CAD Plotting\Printing service?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by justaguy, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. justaguy

    justaguy LawnSite Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 6

    Just wondering who you guys use for plotting\printing of your CAD drawings. Local companies, online, etc.? I'm not finding much for online services in my Google searches.
  2. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    I like supporting our local businesses so I stay away from the chain stores.

    We have a couple of local shops that I frequent. I get much better service too.
  3. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    One of the problems with using a printing service is that they don't always know how to handle your plotting file. Most do know how to handle a PDF. If you don't already have the ability to output to a pdf, you should get it. There are several free downloadable programs that act as a printer driver to print to a pdf file.

    We have large format plotters, scanners, and copiers where I work, but I always print to a pdf file first for a couple of reasons. It gives me a file that I can save even if my plan is revised. I can email it. I can print it on a reduced sized sheet of paper and the lineweights stay in scale (acad does not). That gives you the chance to proof it pretty well before you go large with it. You can email it to any printing service that handles large format printing and they will know how to print it.

    You might want to talk to a local surveyor or engineer to see if they will print for you. The bigger benefit of doing that is you might be able to become familiar to them. They are putting jobs through permitting long before anyone hears about them. Sometimes a HOA or a conservation commission or planning board or historic district wants a landscape plan as part of the permitting. You might get subbed out for some of that. Sometimes there is not much to those jobs, but it introduces you to the client who may hire you for the entire landscape as the project moves forward.

    Also, check around for used plotters. Most professional offices are moving away from inkjet plotters and blueprint machines and using laser printe/plotter/scanners. Plotters and blueprint machines take up a lot of space in an office (I got one of each for free from my work because they did not want to deal with advertising and selling them). Ebay is a little tougher because of the cost of shipping. Even if you get a good price, it costs another $300 to ship it. You can look on your states American Institute of Architects or ASLA chapter to see if they have a classified section where they can sell there old stuff.
  4. EagleLandscape

    EagleLandscape LawnSite Platinum Member
    Male, from Garland, Texas
    Messages: 4,350

    Thomas Reprographics is who I use. Don't know if they are in your area.
  5. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    I have a couple of local shops that I use, depending upon what part of town I'm in that week (my fav print shop is an hour away, so I only go to her if I'll be in the area). I've had Staples do it in a pinch, but each time I've had to wait in the store for almost an hour while they try to figure out how the plotter works.

    Like agla said, most shops won't print native format (.dwg for AutoCAD, for example). The ones I use will print either .pdf or .tiff files. The free PDF writers are pretty awesome, although for CAD work I'm really digging Bluebeam. It not only recognizes lineweights, it'll also make sure to print layers in the right order- something that some of the free ones don't do.

    STRINGALATION LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 777

    AGLA ONCE AGAIN you get my vote for LAWNSITE.COM awards. category best advice from a member

    speech speech!
  7. Turf Logic

    Turf Logic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 243

    BINGO! Depending on how much work you do get your own plotter. I cant count how many hours I wasted dealing with the ups store compared to now I have a plan in about 15 seconds.
  8. ford550

    ford550 LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Messages: 221

    I have my own plotter in the office. An HP Designjet T610. Very nice piece. Perfect for the 24"x36" designs we do. Before that, we got them done at a local print shop for $25 in color. It's like renting equip, there gets a point when it's cheaper to own it and do it in house. And the time it saves is crazy. One hour to go to sa print shop and usually they didn't get it right, now only 15 secs to print in the office and as many copies or revisions as I want.

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