Creative professionals utilize design tools to produce exciting and effective large format print products. Their work comes to life with a toolkit that includes hardware, monitors, color management devices, scanners, cameras, software, proofing devices, and more.
Designers who create for large format output need hardware with the speed and memory capable of handling very large files. "A designer in the large format industry has to deal with a much larger scale than the average graphic designer," explains Casey Yonemura, founder and president, Hotwiredtech, Inc.
Yonemura’s company, based in Ogden, UT, offers high-performance, specialized computer systems to the sign, wrap, and large format printing industries. Hotwiredtech’s SignBurst line of computers is designed to allow designers to work at a much faster pace. "In our experience, a happy designer is a faster designer," states Yonemura.
He adds, "We have found that arming a good designer with a computer that keeps up with creativity is key. Allowing a designer to stay focused on designs instead of the frustrations of poor performance increases productivity."
It is difficult to pinpoint minimum hardware requirements for designers. Two computers are recommended in some cases. "Due to the larger file sizes, it is often more efficient to run at least two separate computers. The first computer dedicated to design and the second computer dedicated to RIP and printing. This is in contrast to a shop dealing in smaller formats, who might get away with doing everything on one computer system," says Yonemura.
The SignBurst SuperNova is one hardware option from Hotwiredtech, which the company Web site calls, "an insanely fast computer perfect for the designer dealing with the largest of file sizes—buses, tractor trailers, wall murals, motorhomes." The SignBurst SuperNova Base system is $5,900. It includes Dual Intel Xeon Quad E5520 2.26GHz Processors, 512 MB Nvidia Video Card, 20x DVD-RW, keyboard and mouse combo, Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 64 Bit, 12 GB of DDR3 ECC RAM, and 600GB 10K RPM WD VelociRaptor RAID System Array. Security software, additional upgrades, and customization are also available.
Hotwiredtech tests their systems with software from Adobe Systems Inc., CADlink Technology Corporation, Corel Corporation, and SA International. "We use Adobe applications in-house. That said, there are several other extremely capable design software suites out there. Although there are performance advantages to some of the software that we test, we consider what our customer is comfortable designing in before making recommendations. All the performance advantages in the world are no help to a designer that doesn’t know how to use that specific software," notes Yonemura.
One thing Yonemura would like to see from more software vendors is true 64 bit applications. "While 32 bit applications almost always see a bump in performance on a properly built 64 bit computer, true 64 bit software takes advantage of a computer’s resources, thus allowing for significantly higher performance and speed," he says.
Design software and hardware require an investment, but if you make the right one, the rewards are great. If you missed any of our series on large format design software click on the links below to catch up! Also, read more about design software in the September issue of Digital Output.