Multiple identical printers

to run same job simultaneously from one desktop pc (XP pro).
What I'm after is more ppm printing A3 colour without spending megabucks, well many kilobucks anyway, & also keeping the equipment as lo tech as possible because of my location. Thinking usb connected & have a card for extra ports. Easy? Possible? or don't be stoopid?
Is desirable that the printers be identical, as they will only be doing part of the page and consistent registration is important for the next stage.
Have googled but mostly answers to do different jobs on multiple printers or running different model printers.

geek_richard112, May 13, 6:47 am

Any opinions?

geek_richard112, May 13, 11:56 am

It would easier with wireless network printers?

geek_gsimpson, May 13, 12:11 pm


From what I've read, the problem could be getting the computer to address the printers as individual given that they will have identical drivers. Whether this would be easier to resolve using wireless networking, which I normally think of as multiple computers accessing one printer, or individual usb ports I don't know. Tend to favour USB if all else is equal as it means there is one less piece of equipment that can stop the whole show if it malfunctions. Also wondering whether multi printers if the concept is workable could overload the ram. the computer will be dedicated to this task when the printers are running.

geek_richard112, May 13, 2:23 pm

When you create a print job, it queues and spools it to the printer. The printer then interacts with the spooled file and depending on factors such as file composition, available memory etc. and prints the job. I can't see how this could work simultaneously from one spool file to two printers and keep them synchronised. I could see it printing the same document twice, one job to each printer at the same time, but not to two printer from one print job.

geek_d.snell, May 13, 3:07 pm

Thanks D.S - I did say "same job simultaneously" at the top. Should have said 'same material' or something.
So as a f'rinstance. Say I want 300 single sheet prints. Can I 'batch' this one 'job' and simultaneously print 150 sheets on each of two printers running off one computer & get the job done in half the time?
Or 100 sheets on each of three printers? or. or. or?

geek_richard112, May 13, 4:20 pm

The only problem I see is windows ability to differentiate between the two identical printers, I know you can have multiple installations of the one printer, they just have "Copy 1" and "Copy 2" appended to their names. The print spoolers are unique to each printer installed so no problem there.

I am certain two different printers would work, just send 100 copies of the document to one printer, then send 100 copies to the second printer, changing the selected printer in the print dialogue window. I would try it with 2 identical printers, I think they will install as Copy 1 and Copy 2 and work as you desire.

geek_bwg11, May 13, 4:48 pm

I've (inadvertently) installed two copies of Epson printer drivers, the second one just gets named Epson A1234(1) - with the (1) suffix.
It's probably worth considering that what we "see" as the driver isn't the driver - just a software interface that we use to adjust driver settings - so having two iterations of that software running simultaneously may not mean that there are actually two iterations of the driver itself running.
Next is what Windows will do - will it send two jobs simultaneously - or will it queue the second job the same way it does if you're sending multiple jobs to one printer? I don't know.
I kind of feel that getting some old cheap PCs, tethering them to each printer via USB, but sharing the printer on the LAN - so you can send print jobs from one workstation may be the simplest solution. File size might be a concern if the PC chokes on processing and sending an A3 @ 300dpi, but I had no problem with sending print jobs that size (and larger) using an old Core2 duo with 2GB ram - so I doubt it would be an issue.

geek_mm12345, May 13, 4:49 pm

who would have thought, apparently windows has it built in
http://www.printertechs.com/other-instructions/hp-printer-pooling-tutorial/148-part-2-printer-pooling-tutorial

I don't know that it will split up individual print jobs though which is what it sounds like you want to happen.
Also note the requirement that they are all similar model printers

geek_king1, May 13, 5:15 pm

How about a cheap s/h commercial printer thats recently been serviced or needing it's 1st full service.
Can get them pretty cheap & sometimes free, just pay for a full service & toners.
A lot of those are rated for 500,000 to 1Mil pages & only done 2 or 3 hundred K

geek_mrfxit, May 13, 5:34 pm

You could write a script, even a batch script should be enough. :-)

In your case, something like:
- Print to a PDF printer (which stores the PDF file in a directory, or just drop the file in to that directory)
- Check the directory for a new file
- Grab the file, print it to two printers
- Delete the file.

Then set it as a scheduled task (every 5 seconds or so).

