By Melissa Donovan
Reproductions of maps, blueprints, and other archival documents are some of the first applications to truly benefit from wide format digital print. Reprographic shops were early adopters of these printers and still rely on the technology to copy, scan, and print technical documents. The one difference being the quality of the print is even greater and output even faster.
Thanks to advances in print quality, reprographics are more than just recreating documents like maps. Original pieces—if desired—can be cleaned up and re-colored to make them look brand new. Even better, the media and inks used to produce these pieces offer levels of durability never before possible.
Where the People Aren’t
MyTopo, a Trimble Company of Billings, MT prints and sells topographic maps to customers all over the world with the help of printers from HP Inc. Part of Trimble, Inc., the company has been in business since 1999. It started with two employees but today operates with a team of ten out of a facility the approximate size of an elementary school gymnasium.
It began with the goal of providing custom printed navigation-ready map products for professional and recreational topographic map users. Today, in addition to producing custom topographic, satellite, and aerial photograph map products, it supports internet-based map services and maintains data and software supporting a variety of consumer and professional users.
The topographic maps produced by MyTopo are of locations throughout Canada and the U.S. Paige Darden, marketing, MyTopo, says most of the company’s customers “are primarily people who use maps to get where there are no people.”
Clients falling under this heading include hikers and hunters, as well as those in the oil and gas industry, search and rescue teams, and land-focused businesses like farm and ranch operations. Land developers and those looking for the maps as decor pieces are also customers.
All of these buyers look for clear, concise, easy-to-read maps. MyTopo provides output of this nature with the help of HP DesignJet Z6200 Photo Production Printers. These 42-inch devices print at speeds of up to 1,225 square feet per hour at 2,400×1,200 dpi. An eight-color ink set includes chromatic red, magenta, matte black, photo black, yellow, light cyan, light gray, and light magenta.
MyTopo’s printers run with HP waterproof ink and print to a proprietary brand of waterproof paper. Complementing the print process is various finishing equipment like cutters and laminators. The laminators are sourced from GBC.
Still Need Printed Maps
With the evolution of smartphones and tablets as well as GPS capabilities in our cars, printed maps are dwindling in use for the common consumer. “People ask us all of the time if our business will ever be obsolete because of all the tools available on phones, navigation applications, or via Google,” notes Draden.
If anything, she has found that the more maps become digitally available, the greater awareness there is of maps in general. This results in more people appreciating and requesting large format printed maps.
“Once you realize how much you can learn from a good topographic map, you want one in your hand that you can layout and study. Our customers know that you should never solely rely on a battery operated device in the wilderness. While GPS devices are a great navigation aide, you should always carry a navigation-ready, true-to-scale paper map and ideally use the two together,” suggests Draden.
Digitally printed maps are used in a number of ways. For MyTopo, its client base requests custom and stock topography, satellite, and land ownership maps. All of these orders require a high-quality print, with clear readability. Furthermore, the printed piece must be durable as it will potentially be used outside in the elements and handled many times, perhaps repeatedly. MyTopo addresses these important requirements with a combination of HP DesignJet Z6200 printers, waterproof ink, waterproof paper, and GBC laminators.
Jun2020, Digital Output