There is a wide array of printer options available in the industry today for distinct printing jobs. For businesses and corporations, it is essential to invest in printing tools to print, fax, copy, and scan documents such as contracts and proposals on daily business operations.
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However, standard printers have printing limitations especially for large format outputs such as blueprints, billboards, and posters to name a few. Thus, manufacturers developed and designed plotters, a specialized printer for printing wide-scale outputs for advertising agencies, architecture firms, and engineering offices.
What are Plotters?
Plotters are printing devices designed to produce large-scale format illustrations which include engineering drawings, construction maps, advertising posters, business charts, and architectural plans. Wide-format printers or plotters differ from the standard printers since the former utilizes ink pens to generate the image while the latter uses a collection of dots. Plotter printers have a slow speed due to its complex mechanism necessary to produce detailed vector graphics images.
Architects, engineers, and product designers utilize plotter printers for industrial drawings, blueprints, and computer-aided design (CAD) functionalities since it can print images on oversized papers, plywoods, and plastics.
Types of Plotters
Most businesses in the printing industry designed and developed cutting plotters to produce vinyl lettering and graphics and ready-cut mylar. Instead of the conventional pens, manufacturers equipped cutting plotters with an automatic plotter knife which cuts into the material to carve the design displayed on the computer. The common uses of cutter plotters include billboard advertising, sign making, and vehicle graphics.
The most prevalent type of plotter is the inkjet or technical plotters which produces high-quality prints at a low cost. It creates large-scale outputs such as banners, road signs, and billboards by spraying small droplets of ink onto the paper. Generally, inkjet plotters consist of three color ink systems for color printing, while others have multiple types of blank-ink cartridges which handle the images with prominent black lines. Although inkjet plotters are capable of printing color prints, manufacturers designed these types of printers for simple color representation.
Over the years, flatbed plotters have evolved to provide the consumers with a vast array of printing jobs. The modern flatbed plotters incorporate vibrant colors to print on a fixed paper while the mechanical arm with a pen moves across the sheet horizontally and vertically. Manufacturers developed the traditional flatbed printers for architects and engineers, while the modern models produce colorful prints for posters, restaurant menus, and maps.
Problems of Plotter Printers
Most manufacturers built plotter printers with the same complex mechanism, so all wide-format printers are susceptible to similar operational issues.
Poor Stacking and Paper Jams
Most wide-format printers rely on a gravity-fed system, so it should fall into the catch basket when paper falls. Manufacturers developed several plotters for the past several years which offer its consumers integrated stacking units.
When users upgrade their operating systems, they may encounter software incompatibilities since manufacturers drop the software support on older plotter models. They ceased the development of software drivers which resulted in the inability to jump on newer operating systems platforms.
A printhead is a common feature for plotter printers in the market responsible for depositing ink on a variety of mediums. However, these printheads will wear out over time, so consumers need to replace them quickly. Several large-scale format printers can diagnose functionality issues and notify the user with the problem, but it is not always the case. Print quality problems may arise for no apparent reason, and printheads are the prime culprit of the issue.
Plotter printers are essential printing machines for small-time manufacturers, medium-scale companies, and multinational corporations. However, most businesses fail to properly maintain their plotters which contribute to additional costs for repair. Regular and proper maintenance of large format plotters will result in high-resolution prints and quality performance in the long run.