Musings on Photography

HP Z3100 – Getting it right, getting it wrong

Posted in equipment, hp z3100 by Paul Butzi on September 14, 2007

So far, I like the Z3100 a lot. Some of my fears have proven to be unfounded – in particular, after hearing random reports that it couldn’t handle 17″ wide paper rolls, I’ve had zero problems printing off of 17″ wide paper on rolls. The paper loads fine, prints fine, no problems.

That’s not to say that the printer is free from defects. Here are the first two annoyances:

The photo above shows a roll of paper loaded onto the roll paper spindle. The white stuff to the left is the paper, the black horizontal thing to the right is the shaft of the spindle. The blue thing in the middle is the movable part that fits into the end of the roll. You’ll note that the diameter of this blue bit is smaller than the diameter of this partly used roll of paper. This isn’t a problem until you want to take a roll of paper off the spindle. Then you find that a) this blue bit fits very tightly into the roll paper core, b) the smaller diameter of the blue bit makes it impossible to grip, and c) as a result, it’s damn hard to get that roll of paper off the spindle without uttering some words not suitable for polite society. No doubt I’ll gin up some workaround – probably a plastic disk of the right diameter that fits between the roll of paper and the blue thing, which will give me a purchase when I want to pull it out. I’ve no idea why the damn blue thing fits so tightly into the roll core. It’s certainly not needed – all it has to do is keep the paper roll from moving great distances, not hold in in precision alignment.

As expected for any device which is basically an ink spraying robot with a built in computer running some flavor of Unix, this printer has a fan. This fan runs constantly. It is by no means a noisy fan, but it is far noisier than it needs to be. And it runs all the time, even when the printer is in ‘sleep’ mode. It runs day and night. Did I mention that this fan runs non-stop, 24/7, constantly? Now, I’m not one of those people who thinks that designing equipment with fans that make noise all the time should be a capital offense. Not for the first offense, anyway. But the constant noise is an irritant that shouldn’t be there on a top flight printer. To be fair, I will observe that when actually printing, the z3100 is far quieter than the 9600, which makes a noise more or less equivalent to an F-4c on full afterburner.

You’d think that a company that’s been selling wide-carriage inkjet printer/plotters into architecture/engineering offices for a long time now would not make gaffes like this. But apparently you’d be wrong.

11 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] Read More… […]

  2. matt said, on September 14, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    That blue bit has been a PITA on every hp wideformat printer I’ve worked with, but if you think it is bad now, wait for the plastic to fatigue and then break when you try to remove it a bit to vigorously. When I ran a couple of these for a university I kept extra little blue bits on hand, but I have vague memories of needing to buy the whole spindle to get them.

  3. Andy Chen said, on September 14, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    The 3″ adapter fits REALLY tightly onto 3″ rolls, which made changing rolls frustratingly difficult.

    The adapter has two metal spring bits on it. I removed one of the metal pieces from each adapter. The “blue thing” still fits snugly, but rolls are now much easier to remove.

  4. Jon Fitch said, on September 15, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    I’m an engineer, so I chuckled evilly when I heard your complaints. Those blue end caps have been a PITA since the first Designjet. Ours is at least 7 years old and has the same problem. Although from one comment, it sounds like they’re spring loaded now, which mine isn’t. I have to stand the roll on end and use locking pliers to pull off the end cap if I use a thick roll. So, we just use thin rolls.

    As for the fan, my Designjet doesn’t run a fan all the time. So they’ve gone backwards on that one.

  5. Paul Butzi said, on September 17, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    After following Andy Chen’s email instructions on getting those metal clips out, I can attest that removing one clip from each blue dingus does, indeed, improve things substantially.

  6. Ron said, on September 22, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    I cursed this problem until I started turning the spindle with the movable end down, tapping it on the ground, and using the weight of the paper to push the blue plug off the spindle. I keep one hand under the blue plug as I tap to catch it. Once it slides off the spindle it is much easier to remove from the end of the paper core.

  7. Stefan Klocke said, on September 30, 2007 at 11:19 am

    thank your for this blog, I just found it, really wonderful as I am trying to decide weather or not this Z is the one for me, mine would have to live in my study and that is close to sleeping quarters…

    You wrote
    “This fan runs constantly. It is by no means a noisy fan, but it is far noisier than it needs to be. And it runs all the time, even when the printer is in ’sleep’ mode. It runs day and night.”

    This does not sound good. How loud is it? like a desktop Power mac idle ( I have a MAC QUAD G5 without a fan infected graphic card, that one is quietish), is there any reference that could be given? For example: I could not stand the fan in the HP Designjet 30.

    Thanks Stefan

  8. Paul Butzi said, on September 30, 2007 at 8:10 pm


    I’d say that the z3100 is quieter than a Quad G5 at idle. It’s noticeable in an otherwise quiet room, but probably masked if other noise is present.


  9. Brad Grigor said, on January 16, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Hi, there. I have a Z3100 and my trick to removing the blue hubs is to lay the paper with spindle on my layout table and tap/push the free (right) end of the spindle with my right hand until the left side pops out of the roll. Then I pull the spindle through from the left until the right end drops into the paper roll. Then I tap/push on the left side which will pop out the right blue hub. After some practice, this method has proven to be quick, reliable and not prone to damaging the floor or the paper roll.



  10. Jenny said, on February 15, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Does anyone know where I can find these blue hubs or do I have to buy the whole spindle to get them? Thanks.


  11. tony said, on September 28, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    hub discussion here:

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: