Posted by admin | Posted in Business | Posted on 19-11-2013
For those not fully au fait with the print industry and all its jargon, the term ‘plotter’ might not be instantly recognisable. However, it’s likely that you’ve seen a drawing created with a regular or wide-format plotter, but just haven’t realised it.
What is a plotter?
Basically, a plotter is a type of printing machine that uses line drawings to create the images sent to it – rather than using just dots, as a regular printer does. A mechanical arm holds the plotting pen (or sometimes a pencil is used) and as the images are either drawn with an electronic pen or specialist computer command, the plotter draws them out. At times, vector image files are used too. These point-to-point drawings are extremely precise and can be used by CAD designers when creating building blueprints or engineering plans.
Many companies manufacture plotters these days, including Canon and HP, two of the world’s biggest printing brands. The latter created its first plotter back in 1968, when it introduced the 9125A flatbed plotter to the world – although this and other early models were renowned for their slow ‘printing’. However they were known for being really useful when computer memory was still limited. This results in high-resolution artwork being slow to print, which was something plotters could combat easily.
Whilst the word ‘plotter’ refers to the original technology, now, technological advancements means plotting machines are actually a lot more sophisticated. Many different types of designs can be created on a range of materials, like PVC, vinyl, boards or canvas. Card, paper and adhesives can also be used, as per the more traditional process.
Who might use a plotter?
Architects and engineers are among the most-common users of plotters, whilst some businesses utilises them when making concise, in-depth charts. They’re popular amongst engineers and building designers because they can create a continuous straight line. Regular printers cannot do this, as they make a simulated line using dots only. What’s more, these plotters can create lines in several different colours, making for really detailed, useful plans. Artists like using plotters too, thanks to their quirky and eccentric designs. Some even prefer to use the really old models over the modern, newly designed types; giving their artwork a retro feel.
They can also use cutting plotters, which use a knife instead of a pen to create patterns on a flat piece of paper. Although specialist cutting software is needed for this task, it’s relatively easy to do and in the last decade or so, this practice has become popular with crafters. Cutting plotters are really useful for those who make cards at home, or general crafts such as scrapbooking (a practice that’s particularly common in America). Even better, no formal skills or experience is needed to operate one; making them perfect for the every-day man or woman.
All in all, plotters are popular with many people throughout the world. Though their use isn’t as widespread as it once was, for those niche professionals (and card makers), who utilise this technology each day, plotters are vital.