Something like 2printer might help to simplify it too. http://www.doc2prn.com/

But like bwg11 mentioned, you could just send 100 copies to one printer and 100 copies to the other. Only takes another 30 seconds of your time.

geek_fskb, May 13, 5:52 pm


Well that's easy to do. Best to set them up on Ethernet and connect to a switch with fixed IP addresses and install 2 copies of the printer driver on the PC and set each one to each of the IP addresses selected.

geek_d.snell, May 13, 6:08 pm

geek_king1, May 13, 6:38 pm


Multiple printers can be set up with their own fixed IP address on a network which I would have thought would be an advantage in this instance. Just set the printers up manually on the add printer page rather than using the fancy bundled software.

geek_gsimpson, May 13, 9:50 pm

Some great feedback. Thank you all. Hard to explain why the requirement briefly & trying not to rattle on. But I will. We run the local newspaper, which has the honour of being the smallest registered NP in the country. (currently about 600 copies). doesn't make us rich. Print with a digital copier (monocolour) @ 120ppm. 5 to 7 sheets of A3 both sides & folded to A4. so 20 to 28 pages. Would be great to get some colour into it but the most obvious machines are in the 50k + bracket . Forums give them a not so good rap on reliability & colour is only so-so. Reliability is the major issue here. I reckon to make an impact would only need colour on the front page & 2 other pages regularly, so this would be less than 30% coverage per A3 sheet on average. The b & w content would be via a pass thru the existing digi copiers. Re the proposal. I calculate the cost of running the inkjet(s) would be comparable with having the sheets printed out. (Which we cannot anyway because of location) The 'standard' setting i.e. not hi quality is good enough for NP work. At this I should get about 10ppm. But to be practical I need 30-40. So there's some encouraging stuff above. There is no need for the printers to be synchronised as long as they can all run at the same time. Had thought about the 'computer per printer' option, but only as a last resort. Anyway, I now know lots more than I did this morning. so thanks again.

geek_richard112, May 13, 10:24 pm

It ain't gonna work that way, endless trouble with multiple printers, even getting Windows and your graphics program to do it will be nigh impossible.
Save up, sell the wife, whatever, and buy an A3 color laser printer, 30 or 40 pages per minute, you'll be through printing 600 pages about 20 minutes, no hassle. Save your sanity - if you still have any after running a newspaper!

geek_cjdnzl, May 13, 10:58 pm

Used to run a paper like that about 20 years ago. We printed 3,000 copies, but we used a press to print with as lasers weren't that common. Could only do spot colours though. Then moved to a fiery interface on a Canon CLC Copier. Geez, cost nearly $80,000 for that unit as well as about $5 per colour copy running costs, so no good for the newspaper.
Now an A3 Colour Copier with PC interface will cost less than $15,000 and a standalone A3 Colour Laser will be about $5,000.
So, for $10,000 you could easily achieve what you want without any problems at all. Set your colour pages and print to the lasers, either on both sides or one side and then put it through the copier to do the black reverse print. I'm not sure how you collate the pages, but that would be the messiest part from what I see. I guess 600 copies wouldn't take that long to do manually though.

geek_d.snell, May 13, 11:08 pm


Twaddle, as easy as.

geek_d.snell, May 13, 11:10 pm

Like I said, s/h commercial Laser printers can be had very cheap or even free if you are in the right spot at the right time.
Spend a grand on a full service / toners & theres your next 20K sheets done in record time & pretty cheap.
Possible cash layout of about $500 to $2000

Ring around the copy & print shops to see when they are doing their upgrades.

WTH are you thinking of by using inkjets, theres a fortune in printing cost right there.

geek_mrfxit, May 14, 10:18 am

geek_d.snell, May 14, 11:05 am


Yep, high output at low cost.
Find out what a proper full service would be & compare that to the multiple injets he's talking about currently.

An 8yr old Konica I had here was rated for 1mil sheets but had been replaced by a copy shop when it got to 300k.
Dang thing sold for $100 in good running condition.

geek_mrfxit, May 14, 11:16 am

I agree, inkjet is a crazy way to go when A3 colour lasers are so much easier and more reliable.
But I wouldn't recommend an old secondhand machine from just anywhere. There are plenty of refurbished ones available from companies like Canon, Xerox, Minolta and the likes. And while you may pay a bit more than the cost of a S/H machine and the kit to refurbish it, you will get a machine that will have full support and possibly a service contract.
This is important when publication deadlines need to be met. A lost week can result in $1,000's of income being lost, so it's a balancing act to get something suitable at a price that's reasonable.

geek_d.snell, May 14, 11:34 am


I like this idea. Splitting an individual print job natively would seem to be too difficult/expensive, so this would seem to be the next best option.

