Plotter vs. Printer

A plotter is the type of printer that takes commands from the computer and then makes drawings on the paper with the help of various pens. On the other hand, a printer is a device connected to the computer that helps with the precise imaging of text and pictures on paper.

Comparison Chart

Basis Plotter Printer
Definition Several needles are part of the device which draws the image as seen. Takes the picture of the image and then copies directly as seen.
Type Only deals with images Deals with images and text.
Output The output is in the format of pixels or bitmap format. The output of a plotter always comes in vector graphic format.
File Reading Plotters can read files in the DWG, CDR, Al, and other vector formats. Printers can read BMP, PDF, and JPG TIFF formats.
Tools A pen or different types of knives to give shape to the image. Either uses a needle or a pen to print the document.
Cost Printers are less costly. Plotters are relatively expensive.
Line Drawing The printer can only print a single line at a time. Plotters can easily draw continuous lines from point-to-point at the same time.

What is Plotter?

The chief attribute of this device is that it draws continuous lines that are the point to point and come directly from the file command within the graphics. The prices of such devices are greater than others because of the complicated structure. In short, a plotter helps with drawings more than text and therefore takes more time to complete the processes running.

Rather than toner, plotters utilize a pen, pencil, marker, or another composition device to draw numerous, consistent lines onto paper instead of a progression of speaks like a conventional printer. Plotters are utilized to create a printed copy of schematics and other comparative applications.

Pen plotters print by moving a pen or other instrument over the surface of a bit of paper. This action implies plotters are vector illustrations gadgets, as opposed to raster representation as with different printers. Pen plotters can draw complex line artistry, including content, yet do as such gradually considering the mechanical development of the pens. They can print on a wide range of materials including plywood, aluminum, sheet steel, cardboard, and plastic. Pen plotters have become outdated, and have been ousted by the large organization which now uses inkjet printers and LED toner-based printers.

Plotters come in various types, the latest form of a plotter is the 3D plotter which does not use a pen-like instrument but has several knives arranged together and cut-out piece of material based on the instruction that is given from a computer. Some common types of plotters are given below:

  • Drum Plotter: This pen plotter which wraps the paper around a drum with a pin feed attachment.
  • Flatbed Plotter: This is a mechanical drafting device used with many CAD programs for designers.
  • Inkjet Plotter: This type of plotter creates an image by spraying small droplets of ink on to paper.
  • Cutting Plotter: This a large scale cutting device that produces ready-cut mylar or vinyl lettering and graphics.


Who Uses Plotters?

Plotters emphasize clarity and accuracy over beautiful and highly saturated images. Therefore, they have traditionally been common in industries that design or construct things. It might still be possible to find a plotter in:

  • Construction
  • Architecture
  • Mapmaking
  • Product design
  • Craftsmanship
  • Manufacturing

What is Printer?

In simple words, a printer is such a device that takes input such as text, images and other formats from the computer and then displays as an output on a piece of paper that has a standard. They have many types and each has its uses and prices therefore, one fixed category is impossible.

These printers are designed for low-volume, short-turnaround print employments, requiring negligible setup time to create a paper copy of a given report. Nonetheless, they are simple devices ranging from 6 to around 25 pages for every moment (ppm), and the cost per page is also high.

The distinction for them comes as impact non-impact printers where the process of accepting the output differs. The first type uses pins or needles to type the word as it comes from the computer, while the latter just mirrors the file and then displays it on the sheet. Some of the main types are the dot matrix printer which has a low price, and inkjet printer which is commonly used today.

There are two types of printers, impact, and non-impact printers. Impact printers are printers that work by banging a head or needle against an ink ribbon to make a mark on the paper whereas non-impact printers do not operate by striking ahead against a ribbon.  Printers can further be classified depending on the type of technology used in printing. They include:

  • Toner-based printers, they use dry toner as ink, which is fused on paper by hot rollers.
  • A dye-sublimation printer that uses heat to transfer dye to a medium such as a plastic card, paper or canvas.
  • Inkless printer, which works by heating regions of a heat-sensitive paper that create images or text on it.
  • Liquid ink printer which uses liquid ink that is heated into a vapor bubble and then sprayed onto the paper.
  • Solid ink printers, which use thermal transfer technology and solid sticks of color that are wax-like in texture; this ink is melted and sprayed on a rotating oil-coated drum, which passes the image onto the paper.


Key Differences between Plotter and Printer

  1. Plotter always deals with drawing images on pages with the help of a computer connection. On the other hand, the printer creates copies of text and images with the help of an internet connection.
  2. The output of a printer mostly is in the format of pixels or bitmap format, on the other hand, the output of a plotter always comes in vector graphic format.
  3. Continuous lines exist in a plotter that helps to create images and lines at a faster speed, on the other such facilities are extinct within a printer which uses imaging and laser.
  4. A Plotter always has a pen or different types of knives to give shape to the image drawn, on the other hand, a printer either uses a needle or a pen to get the job done without any restrictions.
  5. The speed of a printer is much higher than the speed of a plotter.

Key Similarities between Plotter and Printer

  1. Both can print high-resolution images.
  2. New generation plotters and printers support memory cards, and scanners.
  3. Plotter and printer both can be connected to multiple computers at a time, allowing all computers to print.
  4. They are both peripheral output devices.

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