HP DesignJet 5500

Lisa Berwin
Sunday, April 22, 2007

For posters and point-of-sale images, the roll and sheetfed HP DesignJet machines are the standard that others are measured against. The machines can now be found in large and small retailers across the country, as well as many graphics firms for in-house small- to medium-run print jobs.

The footprint and water-based technology used in the HP 5500 series make it perfect as an office printer as solvent-based printers require airing units, which can only be accommodated in a much larger pressroom. The 5500 series can also work unattended and with little training for even a novice operator.

Oscar Vital, worldwide product manager of HP, explains: “The 5500 was a major step forward in quality and productivity. We were using proven HP technology that was well known and well trusted in the marketplace.” The new launch was a huge step forward as it was up to three times faster than the previous 5000 model and had six-colour capabilities compared to its predecessor’s four colours.

High resolution
The machine could now produce 10m2 an hour on coated substrates and around 6m2 an hour with glossier paper when used to produce higher end work. It could work with more than 50 types of media and an increased number of software packages and it can also print at a resolution of 1,200x600dpi, making it sought after for graphic repro work.

“Another feature that made the machine popular was the workflow web server in the machine, which meant jobs could be lined up online,” says Vital. “You could be anywhere in the world and go online to arrange certain jobs to print, and you also don’t need to open up any software such as Photoshop before making the command. This is part of HP’s intelligent print solutions.”

The 5500 comes in two sizes: the 42in and the 60in, with different connectivity options. There are also two types of inks that can be used: dye-based inks or pigmented UV inks and these can be tailored for users specific needs, but the UV inks are only really suitable for more specialist short-run work.

Artistic quality
For reproduction of art prints, the HP 5500 has been particularly popular. Photographers and even the National Gallery have chosen it to produce images for their customers because the colours that they produce must be extremely high quality and durable. HP has also been involved in a worldwide art and science philanthropy project to promote the use of technology in the appreciation and longevity of art.

Although rare, the models are occasionally available on the secondhand market, available from authorised HP LFP resellers, including City & West End Solutions, DCP Systems and Granthams. These come with an average of 40% off the price of a new machine, which costs, dependant on specification, between £7,000 and £15,000. Ex-display models can also be purchased for less and it is recommended that you register interest with a seller for when models do become available.

All new machines come with a one-year warranty and an engineer promised onsite for next-business-day service. Secondhand purchases through a reputable HP authorised reseller can also be purchased with an annual warranty.

New and used machines will also be fully installed and training given to those not acquainted with the machines or the technology.

Printheads HP thermal inkjet
Max speed
• 52.8sqm/hour (coated)
• 13.7sqm/hour (glossy)
Production speed
• 17.6sqm/hour (coated)
• 9.3sqm/hour (glossy)
Max quality speed
• 9.3sqm/hour (coated)
• 5.6sqm/hour (glossy)
• New: £7,000 - £15,000
• Used: £4,000 – £11,000 (approx dependant on spec)
Max resolution
• 1,200x600dpi
Max print length
• 91.4m
What to look for
• Still under warranty
• Has been maintained by HP authorised reseller


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