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Review: HP Designjet Z3100 Printer

Features and highlights of the 44-in. Z3100.

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By Andrew Darlow

Care and feeding
The maximum sheet thickness that can be fed through the back feed slot is 500 gsm. It’s also important to note that the printer will need some space behind it to allow for roll and sheet loading. Two people standing on either side of the machine, however, can load, feed, and change rolls with the printer almost touching the wall. Sheet loading (especially with large and heavy sheets) will require space behind the printer because of the way in which sheets extend back from the printer while loading-something I learned the hard way when a sheet smacked into the wall about a foot behind the printer. The wheels on the stand are very well-made, so if the printer must be stored up against a wall, the printer can be carefully moved when necessary.

And on the subject of feeding paper: The printer will determine if your sheet or roll is skewed soon after it feeds the paper. If it is skewed, the printer will then ask you to lift the lever on the left of your printer to straighten the paper. My rate of success when loading new sheets or rolls has thus far been about 60%, and it only takes a few seconds to fix the skew.

‘Enhanced’ print quality
The print quality of the Designjet Z3100 is excellent. Gradients were smooth, and skin tones and saturated colors reproduced beautifully on all the papers and canvas I tested. The deep shadows, tonal separation, and highlight detail are truly impressive, especially on matte papers. The gamut maps I’ve seen from multiple sources show a very wide range of color, probably due to the range of different color pigments being used in the inkset.

The Z3100 handles this particularly well thanks to its four separate on-board black inks and a dedicated driver option that, when enabled, prints with only the black inks. Three of the black inks are used when printing on gloss or semi-gloss papers, and all four are used when printing on matte substrates.