8 Replies Latest reply on Mar 4, 2014 9:52 AM by Michael Bentfeld

    Plotter does not plot when large assemblies open

    Michael Bentfeld

      Hello all,

       

      My company's SolidWorks users are running into problems trying to print drawings to our plotter.  We have an HP DesignJet 500 plotter. This connects to our network via an HP JetDirect EX Plus, which has a CAT 5 network cable to our network (where the plot jobs are routed via a server) and a parallel cable to the plotter.  When a user tries to preview a print job in SolidWorks while a large assembly is open, the print dialog box simply disappears after the Preview button is clicked, and no preview comes up.  A similar problem occurs during actual prints, with the dialog box simply disappearing and no print message coming up on the computer or in the system tray.  The drawing doesn't print at the plotter, and the workstation issuing the print job sometimes even freezes and must be rebooted.  All workstations seem to be affected.  All workstations are nearly identical in make, model, and configuration, the only difference being the amount of RAM carried (most have 8GB, but some have been upgraded to 16GB).  Even the 16GB stations are affected (confirmed during troubleshooting).  Sometimes closing larger assemblies helps, but not always, and none of the assemblies in use have been larger than 56MB.  We have maybe a dozen files at most that are bigger than that.  There are no errors showing up in the plotter itself or on any of the workstations, and the JetDirect unit is showing normal activity.  Has anyone else had similar issues?  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

       

      Thanks,

       

      Michael

        • Re: Plotter does not plot when large assemblies open
          Tony Cantrell

          At the assy level set all to ressolved, if you see the feathered icon those parts are not loaded into the assy.

          • Re: Plotter does not plot when large assemblies open
            John Sutherland

            "We have an HP DesignJet 500 plotter. This connects to our network via an HP JetDirect EX Plus, which has a CAT 5 network cable to our network (where the plot jobs are routed via a server) and a parallel cable to the plotter."

             

            This seems circumlocutious compared to my system where the workstation talks directly (via a switch) to the network printer.  The connection is Gigabit all the way.

             

            I cannot imagine why you would install a parallel cable in parallel with an ethernet cable.

             

            Complex connections are more difficult to troubleshoot than simple ones.

              • Re: Plotter does not plot when large assemblies open
                Ian Worrall

                "I cannot imagine why you would install a parallel cable in parallel with an ethernet cable."

                 

                The (now discontinued) HP DesignJet 500 plotter never had a network connection, just parallel & USB.

                The JetDirect device is a dedicated print server. ie: a device that translates a network connection to a parallel one.

                 

                I suspect the printer is connected like so:-

                 

                network ---> JetDirect ---> plotter

              • Re: Plotter does not plot when large assemblies open
                Michael Bentfeld

                Ian, you are correct about how the printer connection is set up:  Network (via server) --> JetDirect --> plotter.  I hope that clarifies some issues.

                 

                Also, I checked again with the engineers and relayed the post responses to date.  They mentioned that there were occaisions in the past where only part of a drawing would print (say the first 3 inches), then the print job would time out.

                 

                Since this appears to be an intermittent problem, I suspect that this won't be an easy fix.

                 

                Several months later, the problem has re-apppeared.  In an ironic twist, I have similarly-equipped workstation (different make/model but same processor/RAM, etc.) on which I am trying to reproduce the problem.  However, I have not been able to do so with the new workstation.

                 

                As far as connections are concerned, the network connections are Gigabit up to the JetDirect EX Plus, which has a 10Mbps connection.  Other than the inability to reproduce the problem on the new workstation, I was beginning to wonder if that is creating a bottleneck.  I am attempting to use assemblies and part drawings of varying sizes to determine if that is indeed that case, and if so, what the threshhold is for printing from these assemblies in termns of size/complexity.

                 

                Additional update (3/4/14) - I found that I can reproduce the problem on my test workstation when I opened a sufficient large assembly for a newer machine (with most of the items not suppressed).  Opening this assembly yielded 5.5GB of RAM usage vs. 3.5GB for the previous test (this with no other programs running besides SolidWorks 2011).  I have just set up a new connection to the plotter, this one being a "direct" connection through our network, rather than routing through the server (which is the preferred method of operation).

                 

                Message was edited by: Michael Bentfeld