How Plotter Differs From Printer

Everything important to know about plotters

plotter, differs, printer

  • What is it and why are we needed?
  • How they differ from printers?
  • Description of species
  • Dimensions
  • Popular models
  • Components and consumables
  • Which plotter to choose?
  • Repair features

In this article, you can find out everything there is to know about plotters. It is necessary to understand what it is, what is the difference between automatic large format plotters and other devices. And you should also understand the differences from the printer, the features of their repair, the rules for choosing.

What is it and why are we needed?

A plotter, also known as plotters, is an apparatus for printing output and drawing drawings. It should be noted that some models perform different operations. The differences between the specific versions are in the type of media used, the type of printing blocks, and so on. The plotter is designed for approximately the same tasks as a printer, but it has been significantly improved. Plotters can:

  • Create large format printed images;
  • Receive three-dimensional postcards;
  • Prepares signs for advertising and much more.

In defining a plotter, it is worth emphasizing another important point: it can print not only on paper. This device is suitable for displaying images and texts on:

  • Cardboard;
  • Film;
  • Various fabrics;
  • Synthetic materials;
  • Ceramics (e.G. Cups).

The information input system, whose purpose is positioning and precise movement of the head over the material being processed, works approximately on the same principle as the GPS systems. This is exactly how flatbed plotters work. Advanced modern models can not only print something, but also cut out complex shapes. Plotters appeared in the late 1950s. The first models Moved paper media along an axis using wheels, a writing pen was used for drawing; ballpoint pens were later used.

In the 1970s, the first high-resolution plotters entered the market. Earlier, such models appeared in the assortment of Tektronix and HP. These devices were roughly the size of a desk.

Outwardly, the plotter looks like a very wide and bulky printer. These sizes are absolutely necessary, because otherwise you cannot work with large-format media. The device is controlled by direct connection to computer ports, Ethernet technology and connection via SCSI. There are many technical types of plotters, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. but this should be discussed separately.

important is the difference in functionality. So, models for scrapbooking are usually equipped with several knives at once. Such devices operate on the basis of a special program. Quite a sufficient solution. A4 format. The letter of paper is pasted onto a special backing.

Quite a noticeable part of plotters is dedicated to stickers. The stickers obtained in this way are suitable, for example, for cars. This technique is used primarily for commercial purposes. An increasing role in the market is now played by fabric products. Felt plotters stand out in a separate category.

With the help of felt printing devices, they make:

  • Toys in the crib;
  • Toy cars;
  • Decorative items for New Year’s celebrations and other holidays;
  • Felt food and many other things.

How they differ from printers?

Traditionally, it is believed that a printer is a device for transferring digital information to solid media, primarily office paper, although this is not necessary. Some printers can also print labels, prepare banners, and apply labels to film and cardboard. Most of these devices work with A4 format. However, there are also large-format versions designed for A3-A0 format.

The main difference between plotters is that they do NOT print, but rather devilry. It is almost impossible to display texts with such a device, but technical images, diagrams and drawings are obtained very well. But it should be borne in mind that such a definition applied only to the previous generation of technology. Precision and meticulous detailing is fully achieved with the help of computer programs and advanced printing technologies.

It’s worth noting that the additional features do vary. Only a plotter, unlike a printer, is capable of cutting a stencil. The plotter length is usually longer than that of a simple printer. Sometimes it is several meters. In addition, NOT sheets are loaded into the plotter, but rolls, whose size is limited only in width. Almost all versions are equipped with cutters that automatically cut sheets exactly to size. Flatbed plotters display the information you need on hard surfaces. The element containing the ink itself moves over the fixed letter. Such a solution allows drawing drawings on gypsum boards, glass, veneered structures and even on plywood.

Most often, the media format in this version is limited to A2. But since a powerful printing device is required, the apparatus itself is very bulky as a whole. Printing on thermal paper is done by plotters without consumables. In this case, the work proceeds according to the direct inference method. But from the point of view of the consumer, there is another difference that accurately distinguishes any plotters from printers.

Plotter: what kind of device it is, purpose, principle of operation, characteristics

A plotter is a device for printing and drawing drawings. There are models that do other things. Equipment varies in the type of media used and its placement, print units and other characteristics.

