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My company uses a over dozen standard office printers (HP9050) to print variable data marketing materials. Our customer may ask us to send a marketing letter to 80,000 postal addresses with a two day turnaround time. We split the job into 2,000 page batches and spread them across all the printers. The average duplex job prints 25-26 ppm, which is as good as it gets for this printer.

We print from PDF files that are about 2-4MB each. Each printer is connected via the parallel port to a unique PC which is dedicated to printing only. The driver has been configured to print directly to the printer and to start the job immediately. With this configuration, it takes 2-5 minutes for the jobs to start printing.

I'd like to verify that using individual PCs is in the optimum configuration. Does anyone have experience in this type of environment? Is there anything to gain by switching to a print server? I'd love to get rid of all of these PCs but can't see anyway of doing it without sacrificing speed.

  • Could you expand on the PC to printer connection? Are you going through a switch? If so model of switch might help, maybe. – murisonc Apr 19 '12 at 17:48
  • Not use parallel based printers? Anything running over a network is faster. Just my 2 cents. – JohnThePro Apr 19 '12 at 18:02
  • Just to be clear, do you have 80,000 PDF files to be printed? How do you actually send them to the printer? Right-click and choose print? And do your printers have JetDirect cards in (all current 9050s do, but I'm not sure if they always have). – hmallett Apr 19 '12 at 20:57
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  • You can store spool files jobs on another disk (a fast & big one). Looks like on Windows 7 it has been removed from gui. So you can do that from the registry:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Print\Printers

edit value for DefaultSpoolDirectory

  • Double check all printers are in 100 or 1000 full duplex. Same for computers.

  • Prevent printers from going to sleep mode.

  • Carefully choose the driver.

  • Exempt the DefaultSpoolDirectory from antivirus scan.

  • Format the ntfs partition that hold spool jobs in 64K.

  • Prevent the workstation from using intel speedstep or anything that will slow down cpu.

You going to do same things thousands of times. So you must check each step to check if it can go a bit faster

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Have you thought about enabling 'Start Printing Immediately' in the settings, it will begin to print the document before the document has finished being transferred. (source: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc739118(v=ws.10).aspx ).

Are your printers connected by parallel or ethernet ? If they are on parallel a print server will do pretty much the exact same job as the pc's although in some cases print server parallel ports can be faster than a pc's parallel port both HP and D-link claim their print servers are faster than pc ports.

I doubt you would lose any speed unless you get really low end print servers.

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I'm not clear whether you even need to try to improve things on that machine or are running at maximum speed.

If the specification of your laser printer is rated at a simplex print speed of 50ppm (and looking the HP9050 up it is) and you are getting 25-26ppm in duplex mode.. then you are probably benefiting from a pretty efficient duplex print path and fast rendering.. because you are on average getting the result of single sheet printing twice per page.

It could be much worse than this because many printers historically took a significant printing throughput hit because of the design of their duplexing mechanism effectively stalling the top simplex speed - meaning you might be better off putting the same stack through simplex twice.

Alternatively double-sided throughput might be better because some better designs seem to get a higher throughput duplex speed than half the simplex speed - probably because the sheet approaching for second image printing may internally be significantly closer in the internal paper path than a fresh sheet being lifted from a paper tray. A super efficient mechanism might benefit by a pipeline where the machine is lifting the next blank sheet (in readiness for its first side printing) while an earlier half printed sheet is heading for it's second image. If the pipeline of activity is deep enough on long enough jobs then you can see the machine could approach duplex speeds which are equal to top simplex speeds. I think that may be what you are expecting in this instance, but I think you may be disappointed.

More complex paper paths probably leads to more engineering problems in design and potential impact of jams (including confusion with restarts because a jammed page may precede a successful print..) which means not all printer companies seek to put them into machines. Large and multiple paper reservoirs means that some paper drawers may print at marginally different throughput speeds than others. Run some experiments with blank pages and work out what the optimal speed is for your system.. I've certainly experienced (multi-hopper folding) machines where I choose to live refill a small amount in one hopper and max out another to improve large job throughput.

Really, it would do us all a favour if all laser printer companies would advertise native duplex machines with their average duplex page speeds based on 50sheet (ie. 100 sides) duplex loads.. but they don't.

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