What Does Plotter Mean?

A plotter is a computer vector graphic printer that gives a hard copy of the output based on instructions from the system. Plotters are widely used to print designs of things such as cars, ships and buildings on a piece of paper using a pen. Plotters are different than a printer in that they are more precise and they are most commonly used in engineering, where precision is mandatory. They are also more expensive than ordinary printers.


A plotter is also known as a graph plotter.

Techopedia Explains Plotter

Plotters are widely used in engineering projects because they can produce continuous lines, in contrast to ordinary printers that conventionally drew lines using closely spaced dots. Plotters come in various forms. Most plotters use a pen to draw the design onto paper. However, a 3-D plotter (cutting plotter) uses knives to cut out a piece of material based on instructions from the computer. The object to be cut is placed on the flat surface in front of the plotter the computer sends cutting dimensions and designs for the plotter to produce a precisely carved design, and potentially repeat the cutting process on hundreds of objects, producing identical copies of the same design.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…