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HP Designjet 4000 and 4500 Printer Series - Improving Gray Neutrality

Minimum firmware requirement
Firmware version 6.1.1.2 or higher for the Designjet 4000 series, and 8.x.x.x.x or higher for the Designjet 4500 series (version 8.x.x.x is planned to be available at the end of March 2006).
Summary
There are 2 ways to improve the gray neutralities in printed plots:
  • Use the newer setting called optimized for gray neutrality, applicable for HP-GL/2 and RGB files only.
    This setting will mainly improve the neutrality of the light gray area fills by changing the ink composition of the gray areas by putting more black ink and less color ink (the area fills will be printed with less composite colors, and with more black ink only).
    One possible side effect: the image quality might be reduced as less composite colors inks are used to print. If this happen, selecting better image quality settings (for example changing from Normal to BEST), or doing only the visual gray calibration (without enabling the optimized for gray neutrality).
    Or
  • Use a specific visual gray calibration, applicable on any file format.
    This calibration will be done by printing, from the front panel, some gray patterns of different neutrality, and by selecting the best one. This calibration is optimized for one specific image quality setting and specific media. So it is very important, before printing the pattern, to set, within the front panel, the default image quality settings that you are using usually and that the right media is loaded.
    If you are using different image quality settings and different medias, different calibrations has to be done, one calibration for each image quality settings and media.
The 2 calibrations are independent, and can be applied both at the same time, or only one. When setting the optimized for gray neutrality, and doing a visual calibration, finding the difference between the different color patterns can be difficult. Just select the one that you prefer.
Optimized for Gray Neutrality calibration
Select the Optimized for Gray Neutrality for HP-GL/2 plots
  1. On the printer's front panel, select Setup, Default printing options, HP-GL/2 Options, Optimized for Gray Neutrality.
  2. Select when you want the setting applied from one of the following options:
    • Never (Default option)
    • Only for drawings/Text
    • Only for Images
    • Always
    Here is an example: If selecting ‘only for drawings/text’, this ‘gray neutrality optimization’ will be applied only if, within the image quality settings of the plot sent, the ‘optimized for’ is set to ‘drawings/text’ (and will not be applied if ‘optimized for’ is set to ‘images’).
  3. Please validate this setting with sample gray plots before performing the visual gray calibration described in next section.
      note:
    This option only applies to HP-GL/2 and RGB prints and it is designed to improve medium to low density gray area fills.
Visual gray calibration
  1. This calibration will be optimized to the Image Quality options which are selected in the front panel at the actual time the calibration is done. So it is really important to select first, on the front panel, the image quality settings that you are usually using. From the front panel select, Setup, Default printing options, Image quality,
    • Select Print quality: (Best, Normal, Fast)
    • Select optimize for: (CAD, Images)
    • Enable maximum detail: (On,Off)
  2. Make sure that the media loaded is the media on which you want to print the neutral gray.
  3. Print the first pattern to visually select the best gray, go to the front panel menu: Ink, Printhead, Visual gray calibration, Print first pattern.
  4. The pattern will contain a set of images printed with different corrections of CMYK, if one of these patterns provides the desired gray neutrality go to step six, if there is not an exact match, choose the number of the pattern closest to the desired gray neutrality.
  5. Print the second pattern that you select from the previous step, identify the closet pattern to the gray neutrality to want.
    Ink, Printhead, Visual gray calibration, + Print second pattern
    • Print pattern 1
    • Print pattern 2
    • Print pattern 3
    • Print pattern 4
    • Print pattern 5
    • Print pattern 6
    • Print pattern 7
  6. Enable the calibration: Ink, Printhead, Visual gray calibration, Enable calibration.
  7. Enter the CMYK values printed on the selected pattern into in the front panel menu: Ink, Printhead, Visual gray calibration, Select pattern.
Cautionary notes
  • It applies the CMYK correction to all media types loaded AND to all Image quality settings BUT it can only guarantee gray neutrality in the actual media and Front Panel Image quality settings that were used while doing the calibration. This is the reason why this calibration may have to be run again with the other image quality settings and other media that you might use (one calibration per image quality settings + media).
  • If you change the printheads, you need to redo this calibration.
  • When selecting the different gray patterns make sure that you use the same lighting conditions that you want the final image to be viewed in, fluorescent light or sunlight for example.
  • The gray neutrality patterns tend to change with time (mainly during the first day), so, before selecting the right gray pattern, do not hesitate to wait for one day to get the perfect gray neutrality.
  • For advance user (specific configuration): HP-GL/2 (RTL) using the CMYK contone path will not be affected by this calibration.
Important note in using a stacker:
Remove the Stacker if it is connected when printing the patterns. This is to conserve media because otherwise with the stacker seven different sheets will be printed and each of them will be 42cm long and more than 50% of the media will not be printed, as the minimum length per plot that can be printed through the stacker is 42cm.
How to remove the stacker:
  1. Disconnect the stacker from the front of the printer.
  2. Uninstall the stacker from the front panel panel: Media, accessory, stacker, uninstall (less than 10 second operation).
  3. Once you have printed the patterns, reconnect the stacker, and install the stacker through the front panel, the front panel will automatically askto reinstall (again, less than 10 second operation).
Options
In the case when Windows or OS Mac drivers are used, the drivers provide the Quickset functionality, this enables the customer to skip steps 6 and 7 (do not enable the visual gray calibration from the front panel) and have its CMYK settings stored as a ‘Quickset’ within the driver.
To enable this follow the next few steps:
  1. Go to Printing Preferences (in the driver).
  2. Select the Color tab.
  3. Click on Advance Color Settings.
  4. Enter the CMYK values in the color sliders and select OK.
  5. Select the Paper/Quality tab.
  6. Enter the Print Quality settings used in the front panel while printing the gray patterns (steps 1 to 5 of the procedure above).
  7. Enter a name in the text box “Print Task Quick Sets” and press Save. The new “Print Task Quick Set” is then also stored for future use.
Every time that a new print is required with the selected gray neutrality settings, follow these few steps:
  1. Go to Printing Preferences (in the driver).
  2. Select the stored Print Task Quick Set and press OK.
  3. Press OK.

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