Difference Between a Flatbed Plotter and a Drum Plotter

The sign-making industry is one of the most competitive markets in the world. With so many companies vying for the attention of a consumer base that is increasingly drawn to online shopping, it's important for businesses to stand out from the crowd. One way to do that is by choosing a plotter that can help them create stunning visuals for their products and services.


Plotters are a staple of the sign-making industry. They're used in everything from graphic design to product packaging, and there are two main types: drum plotters and flatbed plotters.


In this article, we'll discuss the difference between these two types of plotters to help you choose the right one for your needs.

What Are Flatbed Plotters?

Flatbed plotters‚Äďlike the large Summa flatbed cutters‚Äďare large-format computerized printers that use a flatbed surface to cut and print materials. They use a variety of print heads to create graphics, logos, and text on a range of materials such as paper, metal, plastic, and cardstock.


The print heads are mounted on a moving carriage, which travels across the flatbed surface. As it moves, it deposits ink or toner onto the material.

What Are the Advantages of Flatbed Plotters?

There are many advantages to using a flatbed plotter over other types of printers. These include:


    • Large size and capacity: You can print on any sheet size with a flatbed plotter, so you don‚Äôt have to cut your artwork down to fit the standard size sheets used by other printers. This makes it easier to produce large-scale work without having to deal with multiple sheets of paper or projectors.
    • High resolution: Flatbed plotters offer resolutions as high as 72 X 2,400 DPI (dots per inch), which is higher than possible with laser printers or inkjet models.
    • Different materials: Flatbed plotters can be used to print on many materials, including paper, canvas, cardboard, plastics, and fabrics. This makes them very versatile and helpful in many industries.

What Are Drum Plotters?

Drum plotters are similar to flatbed plotters, but they use a cylindrical drum instead of a flatbed surface. The material is wrapped around the drum and held in place by tensioners, while the print heads move up and down the drum's surface.

What Are the Advantages of Drum Plotters?

The main pros of drum plotters over flatbed plotters are:


  • Speed: Drum plotters typically print faster than flatbed plotters because they use a cylindrical drum rather than a flatbed.
  • Portability: You can move a drum plotter from one place to another more easily than flatbed plotters due to their smaller size.¬†

What Is the Cost of Flatbed Plotters Versus Drum Plotters?

Flatbed plotters are generally more expensive than drum plotters because they are larger, more versatile, and can handle a wider range of media types.


Both plotters can cost you anywhere between $1,000 and $8,000, depending on the size and features they offer. The exact cost can vary widely, so it's best to research different options and compare prices to find the best fit for your needs and budget.

Final Thoughts

Both flatbed and drum plotters have their own unique features and advantages. Flatbed plotters are the best for large-scale, high-quality printing, while drum plotters are best for high-volume, fast printing. 


Understanding these differences is crucial in determining the best fit for your sign-making business. As a reminder, it is essential to carefully consider the specific needs and demands of your business before choosing a plotter.


Wondering whether you can cut magnet material with a plotter? We have the article for you‚Äďtake a look at our recent post!