The Comparison of Wide Format Printers and Plotters

The Comparison of Wide Format Printers and Plotters

Do you know wide format printers and plotters? Although both print in a wide format, there are distinct differences between wide format printers and technical printer plotters.  Wide format printers are generally used in clothing, home, accessories and other industries, while plotters are more common in the ACE industry - Architecture , construction and engineering.

1.Definition of wide format printer

Wide format printers (large format printers) are generally accepted to be any computer-controlled printing machines (printers) that support a maximum print roll width of between 18" and 100". Printers with capacities over 100" wide are considered super wide or grand format. Wide format printers are used to print banners, posters, trade show graphics, wallpaper, murals, backlit film (duratrans), vehicle image wraps, electronic circuit schematics, architectural drawings, construction plans, backdrops for theatrical and media sets, and any other large format artwork or signage. Wide format printers usually employ some variant of inkjet or toner based technology to produce the printed image; and are more economical than other print methods such as screen printing for most short-run (low quantity) print projects, depending on print size, run length (quantity of prints per single original), and the type of substrate or print medium. Wide format printers are usually designed for printing onto a roll of print media that feeds incrementally during the print process, rather than onto individual sheets.

The picture of lotter

2.Definition of plotter 

A plotter is a printer that interprets commands from a computer to make line drawings on paper with one or more automated pens. Unlike a regular printer , the plotter can draw continuous point-to-point lines directly from vector graphics files or commands. There are a number of different types of plotters: a drum plotter draws on paper wrapped around a drum which turns to produce one direction of the plot, while the pens move to provide the other direction; a flatbed plotter draws on paper placed on a flat surface; and an electrostatic plotter draws on negatively charged paper with positively charged toner.Plotters were the first type of printer that could print with color and render graphics and full-size engineering drawings. As a rule, plotters are much more expensive than printers. They are most frequently used for CAE (computer-aided engineering) applications, such as CAD (computer-aided design) and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing). 

The picture of Mimaki JV150-160 inkjet printer

3.Differences between Wide Format Printers and Plotters

There are many differences between wide format printers and plotters. First, plotters typically cost more, both to purchase and in replacement ink.
They also vary in the types of printing they're used for, with wide format printers more commonly found in graphic design and plotters in creating technical drawings. Some graphic designers use plotters, however, when they need highly detailed line work. This is where the high resolution of plotters really comes into play. Large printers, on the other hand, are better for large-scale graphics and color images, especially when you need shading, color gradients, and similar design elements in the finished product.
Image quality is excellent for both (assuming you choose a quality printer). Plotters often create much greater line detail, which is why they're so popular in ACE industries. The dotted and dashed lines common in technical drawings require crisp, clean printing. Achieving this level of detail is a top feature of plotters.
The main difference between the two printer types is in how they produce prints. Plotters use a vector format (creating images with lines) whereas large format printers use what's known as raster files, which uses a grid and pixels to create a picture.
Vector images use point-to-point nodes, connected by lines and curves, all of it created using mathematical descriptions of position, location, and length. Changing the scale of the image does nothing to the print quality; it is always crisp and clear. Raster images, on the other hand, look like a series of dots across a grid. Changing the scale drastically alters the print.

Both wide-format printers and plotters create high-resolution image replication, but the methods of reproduction the two printer types use differ vastly due to file format, materials and subject matter. Plotters rely on a vector format, or images created with lines, while wide-format printers utilize raster files, or images constructed on a grid with pixels.So, which printer is the right option for you? It depends entirely on the type of printing you perform. 


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