best-plotter-for-cad-drawings

Best Plotter for CAD Drawings: Reviews 2020 (Recommended)

Now CAD plotters aren’t machines that we see in the regular household. In fact, these are not machines you can use to print out official documents, worksheets for your children, photographs or greeting cards.

These are rather technical devices that might work like a printer, but the best plotter for CAD Drawings are used to create line drawings, CAD prints, technical maps and GIS prints.

If you need to print out CAD drawings on a regular basis, you’re going to need ​a plotter for CAD drawings in your home.

CAD drawing plotters don’t come cheap. In fact, they are more expensive than most other gadgets or devices you might have in your home.

Therefore, to make sure you have the best plotter for CAD drawings at home, you need to know everything there is to know about CAD drawing plotters before you decide on one to buy for yourself.

Best Plotter for CAD Drawings

Here are the five best Plotters for CAD Drawings available in the marker, with short descriptions for each of them, so that you can make an informed decision.

1. Epson SureColor T5170 36” Wireless Printer

This is a rather large plotter from Epson with the product dimension of 28” x 50” x 36”. It uses an inkjet printing technology and gives out accurate and high-quality prints in as quick as 31 seconds.

The machine, although a large one, is quite easy to operate – just like a regular printer. With a large 4.3” LCD color touchscreen, it is easier to control and use this machine to print anything.

With this plotter-cum-printer from Epson, you can print anything virtually from anywhere in the building.

As this is a wireless machine that runs on Wi-Fi and electricity, you can place the printer anywhere in the building and use your smartphone or computer to print what you need. The printer works on Wi-Fi Direct, as well.

This plotter works on large A1 or “D” size paper and can print anything on them. The extremely precise printhead will print out everything extremely precisely, to the point down to the last millimeter.

The printer comes with a high-capacity ink cartridge up to 50ml for color printing and 80ml for black and white printing.

You can always expect high-quality printing of each droplet of ink, and perfectly utilizes the ink using the archival pigment ink technology.

This plotter can print on large sheets of paper that’s 36” in breadth but upto 150’ in length, as they come in rolls of paper.

Features:

  • Product Dimension: 28” x 50” x 36”
  • Uses inkjet printing technology
  • Has a large 4.3” LCD color touchscreen
  • Runs on W-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth
  • Works on large A1 or “D” size paper
  • Print out everything extremely precisely
  • Comes with 50ml for color printing and 80ml for black and white printing
  • Uses the archival pigment ink technology
  • Can print on paper 36” in breadth but upto 150’ in length

Buy on Amazon

2. Canon imagePROGRAF TA-30 Large Format Printer 

This particular printer-cum-plotter is from Canon, a rather large format printer that comes with its own stand.

Like most modern plotters, it too uses an inkjet printing technology and can print on most regular paper, glossy photo paper, fabric or banner paper. 

In an hour, it can post up to or more than 113 posters that are 24”x36” in size, i.e. this plotter prints a D-sized poster in less than 27 seconds.

This is a Wireless device which you can connect to your smartphone, laptop, tablet or computer via Wi-Fi.

The machine comes with ink worth $250 that you can use for a long time before needing to order more, and a free software for creating posters.

It can print on paper sizes from 8” to 36” in length, or the whole of paper rolls with a 2” core.

Not just for CAD drawings, you can use the Canon ImagePROGRAF TA-30 for making marketing posters, presentation boards, blueprints and large designs, making this the perfect machine for offices, homes, businesses, engineering firms, architectural firms, schools and universities.

Features:

  • Product Dimension: 42” x 51” x 35”
  • Comes with a stand for mounting
  • Uses inkjet printing technology
  • Large format printer-cum-plotter
  • Runs on W-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth
  • Works on large A1 or “D” size paper
  • Print out everything extremely precisely
  • Comes with ink cartridges worth $250
  • Takes 27 seconds to print a D-size poster
  • Can print 113 24” x 36” posters in an hour
  • Can print continuously on paper rolls from 8” to 36”, with a 2” core
  • Comes with a free software for creating posters

Buy on Amazon

3. HP DesignJet T130 Large Format Printer

Extremely fast and precise, this large format printer from HP uses inkjet printing technology and can print on any kind of regular paper. It is perfect for printing on paper from A1 size to any size lower.

