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WodMarsden

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WodMarsden

My drawing office is in need of a Plotter.

 

Would a Hp printer be sufficient,or is a Plotter more suited to the task.

 

What are the differences between a Plotter and Printer?

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dbroada

genarally a plotter is a large format printer. If you can get your drawings (readable) on a printer that is all you need. If you can't read them at A3 you need something bigger. We have an A1 plotter that gets vary rarely used and several A3 printers.

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Lazer

You just missed out, I placed one last week on Ebay, a Hp designjet plotter A0 (Plotter as said by Dave is a large printer often had as a stand and wheels) it sold on ebay for £466, there are many on ebay selling for £1000 but I would suggest you only pay around £500 max for a second hand HP designjet, the HP plotters are fantastic.

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WodMarsden

We are after new.I am looking at the Hp Design Jet 510 and the hp 111 printer.Will an A1 plotter also do A2 plots?

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Organic

We recently purchased a new one for about $10,000. What is your budget?

 

An A1 plotter will plot everything from A1 down (i.e. this includes A2, A3, A4 etc - although the paper will need additional cutting)

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WodMarsden

Just as cheap as possible,we are a growing company so we arent looking at spending alot just yet.I am just trying to figure out whether to get the plotter or printer.Do the printers cost alot more to run and do they cut?

 

Tahnk you for your reply's

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Organic

They will cut an A1 sheet (and A0 also on A0 plotters), althoguh they can't cut an A3 print. You would end up with an A3 print and then an additional A3 sized piece of blank paper attached to it you then manually need to remove.

 

If this is going to the sole printer for the office and you print mostly A3 or A4, defiantly go with a printer. If you only do occasional A1 prints, send them to a printer.

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WodMarsden

We do alot of A1 plots,we have currently been using an A1 plotter at another office.So we to be able to do our own A1 plots.So i just need to try and find out the differences between the the A1 plotter and A1 printer

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eldon

I always understood that a plotter used a pen to draw vector graphics, and a printer was a raster device with ink jet technology or similar.

 

Using a plotter to plot True Type fonts was a very lengthy task :shock:

 

The way language is changing now, the initial meanings of words can get blurred.

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dbroada

now it appears that you were asking the difference between an A1 plotter and an A1 printer and I would answer the terms are pretty much interchangable. In my mind a plotter squirts ink directly onto the paper while a printer puts the ink on a transfer roller first (which makes an ink jet printer really a plotter) but a quick look at adverts shows even that is not a universal distinction.

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dbroada
I always understood that a plotter used a pen to draw vector graphics, and a printer was a raster device with ink jet technology or similar.

 

Using a plotter to plot True Type fonts was a very lengthy task :shock:

 

The way language is changing now, the initial meanings of words can get blurred.

that makes our plotter a printer :D but I think you are probably nearer than me.

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WodMarsden

so is a printer more expensive to run?

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Lazer

We had the HP designjet 500 A0 Plotter (forgot to say it was the 500 earlier), from my understanding plotter and printer are the same other than size? if this is true then running cost are more for the plotter due to using more ink and large paper. You can go down in size paper if you wish all the way to A4 on the HP 500 and print to canvas.

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Tyke

We have an HP Plotter (ink jet technology) with a 900 mm wide roll feed and we plot off a lot of drawings for one client at A4 size. Most modern plotters can save up the A4 plots and plot them all at once, like a sheet of stamps. IMO its worth spending money on a good plotter as you then get the reliability and the quality, and HP is in comparison to others very good. But you must first have the quality in your CAD drawing. The plots that you deliver are your 'visiting card' for your clients and you will be judged on their quality, so crap plots are not a good advert for your company.

 

As Dave said, plotters usually deal with the bigger sized sheets of paper and printers normally up to A3. Plotters pay a great deal of attention to scale and accuracy, whilst some printers actually automatically reduce a plot in size to get it to fit on the sheet of paper.

 

@ eldon: You are, as usual, right, but as you said

The way language is changing now, the initial meanings of words can get blurred.
is very true in this case and the manufacturers themselves are very often the one who confuse the situation with their own literarure.

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irneb

I'd also say print/plot doesn't have much difference these days. It used to be a bit otherwise a couple of decades ago: Then a printer meant something like a daisy-wheel / dot-matrix, while a plotter meant it had an arm moving a pen about on a piece of paper.

 

These days there are 2 basic types of printer (there is no "true" plotter when you refer to these - it's simply a large-format-printer): Either inkjet (slight derivative of "bubblejet") or it's some form of Electrostatic (like laser). There are others, but they're way less common and generally only for special purposes, e.g. the closest think to a "real" plotter these days are things like vinyl-cutters and so.

