How to Choose the Right Plotter Type for Your Project

How to Choose the Right Plotter Type for Your ProjectPhoto by Leighann Blackwood

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The global market for printed signage was estimated to be $45.734 billion in 2018 with the biggest amount being in North America. The figure has remained high despite the growing demand for digital and LED signage. Printed signage is still the most used type of signage in the world by businesses and individuals alike.

Getting the best prints, which bring out the images as required, has become very important. This process is even more important now, especially in an age where people are keen to replicate what is seen on a computer screen into what is printed. The use of plotter printer, which prints vector graphics, is gaining popularity for its ability to be accurate while printing a variety of different documents that demand a high level of accuracy in the small details. Still, you might be wondering which of the plotter printers will fit your printing needs and be the best investment.

In this article, we give you an analysis of how to choose the right plotter type for your project.

What Is A Plotter?

A plotter is computer-based printing hardware, similar to a normal printer. Instead of using a toner, a plotter draws multiple continuous lines on the print using a special pencil, pen, or any attached writing tool. Normal printers, which use toners, mainly print dots on the paper.

Their use has slowed due to the rise of wide format printers. Plotters still remain the preferred printer on extensive pieces of work. They are capable of printing large sheets of work without losing the resolution, which can happen with toner printers as their cartridges get lower.

They can also print on materials that other paper, including plywood, metal, aluminum, plastic, and other boards. This option gives you a variety of ways to create graphics and make your signs stand out from the crowd. The only disadvantage of a plotter is that it requires large storage spaces and are more expensive than ordinary printers.

What Type of Document Would Typically Be Printed on a Plotter?

A plotter can print any document. However, the most preferred type of documents that a plotter can print is a vector graphic. Due to the high resolution it produces, plotters are used in technical fields, like engineering, construction, and maps. These industries need to be very detailed in printing out CAD drawings, architectural drawings, and more. Often, smaller, traditional printers cannot produce the drawings at the same level of crisp and accurate detail.

You can use a plotter for developing prints for garments. However, the main uses are printing large sizes of billboards and other advertisement boards. There are a variety of other printers that specialize in garments or printing on different types of fabrics.

Different Plotter Types

There are three main types of these plotters in the market. These types include a drum plotter, inkjet plotter, and flatbed plotter. These three types of plotters perform different roles. When you chose to purchase one, you must be sure what needs you have and whether that plotter printer can handle the material or paper size that you are going to use. For instance, a drum printer can only use paper, while other plotter printers can allow you to print on different materials.

Let us analyze each type and the work it can help you achieve.

  • Drum Plotter

This plotter is one of the most common. As the name suggests, this plotter comes with a typical drum on which a paper or the material being printed lies. It is important to note that the pen remains fixed, but the drum moves to its length.

This process enables the pen to draw a single axis developing markings on the material. However, the drum size can limit the type of materials you can print on or the size of the materials being used.

They are ideal for materials which can bend, like PVC or canvass, because it can bend over the drum.

  • Flatbed Plotter

This type of plotter prints on a relatively flat surface enabling you to get large prints over materials that need not be folded. Due to the nature of the printing surface, this type can print larger sizes compared to the drum plotter.

The pen is not fixed unlike the drum plotter and this allows the use of several colored pens producing remarkable designs. It’s ideal for printing metals sheets, plywood, and some plastic surfaces.

  • Ink Jet Plotter

These are low-cost plotters that use the inkjet technology common in printers. It makes use of three colors, mainly cyan, magenta, and yellow. By combining these colors, the printer can create some amazing graphics and images.

It pushes these colors directly on the material being printed on. They are smaller compared to the other plotter types.

They are designed for simple color prints rather than complicated outputs. Inkjet plotters are part of modern plotters, which include laser, electrostatic, or thermal printers. As technology improves and more options appear on the market, users are left with choices and beautiful prints.

Deciding the Right Plotter Type

Determining which plotter to buy is not an easy task. You have to consider the work that you need to produce, the brand, and the availability of accessories. If you decide on any plotter type, you have to be sure to get a reliable supply of accessories, like pens, chemicals, material racks, and cutter blades.

The most important factor to consider when choosing the best plotter is the type of work you are doing. These details can include the size, material you are printing on, and the number of colors. Ensure you have the right information before embarking on a plotter purchase. After all, without that information, you could end up purchasing a plotter printer that cannot handle the graphics and projects you will be completing or you could end up buying one that is more than your business really needs.

Equally, it is good to factor in the bottom line. The cost of a printer can be high. The business at hand must be able to meet the cost of purchase, thus making it a profitable option to grow and support your organization.

If not, then you need to consider an alternative plotter or even going back to an ordinary printer. It is good to consider the cost of materials to be used and the necessary accessories.

Other factors to consider when choosing a plotter is print resolution and speed. You will need a plotter that spends less time printing but still produces high-resolution prints. Also, some plotters come with other added options like scanning.

Choosing the Right Brand

There are many brands in the market, and we might not be able to give recommendations for each. However, it is good to evaluate and purchase brands that are common and compatible with the most plotter items or your specific plotter pen. You can look more on these brands on our site.

Various brands have specific measures and you need to be sure the size and specifications of your project so as to achieve what your targets are.

Getting Your Plotter Right

If you are ready to acquire a plotter, then determining your right plotter type becomes easy once you know how you are going to use it. We have looked at the different plotter types, as well as the determinant factors in each plotter. There are also other factors that can help you decide on a purchase, which includes cost and availability of accessories.

Simple Solutions International offers comprehensive solutions for your modern printing needs. You will also get a review of different aspects of plotter types, as well as accessories that come with it.

Visit our blog for more information.

Simple Solutions International offers a full selection of plotter blades and plotter pens as well as a variety of useful tools for use in plotting and sign making such as plotter adapters, masking film, spray mask, and other sign making tools and accessories.

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