What is a plotter and what is it for

Before proceeding with the review of the equipment device, you need to understand its purpose. Basically, the plotter refers to devices for printing. In fact, it is analogous to a printer, but more advanced. The plotter device allows you to perform large-format printing, create drawings, 3D postcards, advertising signs and other products. If the printer prints only on paper, then the media can be cardboard, fabric, film and other synthetic materials. There are special models that can be applied to T-shirts, other lightweight clothing, and even round objects such as cups.

The plotter is analogous to the printer, only it has advanced functions

The equipment was originally intended for printing only. Over time, his device has improved. Now this concept means machines that can not only print, but also cut shapes from the carrier.

Plotter history

Various sources contain equipment called plotters. These are the plotters, which were originally named so. The machines were intended for drawing diagrams, tables, maps and other graphic images on large media.

Plotters were originally designed to print graphics on large media.

Plotters appeared with the beginning of the development of computerization. In 1959, the first Calcomp 565 model went on sale. The machine moved paper media along the axis with wheels. Drawing was carried out by a writing pen.

Calcomp 565 was replaced by the improved Computervision’s Interact I plotters. The equipment was equipped with an auto-design system. The drawing element was replaced with a ballpoint pen. The advantage of the equipment is its high image accuracy. Over time, the manufacturer has modernized it. Now you can apply a color pattern with multi-colored feathers.

High-resolution tablet models appeared in 1970. Manufacturers HP and Tektronix were engaged in the release of equipment. Electronic devices resembled a table in size.

The modern plotter is a multifunctional device

A modern plotter is a device that produces bright, colorful, high-resolution printing. Many models have large RAM and hard drive. An additional cutting function has been added. Improved drawing blocks, which allowed the media to use Not only paper, but also other materials.

What is the working principle of a plotter

The work of the first plotters consisted of moving the paper medium along the X coordinate. The movement of the drawing pen took place along the Y coordinate. The equipment with a ballpoint pen was controlled by a computer. Modern plotters work through a computer port connection, SCSI interface and Ethernet. Advanced devices have their own built-in buffer, control display. There are special programs for control, where the operator develops an image, sets the parameters. When the project is ready, it is sent to print. The device receives a signal and begins to perform the task exactly according to the program.

The main types of plotters and their characteristics

There are three types of equipment that differ in functionality: cutting, printing and combined plotters. The third option is of great interest. Such devices are often referred to as hybrids. You can find the name plotter-cutter. The advantage is that images can be cut and printed on the plotter. There is no need to buy two expensive devices.

If we talk about the main varieties, then there are two groups of plotters: cutting and printing. Each device performs only one specific function.

Cutting plotters

By the name of the machine, you can already judge that it is intended only for cutting media. The plotter is equipped with a knife, which cuts out a fragment, a complex pattern and even text along a path specified by the program.

The cutting device is equipped with a knife instead of a printing unit

In fact, a cutting plotter is a cutting machine. Choose a device for its characteristics. First of all, the format is taken into account, which determines what size the media can be used. Cutting speed affects productivity. Here the pressure of the knife and the type of cutter depends on what material you can use the carrier, for example, film, cardboard.

Printing plotters

The printing equipment is only capable of applying the image to the medium. The device is different. Instead of a knife, the drawing block protrudes as a working unit. The way the image is applied depends on the printing technology.

Printing devices are only capable of applying an image to the media

In order to use the plotter for its intended purpose, it is necessary to choose the right device, taking into account its characteristics. Print speed, as with previous devices, affects performance. Resolution is responsible for the clarity of the picture at a certain size. The format depends on what size the media can be used, and what size the image will be. The color rendering parameter affects the brightness and saturation of the picture. Such plotters are needed in the manufacture of advertising products. For drawing graphic images, the color quality is not particularly important.

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Types of plotters by way of placing a letter

Carrier for equipment Supports paper, cardboard, film, synthetic fabric and other materials. They come in the form of sheets or rolls. Each type of plotter is designed to feed a specific media, which depends on its device.

Flatbed plotters

The device of flatbed-type equipment resembles a printer in functionality. The technique works only with sheet media. It is fixed on the table by magnetic, electrical or mechanical fixation.

The device of flatbed models provides a large table for media sheets

Tablet devices are usually used to apply images in A2 and A3 format. The disadvantage is the large size due to the presence of the table. Because of this, tablet-type devices are not very popular. Such a technique is in demand when printing advertising signs of huge sizes.

