Technical Brief: FCW-03

Printing to a File with FastCAD 32 and Windows 95

by John Steen
September 18, 1997

About Printing to a File

Printing to a file is useful when you need to have your FastCAD 32 drawing printed/plotted on a printing device that is not directly connected to your computer. This situation can arise if you send a drawing to a plotting service. For a print-to-file to work properly, you need to know the exact printer or plotter that will be used. Then you will need to obtain the Windows driver for this device. The driver must be installed in Windows 95 to generate the correct print codes into the print file. The only difference between printing directly to a printer on your computer and printing to a file is that all of the printer instruction codes are sent to a file and are stored on the hard drive instead of going to the printer. Use the following steps to create a Print File:
  1. Find out the exact manufacturer and model of the printer or plotter that will be used to print the drawing.

  2. Install a Windows 95 driver for that exact device from your Windows 95 CD-ROM, or possibly go to the manufacturers Internet web site and download the necessary driver. If you are using a plotting service they may be able to send you the driver.

  3. Load the drawing you wish to print to file.

  4. Select File > Print and select the necessary printer driver.

  5. Select Fit to page or Scale factor for the drawing to be printed.

  6. Select the proper sheet size.

  7. Select Preview to see how the drawing will fit the selected sheet size at the selected scale.

  8. Click the Print to file check box in the Print dialog box and then choose the OK button.

  9. Type in the name you want to give the Print file.

    Note: You must type the file extension also as in myhouse.prn. If the drawing was called myhouse and you want the file extension to be .prn, you must type the .prn.

  10. The Print File will be saved on the drive and folder from which the drawing was loaded.

  11. Copy the Print File to a floppy [in many cases it will not fit on a single floppy] or send it by modem. You may need special software to copy it over several floppy disks. Often, compression software can reduce print files to a small fraction of their original size. Ensure that the recipient of your compressed print files has the means and know how to restore the print file to a useable state!

How to send the Print File to the Printer

Windows 95 has no way to send a Print File to the printer. To do this, you must use DOS and a special command line. Some plotting services may have special software to send the Print File to the printer or plotter, but if not, the following method should work:
  1. In Windows 95, click the Start button, go up to Programs, and click MS DOS Prompt. You will be in the Windows folder.

  2. Change to the folder containing the Print File.

  3. Use the following command line to send the Print File to the Printer or Plotter. For the following commands to work you must know which LPT [Parallel Port] or COM [Serial Port] to which the printer or plotter is attached. Type the following command line, substituting the file name of the drawing and extension, followed by /b and the port number [lpt1]:
    copy filename.ext /b lpt1
    If your Print File is named myhouse.prn and the printer is on LPT1 parallel port, the command would read:
    copy myhouse.prn /b lpt1

©1997 Evolution Computing, Inc.