Types Of Computer Hardware – Output Devices(Print – Plotters And Special Purpose Printers)


A plotter is an output device designed to print vector graphics. A plotter is typically used for printing large-format graphs or maps. Unlike printers which print individual dots on the paper, plotters draw continuous lines and this makes them ideal for printing architectural blueprints, engineering designs and other CAD (computer aided design) drawings and big posters.

The two major types of plotters are:

  • Drum plotters
  • Flatbed plotters

The Two Types Of Plotters

Drum Plotter

Drum PlotterAlso known as Roller plotter, a drum plotter consists of a drum or roller over which a paper is placed and the drum rotates back and forth in order to produce the graph on the paper. It also consists of the Robotic Drawing Arm which is a mechanical device for holding a set of coloured pens or pencils. As the paper is moved back and forth through the roller, the Robotic Drawing Arm moves side to side to create a perfect graph or map on the paper, and all this is done under the control of a computer.

Drum plotters are used to produce a continuous output like plotting earthquake activity.

Flatbed Plotter

A flatbed plotter is also known as Table plotter. It derives its name from the fact that it plots on paper which is spread and fixed over a rectangular flatbed table. This plotter uses two robotic arms, each of which holds a set of coloured ink pens or pencils. In order to draw the graph on the paper the drawing arms move over the stationary paper Flatbed Plotterspread over a plot size typically equal to the area of a bed. It is used to design cars, aircrafts, ships, highways, buildings, and many more.

Due to the movement of its mechanical devices, the flatbed plotter is slow in drawing or printing graphs. Its large and complicated drawings can take several hours to print. Thermal, electrostatic and ink-jet plotters have replaced flatbed plotters. These devices can produce large size drawings and are faster and cheaper.


Special-purpose Printers

Aside printers and plotters as described previously, other printers have been developed for special purposes.

These include the following as described below.

Multi-function printersMultifunction Printer

Today some printers offer more than one printing capabilities. These printers are referred to as Multi-function devices (MFD) or All-In-One. They are specifically used for photocopy, scanning, fax, and printing of documents. MFDs can be based on ink-jet or laser printer technology.

The advantage of using an MFD is that it takes up less space and is cheaper than buying multiple devices. Its disadvantages include the possible risk of losing all functions when the device breaks down and needs to be serviced in a workshop outside your office.

Photo Printers

Photo PrinterPhoto printers are colour printers designed to print photographs. These have become increasingly popular because digital cameras have become the order of the day. Many photo printers are connected to the computer to print photos stored on the hard disk drive, however, they can also print directly from a digital camera or storage medium without transferring the photos first to a computer. Typically, a cable, flash memory card, wireless connection, or camera docking station is used to transfer the photos to the printer.

Label Printer

Lable PrinterIt is a small printer that prints on an adhesive-type materials. These materials can be placed on a variety of items such as envelopes, disks, audio cassettes, photographs, and toys.

Facsimile (Fax)

Fascsimile PrinterA facsimile (fax) machine is a device that transmits and receives documents over telephone lines. These documents can contain text, drawings, photographs, or hand written. When sent or received through the fax machine, these documents are called faxes.

Barcode Printer

Barcode PrinterBarcode printers are used by businesses and organizations to print custom barcodes on price tags, shipping labels, and other documents for identification or pricing purposes. Most barcode printers can print labels in a variety of barcode standards. Some can also encode RFID tags embedded in labels at the same time.

Three Dimensional (3D) Printers

3D Printer3D printing involves the use of various processes in which material is joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional object. A 3D printer is used to produce 3D output such as a 3D model of a new building or prototype. Instead of printing on paper, these printers typically form output in layers using plastic powder and other material during a series of passes to build a 3D version of the desired output.


If you liked this article and find it helpful, please feel free to share and don’t hesitate to ask any question or share your thoughts or experiences in the comments section below.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.