ARC Document Solutions, Inc. has signed a 10-year agreement to provide MetaPrint, ARC's production print driver and file conversion software, to the China Architecture Design and Research Group (CAG) for use in its newly developed "digital blueprinting" equipment. CAG, headquartered in Beijing, is China's leading state-owned architectural institution responsible for new developments and standards in the country's practice of architecture.
"We work with architectural firms all over the world, but we've never encountered a company that wanted to develop their own printing equipment," said K. "Suri" Suriyakumar, Chairman, president and CEO of ARC Document Solutions. "It's tremendously exciting to work with a client who is intent on moving an entire country toward more sustainable document management practices. We are honored to play such an integral role in helping them achieve their vision."
Today China's construction industry generates most of its large-format construction documents using diazo printing, a 100-year-old technology named after the diazo chemical process that creates a blueprint's distinctive blue color. While inexpensive to operate, diazo machines are slow and power-hungry, take a great deal of skilled manual labor to operate, use toxic chemicals, and produce prints that fade quickly in sunlight and cannot be recycled. Diazo printing was largely replaced by digital methods in the United States, Europe and other Western countries after 1995.
While CAG remains devoted to the color of its drawings -- the institute's new printer uses blue ink -- the drawbacks of diazo-based document production techniques, including the lack of compatibility with digital content management, inspired the successful development of their own proprietary "digital blueprinting" equipment.
"During our search to find a leading technology partner for this project, ARC Document Solutions was the obvious choice due to their leadership position in serving the document needs of architectural companies in the USA," said Mr. Liu Yan Hui, CAG's Party Secretary and Vice President. "We have signed a 10-year contract with ARC to integrate their MetaPrint print management software with our new digital printer. MetaPrint will help us operate these machines at the highest speeds and provide efficient print management for our customers."
MetaPrint software is used for high-end, production printing and file conversion of large-format architectural, engineering or construction documents. Originally developed for a high-volume reprographics shop environment, MetaPrint software is now used by thousands of professionals around the world to drive printing and scanning equipment; scan, convert and print documents; perform complex file or job print configurations; manage multiple print queues to a wide variety of devices made by different manufacturers; and receive print jobs from remote locations.
CAG claims that, in addition to addressing the challenges of diazo printing, the operating costs of their new high-speed digital printer are one-third that of a most contemporary wide-format digital printers. The new MetaPrint-equipped machine is being introduced to the Chinese market this month and will be the first digital printer developed in China that has the official approval of China's Ministry of Commerce and its archiving bureau. CAG's plan is to market the new equipment to the owners of the approximately 7,000 diazo printers currently in use inside the country.