Answers to frequently asked questions about the HP Designjet Z3100

By David Saffir

[David Saffir, award-winning commercial and fine-art photographer and author of the new book “Mastering Digital Color: A Photographers’ and Artists’ Guide to Controlling Color," reviews the HP Designjet Z3100 in the April issue of Professional Photographer magazine. He has been using the printer since November 2006.]

Here are a few examples of questions I’ve received about this printer:

How long does it take to calibrate the printer, or to make a profile?

Printer calibration takes about 10 minutes; paper profiling about 20.

Is the profiling as good as a hand-held spectrophotometer?
Yes, and profiling does not require the photographer to sit at a desk for 30 minutes or more.

Are there a sufficient number of patches used by the printer in the standard profile generation?
Yes, particularly in the case of printing photographs. If even more accuracy is desired, using a higher number of patches, the operator can use the HP Advanced Profiling System, which is available separately.

200703hpz3100

How good is the paper handling?
Paper handling is very good, with roll and cut sheets. The printer requires that sheet-fed paper have smoothly cut edges and that the cut sheet is squared off.

What about head strike on different media?
I have not seen any incidents of head strike using this machine, or a half dozen others I’ve had the opportunity to use. Potentially, the user can cause the print head to strike the paper if one paper type is specified, and the wrong paper is then loaded. As with any printer, damaged, warped or bent media may cause head strike.

Why are the print heads replaceable? How does this affect image quality?
The print heads are replaceable because the printer uses different technology than is found in competing machines. Print head life is excellent; if I remember correctly, they are rated at 2400 cc of ink throughput.

Is the color on the print stable?
Prints dry within five minutes or so. Even when profiling, the machine typically pauses for only five minutes before reading the color target.

As an additional note, the gloss enhancer provides very good protection against rubbing, scratching, and water. The gloss enhancer has no effect on accuracy of profiles generated on the system.

Will the calibration system support a “split workflow”?
A split workflow can include printing a target, having the print laminated or coated, and then profiling the paper/ink combination. The Z3100 will permit the user to use a split workflow, i.e. remove a print from the printer and re-insert it at a later time for measurement.

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