Plotters are specialized devices designed to create graphics on large posters or other surfaces. In the operation of such equipment, efficiency, economy and a clear output image are important. Plotters are quite expensive equipment, the choice of which must be approached responsibly.
Types of plotters
The main feature of such devices is the ability to work with large formats A1 and A0. This is necessary for creating advertising banners, large posters or drawings for engineering purposes.
There are many types of plotters used in various circumstances. Each device has its own advantages and disadvantages. The choice in favor of one or another type of device should be made on the basis of a clear idea of its further operation. If this feature is not taken into account and the device is not used for its intended purpose, problems with the efficiency and print quality will inevitably arise.
Inkjet plotter models are considered the most suitable for printing posters and banners. They use the most economical printing technology, and therefore the prices for such devices are somewhat lower than for all other models.
Inkjet printing can be thermal and piezoelectric. Each type has its own specific features to improve print quality.
Inkjet plotters most often use water-soluble or pigmented inks. They are relatively cheap and stay on paper for a long time. Inkjet printing can be done not only on plain paper, but also on its varieties. Film work is also available.
More expensive devices for printing on various media. The principle of operation is based on the use of special solvent inks. Their main difference from conventional pigment is their very high penetrating power.
Getting on the media, the ink corrodes the top layer a little, firmly stuck on the surface. Excess substances evaporate, and the output is a very reliable image.
Solve ink somewhat limits the choice of plotter, as it can only work with piezoelectric devices.
Demanded type of plotters, which is widely used in various fields. The main feature is the ability to apply an image to various textile objects. When printing, special dispersion inks are used, which penetrate deeply into the fabric and securely fix the pattern.
Special mention is the function of printing on bed linen and clothes. T-shirts and sweatshirts with prints allow you to add variety to your everyday look. So that the ink does not smear on the fabric, sometimes a special impregnation is used.
The most expensive plotters of all types. The principle of operation is based on surface treatment with ultraviolet rays. Special inks are preliminarily applied to the surface, which, when polymerized, create a bright and durable pattern. In this case, the ink does not penetrate deep into the base, remaining on the surface. The resulting pattern is resistant to all sorts of external influences, including moisture and sunlight.
Device Selection Criteria
The modern market offers users many models of plotters with certain characteristics and features. Each model is a professional device designed for use in large specialized centers. It is easy to get confused in the abundance of offers, so it is recommended to pay attention to a few basic criteria by which you can make a choice.
First of all, you need to decide what the device is specifically purchased for. Creating accurate drawings and diagrams requires some characteristics, and high-quality drawings require completely different ones.
Basically, all plotters by purpose can be divided into:
Drawing and topographic plotters are required to have a high print resolution and a small line thickness. Only in this case it will be possible to create a high-quality drawing that is easy to read.
Fine-art printers should be characterized by good color work, a variety of media used, and the ability to produce durable images. It is worth paying attention to models that are able to print even on hard surfaces. This will significantly expand the scope of the device.
Media size and type
The main feature of plotters is the ability to print large format images. Such formats are understood as A2 and more. Such opportunities directly affect the size of the plotter and its cost. To install such a device, you will need to allocate a special place.
The types of media that can be printed on deserve special consideration. This setting depends on the printing technology and ink used. The most common are plotters with the ability to draw on paper, textiles, special film and other soft surfaces. Much less common are models with the ability to print on solid media. They are more functional, but much more expensive.
It is worth paying attention to the type of media supply. The roll type is considered the most convenient and profitable. In this case, the media is loaded into the plotter in the form of a roll, and when printing, the device automatically cuts off the required piece. Sometimes this approach can be inconvenient, in which case there is a need for well-defined sheet sizes. Such a plotter will cost much more.
Ink type and printing technology
All plotters differ in printing technology. There are two main types:
Thermal or thermal jet devices are relatively cheap and fast, but due to some design features, they produce images of average quality. Piezoelectric plotters, on the other hand, are capable of producing higher quality products, but this quality comes at the cost of slower speed and higher cost.
An important characteristic is the type of ink used. The following inks can be used:
- Pigment. Considered the most common for printing on paper. They do not penetrate deep into the carrier and are readily soluble in water. They are practically not suitable for printing on fabric or PVC, as they are short-lived.
- Solvent. Deprived of some of the disadvantages of water-soluble inks. They are durable, penetrate deeply and are suitable for PVC media.
- ultraviolet. Allows you to create the brightest picture. They adhere well to any surface without changing its structure.
- Sublimation and dispersion. Best suited for printing on textiles.
