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Definition: plotter

A graphics printer that draws images with ink pens. Plotters actually draw point-to-point lines directly from vector graphics files. The plotter was the first computer output device that could print graphics as well as accommodate full-size engineering and architectural drawings. Using multiple colored pens, plotters were also able to print in color long before inkjet printers became an alternative. See drum plotter, flatbed plotter, electrostatic plotter and inkjet printer.

Drum and Flatbed Plotters
Both types of plotters actually "draw" the images. The drum plotter (left) wraps the paper around a drum with pin feeds. It moves the paper back and forth for one direction of the plot. The pens move across the paper, creating the other axis. The bed of the flatbed unit (right) determines the maximum size of the total drawing.

Drawing Pens
Pen plotters use drawing pens that provide infinite resolution, because the lines are actually drawn. All other printing devices print dots.