This is also a wireless device that you can place anywhere in your room, and connect to your laptop, computer or smart device through Wi-Fi.

You can actually directly print anything directly from your smartphone or tablet devices by directly connecting the devices to this printer. The color touchscreen on the printer makes the entire process easier to handle, as well as faster.

The sturdy paper tray can handle sheets or rolls of paper, in almost all shapes and sizes.

The paper tray can hold paper with a breadth of A3 and A4 size, but can also print on longer rolls on paper continuously. It takes this HP large format printer only 35 seconds to print a A1-size poster in perfect accuracy.

Both pigment-based (K) and dye-based (C, M, Y) ink works with this printer, and the device comes with perfect media handling, a sheet feed, an input and an output tray, and an automatic horizontal cutter.

The device is compliant with Class B requirements, as well, including the FCC rules.

Features:

  • Product Dimension: 38.86” x 20.87” x 11.22”
  • Sleek and long design
  • Uses inkjet printing technology
  • Large format printer-cum-plotter for commercial and business purposes
  • Runs on W-Fi and direct connection
  • Works on large A1/A3/A4 size paper
  • Comes with HP Click Software
  • Takes 35 seconds to print on an A1 size poster
  • Prints 70 posters and CAD drawings in an hour on A1 paper
  • Compatible with both pigment-based (K) and dye-based (C, M, Y) ink
  • Comes with a sheet feed, an input and an output tray
  • Has both sheet feed and roll feed for different kinds of paper
  • Comes with an automatic horizontal cutter
  • Compliant with Class B requirements
  • Works on plain paper
  • Great for blueprints, building plans, large drawings, CAD drawings, posters
  • Accepts paper rolls with 2” core

Buy on Amazon

4. Canon imagePROGRAF iPF785 Large-Format Printer

This is another fast and efficient large-format printer from Canon, which weighs 150lbs and has a product dimension of 51.34” x 34.53” x 41.81”.

It is an inkjet printer that comes with its own printhead, ink, ink cartridges and maintenance cartridges. The printer comes with a stand which makes it easier to stack this large-format printer anywhere in your workplace or home.

This is not a wireless device; you need to connect it to your computer via a wire or USB cable.

The ink that comes with the printer is good enough for more than 1500 pages before you’ll need to order more ink, which is a huge saving. With a high printing speed and quiet operation, this is a great printer for both personal and professional needs.

The speed for CAD Drawings using this printer is the same as printing any regular image or document – fast! The printer can work on paper size upto 24” to 36” in breadth, and much longer in length.

Features:

  • Product Dimension: 51.34” x 34.53” x 41.81”
  • Weighs 150lbs
  • Sleek and long design
  • Uses inkjet printing technology
  • Works on plain paper
  • Large format printer-cum-plotter for commercial and business purposes
  • Needs to be connected to a computer or laptop via Ethernet
  • Works on large paper from 24” to 36” in breadth
  • Great for blueprints, building plans, large drawings, CAD drawings, posters
  • Comes with ink, ink cartridges, maintenance cartridges handprint head
  • Comes with a stand for mounting

5. HP DesignJet T830 Large-Format Plotter Printer

A rather large-format printer that comes with its own stand for easy mounting around the office or your home.

It uses thermal printing technology and can work on most types of paper, including banner paper, glossy film paper, high-resolution paper, glossy photo paper, back print film and plain paper. 

This HP plotter printer is absolutely perfect for all kinds of architectural and construction companies, engineering firms. For all kinds of scanning, printing and copying of documents and designs.

With this plotter printer from HP, you can print on paper sheets from width 8.3” to 24”, or paper rolls from 11” to 24” in width. This machine uses a thermal printing technology, as opposed to the inkjet printing technology used in most other printers.

