I don't know if this is the right place for this question but, since it involves maps created with ArcMap, hopefully someone met this same problem. I want to print a highly detailed map of the whole town of Florence (Italy) comprising of a topographic basemap and about a hundred thousands points representing delivery points for postal service (see picture).

enter image description here

I'm going to use an HP Designjet T520 36in plotter and want to print it on an A0 format paper. I've tried both printing it directly from ArcGis (though I'm using a remote version of it) and exporting it as PDF and print it from Adobe Reader (PDF size is around 30 Mb). After I made sure all page and printing settings were ok, I pressed the print bottom. Apparently the printer doesn't like it since I just see a printing bar lingering for some seconds on 0% and for an imperceptible istant on 100%, but nothing happens. The bar just disappears. I suppose it depends on the size of my map, but I'm not sure, and anyway I don't know how I could go around that. I've searched a lot through the web but hasn't found anything helpful yet. So, how would you print detailed and complex maps? Have you ever met a problem similar to mine?

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    Very strange. Our plotter has no problems with large 20mb+ file sizes but they are different models. Are you having problems printing smaller files to the plotter? Can you possible use a software program to compress the size of the PDF to something more managable? This commonly happens when the printer runs out of memory but the specs on your printer say it comes with 1 gig of ram which would seem to be enough to me. – ed.hank Aug 31 '15 at 21:19
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    you might want to try to ask on cartotalk.com as well, there are many people there who are well versed in print cartography. – clhenrick Sep 1 '15 at 2:22
  • unfortunately I haven't succeeded yet. Still need to understand what's the problem @chrishenrick I'm feeling stupid but, how to write anything in that forum? – Michele Cordini Sep 1 '15 at 9:32
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    it depends on the compression algorithm and options you choose. We use acrobat which is pay software but I believe there are several open source options if you just google PDF compression – ed.hank Sep 1 '15 at 16:40
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    The HP Designjet T520 has a built in web server. Try using the ePrint & Share option to submit the print job. Otherwise go to the printer management page (access using the printer's IP address) and submit the job to the queue directly from the page. – Adam Sep 2 '15 at 0:08

I have not used this in more than 15 years but ArcPress still seems to be part of ArcGIS for Desktop:

The ArcPress printer engine is designed to make printing large, complex maps possible on printers that may not have sufficient resources to process these maps. It can also help when printing maps that the Windows printer engine is unable to process.

and your printer model seems to be supported.

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    I haven't used that since I was using a plotter with a 20 MB hard drive, that might help some as it tends to print piecewise. Perhaps the problem is the raster background (@720 or 1440 dpi) is too difficult for the internal RIP of the plotter - at least that's what the problem was years ago with the same symptoms. You could also try rasterizing the map and printing as an image (~300 dpi should be good, 9930 by 14040 pixels). – Michael Stimson Aug 31 '15 at 22:19
  • by exporting it as PDF am I not rasterizing it already? – Michele Cordini Sep 1 '15 at 9:10

Some print drivers allow you to process the print job on the computer and not at the printer. This is the case for our HP 1050c plotter - it drastically improves the performance. Check your print settings in Windows to see if you can do this.


I found a solution to my problem thanks to a very short answer I got in the forum cartotalk.com that @chris henrick suggested. It was easier than expected. I just needed to export it from ArcMap as a TIFF. I set 300 dpi resolution (as is the default dpi for PDF) and exported it. The TIFF file was about ten times larger then the PDF, but the print started smoothly with no problems. I assume the problem was with Acrobat Reader or PDF format itself. It maybe gets huge dimensions when going through all the printing steps considering the large number of points in my map (hundred of thousands)


I usually use a HP-T7100 plotter, and I plot from both ArcGIS and from .pdf. If it chokes on things, it's usually some plot in the queue that didn't get cleared. However, when I plot from .pdf, I use Adobe Acrobat not Adobe Reader.

  • I have no plots in the queue, so that's not the problem. And unfortunately I haven't got Acrobat – Michele Cordini Sep 1 '15 at 15:34

Just an idea, have you created a custom size page layout and DPI needed in the printer database? Not just in ArcMap. Your situation happened to me several years ago with a really really old plotter and I was able to print 20 very large maps (1.10 m by 5.4 m) and the printer custom size definition was the problem....


Try installing a software printer, like PdfCreator and print your map. that will tell you if the printer is the problem. other idea is export your map to PNG or decrease your dpi.

  • How low could be an acceptable dpi value for my map considering it'd be on an A0 format paper and the points show in the map have a size of 3.00 set in symbology? – Michele Cordini Sep 2 '15 at 8:47
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    I printed to 300 dpi in a a0 paper without problems. Try with the export to png set dpi from 200 to desired dpi and test it. Or test printing in a4. – erichnagy Sep 2 '15 at 15:25
  • thanks for suggestions. I succeeded printing by exporting it TIFF 300 dpi. – Michele Cordini Sep 2 '15 at 15:33
  • Looked good the printed map? – erichnagy Sep 2 '15 at 15:38
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    It did. I just have to solve a different issue. The exported TIFF image lacked of some graphics I added to the map. – Michele Cordini Sep 2 '15 at 15:42

Two things that I have experienced may help. One is patience. Let it run over night. I have experienced the disappearing bar before but it usually comes back after several minutes. And it may disappear several times. I still have plots that take several hours to come out.

The other thing is a "print as image" checkbox. Checking that rasterizes the plot before before it goes to the plotter. It's either in the PDF print dialog or in the plotter driver. This may take a long time also, so patience.

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