Technical printer benefits for CAD & AEC professionals

Technical printer

Whenever fast, high-accuracy prints are a must, CAD professionals will use a Technical Printer to get the job done. Commonly known as a “plotter” in the AEC industry, a technical printer is often the preferred solution when it comes to printing technical drawings, where its high-resolution images are a major factor.

In order to achieve their fine line detail, plotters use vector format in which images are created with lines. This makes them the industry standard, since the dotted and dashed lines common in technical drawings require crisp, clean printing.

Unlike the grid-based raster images used by other other wide format printers, vector images use point-to-point nodes that are connected by lines and curves created with mathematical formulas that describe position, location, and length. The benefit of vector images is that changing the scale of the image doesn’t reduce the print quality – they always appears crisp and clear.


Common Features of HP Technical Printers

Printing Speed
  • Fast processing and management features
  • A1/D-size prints in as little as 2 seconds (HP PageWide XL 8000)
  • Fixed carriages/printheads
  • Front-loading media rolls
  • Intuitive color touchscreen with true print preview
  • Wi-Fi connectivity (for some models)
  • HP Click printing software simplifies your workflow
  • HP Mobile Printing saves time and makes it easy to access and print large-format documents using your tablet, smartphone, laptop or printer touchscreen
  • High-capacity Inks
  • Cloud-ready
  • Includes the ability to set palette and pen settings for CAD (computer-aided design) workflows
  • A plug-in for Microsoft Office to print directly from Word, Excel or PowerPoint
  • ROI tracking software
  • Hot swap inks
Print Quality
  • Quickly produce professional-quality CAD plans and drawings with fine line quality
  • Adobe PostScript® availability for high-resolution graphics
  • Sharp detail up to 2400 dpi
  • Optimized driver for AutoCAD
  • Borderless prints
  • CAD plans
  • Construction plans
  • Architecture plans
  • Drafting plans
  • Complex schematics


Software applications of Technical Printers

Technical printers are often used to print out designs from CAD software programs. Two of the most common programs are made by Autodesk:

  • Revit: a building information modeling (BIM) software for architects, structural engineers, MEP engineers, designers and contractors.The software allows users to design a building and structure and its components in 3D, annotate the model with 2D drafting elements, and access building information from the building model’s database. Revit is 4D BIM capable, with tools to plan and track various stages in the building’s lifecycle, from concept to construction and later maintenance and/or demolition.
  • AutoCAD: a computer-aided design (CAD) software application used across a wide range of industries, by architects, project managers, engineers, graphic designers, town planners and many other professionals.


An Overview of HP Technical Printer Models

HP PageWide XL 8000 HP DesignJet T1530 HP DesignJet T120
Print Volume
150,000 sq ft per month Up to 1,000 sq ft per month Up to 400 sq ft per month
Resolution 1200 x 1200 dpi Up to 2400 x 1200 dpi Up to 1200 x 1200 dpi
Media Width Up to 40″ Up to 36″ Up to 24″
Cost of Operation Low Medium High
Integrated Scanner Some models No No
Color Printing Yes Yes Yes
Number of Rolls Up to 6 2 1



Price Ranges for Technical Printers

Technical printer purchase prices range from several hundred dollars at the low end (HP DesignJet T120), up to tens of thousands of dollars at the high end (HP PageWide XL 8000). What’s best for you will largely depend on your peak printing volumes, your printing applications and your budget.

For more in-depth advice on how to choose the best printer model for your specific workflow, get in touch with us. We’ve also listed the benefits of the different printer purchasing options for you below.


CSDS Technical Printer Purchasing Options

#1) All Inclusive – “High productivity, no hassle.”

With this option, you buy the plotter and then buy an AI contract to cover the cost of service and supplies. This is a great option for large corporations that have high print volumes but don’t want to be bothered with the hassle of handling their own ink and media purchases or dealing with maintenance issues.


#2) Facilities Management – “Low cost, no hassle.”

This option resembles a rental agreement, in which you pay a monthly fee based on your printing square footage. Although you don’t own the printer, you still get the full use of it until the end of the rental term. This is a great option for companies that are constantly upgrading their equipment (say every 3-5 years) in order to get the latest and greatest features. It’s also useful for those that are looking for an expense (as opposed to an asset) on their accounting books.

This means that even if buying a brand new printer isn’t in your budget, you’re still able to get the job done. One additional benefit of this option: if your printer goes down, service is included for free. Learn more here.

Benefits of the All Inclusive and Facilities Management Options

The benefit of these two purchasing options is that they provide hassle-free methods to keep your printing assets in working order. They operate based on pay-per-print plans, and our computerized control system tracks your usage by product to generate reports for your accounting department.

#3) Buy Used – “Maximum affordability.”