Roll plotter

A feature of the roll equipment is its compactness. The media is wound on a roll of a specified thickness. The feed takes place along the drum, where, in the process of movement, the drawing block applies an image.

The device of roll models allows using long media wound on a roll with a compact size of equipment

The device requires little space. Roll-up models save consumables and have better print quality. In terms of functionality, the devices also win. Their device allows you to perform more tasks.

What are the plotters by the type of the drawing block

A special feature of printing machines is the presence of a drawing block. That his device depends on the printing technology. Each painting unit is capable of working with a certain type of media.

Pen plotters

The writing head of the equipment has a pen-shaped device. Hence the name came from. The pen moves in two directions during operation. Devices are considered a vector type and are of two types: some paint with liquid paints, others apply an image with slate pens.

Pen models are vector type devices

The motor drives the head, which creates a certain level of noise. The advantage of the device’s pens is high print quality, contrast and good color output. Disadvantage. slow print speed.

Inkjet plotters

In terms of printing technology, the machines resemble ordinary household inkjet printers. The picture is applied with liquid paints sprayed from the nozzle of the writing head. Most models work with 4 basic colors. Other shades are obtained by mixing paints.

Most inkjet printers work with 4 base ink colors

The jet head is equipped with a large number of nozzles. During printing, they heat up, due to which an air-filled bubble is formed, which under pressure squeezes the ink onto the substrate. The advantage is simple work with the plotter, high productivity, clear pictures, affordable price of consumables.

Electrostatic plotters

This category includes devices that apply an invisible picture with charged particles onto a special carrier. Liquid ink adheres to them and finally cures by drying.

Equipment with Electrostatic printing technology is sensitive to room temperature and humidity

The advantage of plotters is the high speed of drawing. However, electrostatic devices will be able to function properly if the room is maintained at the manufacturer’s Recommended humidity and temperature.

Laser and LED plotters

The device of this category of equipment resembles laser printers. First, the invisible image is applied by a beam to the carrier. Dry powdery paint. toner adheres to charged particles. When heated and passed through the media drum, the ink is baked into a stable image.

The writing head of the laser device has a long service life, since the possibility of paint drying on it is excluded

The advantage of the laser and LED device is its high performance. Due to the high resolution, clear pictures are obtained. The downside is the high cost of equipment.

Direct Output Plotters

The printing technology is based on the use of thermal paper. The carrier passes through a special head. a comb. It is equipped with a variety of heaters. Here, a different heating temperature on the carrier shows a certain color of each point of the pattern.

Direct-output models are printed on thermal paper

The peculiarity is that the mechanism of action of plotters of direct image output in monochrome printing allows you to get a high-quality picture of good definition. Equipment is more in demand by engineering organizations for drafting projects.

Thermal plotters

The printing technology and the head design are the same as those of the direct-output models. The media is thermal paper, but there is a special film between it and the comb, called a color donor.

Thermal machines produce beautiful color images

During printing, the head moves through the media as many times as necessary. By warming up at a certain temperature, the donor leaves the desired color on the thermal paper. Printed products DO NOT fade from UV rays, moisture resistant.

How to use a plotter

To work, you need special software. It is supplied with the device. If the base program is NOT satisfactory, you can use third-party software. To print to a plotter, follow these steps:

  • A pre-prepared file is created in the program or found on a computer;
  • Click the “Print” command in the menu;
  • Find a plotter connected to the computer in the equipment line, click the “Properties” command;
  • In the menu that appears, set the parameters, press the “OK” command;
  • First, a preview of the picture will appear, and if everything suits you, give the command “Print”.

The nuances of work may differ depending on the installed operating system and the programs used.

Similarly, you can use a plotter for cutting, but there are many nuances. First, the device is tested on unnecessary media so as not to spoil the material, for example, with color pictures for cutting.

The cutterbar must be tested before insertion

After giving the command “Properties” in the settings set the pressure on the knife and the length of its overhang, which depends on the media used. Next comes the preview of the image and the command “Print”.

All cutter plotters cannot automatically adapt to the media type. The operator must do everything himself. It is important to check the sharpness of the knife, the accuracy of the aligned image, place a substrate with good adhesion properties under the carrier so that the material does NOT move during cutting.

