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Intelligent Printer

This may take some time...
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Have you ever stocked a shared printer with a number of label sheets and ran back to your workstation to quickly press print in the hope that no one has beaten you to it? I'm sure this is a major bugbear for a great number of people.

By installing barcode scanners on new printers this problem may eventually be solved. Label manufacturers can start printing barcodes on the reverse side of their label products. The printer will recognise these barcodes and be able to tell that the current media inserted into the printer is not ordinary paper.
Via the use of SNMP or similar protocols, the software sending print documents to the printer can be notified of the current print media, thus allowing an "Are you sure you want to print on this media?" message or the document can be queued until the media matches that selected in the page setup sent to the printer.
silverstormer, Aug 03 2004

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       A laudable venture, [silverstormer]. I am wondering, though, if the problem is that we don't have a sufficiently diverse array of printer trays. Print managing software can already print from a selected tray source but the problem arises when it is filled with an inappropriate but equally sized bit of paper or someone selects or overrides the paper selection.
I am assuming that we are talking about helping out the minority here. Someone puts their headed paper into the A4 tray and yells "NOBODY PRINT anything!" whereupon a voice at the back squeaks "too late!". A 'pause' function for the plain print job would be very useful.
Any idea if this barcoding can be extended to cover headed or *good quality* paper types?
gnomethang, Aug 03 2004
  

       It would take a while for all the various manufacturers to comply, but I believe it would be an effective addition to printer technology; more uses may also be found. All that needs to be done to start the ball rolling, is the development of a protocol manufactures can adhere to.

As far as other paper types go, letterheads and the like may be given a suitable barcode on the reverse. If this technology is accepted, nobody is going to mind too much. How small can barcodes go without losing reliablity in scanning terms?

Another area to be researched is perhaps the barcodes future successor, RFID technology. But for now I think that's going a little too far.
silverstormer, Aug 03 2004
  

       RFID Tag on every page?!. A tad too far I agree!
gnomethang, Aug 03 2004
  

       Isn't this something that HP has done with it's multi-tray Laserjets? You set up the media type and paper size for each tray and specify it again with the printer driver when you print. That way the right paper is used without your explicity telling it which tray you want to print from.   

       Tell it you want to print on a media type or paper size not currently installed and it sits there until you add the paper (and tell it that it has it) or tell it to print from a specific tray.   

       I don't think many people use the feature.
st3f, Aug 03 2004
  

       Agreed [St3f], the problem comes when you load the paper tray with something 'inappropriate' and HP says 'How was I to know the paper was headed!'. Most people dont use the feature because they dont understand it (neither do I properly!). The other problem is when you get sent e.g. a MSWord doc that has an inapproriate print setting. I give you the 'Load Letter' tag at the printer while you say 'Wait! - this is A4!'. I guess it works if everbody uses their printer settings correctly.
gnomethang, Aug 03 2004
  

       What is didn't say is that I think the barcode on labels bit of the idea is very cool.
st3f, Aug 03 2004
  

       The large Xerox printers also have the capability to “hold on” until the correct stock is loaded and the user has okayed that the print job is to commence. The job is held while other jobs in the spooler queue without special stock requirements are allowed to go ahead and print.   

       The HP inkjets, at least the more expensive ones in the OfficeJet series, use an optical sensor to judge what type of stock is loaded so that ink coverage, print head speed, etc., can be adjusted to suit the stock. You can watch it make the analysis right after it loads the paper around the platen; a blue LED in the print had turns on and illuminates the stock for a brief moment and the the printing begins as soon as the light turns off.   

       Seems to me that a barcode ID or maybe even a microscopic pattern in the paperstock surface could be added and read by the printer. Maybe small desktop printers could be smart enough to print jobs out of order depending on the per-piece paper stock identification. That way a user could sloppily load a few sheets of label stock along with other types of stock, all in the same feed tray, and the printer would determine what job, from the queue, to print given the stock currently under the print head. If there isn't any other job in the queue and the stock is incorrect the printer could just eject the improper stock until it reaches the right stock in the stack--up to some reasonable limit, say 5 or 6 sheets, so that the printer doesn't unload its entire tray looking for stock that doesn't exist.   

       Or not.
bristolz, Aug 03 2004
  

       [Bz], I can see that a Xerox might be cleverer but do you think that this happens with your 'bog standard' HP series, i.e. do they hold the job in the queue?. I don' know so I am asking here!.
gnomethang, Aug 03 2004
  

       I don't know, either. Sorry.
bristolz, Aug 03 2004
  

       You can set your printer to print at a particular time, say your lunch break!   

       http://www.pcworld.com/howto/article/0,aid,103805,pg,2,00.asp
abh1jit, Aug 03 2004
  

       I work for a publishing company and our printers include a 'Mailbox' function. You print to the printer's mailbox and then upon arriving at the shared printer can load the approapriate bypass tray with labels/headed paper and whatnot, and print at your leisure.
theleopard, Oct 27 2006
  
      
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