What are Plotters or Plotter Printers? Meaning, Features, and Uses of Plotters

What is a Plotter or a Plotter Printer?

With the aid of one or more automated pens, a plotter is a printer that translates computer orders into line drawings on paper. Instead of using a standard printer, a plotter may create continuous point-to-point lines using vector graphic files or commands.

What is the Difference Between a Standard Printer and a Plotter Printer?

Both, standard printers and plotter printers, are varieties of printers; however, they both differ significantly from one another. Plotter is a tool that produces a picture on the page after receiving orders from the computer. A printer is a device that executes commands from a network and prints text and graphics on a page.

To provide more details, a plotter is a subset of printers. Plotters take instructions from computers and use pens and paper to make drawings. Plotters are used to print out huge graphs, designs, and other types of paper-based documents, such as engineering drawings, business charts, construction maps, and architectural blueprints. A plotter is a freestanding device with a CPU of its own, or it is a computer added as a peripheral to another computer system. It produces data in the form of tangible copies at a rate that is noticeably slower than a printer. These are primarily used in technical professions like engineering, architecture, and drawing.

A printer, on the other hand, is essentially a hardware device (output) that enables a user to obtain text and graphic output from a computer and create a tangible copy of it. In essence, a printer processes the soft copy that is already available to create the hard copy for it. These printers come in a variety of sorts based on hard-copy output quality, size, price, intricate construction, and speed. A printer can produce hardcopy at a considerably faster rate when compared to a plotter. On a tangible medium like paper, it basically prints one line at a time to produce text and pictures.

Who Uses Plotter Printers?

Architecture and Engineering

Architects and engineers usually use plotter printers for the accuracy and precision the printers provide. Also, technical drawings, maps, orthophotos, and renderings are just a few of the MCAD and construction applications that architects and engineers can retrieve from plotter printers.

Cartography and GIS

Given their ability to print in large format, plotter printers are also used for cartography and GIS (geographic information system). Plotters can produce high-quality maps with great exactness.

Fashion and Textile Design

In the fashion and textile industry, a plotter machine can simultaneously print designs and cut fabrics. Plotter machines are typically found in several large-scale clothing sectors due to their capacity for large-scale printing.

Manufacturing and prototyping

Before devoting time and resources to full-scale production, the plotter printers allow individuals working in the manufacturing field to display and test the product concept.

Types of Plotters?

1. Pen Plotters

Pen plotters are frequently seen using colorful pens that have multiple colored inks inside of them. When used with a pen and holder, this ink creates multicolored graphics and designs of the highest quality.

2. Inkjet Plotters

Inkjet plotters move the colored inkjet pens utilizing vector graphics technology and inkjet printer technology to deliver ink beads in a variety of colors to the drawing surface.

Related: Colour Plotter Printers

3. Thermal Plotters

Every industry that demands high-quality designs and products uses this Thermal Plotter, which is a well-known plotter. An electrical pin, created by heat and used to help build images and designs as output, is needed to produce output.

4. Cutting Plotters

This cutting plotter is a sizable cutting tool that facilitates the creation of massive graphic drawings and vinyl lettering. These plotters have a computer system attached to them that aids in the creation of drawings. They also have automatic plotter knives that, when placed on a flat surface, cut the sheet. The development and production of excellent graphics, banners, vehicle designs, billboards, and sign creation, among others are widely done using these plotters.

5. Drum Plotters

Drum plotters use pens that move to produce the opposite direction of the plot while drawing on paper that is wound around a rotating drum.

How Does Plotter Work?

To create a final image or item, a plotter closely collaborates with the imaging software on a computer. Entering the correct coordinates for where you want the image to appear on the paper is the first step in utilizing a plotter. With the use of modern software, users can easily achieve this goal by using imaging software to draw lines and images. As soon as the image's schematics are finished, the computer transfers the coordinates to the plotter, which decodes the code and determines the most effective route for the pen and paper. The two programming languages used by more recent plotters are DMPL by Houston Instruments and HPGL2 by Hewlett-Packard. A sliding roller is used in contemporary plotters to move the paper in opposition to a stationary pen. Typically, a plotter pen is a hollow fiber rod with a pointy end. The rod's middle is hollow, and the sharpened tip is where the ink is released. Up until the drawing is finished, the paper is moved against the pen both horizontally and vertically.

Features of Plotter

1. Precision and Accuracy

Plotter printers are renowned for producing fine, complicated cut lines and high-quality prints. Because plotter printers use vector pictures, the size of the image has no bearing on the printing quality. Depending on the file size and definition, wide-format printers can generate work of varying quality.

2. Large-Format Capabilities

Plotters are employed in a variety of MCAD and construction-related applications, such as technical drawings, maps, orthophotographs, and renderings. Any application that gains from clear text and exact lines on a larger, single-sheet output can profit from a large format plotter. In other words, plotters are sometimes referred to as "wide format printers" by businesses because they print on a significantly wider surface.

3. Multiple Color Options

Inkjet plotters move the colored inkjet pens utilizing vector graphics technology and inkjet printer technology to deliver ink beads in a variety of colors to the drawing surface.

4. Print Speed

Depending on the plotter’s resolution, plotters may plot at a pace of 6 to 32 mm/s.

5. Durability and Reliability

High-quality printouts and accurate, detailed cut lines are hallmarks of plotter printers. The quality of printing is unaffected by the size of the image because plotter printers employ vector images, which can be either huge or little. The file size and definition have an impact on the quality of the work that wide format printers can generate. This makes plotters a durable and reliable option for many.

6. Automated Maintenance and Self-Calibration Features

Automated maintenance and self-calibration features are essential components to look for in plotter printers. Those features guarantee flawless printing from your printer, free of gaps, streaks, and misalignments. Also, by preventing unnecessary revisions and reprints, it saves you paper and ink.