It also comes with a sheet feed and a roll feed, an input tray and a media bin, as well as an automatic cutter built into the printer.

Only HP chip cartridges are recommended using this printer, for the best results in printing as well as in keeping the printer working for a long time.

You can connect this plotter printer to your computer, laptop or smart devices using Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet, as well as directly connecting your smartphones and tablets to the printer.

This printer is compatible with both Android and iOS devices, as well as Chrome OS. You can simply email what you need to print to the printer using the HP Smart App, which is compatible with both Android and iOS devices.

The HP DesignJet T-830 is also a very fast machine that can print any A1 or D-size paper in 26 seconds, i.e. a total of 81 paper in an hour.

It comes with the HP Clink Printing Software that can help you with setting up the printer and even printing PDF documents, and the HP DesignJet Utility Software that’s compatible with Mac and Windows.

Features:

  • Product Dimension: 2” x 4” x 8”
  • Weighs 70lbs
  • Comes with a stand for easy mounting
  • Uses Thermal printing technology
  • Works on plain paper, banner paper, glossy film paper, high-resolution paper, glossy photo paper and back print film
  • Can be connected via Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet
  • Works on large paper sheets from width 8.3” to 24” in width
  • Works on paper rolls from 11” to 24” in width
  • Great for blueprints, building plans, posters, CAD drawings and large drawings
  • Can print any A1 or D-size paper in 26 seconds
  • Prints 81 sheets of paper in an hour
  • Comes with a stand for mounting
  • Comes with the HP Click Printing Software for setting up or printing PDF documents
  • Compatible with both Android and iOS devices
  • Can be controlled with HP Smart App
  • Compatible with both Android and iOS devices
  • Compatible with HP DesignJet Utility Software that’s compatible with Mac and Windows
  • Perfect for all kinds of architectural and construction companies, engineering firms
  • Comes with a sheet feed and a roll feed, an input tray and a media bin
  • Comes with an automatic cutter built into the printer

What to Look for While Buying a Plotter for CAD Drawings? 

Plotters aren’t easy to buy. Since they are expensive devices, you need to find the one that’s perfect for you before you buy the first one you find. For that, you’ll need to know exactly what to look for in the best plotter for CAD Drawing.

  • Printing Technology 

In the case of plotters and printers, we see two different kinds of printing technology: thermal printing and inkjet printing. 

Although the end result is almost the same and high-quality in both cases, there are some subtle differences between them.

In inkjet printing technology, the printheads spray droplets of liquid ink on the paper. Different colors combine to create the perfect shade your image needs, and the end result is precisely the same as the image you see on your computer or phone.

On the other hand, thermal printing technology uses a very different kind of dry pigment that is wax based.

Heat is used to melt the pigment which then attaches itself to the paper and becomes permanent.

Only the HP DesignJet T830 Large-Format Plotter Printer uses thermal printing technology while the others in the list above uses inkjet printing technology.

Thermal technology is actually the faster way to print and the final result is a glossy and durable print that comes with a protective finish.

Compared to that, inkjet printing technology takes longer to print but gives out a clear, high standard finish.

The most important distinction between inkjet and thermal printing technology is that it is impossible to write or mark on thermal prints with a pen, a pencil or a marker.

Since most CAD drawings and other architectural and engineering designs are frequently edited, changed and tampered with after printing, any plotter that uses thermal printing can be quite useless at certain times.

For this reason, it is much better to use a plotter or a printer that uses inkjet printing technology.

  • Print Quality

CAD drawings are extremely detailed designs and you need a very good plotter to give you high-quality results.

You’d definitely want a plotter with the highest resolution possible so that your printouts are both perfect and high-quality, and not a single detail is missed.

All the plotters and printers described in this article are from renowned brands that are well-known for their printers and other similar devices.

All of them can actually give you the best possible quality prints. Even when you print massive-sized CAD drawings or blueprints, the quality will stay detailed and extremely crisp at all times.

  • Maximum Size of Paper Feed 

Beside being extremely detailed, CAD drawings for architectural and engineering firms also need to be large.

