At BETT this year I got talking to the guys at the Epson stand and ended up looking at their range of business ink jets. Now I am not a huge fan of printers generally as they cost a lot of money to run and you can make savings and reduce printing costs by utilising digital workflows. But the reality is that you sometimes do need to print so I was interested in ways that we could trim the budget for my school on this.
What interested me about Epson’s printers was their approach to using inkjet. They have taken the same technology they use on a commercial scale and have shrunk it down to provide a reliable and affordable alternative to laser in an office/school etc.
The printers I saw had some cool features:
Because they don’t need to fuse toner onto a piece of paper they use a lot less energy to run and have much faster startup times
Print speeds are really fast
There are fewer parts to maintain and replace — ink comes in bags that can be slotted in — which lowers costs
All of this results in printers that are substantially cheaper to run. Comparing the WorkForce Pro WF-C5210DW with our existing HP laser printers, consumable costs with inkjet are basically half that of laser. So even with the outlay of buying new printers, we are estimating a 30% saving this financial year. Which means more money for iPads!
So we got one of the Epson printers at my school to try out, and I’m pretty impressed so far. The ink comes in little bags that just slot in and take way less space to store. Print speed is very fast with a good print quality as well. It even has decent AirPrint support as well, which makes setup on our network nice and straightforward.
In these increasingly financial constrained times for schools, the thought of saving money by not burning through expensive toner is certainly welcome!
One of the wonderful technicians from Toucan came and upgraded our Mac Mini server to OSX 10.7 Lion on Monday. It went pretty well, with only a bit of a glitch with the Snow Leopard machines needing to be rebound. We tried setting up a script to this automatically, but this only worked on about half the machines so I still had to go around and make sure people could log on properly.
However, I also discovered that this had pretty much broken the previous fix for the Ricoh printer/copier, resulting in the copier spewing out reams and reams of gibberish. This was compounded by the fact that it is report-writing season, which requires much printing at the best of times. Not good.
The problem boiled down to printer driver issues, more specifically that not all the Macs had the same Gutenprint drivers installed and so defaulted to the generic driver instead of the correct one. Fun.
The solution was as follows:
- Make sure all the macs had the latest Gutenprint installed, as this is the driver Workgroup Manager was instructing Macs to use. Apple Remote Desktop made this easy.
- Log onto each Mac remotely and do a test print, checking if the correct driver was being used.
- If the wrong driver was being used, I then had to log in as an administrator and reset the print system, forcing the Mac to use the driver instructed by MCX. To do this, you open ‘Print & Scan’ in System Preferences, right click on the list of printers and then select ‘Reset printing system…’.
- Log in again as a managed network account and check it works.
I’m sure if I was a scripting kinda guy, there could be an easier way to do this. But it did work, albeit rather long-windedly.
The moral of the story? Make sure your Ricoh printer come with a Postscript driver card installed!
Workgroup Manager is wonderful, but it doesn’t tell computers which printer drivers to use. Which is annoying when a certain Ricoh printer/copier doesn’t work with the default OSX supplied driver (unless you have postscript fonts installed on the printer) and instead just spews out pages of garbled nonsense.
Thankfully, there is a reasonably easy fix!
1. Follow this page to create a custom PPD file, with exactly the driver you do want to use. Gutenprint ones work fine!
2. Follow this page to point your Macs to that custom PPD file using Workgroup Manager.