The video shows interesting information about the plotter:

Setting up and installing a plotter

Before starting work, you need to configure the plotter, and if it is used for the first time, then installation is required. The manufacturer completes its device with an installation disc. It usually contains instructions, drivers, software. To install, you need to load a disc into the drive and act according to the pop-up hint. If for some reason the disc is not there, everything can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website on the Internet. After installing the software in the “Start” menu, click the “Devices” button. The operating system should detect the device. In the “Printers and Faxes” line, double-click with the left mouse button. In the window that appears, set the desired settings.

Corel Draw is considered one of the most popular programs for work.

The adjusted settings can be saved and used in the future. They are changed if necessary. After the settings, the equipment is put into operation, provided there is a ready-made file for printing or cutting. If it is not there, create it in Corel Draw, Plot Calc, Sign Cut or another similar program.

What is the difference between a printer and a plotter

Previously, the equipment differed in the image output technology. Plotters plotted and printers printed. Modern plotters also print as vector drawings are a thing of the past. However, these machines are much more productive than printers, have advanced functions, and print on large formats. SEPARATE models of plotters have a cutting function that the printer does not have.

A plotter is a device for the production of products in large quantities. The printer is inefficient. It is suitable for home use or office where there is no need to quickly print a huge number of sheets.

Difference between plotter and printer

Even a person who turns to “you” with office equipment and computer electronics today may not know how a plotter differs from a printer. The confusion in terms is due to both the manufacturers and the market. The point is the unification of technologies and the adaptation of marketing to the lexicon of the layman: the same devices are called large-format printers and plotters, and the latter, in combination with the definition of “cutting”, are also used to designate cutters.

Initially, plotters were devices used to automatically draw maps, diagrams and any other graphics on large media. In fact, they replaced the graphics, which no longer had to create high-precision images by hand. Naturally, the drawing was calculated and built on the computer.


Printers are printing devices for displaying images or text on a physical medium in small quantities, without creating a printing plate. Office and home models work with media sizes from A4 (rarely A3), and large-format printers are distinguished into a separate category, which allow printing information on leaves and rolls from A0 to A3.

A printer

As you can see, the difference between a plotter and a printer is in the way the image is displayed: the first one draws (plotter in English. “plotter of curves”), the second prints. However, this difference can already be transferred to the category of historical: devices have to draw less and less. the process is unprofitable.

Today it is necessary to draw comments in a linear fashion, and high accuracy and detail of the image is achieved by software and by means of printing technologies. Therefore, plotters-plotters that output Vector drawings are a thing of the past, and their name is often called large-format printers, which replaced them.


If we talk about vector plotters, then the design differences from the printer seem to be very significant. The print head of this kind of device applies the ink element along a predetermined path in a linear fashion, as a person does with a pencil in his hand. As a printing element, pens with continuous ink supply are used, and in some models (already out of production) it was possible to use ordinary drawing pencils. The consumption of materials for such a method of displaying the image is minimal, but the process is very slow. Today, such plotters are used exclusively in engineering systems, and most CAD developers are adapting their products to the capabilities of large format printers.

It is these machines that allow you to print a raster image on large format media (up to A0). Structurally, they differ from office printers only in size (they can reach several meters in length) and in the way they are fed. If we usually load A4 sheets, then large-format printing involves the use of materials rolled into a roll. In this case, only the width is limited, and the length of the finished product can be any. Many models of such plotters are supplied with a cutter for automatic clipping of letters upon reaching the desired size.

In addition, there are also flatbed plotters. devices that allow you to print on hard surfaces. In them, the Ink block itself passes over the fixed letter, applying and Fixing the image. Thus, they create drawings on glass, corrugated board, plywood, veneer. The size of the carrier, as a rule, does not exceed A2 in this case, and the devices themselves are massive, with a floor installation, depending on the type of material.

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Just like conventional printers, plotters can be laser (mainly used in engineering and architectural systems) and inkjet (the most common type for low-volume printing). Direct output devices are often used for printing on thermal paper, rather than needing consumables.

For office and home printers, as a rule, simple tasks are set: output an acceptable image or text quality. Printing requires more subtle settings, so that plotters allow you to adjust a variety of print parameters manually or automatically.

