Your Comprehensive Guide to Plotter Printers in 2024

Evaluating Techniques, Substrates & Top Plotter Models

Let’s face it, printing technology is evolving quickly and staying on top of the changes and advances can be challenging while you’re minding the shop too! Plotter printers have carved out a niche for themselves, offering unparalleled precision and versatility. Whether you’re an architect needing precise blueprints, a designer creating intricate graphics, or a business requiring high-quality color prints, understanding plotter printers is essential.

We wanted to create a guide of sorts to take a dive into the world of plotter printers, discussing various techniques, substrates, top models, and comparing Roland plotter printers with competitors. First, the basics.

What is a Plotter Printer?

A plotter printer, often simply called a plotter, is a type of printer used for printing vector graphics. Unlike traditional printers that use a series of dots to form an image, plotters draw continuous lines, making them ideal for detailed and large-scale prints such as architectural plans, engineering drawings, and large posters.

What are Some Plotter Printing Techniques?

Plotter printers employ several unique techniques to deliver their precision and quality:

  1. Pen Plotters: These use pens to draw on the paper, moving in multiple dimensions to create images. They are suitable for blueprints and line drawings.
  2. Cutting Plotters: Equipped with a sharp blade, cutting plotters can cut designs into various materials like vinyl. They are popular in sign-making and apparel industries.
  3. Inkjet Plotters: Similar to standard inkjet printers but larger, these plotters use inkjet technology to produce high-resolution color prints. They are ideal for graphic design, posters, and photographic prints.
  4. Electrostatic Plotters: These plotters use static electricity to draw toner onto the paper, suitable for high-speed printing of blueprints.

So, What’s the Difference Between a Plotter and a Printer?

While plotters and printers may seem similar, they serve different purposes and operate differently:

  • Function: Plotters are designed for printing large-format, detailed line drawings and vector graphics. Printers, especially inkjet and laser printers, are better suited for everyday document printing and photo printing.
  • Output Quality: Plotters produce continuous lines which make them ideal for detailed technical drawings. Printers create images from a series of dots, which can result in pixelation when scaling up.
  • Speed and Efficiency: Plotters can be slower than printers due to the precision required, especially pen plotters. However, cutting plotters and modern inkjet plotters have improved speed significantly.

Plotter Printers Offer a Wide Variety of Printing Options

Plotter printers can handle a wide range of substrates (these are the materials that your printer can print on), each one suitable for different applications:

  • Paper: Everyone knows a printer should manage paper, but plotters offer a wider range of size capability.  Standard substrate ranges are for blueprints, engineering drawings, and posters.
  • Vinyl: Vinyl is used for a multitude of marketing purposes. Think all things promotional. Vinyl is used by cutting plotters for making signs, decals, and apparel designs.
  • Canvas: Ideal for high-quality artistic prints and photography. This is where you can get fancy…and scale!
  • Mylar: Common in architectural and engineering fields for durable, stable blueprints.
  • Fabric: Used in textile printing, especially for custom apparel and banners.

Best Plotter Printers for Different Needs


For precise, large-scale technical drawings, the following plotters are top choices:

  1. HP DesignJet T-series: Renowned for accuracy and speed, these plotters are perfect for architects and engineers.
  2. Canon imagePROGRAF TX-series: Offers high productivity and excellent print quality for CAD drawings.


Graphic designers need plotters that deliver exceptional color accuracy and detail:

  1. Epson SureColor P-series: Known for outstanding color fidelity and wide color gamut.
  2. Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-series: Provides high resolution and excellent gradation for detailed designs.

Color Printing

For vibrant, high-quality color prints, these plotters stand out:

  1. HP DesignJet Z-series: Excellent for fine art prints, photographs, and detailed graphics.
  2. Roland VersaEXPRESS RF-640: Offers high productivity and color accuracy, ideal for large-format graphics.

What are the Different Sizes of Plotter Printers?

Plotter printers come in various sizes to accommodate different project needs:

  • 24-inch Plotters: Suitable for smaller projects, such as posters and smaller architectural plans.
  • 36-inch Plotters: A popular choice for CAD drawings and larger design prints.
  • 44-inch Plotters: Ideal for large-scale architectural blueprints and wide-format photographic prints.
  • 60-inch Plotters and above: Used for very large prints, such as banners and oversized artwork.

Roland Plotter Printers vs. Competitors

Roland Plotter Printers

Roland is a well-respected name in the plotter printer market, known for its reliability and versatility:

  1. Roland TrueVIS VG2-540: Offers excellent color accuracy, versatility with various substrates, and user-friendly operation.
  2. Roland CAMM-1 GR2-540: Ideal for high-precision cutting, used widely in the sign-making industry.


While Roland has a strong reputation, it faces stiff competition from brands like HP, Canon, and Epson:

  1. HP: Known for its DesignJet series, HP plotters are highly regarded for their speed, precision, and overall reliability. The DesignJet Z-series, for instance, is excellent for high-quality photographic prints.
  2. Canon: The imagePROGRAF series is a strong competitor, offering exceptional color accuracy and detailed prints. The TX-series is particularly popular for technical drawings.
  3. Epson: The SureColor series is renowned for its superior color quality and wide gamut, making it a favorite among graphic designers and photographers.

Related Articles:

Which Plotter Printer is Best For My Business?

What are the Best Plotters for Engineers?

How Much is a Plotter Printer?

Why do you need a plotter printer?

Plotter printers are indispensable tools in fields requiring large-format, high-precision prints. From architectural blueprints to vibrant graphic designs, the right plotter can make a significant difference in quality and efficiency. Whether you’re considering the versatile Roland plotter printers or evaluating options from HP, Canon, or Epson, understanding the specific needs of your projects will guide you to the best choice.

When selecting a plotter printer, consider the substrates you’ll be working with, the size of the prints, and the specific features you need. With advancements in technology, today’s plotters offer incredible precision, speed, and color accuracy, ensuring that your prints meet the highest standards.


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