know everything that goes on to make a copy. Enough to say the bigger you get the more there is for the software to sort out.The scanner will print direct to the printer, so can be used as a sophisticated copier, but is simple to use so with a basic introduction, most operators would be comfortable with it. For capturing scanned items on a computer there are a couple of options. Scanworks is a basic but very competent programme which will suit most needs. Like any new interface it initially looks a little daunting but is easy to find your way around once you get into it.The functions are user friendly, enabling the usual options on scan size and resolution, with a certain amount of editing.Colorado is a much more sophisticated beast allowing fine tuning or both input and output. In all respects and is one of the most comprehensive tools on the market. You can use it in an easy mode, but if you need more control, all the tools are there in the box.Both software choices can be profiled to print to selected printers.In the case of the Mutoh, it's a well-built hard-working four colour device that prints on a variety of roll and sheet fed media. The roll feed is from the back directly in line with the heads, which is efficient for the throughput of heavy media types, but requires the printer to be pulled in and out of its cosy cradle when changing media. Just watch out for stray cables!All in all a neat and sophisticated bit of kit.For more info contact Allied Images on 01604 670679 www.allied-images.com