 

If you're after the "cheapest" possible, then I'd say go with inkjet. It may not be the cheapest running cost, but definitely cheapest to buy. I'd actually advise you to use a large- and small-format printer. You do get some large-format printers which allow for different sizes rolls (one I've seen is an Epson Stylus Pro ... can't remember the model number), but generally it's not very "wonderful" to have A4 sheets cut off a roll.

 

Our office (though a bit larger) has some 4 printers: 2x A3 Photostat/Scan/Fax/Print combos (one colour - both laser based), 1x Océ CS2044 for A2-A0 colour prints (inkjet - it's actually just a re-branded Canon imagePROGRAF), 1x Oce PlotWave 300 A3-A0 (used to have a TDS600, but that one can't work with Vista or later).

 

Previously I've had some good experience from CadJet2 (they're basically the same as HP's though, even uses same cartridges and drivers - just a lot less finicky when setting up paper rolls). Though the original company (EnCad) has been bought over by Kodak and seem to have "disappeared".

 

What I can say is though the large-format laser costs the earth, its running cost is even cheaper than the photostat machines. The most expensive running cost we have comes from the colour injet, though it cost us under US$2000 to buy. Another thing is the speed of the print: the injet takes anything from 20sec to 20min (depending on DPI and complexity of print) to finish an A0. The laser takes no more than 5 sec on A0 - not enough time for you to walk to the thing and wait.

 

So it depends on the quantity of your prints, you need to find out how much your company will be printing and then see if laser makes more financial sense. Both running cost and wasted time of employees. In general though I'd say a small office need not worry about laser-wide-format's. But I'd highly suggest going with a fast and economical small-format (i.e. A4/A3), you tend to do lots of "test" prints to that to save some paper.

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Jack_O'neill
so is a printer more expensive to run?

 

Much will depend on what sort of stuff you are printing. If they are simple line drawings, inkjets and lasers can cost about the same. If you're doing lots of shading or hatch patterns or color fills, you'd probably be better off with a laser. Either way, putting lots of ink or toner on paper is expensive. If you are doing large volumes of A1 , as in hundreds of pages per day, you're going to want to get a machine that will handle that and it won't come cheap.

 

There are a few new pen plotters on the market, but they are mostly adaptations of vinyl cutters. They are cheap, made in China, and may be next to impossible to get parts for when something breaks. I don't know that, but a plotter that will do 28" paper/vinyl for less than $300US can't be very robust.

 

Speed becomes a real issue with a pen/pencil plotter. They can produce beautiful drawings that have an almost hand drawn look to them, but you will not get one out in a rush. The more detail it has, the longer it will take. You'll go from a few seconds per page to possibly an hour or more per page with a pen plotter. Ink jets and lasers will do it at the same speed regardless of how much detail a drawing has. Pen plotters have to draw each line one at a time.

 

From my own experience, HP inkjets are very reliable, and older ones can be purchased for reasonable amounts. The biggest thing to watch for on old HP's is the toothed drive belt that runs the carriage back and forth across the paper. If it breaks, it's a pain to replace. If you buy a used one, have that belt replaced before you use it much.

 

If you do lots of different sizes, HP (and I'm sure the others do too) have a "nesting" feature where you can position small drawings around big ones to maximize the use of the paper. You'll have to cut them apart by hand if you do this but it will save a lot on paper. Alternately you can buy more than one size paper and switch out the rolls. If you use a pen plotter, you'll want to buy precut sheets. The motion of most pen plotters doesn't lend itself well to roll feeding.

 

With either approach, keep lots of ink or toner cartridges on hand. Same for pens if you go that route. If you're working the weekend to get a big project out, and run out of one of them, you'll be hard pressed to get a replacement. Most large format printers use cartridges that are not available at the local department store. Plotter pens are readily available online, but few stores will have them in stock. I very much suggest you check on prices and availability of those supplies before you buy a plotter. A less expensive plotter whose consumables are only available from an online store on the other side of the world might not be the best choice.

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Jack_O'neill

To the question of "is it a plotter or a printer" you could say that all printers are plotters, but not all plotters are printers. In contemporary reference, most people refer to anything that prints something bigger than 11" x 17" as a plotter and smaller than that as a printer. In reality, unless it actually uses pens or pencils, the big ones are simply large format printers. The paper makes one pass through the machine and the information gets deposited via spray nozzles or an electrostatic charge. In true plotters, an actual ballpoint or felt tip pen (or in some cases a pencil) moves on a carriage left to right, and the paper being pinched between rollers moves in and out at the same time. They are entertaining to watch, make beautiful prints as I said in the other post, but are very time consuming compared to thier laser and ink jet peers.