I would set up multiple folders on one computer, find a software package to sync the folders, then another software package that monitors folders and prints any pdfs to specified printer

Basically drop a pdf with quantity required divided by number of printers into the master folder, it then syncs to each folder and subsequently prints them each

ultimately depends on finding suitable software

geek_king1, May 14, 11:57 am


Fair enough

geek_mrfxit, May 14, 12:07 pm

you can use sumatra pdf reader at the command line or in a batch file to do the actual printing

ie from here
http://www.sumatrapdfreader.org/manual.html

-print-to $printer_name $file.pdf

geek_king1, May 14, 12:11 pm

In hindsight rather than trying to sync documents and folders, I would just set up a batch file to print the pdf to each printer.

I think you would need to use Start command for each print in the batchfile to make them print concurrently

geek_king1, May 14, 12:17 pm

I think you guys are overthinking it. All he wants to do is print one or two pages of a 600 per week circulation newspaper. What he was wanting to know, was if it was possible to set up a couple of printers to do this.
I would guess he has a small window to print in and while the mono printer can churn them out in fast, the colour run would be a lot slower per print, so the idea was to use 2 printers to half the time taken, and the full job being completed in the same time.
From what he said, starting two print jobs isn't an issue. i.e. print the job on printer 1 with 300 copies and print the same job on printer 2 with 300 copies. Also, I suspect the paper isn't printed as a booklet format, more likely single A3 sheets, made up of the 4 opposing A4 pages of the paper and then collated and folded in another process.
When he referred to synchronising he meant the finish time of the black and colour runs to be about the same time and be ready for collating etc. together.

geek_d.snell, May 14, 12:41 pm

Been out all day. OMG I have missed a lot :-) d.snell is about right in the last post above. We publish an A4 format publication which is printed on A3, collated folded & stapled on a stand alone booklet maker. Exact proposed method would be. Format the complete A3 sheet in the graphics program. (Adobe Pagemaker). Copy twice. From copy 'A' remove all text & other stuff that is purely b & w or grayscale. This leaves the colour content in the exact place we want it on the page. From copy 'B' remove the colour content, leaving the rest in the exact place etc. Print from copy 'A' on the battery of inkjets, or the colour laser or whatever. THEN shift the actual paper over to the digital (mono) copier & print from copy B. The print position on the digital copier can be adjusted while it is running which is why this would be done second. i.e. We can 'chase' the images already on the sheets. Sounds complicated, but we do second runs with different colours all the time. It's not a biggy. Reasons for thinking about ink jets. The machines are cheap, so if one explodes, I've lost 1/2 or 1/4 of my capacity. No big deal. I'm still operating. The machines with large capacity cartridges are becoming cheaper to run. Still not down to colour laser but coming down. Don't much like the prints I've seen from colour laser. Maybe there is better around, but always seem to be harsh contrast & an annoying half shiny look to them. Importantly the collator doesn't like paper curl. Possible expenses if I'm reliant on a single machine & there is a break down that I can't fix quickly. Send the machine off. The boat comes here once a week during the off-season if we're lucky. To get a tech over. Between $250 & 300 in airfares plus would have to pay him/her for the whole day regardless of the repair, & hope he could actually effect a repair with whatever they had on them. Plus of course there would be lost revenue & peed off advertisers who may or not come back. As I said at the start. Need to keep it all as lo tech as possible. Really appreciate everyone's thoughts & time. Would particularly like to know if my opinions on Laser printing re curl & harsh contrasts are justified. Would you recommend using a laser for reproducing a Monet? Exaggeration, but.

geek_richard112, May 14, 4:58 pm

With a laser, it will depend on the toner as to it's glossiness, Oki's have a choice of Glossy or Matt Toners and all colour lasers have tweaks to soften or harden the image. Adjustments for hue, saturation, contrast and each of the cyan, magenta or yellow can be adjusted. I wouldn't put to much weight on that issue.
As far as paper curl, that is a lot to do with the moisture content in the paper, but again the temp of the rollers can be adjusted, the rule of thumb is the faster the ppm, the hotter the rollers will be and if the paper is damp it will curl. All they do is slow them down a bit to eliminate the curling.
The registration would let you print colour and then black on another machine, but can't really see the need. If you print the pages with colour on them on the colour laser, it would be far easier to let that printer do the black as well. The cost for the black from the laser would be very similar to the digital copier, but you would need to make sure the Laser used the black toner to get black on a colour page, rather than the liquorice green composite I have seen from some real cheapies.

geek_d.snell, May 14, 6:50 pm

You clearly don't know what printer pooling is.

geek_jcmp21, Nov 27, 11:21 pm

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