And lastly, the difference between a plotter and a printer is especially significant for the layman: the cost of large-format devices can go up to 60,000, depending on the level of printing color and the maximum possible format. Equipment for printing ordinary posters, posters and reproductions A3 or A2 will cost on average about 1000 A. An ordinary home printer can be purchased for 50 This (well, dimensions, of course) makes large-format devices inhabitants of studios and printing centers, but NOT offices.

Unlike wide-format machines, the cutter is not designed for printing. Technologically, it is much closer to Traditional plotters, but instead of a writing block it has a cutting block. This technique is used to cut and perforate material when creating, for example, patterns, patterns, stickers. Some models allow you to replace the knife with a felt-tip pen or a lead, in total you get a drawing.

What is the difference between a plotter and a printer

Large format printers and plotters create high-resolution replication (copying) images. The reproduction methods used vary considerably due to file format and materials. Plotters rely on vector format or line art. Large format printers use bitmap files built on a grid with pixels.

Types of printers and plotters

Computer printers and plotters are used to output industrial data in printed form. They are used to obtain accurate drawings, graphics, labels, maps and other images. Industrial printers and plotters are used to reproduce visual material, their design and application differ significantly.

Printers use printing methods similar to those found in consumer devices. The two most common printing methods are laser and inkjet.

  • Laser printers transfer images onto heated paper using a laser. The paper heats up to secure the image successfully. Laser printing is much faster than inkjet, but is generally limited to lower resolution, resulting in near-quality image quality.
  • In inkjet printers, ink enters the substrate through the nozzles of the cartridges. Inkjet printing offers a better image quality than laser, albeit at lower speeds.

Plotters are devices designed to reproduce architectural drawings, maps, graphs and diagrams on large paper.

Plotters can be classified into the following types:

  • Pen plotters use a vertical pen or pencil to plot the image. A pen or pencil moves across the static writing of the paper. The plotter itself can move the paper under a static pen or pencil. Pen plotters are slow and produce more than one high quality image, but it is the most commonly used type due to its affordable cost.
  • Inkjet printers produce images similar to inkjet printers. They are able to create crisp images much faster than feathers. Lack of relative high cost of maintenance.
  • Electrostatic plotters create a latent electrical image on the surface of a special electrostatic paper. Produce high quality images. Strict requirements for operation and maintenance. High price. Used by graphic and commercial artists.

The main difference

The major difference between plotters and printers is the file format. Plotters rely on vector graphics, while printers rely on pixels.

Vectors create images from nodes (point-to-point) connected mathematically into defined lines and curves. Every aspect of a vector object is defined using a mathematical description, including the position of a node, its location, line length.

Bitmaps, on the other hand, are made up of a series of dots set at specified locations on a rectangular grid. the images are printed as a reference to a specific location and by color value.

Since the quality of the resulting image depends on the resolution, then if you need to get a clear picture of a large size, it is preferable to use vectors, which are scaled to any size without loss of clarity. When you enlarge a bitmap, the pixel size increases, resulting in distortion (blurring) of the image.


Plotters are most commonly used for simple colored vinyl signage. In this case, cutting plotters are used, which use a blade instead of a pen. Therefore, this process is called plotter cutting. They are more cost effective than printers of the same format.

Printers can reproduce color images, shadows, gradients, and other design elements. For example, large format printers are ideal for printing full color banners and posters as well as large-scale graphics.

File formats and software

Plotters read files in DWG, CDR, AI formats. Printers. BMP, PDF, JPG. Tiff.

Plotters use Adobe Illustrator, Corel, Flexi and CAD software.

Printer software covers Photoshop and other image editing programs. The vast majority of digital images are saved in raster graphics format in GIF, JPEG, PNG.

What is the difference between a plotter and a printer

Plotters, they are also plotters, are intended for drawing output; they are Vector devices (at least according to the Input data). In the early generations of THESE devices, the writing instrument moved along the path defined by the currently displayed shape. The plotter is able to draw graphic primitives:

  • Point,
  • Line segment,
  • Arc,
  • Ellipse (circle as its kind),
  • Rectangle.
  • The data stream received by the plotter contains drawing commands for THESE primitives and characteristics. Many plotters also “understand” the commands for writing text:

    • They internally interpret each letter as a set of segments and arcs;
    • For this they must have the corresponding tables of character generators.

