Large Format Printers vs. Plotters

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Are you looking to fill a gap in your fleet? You may be considering something with a little more power than your average desktop printer. But wait just a minute--is it a large format printer or a plotter you're hoping for? Let's find out!

Large Format Printers

Large format printers and plotters fill similar needs, as far as printers go--but when you take a closer look, it's clear that they're separate devices.

Large format printers are basically "the latest and greatest." They're often used in graphic design and other creative endeavors, although they can help you print even the most basic documents, too. They print in sizes beyond your average 8.5x11" and aren't limited to paper; in fact, they can print on things like vinyl, metal, and glass, too.

Finally, wide format printers are probably more familiar because they work somewhat like their smaller cousins: They come in inkjet and laser varieties.


Plotters utilize a somewhat outdated form of printing technology, but that doesn't mean they're obsolete. Quite the opposite, in fact: Highly technical industries like architecture and engineering still use plotters to create precise blueprints and designs.

Plotters aren't like inkjet or laser printers. Instead, they use pens attached to metal arms, which, like a robot hand, are guided by a computer as they create sharp lines based on mathematical equations. Although the image quality is high, plotters probably aren't your first choice for applications like photography or marketing material, simply because the print process values precision over aesthetics.


Although large format printers and plotters are like siblings, they have a few big differences--most significantly, the applications for which they're most useful. To decide whether a plotter or large format printer is right for you, consider what you want the machine to do, how important aesthetics are, and how familiar you want them to feel to users.

To learn more about the world of large format printers and plotters, contact us today!

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