Full-Scale Printing Workarounds for CAD

Advice about how to export from AutoCAD to an accurate output file at full scale for a large-format printer or print shop. August 21, 2012

Occasionally I have the need to plot from AutoCAD a drawing full scale to a PDF (then send the PDF to a print shop with a large format printer). The problem is that I don't have a printer setup to accommodate a plot that large. The result I receive is 8.5 X 11 inch plots. Does anyone know of a way around this?

Forum Responses
(CAD Forum)
From contributor J:
You should be able to go into the printing preferences of the PDF printer and set up a custom paper size then plot to the PDF from AutoCAD then send the PDF to the plotter as long as your large format plotter will accept that size. If you are setting up unusual paper sizes you might have to go into the large plotter printing preferences and set up the page size there. I have done this and have had no problems but every printer has a mind of its own.

From contributor W:
In addition to the other responses, printing full scale can mean very big. Someone that knows AutoCAD can make a big difference if being precise is important. A trick I use is to print out a 20' line and tape the long paper down taught. Then measure it. I then scale the overall drawing the ratio that the printer is off over 20' and when it prints, itís dead on. You can load many different print drivers on your system to accomplish many tasks. However loading and installing print drivers is something that may be hit and miss.

In your case, there are many viable solutions. I do not print PDF from AutoCAD. I hear it is vastly improved in the newer versions. What I do is print to .plt files directly from AutoCAD using a KIP driver. I then use a third party utility called ViewCompanion (you can Google it) to load all up all the .plt files and make one .pdf file. That is what I give to the printer. Furthermore, most top end print shops handle .plt files and many of them use KIP software. If that is your case, you can skip the conversion with ViewCompanion and send them the .plt files directly. The KIP drivers are specific to your version of AutoCAD.

From contributor B:
If you are in model space, then draw a polyline of your ideal paper size in a layer that won't print. Set your plot area to window, and make the window the corners of your polyline. Change the plot scale to 1-1 for full size. Check "center the plot" because your printer cannot print to the edge of the paper. "Filter Paper Sizes" in the plotter properties to have the sizes you want available. If you follow this, then you should be able to communicate anything in any scale to anyone, assuming the model space part applies. I kind of like the printing out a 20' line to a random scale, but I think that there are easier ways.