    Plotters allow you to display images on sheets of different formats. from A4 in desktop devices to A1 and AO in large floor devices. Such large sizes are not available for printers. According to the method of ensuring the movement of the writing instrument, schodo paper distinguishes between Flatbed and roll plotters.

    Flatbed plotter

    In a flatbed plotter, writing paper is laid on a flat table and fixed motionlessly. On small devices, the letter along the edges is pressed with metal strips to the magnetic table. On large format devices, the sheets are sometimes sucked by air through special holes in the table. Above the table, the carriage moves in one direction, along which the writing head moves. This entire crane-like structure is driven by two stepper motors that move the writing heads across the entire surface of the sheet. Positioning accuracy is measured in tens and even hundreds of millimeters. The pen head of the plotter is equipped with a writing pen. There is a solenoid on the head, which presses the pen to the paper in the right places. In an inkjet printer, the head is the same type as in an inkjet printer (black and white or color). The positioning and writing unit drives are controlled by an integrated microcontroller in accordance with the received command stream.

    Roll plotter

    The roll plotter has a horizontal drum on which a sheet of paper is placed and pressed against the drum by rollers. The edges of the sheet hang down freely (these are outdoor structures). The writing head moves along the guide only along the axis of the drum. Rotation of the drum (in both directions) and movement of the head together provide mutually perpendicular movements of the writing instrument and paper. Roll plotters allow you to output large-format drawings, and not taking up a huge area (like Flatbed). Here only the roll width (A1 or AO) is strictly limited. There are devices in which the edges of the sheet do not hang down, but are wound on special drums. such plotters can “create” canvases several meters long. However, in a reel-to-roll plotter, it is quite difficult to accurately position the paper that rolls back and forth on the drum during repetitive runs during repetitive runs. Because of this, very high-precision (and therefore expensive) mechanics are required.

    Modern inkjet web plotters are made slightly differently. In fact, they are raster inkjet printers, the head of which has a number (and more than one) of nozzles. When outputting, the paper in them is rolled along the drum only once, in one direction, and during this pass the entire image is output in a raster method. Image rasterization is performed in the internal RAM of a huge size, but at this stage of the development of technology it is easier than doing complex mechanics.

    A pen plotter is able to select pens (by ink color, type, and thickness) from the ones at its disposal. Nibs are different. ball tip pen, fiber tip pen or ceramic tip pen. each type has its own niche. Different mechanisms are used to select a pen. In the revolving mechanism, the nibs are installed in the cells of the drum located at the edge of the plotter’s working table. A separate drive turns the drum to the desired angle, providing the required cell for access. The head is brought to the drum and with a certain movement takes out the feather from it (previously put the old one in a free cell). In the second plotters, the pens are installed in a row of holders, and the exchange head is brought to one of them.

    Plotter external interface

    The plotter’s external interface is parallel or serial. Unlike printers, for plotters, the interface is NOT a thin place. the transfer of graphic commands, even over a serial interface, is much faster than their mechanical execution. The parallel interface of the plotter is no different from the printer. The serial interface on older plotters is sometimes difficult. Some serial plotters control the flow in software, but do NOT send standard X0N / X0FF characters, but words (ASCII strings). Such an exchange protocol at the system level is practically not supported (plotters themselves “talk” with the application program). This makes it difficult to connect the plotter to a computer network (for example, through a print server).

    Plotters have a number of specific characteristics:

    • Paper size (maximum and minimum sheet sizes);
    • Linear speed of movement of the pen during drawing and idle movements;
    • Maximum head acceleration;
    • Positioning accuracy;
    • Repeatability of positioning (the ability to repeatedly hit a given point after long “travel”);
    • Number of colors;
    • Supported languages.

    In addition to drawing plotters, there are also cutting plotters (cutter), instead of writing there is a cutting head with a mechanical or laser cutter.