Therefore, it is important that the plotter has a large paper feed that you can use to print on a long roll of paper.

With most plotters and printers, the breadth of the paper is limited to the actual size of the printer, which can be anything from 24” to 36” in width.

On the other hand, the length of the print shouldn’t have to be limited or you shouldn’t have to compromise on the drawing by cutting down the length of the design.

It is possible to find a plotter that allows the use of paper feed as much as you want to without having to compromise the size of the design.

The Epson SureColor T5170 36” Wireless Printer, for example, can print on paper rolls that are 36” in breadth but up to 150’ in length.

The Epson SureColor T5170 36” Wireless Printer, too, can print on paper sizes from 8” to 36” in breadth, but the entire length of a paper roll with a 2” core.

With such an unlimited limit on the length of paper, you can print large CAD drawings without having to cut down your designs or print on multiple pieces of paper sheets to get the full design.

  • Connectivity 

Connecting your plotter or your printer to any device has become very easy these days.

Since most printers are wireless, you can simply put them anywhere in the room or even in the building and connect it to your devices via Wi-Fi. 

The printers or the plotters can also be connected to smartphones and tablets directly so that you can directly use your smart gadgets to print anything with the plotter.

While most plotters and printers are wireless and can be connected via Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi Direct, the Canon imagePROGRAF iPF785 Large-Format Printer needs to be connected to your computer via Ethernet.

This means that this particular large-format printer needs to be kept close to the computer or the laptop that you are going to use, and that this printer cannot be directly connected to your smartphone or tablet.

If you have enough space on your work table, this printer can be a good option.

  • Paper Type 

CAD drawings are usually printed on regular, uncoated paper. If you need a plotter or a printer specifically for printing CAD Drawings, any printer that works on regular and plain paper would do.

On the other hand, it helps to have a printer which can work on specialized paper, if you want to print something else.

The HP DesignJet T830 Large-Format Plotter Printer, for example, works on most types of paper, including banner paper, glossy film paper, high-resolution paper, glossy photo paper, back print film and of course, plain paper. With this printer, you can do more than just print CAD Drawings.

  • Software and App Compatibility 

To make things easier, some of these printers come with special software that you can use to do everything from setting up the printer to control it.

The HP DesignJet T830 Large-Format Plotter Printer and the HP DesignJet T130 Large Format Printer have the HP Click Printing Software, for example, which is quite helpful in using the plotter from your computer or laptop.

The HP DesignJet Utility Software that comes with the HP printers are compatible with both Windows and Mac computers.

If you want to use the printers via your smartphones or tablets, apps are quite handy in such cases.

With certain apps installed in your smart devices, you can use the printer from your phones and tablets, print through the plotter directly, even edit your designs and images, or print designs from cloud storage.

The HP Smart App, for example, works with all HP DesignJet printers and plotters and is crucial for connecting your smartphone and tablets to the printer-cum-plotters.

  • Print Speed 

Printing speed is quite important if you need to print a lot of CAD drawings for your work.

With some high-speed printers, you can print over a 100 sheets of drawings and designs in under an hour, but with others, a lower number.

The Epson SureColor T5170 36” Wireless Printer can print a A1 or D-size paper in less than 31 seconds, and the Canon imagePROGRAF TA-30 Large Format Printer can print over 113 posters in 24” x 36” size in an hour.

These are two of the fastest printer-cum-plotters that you can choose from.

Other Features

Other important features include:

  • A stand that sometimes comes with the printer, making it easier to mount, especially if it a big and heavy printer;
  • Ready-to-use ink and ink carriages so that you won’t have to buy or order ink separately;
  • A color or LED touchscreen to control the printer directly from the machine;
  • A automatic cutter built into the plotter so that you don’t have to use a scissor to do so separately;
  • A sturdy paper sheet feed or a paper roll feed;
  • A set of maintenance ink cartridges like the one that you get with the Canon imagePROGRAF iPF785 Large-Format Printer.

If your plotter or large format printer has all these features, or at least most of these features, it will make your work to print large-sized CAD drawings easy to print.