This option is ideal for new companies who have very limited budgets and immediate printing needs. This option prioritizes affordability over all other considerations longevity, up-time and productivity.

#4) Buy New – “High productivity”

This is a great option for companies with decent budgets that want the reliability of a new printer along with total control over their printer activities, from the ink and media supplies to the service and beyond. You own the printer, including a 1-year warranty.

Benefits of the Buying New and Buying Used Options

One benefit of these two options is that companies with the budget to afford them are able to take advantage of the Section 179 tax benefits available from buying or leasing them.

#5) Leasing

Why lease machinery instead of buying?

Leasing machinery using a “true lease” (10% buyout or FMV*) allows you to deduct all of your payments from your taxes for the full length of your lease contract. It is a great tax write-off, but please talk to your tax professional to get the whole picture as tax laws change frequently.

What’s the difference between a $1 and a 10% buy out lease?

At the end of the 10% buy out lease, you are given the opportunity to either purchase the machinery or end the lease. (The leasing company will take possession and sell it to someone, and you are free to purchase a new piece of machinery). Each payment that you make on a 10% buyout lease is a deduction on your taxes. Plus, when you make your 10% purchase at the end of the lease, you get to claim depreciation deductions. See your tax professional for changes to this year’s tax laws.

At the end of a $1 buyout lease, you simply give the leasing company $1 and the machinery is yours. This is an excellent way to purchase, with the only drawback being the tax deduction: you’re only allowed to make a one-time tax deduction because this is not considered a “true lease.” According to the tax laws, it’s a “direct purchase.”

*What is A Fair Market Value Lease (FMV)?

A Fair Market Value Lease (FMV) lease, also called a True Lease, is a lease where the federal income tax incentives (including depreciation) related to the equipment are retained by the owner (the lessor) and passed on to the user (the lessee) in the form of lower lease payments. The purchase option in a True Lease at maturity is usually stated at Fair Market Value (what the used machine is currently selling for in the open market).

Benefits of Leasing

What makes leasing a great option is the low upfront cost and the option to buy. There’s also lots of flexibility with this option, such as12, 24, 36, 48, or 60 months terms. This option helps give small companies a more affordable option to access some of the more expensive plotters, while also providing tax benefits.


Technical Printer Supplies

Paper Options

Since CAD professionals don’t usually save their plans, they often use the inexpensive 20 pound “check plot” paper when they want to check their plans before discarding them.

In cases where they want to present their plans to a customer, they usually use 24 pound bond since it makes their prints look nicer and provides crisper lines than plans printed on 20 pound bond.


When CAD plans need to last for use in county or state records, they’re printed using matte black which is a “true color” pigment-based India ink. This means that it won’t fade, making it suitable for archival and able to last up to 100 years.

In the case of temporary prints, the other ink colors are used. Unlike matte black, they’re dye-based and contain water which means they will fade faster in the sunlight. Despite this disadvantage, these inks are better for color gamut and also cheaper per click.


Technical Printer Protection

Whenever you buy an expensive piece of equipment, a warranty should be considered to protect your investment. Not only are you protecting the physical product, you’re maximizing your ROI by ensuring your company’s continued productivity.

Each of our new plotters comes with a 1-year warranty that can be extended within the first 90 days after purchase. If you decide to get a warranty after that period, you’ll have to buy a Post Warranty on a year-to-year basis, which can be a slightly more expensive option.

The benefits of a Post Warranty include:

  • parts & labor expenses are included (except consumables)
  • you receive priority service (next business day)
  • you receive Preventative Maintenance to protect printer functionality
  • travel fees are included

Not only do Post Warranties cover all of the previous concerns, but they also protect you from the hidden expenses of downtime, which could reach thousands of dollars.

Without a Post Warranty, it could take longer for technicians to arrive and inspect your machine if you need replacement parts that are on backorder. In this case, you may need to outsource your printing, which could cost thousands more.

Our Post Warranty coverage entitles you to reduced rates on our reprographic services, giving you an affordable option for printing while your technical printer is being repaired.

Lastly, the Preventative Maintenance that comes with Post Warranties ensures that your printer is operational by checking the printheads and inks, the scanner function, image quality, printer cleanliness and performance, warranty status, firmware status and more.

All of these factors combined all but guarantee that you don’t have any preventable issues with your printer, so that you can have peace of mind knowing that everything will work as it should.


Learn more about Technical Printer Solutions

Are you looking for a way to drastically expand your range of printing projects? Is your current printer incapable of delivering the results you need?

Call CSDS at 800-243-1414 to ask a question, request a quote, or receive a product demonstration. One of our Printing specialists will be in touch to share their expert opinion on the solutions that will work best for your company’s needs.

For more information about the features, strengths and limitations of technical printers, please leave a comment below or send an email to


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