    Data formats

    Modern printers are capable of working in any mode. graphic or text. After turning on the power and performing a hard or software reset, the printer is ready to receive text data and commands. Printers usually operate in an extended (8-bit) ASCII table. The first 32 codes (B-lFh) are used for control characters NOT directly displayed by the printer. This is followed by the codes for Special characters, numbers, Uppercase (uppercase. upper case) and lowercase (lowercase. lower case) letters of the Latin alphabet. Codes 80-FFh are required for national alphabets (in particular, Russian) and pseudo-graphic characters. Of the control codes used for printing in character mode, we especially note the carriage return (CR, ODh), line feed (LF, OAh) and format (FF, BOT) codes. If the printer is set to AutoLF, the printer will automatically perform a line feed based on the carriage return code. This mode can be set by configuring the printer as well as a special signal from the Centronics interface. Files for printing at the end of each line, as a rule, contain a pair of codes. CR and LF (sequence of bytes OD, OA), and blank lines will be skipped when printing them in AutoLF mode. Normally AutoLF is NOT used. According to the interpretation of control codes among matrix printers, there are two main command systems: IBM (for the IBM Pro-Printer) and Epson. Almost all commands for changing print modes (switching fonts, resizing, printing effects, etc.), as well as switching to graphics mode, begin with the Escape code (Esc, lBh). This is followed by one or more command code bytes; the format of the sequence is determined by the first byte (command) following the Esc code. This whole construct is called Escape Sequence.

    For laser printers, Hewlett-Packard has developed a special language PCL (Printer Control Language), in which, in addition to control commands similar to the Eesare-sequence of matrix printers, there are also graphic ones describing drawing geometric primitives. The language also has tools for working with the built-in fonts of the printer, which provide scaling and rotation of letters. A number of inkjet printers support PCL. Using PCL reduces the amount of data transferred to the printer for printing complex images of text and graphics compared to the bitmap format. This savings is especially significant for high resolution and color printing. for PCL, the amount of transmitted information is not so much dependent on the resolution and color. However, to access these capabilities, the PCL must also be “understood” by the graphics application. PCL support is quite natural for vector graphics applications (including word processors and publishing systems). Purely raster systems naturally generate raster printing commands.

    Since there is always a software driver between a printing (drawing) application and a printer (plotter), a translator driver is almost always required when their languages ​​do not match. So, a dot matrix printer that is not Russified at the hardware level can be Russified in software. It is preferable to use a downloadable character generator of the printer. for this, the computer must send a data block of a certain format to the printer, containing the download commands and the actual contents of the character generator. However, such loading must be performed every time after turning on the printer, so that the driver can monitor the status of the printer (by interface signals) and load the character generator in a timely manner. However, not all printers have this capability. The situation is simpler when the printer has a character generator for Russian letters, but they are arranged in a different order than required. In this case, the localization driver should simply recode the symbols according to the table. True, for this he needs to “understand” the graphic commands of the printer and transparently (without conversion) to pass the graphic data. If the customer does not have the necessary alphabet and a downloadable character generator at all, you have to print the text in graphic mode. For this, the driver must perform rasterization of characters, and not known to the printer or all in a row (for uniformity), and display them in a graphical mode. At the same time, the volume of transmitted information increases by more than an order of magnitude, which reduces the printing speed, especially with a low-power processor (time is spent on rasterization and on the actual data output). Hardware or software Russification of printers is relevant only for printing text files using DOS. Windows applications use graphic modes of printers, and Russification issues are already moving into a purely programmatic area (drivers and system fonts). However, graphic mode printing on dot matrix needle printers is too slow and noisy by today’s standards, although possible. For such printing, inkjet printers are more suitable, and even better. laser printers.

    A driver software can implement a graphics language other than those supported by the printer — for example, there are software implementations of PostScript. However, in this case, the computer’s central processor is loaded with a voluminous rasterization task, and the entire raster image of the output page must fit in RAM. In addition, a huge amount of data is output to the printer, which is especially frustrating for a network printer. So for large volumes of printing, it is better to use a real “hardware” (hardware) PostScript printer, and not its software emulation.

    From the above, it is quite clear that the printer driver must match the type of printer and its language capabilities. So, when using a PostScript printer, the driver must “know” about this, otherwise graphic output will always be performed in raster mode and users will NOT receive any advantages of hardware support for PostScript.

    What is a plotter and how does it differ from a regular printer. Part 1

    Many of us have seen drawings on large sheets of paper or advertising posters. Many have heard the word “plotter”, but did not know what it is.

    What is a plotter?

    A plotter is such a hefty bulky thing that can take up half a small room.

    What does the human mind not come up with?!

    The first plotters (or plotters) were devices for drawing drawings, graphs and diagrams on sheets of large format paper. A1, A0 and more.

    They were used mainly in engineering circles.