What are Plotters Typically Used For? 

A plotter is almost the same as a printer, only slightly larger in size. In fact, the most popular plotters for CAD drawings are made by the same brands that are renowned for manufacturing high-quality printers, like Canon, Epson, HP and Brother.

Sometimes, the same printers and plotters can be used to print images, documents, photographs and paintings than just blueprints and CAD drawings.

Most plotters and large format printers also use inkjet printing technology, which is the technology that puts in vivid droplets of ink on paper to create the image as precisely as the image you’ve seen on the screen. A plotter uses the same technique in a different way.

While regular inkjet printers, the machines place individual droplets of ink on the paper. Plotters, on the other hand, draw continuous lines on paper.

Since most engineering and architectural designs, blueprints and CAD Drawings mostly consist of long lines, plotters or even large format printers are a much better choice than regular printers.

This is why plotters are more popular than regular printers when it comes to making CAD drawings.

Even large-format printers can be used to make CAD drawings if they can handle large sheets and rolls of paper.

Plotters are mainly of two types: drum plotters and flatbed plotters. Drum plotters are also called roller plotters and they spin the inserted paper on a drum.

The paper is moved back and forth on the drum that is cylindrical in shape, and the ink pens are what moves along the paper to make any lines or marks.

Flatbed plotters, on the other hand, have a horizontal bed instead of a cylindrical drum. The paper is laid down on the surface and the printheads make their lines and marks on the paper.

Compared to regular inkjet or laser printers, both drum plotters and flatbed plotters can work on surfaces that are much wider and much longer than regular printers.

For example, while a regular inkjet printer can only print on paper that is 8.5” wide at most, a drum plotter can work on paper sheets or rolls that are as wide as 44”.

In the same way, regular printers can only print on paper that are not more than 11” or 13” in length, but a plotter can go on continuously printing on paper rolls that are up to 150’ in size.

In drum plotters, especially, the size of the print is only limited by the size of the paper. No matter how large the paper, a drum plotter can cover the whole of it while printing.

Plotters were completely different machines in the past, but these days, you get both plotters and inkjet printers in the same machine.

All the models described in this article can be used both as a plotter to print CAD drawings and architectural designs, but also for large-sized presentations, posters and images.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Best Plotters for CAD Drawings 

Q: Can I use a regular printer to make CAD Drawings?

A: Technically, it is possible to make CAD drawings with a regular inkjet printer because these high-quality printers can duplicate any complicated designs or images from your smart device or computers.

However, regular printers can rarely handle paper any bigger than 8.5” x 11” or 11” x 13” in size. CAD drawings, as a general rule, are much larger than that, which means you need a large-format printer or a plotter to print CAD drawings.

Q: What kind of paper are used in plotters?

A: Usually, regular and plain uncoated paper are used to make CAD drawings in plotters.

However, in the versatile large-format inkjet printers, different other paper types can also be used for other printing purposes.

Q: Can I print regular images and photographs in a plotter?

A: Plotters usually print in long lines and marks instead of individual droplets of ink, which can make it difficult for a plotter to effectively print images or photographs.

However, the modern large format inkjet printers that can be used as a plotter can also be used for printing other kinds of images, documents and designs.

Q: Is a large-format printer the same as a plotter?

A: A large-format printer is simply a printer that can print on paper sizes larger than the standard 8.5” x 11” or 11” x 13” in size.

The internal mechanism of an inkjet printer is completely different from that of a plotter, even when you are using a large-format printer for the job. 

A plotter makes CAD drawings with long lines but an inkjet printer does so the regular way, with tiny droplets of ink.

For exclusively making CAD drawings, a plotter is a good idea but if you are looking for a versatile machine that can do more, a large-format inkjet printer would be the better investment.

Conclusion

Not everyone needs a plotter unless they run an architectural firm or an engineering company, or work with large blueprints and CAD designs.

Plotters are extremely efficient and specialty machines for specific projects. However, there are options for a more versatile model in large-format printers from renowned brands that can do the job just as well.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *