Printer vs Plotter vs Laser Printer: Difference and Comparison

Ever since the ease of work has become a vital factor in human life, science is trying to bring everything under this umbrella of ease. Handwritten documents, books, literature, letters, legal files, etcetera, are becoming obsolete. Printers have taken over the place and not only taken over but are advancing day in and day out. From printers to plotters to laser printers, it’s only emerging.

Key Takeaways

  1. Laser printers use toner and electrostatic printing, offering faster printing speeds and better text quality than inkjet printers.
  2. Plotters are ideal for large-format, highly detailed images like blueprints and maps, while laser printers produce sharp text and graphics.
  3. Laser printers have a higher initial cost but lower per page, making them more cost-effective for high-volume printing.

Printer vs Plotter vs Laser Printer

A printer is any device that prints text or images on paper. A plotter is a printer that is used to print large-scale engineering drawings. A laser printer is a type of printer that uses a laser beam to create an image on a photosensitive drum, which is then transferred onto the paper using heat.

Printer vs Plotter vs Laser Printer

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A printer is an electronic device that picks data from a computer and puts it on paper, converting electronic data into a hard copy. Printers are called the most famous peripherals of computers. They are mostly used to print texts and photos. They are external output devices in hardware form.

A plotter is also a form of printer, but it only interprets commands from the computer and makes line drawings on paper with single or multiple automated pens. HP is the most famous vendor for plotters around the globe.

A laser printer is also another type of printer. It uses lasers and an electrical charge model to convert electronic data into a hard copy on paper. Ever since laser printers stepped in, the neatness and sophistication of printed projects have drastically increased. They offer a resolution of 600 dots/inch or even higher.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPrinterPlotterLaser Printer
Supported file formatThe printer can support a file in the following formats: JPG, PDF, TIFF, BMP, etc.The plotter can support files in the following format: AI, CDR, DWG, etc.Laser printers only support BMP format files
Reception of commandsThey receive commands through the internetThey receive commands from the computerThey receive commands from a host computer
CostPrinters are cheapPlotters are expensiveLaser printers are the most expensive of all
Operation speed5 to 10 pages per minute 4 to 6 pages per minute20 to 30 pages per minute
Printing mechanismUses ink to printUser pen to printUses static electricity and heat to print

What is Printer?

A printer is a hardware output device that is attached to a computer, and it converts electronic data into a hard copy through ink on paper. Mostly the outputs are readable for humans, but there are barcode printers as well that can only be read by a device.

The first computer printer was designed in the 19th century., while the mechanical design was built in 2000.

There is another type of printer which is an ID card printer. They have different printing processes like thermal transfer, reverse image technology, thermal rewrite print process, etc.

The technology that a printer has effects so many factors, which include the cost of the printer, its operation cost, speed, quality, the permanence of the document, and noise.

Some printers do not support carbon papers or transparencies. There are many technologies found in modern printers, like toner-based printers, liquid inkjet printers, solid ink printers, dye sublimation printers, and thermal printers.

hp printer

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What is Plotter?

A plotter is a device that produces vector graphics drawings. It uses a pen to draw lines on the paper. Using a knife, it is also applied to cut a material like vinyl and leather. When used for cutting purposes, they are called cutting plotters.

Earlier plotters were used instead of printers because they had higher speed and quality as compared to conventional printers. They retained their place for many years, but now they are being replaced by wide-format conventional printers, however, the cutting plotters are still being used the same.

Plotters can also draw complex lines, graphs, and texts, but they are slow because of the pen’s mechanical movement.

There are two types of plotters, electrostatic plotters and cutting plotters. The electrostatic plotters use a dry toner transfer process, while the cutting plotters use knives to cut a piece of material like paper, mylar film, or vinyl film.

plotter printer

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What is Laser Printer?

A laser printer is an electrostatic digital printer. It is used to print high-quality texts and graphics, the quality of the photographs is, however moderate.

A laser beam is passed back and forth over a negatively charged drum, forming a differentially charged image. This drum then collects the electrically charged ink that is in the powder form called the toner and transfers the image to paper. This image is then heated to fuse the text or image on the paper permanently.

The printing process includes seven steps: raster image processing, charging, exposing, developing, transferring, fusing, cleaning, and recharging.

The speed of the laser printers can vary depending on factors like one as the graphic intensity of the job being printed.

The cost of this technology depends upon the cost of paper, toner, drum replacement, and replacement of fuser and transfer assembly.  The cost of ownership is apparent when the drum requires replacement.

laser printers

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Main Differences Between Printer and Plotter and Laser Printer

  1. Printers have a moderate quality of images, plotters are sophisticated printers for high drawings, and laser printers are high-quality and high-speed printers.
  2. Printers are operated over a network, while the plotters are operated through a command of the computer.
  3. The speed of a printer is moderate, laser printers are the fastest, while plotters are the slowest of them all.
  4. Printers cannot draw continuous lines, while plotters are capable of the aforementioned.
  5. The output format of the printers is in the form of pixels and bitmap etc. While the output form of the plotter is like that of a vector graphic.

Last Updated : 29 July, 2023

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