    Such plotters were a tablet with a carriage that could move in two directions (along the X and Y coordinates) using the corresponding electric motors.

    Pencils or pens (and, accordingly, containers with ink for them) were installed in the carriage, which drew lines on a sheet of paper fixed in the plane of the tablet. This system was intended to replace the monotonous and slow labor of a draftsman who conjured in a drawing board with a pencil in his hand.

    There were and still exist other designs of plotters, for example, laser (the latter, by the way, are very expensive). When we say “plotter” below, we mean an inkjet plotter. Such an inkjet plotter is essentially a large format inkjet printer.

    When talking about inkjet printers, in most cases they mean a technique that prints on A4, A3 or A3 sheets (slightly more than A3).

    If we talk about plotters, they mean a technique that prints on sheets of A2, A1, A0 and more, or on paper tape.

    Of course, the plotter can also print small images that would fit on an A4 sheet. But it makes no sense to buy it only for such work, since it costs significantly more than a printer.

    How a plotter works

    • Printhead (or several),
    • Mechanisms for moving the carriage with the print head and paper feeding,
    • Positioning devices (encoder sensors),
    • Service station for head cleaning,
    • Ink supply system, optical and mechanical sensors,
    • Secondary power supply, which generates voltages for the electronic and mechanical components of the plotter.

    At the same time, the mechanisms of paper feeding and carriage movement have significantly higher productivity and reliability and increased resource.

    And in general, a plotter differs from a printer in that it has a resource that exceeds the printer’s resource at times.

    Positioning the printheads

    The position of the carriage with the head is determined, as in inkjet printers, using an encoder tape, which is rigidly fixed along the path of the carriage (parallel to the guide along which the carriage moves).

    The encoder tape is a thin narrow ribbon made of transparent and flexible material (plastic), on which narrow black opaque strokes are applied perpendicularly.

    The carriage has a Corresponding optical sensor (optocoupler), which, like the entire carriage, moves along the encoder tape during printing. An optocoupler is an emitting (LED) and light receiving (photodiode) elements made in a single structure.

    When moving, the luminous flux from the LED is periodically interrupted by opaque strokes of the encoder tape. The signal taken from the photodiode and fed to the control circuit is a series of pulses.

    The further the carriage with the head has moved away from the initial position, the more pulses will enter the control circuit, which, taking this, makes a further decision. how exactly to control the mechanism for moving the carriage.

    Paper feed system

    The paper feed mechanism also has an encoder sensor. a disk, which is usually located on the left side of the plotter. The principle of operation is the same. the more opaque strokes crossed the light flux, the more steps the paper was fed.

    The paper feed mechanism may use a stepper motor. It differs from a conventional DC motor, in particular, in that its rotor does NOT rotate continuously, but takes a number of discrete positions.

    When a control pulse is applied, the rotor turns through a strictly defined angle, which depends on the specific design. This angle can be quite small. Therefore, the paper is fed step by step, i.E. Like a “jerk”.

    During paper feeding (when loading or unloading), these “jerks” follow one after another quite often, and therefore the impression of a smooth feeding is created.

    Aligning the printheads of an inkjet plotter

    Just like printers of even a low class, the plotter has the ability to perform operations such as head alignment.

    The fact is that many models of thermal inkjet plotters (for example, the Design Jet series from HP) have separate heads.

    Each of them prints in one color and has a not very high resource, i.E. Is, in fact, a consumable.

    After changing heads, you need to accurately match the color prints of all heads. To do this, the plotter first prints a color image in the form of periodically repeating geometric shapes.

    Then, using an optical sensor built into the carriage, it passes the carriage over the printed area and, capturing the reflected beam from this area, make adjustments to further work. These and other settings are memorized.

    Much more is stored in the plotter’s memory.

    In the first part, we note that the thermal jet head has a limited service life.

    The electronic circuit knows this resource, as well as the resource of all other nodes and blocks of the plotter. It is necessary to periodically monitor this data and promptly change worn parts.

    It is not necessary to replace the head immediately after 100% wear has occurred. As a rule, it can still work for a while. Change when the print quality deteriorates noticeably due to the failure of some of the nozzles. It would be good to do the cleaning with print nozzles beforehand.

    We have briefly discussed the similarities between an inkjet plotter and an inkjet printer. In the second half of this article, we’ll look at the differences. It will be more interesting!