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irneb

Sorry what I meant to say about the "different sized rolls" is the Epson I saw (and also the 2 Océ lasers we've used) has multiple roll feeds. This means you don't need to swap rolls to have it print different sizes. E.g. the Oce has a A0 and A2 roll installed. When you send an A1 it prints this in landscape on the A0 roll. When you send A2 it prints in portrait on the A2 roll, A3 is in landscape on the A2 roll. All this happens automatically without you even needing to change any settings on the driver.

 

About Laser/Inkjet printing at constant speeds, that's not necessarily true. There's 2 factors which influence this:

 

  1. The "quality" (usually DPI) of the print might mean (especially on the inkjet) that the head needs to pass over the same scanline several times. So printing at 100DPI can be as fast as it gets, but going to 600DPI might take 6 times longer. It all depends on the printer's technology, if it can handle the DPI in a single pass it can print at as fast as it can move the head. If it makes-up finer DPI by sparying multiple times it needs to move the page only slightly, then go over the same line again.
  2. The data sent from the PC might need extra conversion. Lots of printers use a vector-based data file. Especially HP (using HPGL2), but also many others use PCL or even PostScript. The printer then needs to convert that linework & text into the raster (dots of ink) before it can actually start printing. Some printers can take ages to rasterize a complex set of linework. In such cases it might even be beneficial to set the driver to "calculate on PC", i.e. convert the linework into dots then send that directly to the printer. Though that depends on what difference in speed you achieve on your PC's CPU as compared to the CPU on the printer, as well as the speed of the cable between the PC and the printer.

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Jack_O'neill
About Laser/Inkjet printing at constant speeds, that's not necessarily true. There's 2 factors which influence this:

 

  1. The "quality" (usually DPI) of the print might mean (especially on the inkjet) that the head needs to pass over the same scanline several times. So printing at 100DPI can be as fast as it gets, but going to 600DPI might take 6 times longer. It all depends on the printer's technology, if it can handle the DPI in a single pass it can print at as fast as it can move the head. If it makes-up finer DPI by sparying multiple times it needs to move the page only slightly, then go over the same line again.
  2. The data sent from the PC might need extra conversion. Lots of printers use a vector-based data file. Especially HP (using HPGL2), but also many others use PCL or even PostScript. The printer then needs to convert that linework & text into the raster (dots of ink) before it can actually start printing. Some printers can take ages to rasterize a complex set of linework. In such cases it might even be beneficial to set the driver to "calculate on PC", i.e. convert the linework into dots then send that directly to the printer. Though that depends on what difference in speed you achieve on your PC's CPU as compared to the CPU on the printer, as well as the speed of the cable between the PC and the printer.

 

 

True, maybe I should have said "relatively the same". I was talking about once you've got everything set up it doesn't much matter if the drawing has 10 lines and circles or 100, you won't see much difference from one page to the next, as opposed to using a pen plotter where if you have 10 one inch circles it takes x amount of time but if you add 10 more, it will take twice as long due to the fact that it draws one object at a time. The stuff I draw never takes more than a few seconds to spool, and the pages start marching through the printer at a relatively constant speed after that. I don't have all sorts of jpgs and pdfs attached, it's lines and circles and text for the most part. Floor plans, elevations and cross sections. My epson ink jet will have the whole set printed before my pen plotter gets the titleblock drawn on the first page.

 

My point was that either of the other two will far and away out run a pen plotter. Add to that, with either laser or inkjet, as long as all the consumables are in place, you can dump a bunch of files to it, turn off the lights and go home. Let it sit there and print in the dark. Pen plotter, you gotta change sheets when it gets done.

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SLW210

As far as what you should purchase, I recommend you determine the largest amount available to budget the purchase. Start by comparing prices, specs and capabilities of each. Come back here and get some opinions on your narrowed down list.

 

 

The official term is "LARGE FORMAT PRINTER" for anything that prints over 11 x 17 (no idea what that is in metric). I find it very difficult to not call all of them plotters.

 

The main difference between the two is that plotters draw continuous lines to create images. Wide format printers simulate lines by printing a series of dots.

 

Wide Format Printer

A wide format printer refers to any printer that can print documents of a size larger than the sizes of standard paper, such as poster or even billboard sized documents.

 

Plotter

By distinction, plotters are special printers that use a set of pens to draw large documents that consist entirely of lines with no areas of solid color. This is distinct from other printers, which draw all images as an array of colored dots. Plotters range in size from desktop to room-size. They are used most commonly in Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) and similar applications.

 

Modern Plotters

Pen-driven plotters have been replaced largely by other types of wide-format printers, though printers designed especially for use in CAD sometimes are still called "plotters."

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