Category: Wide Format

Many businesses have printing needs that a regular printer, as modern as it might be, can’t do. Many industries, such as architecture and fashion design, require such precise printing at such a large size that they must resort to outsourced commercial printing. For these industries and many others who want to print in-house, a plotter printer is the best technology solution.

But how much do you know about plotter printers? Besides knowing they are huge printers, most people have no idea how they work or the many uses and features they have. Lucky for you, this article will fill you in on everything there is to know about plotter printers.

How Plotter Printers Work

Most people know how a regular printer works, so you may think that a plotter printer is just a large-scale printer. However, its mechanism and technology are entirely different. While regular printers, either inkjet or laser, spray ink on a sheet of paper, a plotter printer uses an automated pen to draw on a large sheet of paper, vinyl, or fabric.

One thing a regular printer and a plotter printer have in common is they both respond to commands sent from computer software. However, instead of creating pixels like a regular printer, a plotter printer uses vector graphics based on mathematical equations. This intricate technology produces an image so precise that there is no margin for error.

Now, here’s where things get a bit more complicated as there isn’t only one type of plotter printer available in the market. Here are the three types you may come across:

  • Flatbed plotter. Industries that demand the utmost perfection rely on this kind of plotter printer for their printing needs. With this kind of printer, the paper remains flat and still while powerful motors move the automated pen along the sheet.
  • Inkjet plotter. You can quickly discover what an inkjet plotter printer can do simply by watching it being used to create posters, banners, and all kinds of promotional material. With this type of plotter printer, the automated pencil uses yellow, cyan, and magenta ink to create colorful patterns. Another distinctive characteristic of this type of plotter printer is that its use isn’t limited to paper. You can create highly precise and eye-catching drawings in more durable materials such as vinyl, metal, and fabric.
  • Drum plotter. Drum plotter printers work similarly to the other types available in the market. With all plotter printers, vectors are created by an automated pen that moves across the material you put on the printer. However, the paper on drum plotters is wrapped around a rotating drum while the pen moves up and down, creating the pre-determined vectors.
  • Cutting plotter. With a computer and software directly connected to the printer’s system, you can use a plotter printer to cut large-scale lettering and designs. This cutting technique is very popular in the marketing and graphic design industry as it is used to create all kinds of signs and billboards. In this case, no automated pen is used to complete the task, but automatic knives respond to specific commands.
  • Thermal plotter. With thermal plotter printing, no automated pen or ink is involved. As the name implies, thermal plotter printers use heat and pressure to create images and text. A benefit of these kinds of printing is that the costs are lower due to the lack of ink involved. However, as these printings are made on sensitive thermal paper, they can fade over time.

Different Uses for Plotter Printers

As mentioned, several industries count on potter printers because they need precision and large-scale output. Let’s dig into the industries that benefit the most from plotter printers:

  • Engineers and architects. Building, elevation, and large structure plans must be precise, clear, and detailed. These requirements, combined with the large size of the plans, make this industry one of the most popular plotter printer users.
  • Fashion designers. The textile industry benefits significantly from plotter printers as they can print and cut fabric simultaneously. Some of the most intricate designs you might have seen may have been created using a plotter printer.
  • The manufacturing industry invests in plotter printer usage to create product test trials. This alternative is more affordable than investing in full-scale production, which could be completed with mistakes.
  • Because of their ability to print in large format, cartographers use plotter printers to create high-quality and accurate maps.
  • Graphic designers and marketing specialists. Designers use plotter printers to create billboards, banners, and street signs to advertise all kinds of services and products.

Main Features

A plotter printer has many valuable features, making it one of the favorite printing methods among certain companies’ niches. Here are some of the characteristics a plotter printing project will have:

  • As plotter printers employ vectors to create the desired image, you can trust every line will be as accurate as you command it to be. Additionally, changing the size of the image won’t affect the accuracy of the results.
  • Large format. One of the main features that stand out from a plotter printer is its ability to create plans, maps, billboards, and various designs at a large scale.
  • Many companies rely on plotter printing for their projects because of the accuracy of the results. However, you must remember that a plotter printer responds to specific commands. This means that the quality may be affected if you provide a small file but adjust the setting to have it output at a large scale.
  • Easy maintenance. Most plotter printers feature self-maintenance and calibration capabilities. These features are especially handy, as you’ll save optimization costs while your work remains flawless. As with any machinery, however, you’ll need regular maintenance and support to keep the plotter printer up to speed. Additionally, as with every printer, plotter printers use cartridges with ink that you’ll need to replace when they are running low.

Final Valuable Tips

If your business needs large-scale, accurate printing and you’re considering purchasing a plotter printer, this information will help you discover what you need to know about each model available. If you’re in the New York, Totowa, Pennsauken, Edison, or Ft. Washington area and need further information, don’t hesitate to contact Docutrend specialists.