From Spool to Success: Enhancing Print Efficiency for Large-Scale Engineering Graphics


Our engineering firm frequently encounters complaints regarding prolonged print times or outright failures. Typically, dividing the print job into smaller segments can mitigate delays, whereas failures tend to stem from specific pages. Despite uniform performance across all locations, the bulk of grievances originate from our headquarters.

The problematic PDFs are predominantly laden with elaborate site plans and graphics, with prints sized 12×18 inches being particularly susceptible to issues.

We utilize the latest Canon imagerunner advance copiers, and dispatch prints through Printix, which is configured to employ the most compatible non-generic drivers. Notably, the newer generic drivers struggle with prints exceeding 11×17 inches.

Printix does not record errors for delayed prints but often reports ’empty’ PDFs for failed jobs. The PDFs are generated via Autodesk, Bluebeam, Adobe, and Microsoft’s print-to-PDF features, then printed through Printix. Our network bandwidth is substantial, rated at 300/300 Mbps.

Efforts to resolve these issues have included reinstalling Printix on workstations, experimenting with various drivers and print queue settings through Printix, restarting the Printix service and the Windows print spooler on local machines, and rebooting the printers themselves.

In your professional opinion, is it typical for a 50MB PDF, comprising roughly 50 pages of dense graphics, to require 5-10 minutes before printing commences? Are there any strategies you could suggest to expedite the process?

An additional observation: converting prints to images significantly reduces printing time, implying that the complexity of the engineering PDFs is the primary bottleneck. However, this method compromises print quality. Given that our situation is likely not unique within the engineering sector, how do other companies manage to efficiently print extensive and complex PDFs?”


In the world of engineering, where detailed site plans and complex graphics are the norm, efficient print management is crucial. The scenario you’ve described—prolonged print times or outright failures with large, graphic-intensive PDF files—is a common challenge in the industry. Let’s explore why these issues arise and what can be done to resolve them.

A 50MB PDF file with 50 pages of high-resolution images and detailed graphics can indeed take 5-10 minutes to begin printing. This is because the file requires significant processing power to rasterize the graphics for printing, which can create a bottleneck in the print spooler. The complexity of the graphics, rather than the file size, often causes this delay.

Strategies for Improvement


Optimize PDF Creation

: Ensure that the PDFs are optimized for print. This can be done using the ‘Reduce File Size’ or ‘Optimized PDF’ options in Adobe Acrobat or similar software. This process simplifies the graphics without compromising quality, leading to faster spooling and printing.


Upgrade Hardware

: Consider upgrading the workstations that handle the printing process. Machines with faster processors, more RAM, and SSDs can handle large print jobs more efficiently.


Dedicated Print Servers

: Implementing a dedicated print server with robust processing capabilities can manage complex print jobs more effectively than individual workstations.


Printer Settings

: Adjust the printer settings to print at a lower DPI for draft prints or internal reviews. High DPI settings are often unnecessary for these purposes and can slow down the printing process.


Print Management Software

: Use advanced print management software that can handle complex print jobs better than the standard spooling process. Some software solutions offer features like print job compression and streamlined processing.


Network Improvements

: Although you have adequate bandwidth, ensure that the network is configured optimally for print traffic. Sometimes, network congestion can affect print job transmission speeds.


Segmentation of Print Jobs

: Continue to segment larger print jobs into smaller batches. This not only helps in identifying problematic pages but also reduces the load on the print spooler.


Regular Maintenance

: Conduct regular maintenance of the physical printers to ensure they are in optimal condition, which can help prevent hardware-related delays.

Industry Practices

Other engineering firms face similar challenges and often employ a combination of the strategies mentioned above. Some firms also invest in high-end plotters designed specifically for large-format engineering prints, which handle complex graphics more efficiently than standard office printers.


While converting prints to images does speed up the process, it’s clear that this is not a viable solution due to the loss in quality. By implementing a strategic approach that includes optimizing PDFs, upgrading hardware, and utilizing dedicated print management solutions, you can significantly reduce print times and improve overall efficiency. Remember, the goal is to find a balance between print quality and speed that suits your firm’s needs and resources.

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