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Review: HP Designjet Z3100 Printer

Features and highlights of the 44-in. Z3100.


By Andrew Darlow

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Media alert
In my opinion, one of the most exciting parts of inkjet printing is experimenting with different media. HP has more than 60 different media options that have been tested with the Z-series inkset. Two HP-branded papers that I’ve been very happy with are HP Hahnemuhle Smooth Fine Art Paper (a slightly textured, watercolor-based art paper) and HP Premium Instant-dry Satin Photo Paper (a very smooth, heavyweight semi-gloss paper). I also really like the look and feel of HP’s Artist Matte Canvas, especially after coating it with a water-based semi-gloss varnish and stretching it onto stretcher bars.

Another paper that stands out for photo output is Oriental Graphica’s FB Glossy Photo Paper. This is a super-high gloss, heavyweight paper that has a fiber-base. After printing on the Z3100 with the Gloss Enhancer, the paper has a super smooth, mirror-like finish. Two other papers with fiber bases and an absolutely beautiful, fine-art feel are PremierArt’s Platinum Rag and Hahnemuhle’s Fine Art Pearl. My focus has been on fine art and high-end commercial portfolio output, but there are obviously many other substrate choices from HP and other companies.

To really "test the waters," I had a friend run some hot tap water over prints made on HP Hahnemuhle Smooth Fine Art Paper and Hahnemuhle’s Fine Art Pearl. Even after soaking both sides for about 30 seconds, neither one ran and both looked the same as before being soaked, except that the paper bases appeared less even after they dried out. One important thing to note: On the Fine Art Pearl paper, I was able to scratch and damage the wet print surface with a dry and abrasive paper towel after soaking the print with water, but an area of the print that was covered by HP’s Gloss Enhancer stayed completely protected from the effect of the scratching.

Speed, longevity, RIPs, and more
Print speed can have significant impact on a company’s productivity (and bottom line). On many printers, however, the fastest modes are generally unusable for anything but very low-end printing. That is definitely not the case with the Z3100.


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