Electronics, connection and additional functions
If irregularities in the printing process on a regular printer are just an unpleasant phenomenon, then problems with a plotter can lead to significant financial losses. Therefore, it is very important to choose a device with a reliable configuration. When working, the plotter needs to process a large amount of information, so special attention should be paid to the amount of RAM and the power of the built-in processor.
Many plotters are able to work offline, without being connected to a computer. In this case, all the necessary functionality for setting up printing should be present. Connection to a computer can be carried out via a local network, via a USB port or via a Wi-Fi network.
Separately, it is worth paying attention to the additional functions of the plotter. It can be working with photo paper, additional trays, the ability to print borderless and much more. Such functions will significantly expand the scope of the device and increase its versatility.
Almost all plotters have a base cutting system. But if on most devices this function is limited to cutting off a certain section of the media, then in some models contour cutting is available with significantly expanded capabilities. Contour cutting allows you to cut objects of a certain shape, which helps to create various promotional and souvenir items.
In the presence of contour cutting, you need to pay attention to pen pressure and accuracy. The pressure indicator will allow you to figure out what materials the plotter can cut. Accuracy is the most important indicator for the design of small objects. The higher it is, the more elaborate you can make the figure.
The 2019 plotter rating will help you finally decide on the choice of a particular device.
Canon imagePROGRAF iPF670
A fairly compact device, well suited for printing bright images. Uses 4 color ink cartridges and one black ink cartridge. The accuracy of the traced lines is ensured by a high resolution of 2400×1200 dpi. With a relatively low price, as well as economical use of paper and ink, the device has become one of the most popular on the market.
- relatively low cost;
- light weight;
- the ability to use the economical mode of printing;
- quick ink change
- bright pigments.
- not suitable for A0 paper;
- little built-in memory;
- low print speed;
- great power consumption.
Price – 40,000 rubles.
Watch a video review of the Canon imagePROGRAF iPF670 plotter:
Roland VersaStudio BN-20
Not the most expensive device with good performance. The plotter works with the A1 format, so the dimensions of the device turned out to be not very large. The device is well installed on the table without any inconvenience.
The device is equipped with a system of contour and boundary cutting. The maximum thickness of the cut material is 0.4 mm. The device works with a variety of media, including paper, film, mural and banner materials.
- the possibility of using silver ink;
- contour cutting system with automatic control;
- a high resolution;
- quality assembly.
- works stably only with original ink.
Price – 520,000 rubles.
How the Roland VersaStudio BN-20 plotter works is shown in this video:
A professional grade textile plotter using as many as 9 cartridges. This set allows you to create bright images with a clear rendering of halftones. The machine supports high resolution printing. You can lower the resolution to speed up your work. Roll fabric can be used as a material. The maximum weight of a roll must not exceed 40 kg.
- does not overheat during operation;
- high speed printing;
- the ability to install large and heavy rolls;
- special ink that penetrates deep into the base.
- high price;
- big weight;
- sensitivity to indoor air humidity.
Price – 1300000 rubles.
Watch the video review of the Mimaki JV300-160 plotter:
Multifunctional and expensive UV plotter. The cost is explained by the impressive characteristics of the device, which is capable of printing on A0 and larger media.
The plotter is suitable for drawing images on fabric, paper, stone, metal, glass and many other materials. In this case, the maximum thickness of the carrier can reach 50 mm. Submission is provided only sheet.
A device weighing almost 1 ton consumes 4.8 kW of electricity. It is advisable to purchase such a device only for large studios planning to seriously engage in advertising or other similar activities.
- reliable clamping design;
- work with a wide range of materials;
- fixing the pattern on the surface;
- ability to print on large formats.
- lack of network connection;
- high cost;
- large dimensions and weight.
Price – from 6900000 rubles.
You can evaluate the work of the Mimaki JFX200-2531 plotter and learn more about its advantages by watching this video:
EPSON SURECOLOR SC-F2000
Piezoelectric plotter for printing on T-shirts. Allows you to quickly and accurately apply a pattern to any fabric. The format is comparable to plotters for A2, but the print area is somewhat smaller.
When printing, ink is used much more than in other printing devices. This is due to the fact that tissue is used as the carrier. A little more is needed to achieve a good dye effect.
The device has a resolution of 1440 × 1440 dpi, which allows you to create fairly high-quality images. Connection to a computer is made via a local network or via USB.
- the possibility of drawing a pattern on any fabric;
- environmental friendliness of the ink used;
- convenient management;
- small sizes.
- expensive consumables.
Price – from 880,000 rubles.
Watch the video review of the EPSON SURECOLOR SC-F2000 plotter:
Having become acquainted with the main criteria for choosing a plotter, the types of these devices and the rating of the best models, the buyer will be able to accurately determine the purchase and purchase the device that will fully satisfy his needs.