Have you ever seen a printed drawing that looked so precise that it actually made you wonder how it got that way? These line drawings are printed by laser plotters. Unlike a traditional desktop printer, these use pen like lines to draw out the image. A basic printer uses a series of dots. These dots are not exact, hence why images often look the slightest bit fuzzy at the edges. While this is perfectly fine for home use, items such as CAD drawings must be exact. Line drawing technology can achieve this level of preciseness.
So what exactly are laser plotters? You may remember plotting out information on a graph at some point in your mathematical studies. This graph would have been a series of vertical and horizontal lines that were labeled with various letters and numbers. You made dots on the graph, which were then connected with straight lines. A plotter uses this concept, but thanks to advances in technology, it is used for much more than just chart graphing. Because it combines X and Y axising, this can be applied to architectural drawings, corporate logos, machine specifications for manufacturing, and other types of vector graphics.
Some laser plotters also do cutting. There are many industries and markets that make use of such cutters. Clothing design manufacturers use these cutters for graphic tee shirts. The transfer material is passed through the cutter, the correct cuts are made and the transfer is then applied to the material. They also use them for actual fabric cutting when making pants, shirts, dresses, even shoes! In the automotive industry, these cutters can be used to manufacture engine gaskets and seating upholstery. Foam is a big money maker in the cutting market. It is difficult to get a good, clean edge with foam, but these cutters slice through like a hot knife through butter. Another common item that is made by a cutter is window blinds.
You may be surprised to learn that laser plotters are even used to cut large items such as airplane panels, sail panels for sailboats, insulation sheeting, vinyl floor inlay and even polycarbonate roofing sheets. As you can plainly see, this is a huge market. With the advances in technology that are being made every day, this market continues to grow even bigger. There is not much that we use that has not had at least one of its components' either drawn or cut with one of these machines.
Laser plotters can be very expensive and are not often used in the home setting. Some desktop models, such as those that are used to cut vinyl decals, can be found in very affordable price ranges. Other, larger models are typically made as business purchases for factories or design offices. There are many companies dedicated to drawing and cutting that will charge you on a per piece or contract basis to provide this service for you. If you have an ongoing need for the service, however, it may be more cost effective to purchase a machine outright.