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HP Designjet Printers - Problems Printing PDF Files from Acrobat Reader Using the HP-GL/2 Driver

Introduction

Large-format printing of PDF files from Acrobat Reader can often result in unexpected problems.
NOTE: This issue is not limited to Acrobat Reader and may occur in other software applications such as Adobe Illustrator, PhotoShop when using the HP-GL/2 driver. The problem will not occur if using a PostScript driver from the Adobe applications.
Problems with Acrobat Reader usually occur when printing large page sizes at high resolutions, and can manifest themselves in different ways depending on the versions of the Acrobat Reader and the operating system:
  • Missing objects

  • Parts of the drawing not printed

  • An error message pops up in Acrobat Reader telling the user that the printing operation could not be performed

The reason for these problems is that Acrobat Reader’s print engine is not able to process large page sizes (the size of the page is in terms of pixels).

This issue may not occur when using printer drivers that can only render up to 300 (or 360) dpi, or when using PostScript drivers. Adobe applications use an alternative path to print PS (not passing through the OS normal data structures) that avoids this problem.

Click here to download HP printer drivers at http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/Home.jsp?locale=en_US.

For more information on Adobe PostScript, see Adobe's website at http://www.adobe.com/.

Resolution and page size concepts
  • Document resolution - The resolution that the driver reports to the application and that will be used to render the data in the application to transfer it to the driver. It is completely independent of the printing resolution and it depends on the print mode selected in the driver (and on the driver itself).

  • Rendering resolution - The resolution at which the driver places graphic objects using printer coordinates. In PCL3GUI, it is equal to the rendering resolution. In HP-GL/2 it can be different, although it tends to be the same.

  • Page size - Once a page size is selected in the driver, it is reported to the application in terms of pixels. The page size in pixels is obtained by multiplying the physical page size by the rendering resolution (in both axes).

The cause of the problem

Problems with Acrobat Reader occur when the page size in pixels is too big for the application to handle. This page size depends on the document resolution, which, at the same time, depends on:
  • The driver

  • The print quality

  • The optimization

  • Having Max. Detail (Enhanced IQ) ON or OFF

    So it is possible that the problem will always be observed with a particular driver, or that it can be solved by changing the print mode.

Workarounds

As the problem is caused because the page size in pixels is too big for the application print engine, the possible solutions involve reducing the page size. As the physical page size cannot be reduced, the parameter that has to be changed is the document resolution.
  1. Use a print mode (print quality setting) that renders at 300 dpi (as the problems normally happen when the rendering resolution is set at 600 dpi). Use the resolution tables provided below for additional print quality setting resolution information.

  2. Set ZoomSmart Scaling in the printer driver to 100%.

    By scaling to 100%, the page and the drawing will remain unchanged. However, the ZoomSmart algorythm reduces the rendering and document resolutions by 2. So, by scaling to 100%, all the print quality parameters will remain unchanged (carriage speed, printing resolution, number of swaths, etc.) while the document resolution will be reduced by 2, reducing the page size in pixels and avoiding problems in the application. The only side effect is that CAD drawings with sharp lines and circles will show more jaggedness due to the lower rendering resolution. This will not affect images so noticeably.

Document resolution tables

The following tables illustrate the document resolutions of current Designjet printers. The highlighted cell indicates the default print mode of each driver. The value between brackets corresponds to the effect of having the Max. Detail (or Enhanced IQ) setting ON (only the cases where the document resolution changes because of this setting are taken into consideration).
Designjet 5500
Optimized for lines
Optimized for images
Fast
300
300
Normal
300
3001
Best
600
600
1 Default print mode
Designjet 800
Optimized for lines
Optimized for images
Fast
300
150 (300)
Normal
6001
300 (600)
Best
600
600 (1200)
1 Default print mode
Designjet 500 + HP-GL/2 card
Optimized for lines
Optimized for images
Fast
300
150 (300)
Normal
6001
300 (600)
Best
600
600
1 Default print mode
Designjet 500
Optimized for lines
Optimized for images
Fast
300
150 (300)
Normal
6001
300 (600)
Best
600
600
1 Default print mode
Designjet 1050
Optimized for lines
Optimized for images
Fast
150
150
Normal
3001
300
Best
600
600
1 Default print mode
Designjet 100
Optimized for lines
Optimized for images
Fast
300
300
Normal
600
3001
Best
600
600
1 Default print mode
Designjet 120
Optimized for lines
Optimized for images
Fast
N/A
300
Normal
N/A
3001
Best
N/A
600
High Res
600 (1200 if Photo paper is selected)
1 Default print mode

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