10 Differences Between printer and plotter

Difference between Printer and Plotter

Are you confused about the differences between printers and plotters? You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we will explore what printers and plotters are, provide examples of each, discuss their uses, and most importantly, highlight their key differences. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of the distinctions between these two essential devices. Let’s dive in!

What is a Printer?

A printer is a computer peripheral device that produces a hard copy (physical representation) of digital documents stored on a computer or other electronic devices. It accepts electronic data and transfers it onto various types of media, such as paper, transparencies, labels, or even fabrics. Printers are widely used in homes, offices, and other industry sectors to meet a broad range of printing needs.

Examples of Printers:

Here are a few examples of different types of printers:

  1. Inkjet printers: These printers use tiny droplets of ink to produce high-quality prints. They are suitable for a wide range of printing tasks, including text documents, graphics, and even photographs.
  2. Laser printers: By utilizing a laser beam to attract toner particles, laser printers create sharp and precise prints. These printers are commonly used in offices and businesses for high-volume printing.
  3. Dot-matrix printers: Dot-matrix printers create images by striking ink-soaked ribbons against paper using a matrix of small pins. Although they have limited print quality, they are still used in specific applications that require multipart forms or carbon copies.

Uses of Printers:

Printers have various applications, including:

  • Printing documents such as letters, reports, and invoices.
  • Producing marketing materials like flyers, brochures, and posters.
  • Generating ID cards, labels, and barcodes.
  • Printing photographs with high-quality color reproduction.
  • Creating labels for packaging and shipping purposes.

What is a Plotter?

A plotter is a computer output device that is specifically designed to create high-quality and precise graphical outputs. Unlike printers, which focus on producing text and images on paper, plotters are primarily used for vector-based graphics such as technical drawings, blueprints, and large-scale artwork. Plotters use pens, pencils, or other drawing tools to create continuous lines on various types of media.

Examples of Plotters:

Here are some examples of plotters:

  1. Pen plotters: These plotters use pens or drawing tools to create intricate and precise drawings on paper. They are commonly used in architectural drafting and engineering applications.
  2. Inkjet plotters: These plotters are similar to inkjet printers but are designed for large-format printing. They are capable of producing high-resolution prints for posters, banners, and other large-scale visual materials.
  3. Cutting plotters: Cutting plotters use a sharp blade to cut through materials such as vinyl, paper, or fabric. They are widely used in the signage and textile industry for creating decals, signs, and apparel designs.

Uses of Plotters:

Plotters are commonly used for:

  • Creating technical drawings, architectural blueprints, and engineering designs.
  • Producing high-resolution artwork for fine artists and graphic designers.
  • Printing large-scale graphics for outdoor advertising.
  • Generating stencils and templates for screen printing or engraving.
  • Cutting vinyl for signage, vehicle wraps, and custom apparel.

Differences Between Printers and Plotters:

Here is a comprehensive table highlighting ten key differences between printers and plotters:

Difference Area Printer Plotter
Image Resolution Can produce high-resolution prints suitable for text and images. Capable of extremely high resolutions for precise graphical output.
Print Speed Generally faster for smaller documents and text prints. Slower since they focus on precision and accuracy.
Media Size Typically limited to standard paper sizes. Can accommodate larger media sizes up to multiple meters.
Functionality Can handle a wide array of printing tasks, including documents and photos. Primarily used for precise graphical outputs and vector-based designs.
Printing Technology Uses inkjet, laser, or dot-matrix technologies. Uses pens, pencils, or blade cutters to create lines.
Application More suitable for everyday printing needs in homes, offices, and businesses. Ideal for specialized applications such as designing, drafting, and large-scale graphics.
Cost Relatively cheaper, with a wide range of price options available. Usually more expensive due to specific requirements and features.
Accessibility More commonly available and found in almost every household or office setting. Less common and primarily used in industries that rely heavily on precise graphical outputs.
Noise Level Usually emits less noise during operation. May produce louder noises due to mechanical movements during plotting.
Practical Use Can serve a broad range of printing needs, from personal documents to professional marketing materials. More specialized in specific graphic-oriented industries, with limited general-purpose functionality.


In summary, printers and plotters serve different purposes and excel in different areas. Printers are versatile devices used to print a wide range of documents and images, while plotters are specialized machines designed for precise and high-resolution outputs, particularly in graphical applications. By understanding their differences, you can choose the right device for your specific needs and achieve optimal results.

People Also Ask:

Here are some commonly asked questions about printers and plotters:

  1. Q: Can a printer be used as a plotter?
  2. A: No, printers and plotters are different devices with distinct functions and capabilities. While some printers may have certain features similar to plotters, they cannot provide the same level of precision and graphical output.

  3. Q: Which is better – a printer or a plotter?
  4. A: The choice between a printer and a plotter depends on your specific needs. If you require high-resolution graphics and precise drawings, a plotter would be a better choice. However, for general printing tasks and versatility, a printer would be more suitable.

  5. Q: Are plotters more expensive than printers?
  6. A: Generally, plotters tend to be more expensive than printers due to their specialized nature and higher resolution capabilities. However, there are various price ranges available for both printers and plotters to accommodate different budgets.

  7. Q: Can a plotter replace a printer?
  8. A: While plotters can produce prints at high resolutions, they are not meant to replace printers. Printers are more versatile and commonly used for everyday printing needs, while plotters are primarily used for specific graphical applications.

  9. Q: Can printers and plotters be used together?
  10. A: Yes, printers and plotters can be used together to complement each other’s capabilities. For example, you can use a printer for everyday printing tasks and a plotter for creating high-quality posters or technical drawings.

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