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Connecting Multiple Printers to one PC

Jasonsu
Jasonsu asked
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Last Modified: 2008-02-26
Hello,

We are a manufacturing company currently printing graphical images using multiple printers connected to the corresponding PCs (For ex, 5 printers to 5 PCs). Is there any way that we could connect multiple printers (5 and above) to just one PC using the USB ports as that would definitely save on a lot of hardware costs. Also, is there any way whereby I could just by using a single command, be able to send printing jobs to the 5 printers that I have connected. The printing jobs would all be similar as we need to print out a large volume of graphical images and time is of the essence. Hope the question isn't too complicated. If there's any more information needed for a solution, do feel free to ask. Thank you!

Jason
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yes
u will need a 5 to 7 port usb hub with u can buy form any pc shop

do not get rest of the question do you mean that u whan to send th same job to alll the print at the same time or diff jobs
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.
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Commented:
livepclive has answered the first part.



For the second part if it is one document going to different computers then you need to investigate whether the application concerned supports macros.

If it does then create a macro that will send the current application to the different printers.
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Commented:
You may find that one good colour laser will outperform all your inkjets. As you are doing multiple copies of the same page, there are lasers that will produce those at 22 and even 30 pages per minute.

Printing costs on lasers are also about half of those on inkjets, and toner cartridges last much longer than ink cartridges, so overnight print runs are feasible.

Commented:
I agree with hdhondt when it comes to laser compared to inkjet. In the long run, lasers are considerably less expensive than inkjets, since the toner costs much less than ink. Plus, you get excellent output even on plain paper. So, with the lower paper and toner costs, the cost per page is quite a bit less.

As for the second part of your question, if you are sending identical jobs, make sure you're using an NT-based OS (NT4, 2K, or XP). Then, connect all the printers and use printer pooling. With pooling enabled, if you have, for example, five identical printers connected, they are treated as a single printer. When you send a job, it goes to the first available printer. So, you would send the job 20 times, and it would split the job amongst the printers.

Depending on the application, you may not even have to send the job 20 times, as setting it to 20 copies may split it into 20 jobs. You'd have to test this first.

--
Troy
Just a note...

If the printers are parallel cable based currently and never came with a USB port then you would have to use a Parallel to USB convertor.... On some printers this may not function properly even if they are PCL or Postscript based printers it depends upon the printer and what printer language it is based on and also if it is a Bi-directional printer or a uni-directional printer meaning 2 way or 1 way communication      like an HP laserjet 4L would be a bi-directional printer a old Panasonic Dot matrix would be a one way printer.

One of the problems also that you may face is that if the printer comes with some sort of control panel or toolbox application then it may not report ink levels properly or cause lock-up problems.

if any of these printers are GDI based (which means they require the windows enviroment to run they do not operate networked or dos) they will NOT operate through a parallel to usb convertor because their software basically sends a bitmap image of what you are printing to the printer instead of it being represented in code like PCL. therefore that is why it will not work in a network or dos.


Other then that
Yes it can be done theoretically.... is it easy ? - that depends on all the variables ....

will it work ??? dunno unless you can specify what printers and Operating Systems you are running...

Suggestions......


I guess one suggestion I have is it would be easier and possibly cheaper (long term)  to lease a  color / B&W laser printer or maybe even a multifunction color / B&W  laser printer / copier ... Have you looked into this ?  Most companies now have it where you get the machine free you just have to buy the supplies from them for a certain period of time or you pay a monthly flat rate and it includes supplies and everything.

I am not sure if you are looking for color or black & white. Also if you are printing in color and these images that are printing are going out of the office to clients and so forth you will want them to be color laser...it would not look very good or professional to give them something printed with an inkjet printer and have them walk outside in a rainstorm and watch it turn into watercolor paint.

If you are having to buy inkjet cartridges all the time and toner cartridges for all different machines I see this as being a lot more expensive in the long run rather then just running it from one machine with one set of supplies... If you need items in color large volume and inexpensive a high speed color laser printer would be the way to go.

All printers have a duty cycle on them so if their duty cycle is 500 pages per month and you exceed that the machine will break down much quicker, in essence what I am saying is you may already be overusing these printers and if you are they will break down much quicker then you will be having to repair or replace them so it may cheaper in the long run to run 1 machine that can handle it all. then all you have is 1 machine to worry about 1 set of supplies to buy for the machine and it will be dependable. You would also have expandability depending on what you bought you could get a printer / copier and eliminate the current copier you have (if you do have one) you also could get a printer / copier / fax  and eliminate your fax machine too (if you have one)

I am just laying out all the options and possible problems you may have so you can make a well informed decision. When I respond to things I like to give all the options possible or that I know of.... You could also go with the options above that were previously mentioned by other experts it all depends on what works best.

Here are some links of some companies that sell Laser Printers

http://www.ricoh-usa.com/productshowroom/index.asp?usa
http://www.hp.com
http://www.heidelberg.com/hq/eng//products/
http://www.konicabt.com/Products/printer.html
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Commented:
Just the sheer logistics of having to support dozens of inkjets scares me. You'll be forever running from one to the other.

Some quick calculations: If one ink cartridge lasts you 100 pages (and it could be rather less than that, depending on what you print), having 20 inkjets which each print a page every minute (that's if  they're fast ones, and you don't want best quality) means you will need to change a cartridge every 5 minutes. Sounds like a full-time job to me, even if nothing else goes wrong!

Here are a couple of other colour laser suppliers:

http://www.officeprinting.xerox.com/
http://www.minolta-qms.com/
http://www.oki.com/

Especially Xerox and Oki (as well as Ricoh - as per briancassin's post) have printers that will eat inkjets for breakfast
heidelberg is Xerox's biggest comptetitor and is actually a lot better quality machine very few break downs. Xerox lost a lot of contracts to Heidelberg even now because of the quality of the machines they produce.

Xerox is an option but it would not be my first pick not these days at least.

Commented:
6 years ago, I managed 6 completely different printers connected to one PC using one Belkin four port autoswitch (1 USB connection to PC, 4 parallel connections) and 2 printers connected directly to local parallel ports.

So I'm pretty sure you can connect multiple printers to one machine using USB!

To load balance them, what I would suggest is that you buy a couple of printers that are identical, set them up on seperate ports, and using Windows 2000 you can split the load.

You could buy a couple of colour mopiers with built-in hard drives, and set up a print queue that balances the load between them.

Like a pair of Xerox Phaser 7300s.

Commented:
Leasing a higher speed digital Color Laser printer or BW copier/printer is something you should seriously concider. If you're printing high volume to ink jet printers you'll save money and get higher quality and production. Having one or two quality printers on your network printing IP via an LPR port will do the job faster and cheaper.

 I work in the industry, it's amazing how far they've come. Canon products use a Fiery RIP that is fast and loaded with features. Ricoh uses their own controller that isn't quite as good as EFI, but quite nice.

 Also concider some of the extra functionality you will get: Printing to mailboxed on the printers HD, merge and edit, push scanning to email, FTP, or a network share. The list goes on.

 I recommend Canon, but every major manufacturer has a comparable product.
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Commented:
No comment has been added lately, so it's time to clean up this TA.
I will leave a recommendation in the Cleanup topic area that this question is:
PAQ/No refund
Please leave any comments here within the next four days.

PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT THIS COMMENT AS AN ANSWER!

hdhondt
EE Cleanup Volunteer
I would suggest a points split between

hdhondt, myself, thoffman, and maybe Bakammer &  tstaddon

Commented:
This one is on us!
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