Plotter printers

Plotter Printing: Mistakes to Avoid When Formatting Drawings & Plans

Large format printing can be challenging if you make mistakes before or during the printing process—even little ones. Fortunately, you can take certain steps to avoid these errors and ensure your large prints come out correctly the first time. Getting your prints right from the start will save you more money in printing costs. It will also save you more time.

Here, we'll look at some specific ways to spot errors before they happen. You'll also learn how to resolve these issues and prevent them from happening again. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When it comes time to plot a large drawing, you don't want to waste time, ink, and money on failed prints.

How Can You Avoid Printing Mistakes?

Knowing what kinds of plotter printing mistakes you might face can help you avoid them. There are many potential printing mistakes that can affect your large format prints. These could include some of the following:

Failing to Convert RGB to CMYK

While digital screens use red, green, and blue (RGB) to produce images, printers use cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) for printed material on paper. Without converting before printing on a plotter, the colour of the final image won't be what you want.

To avoid this issue, you must convert RGB to CMYK at some point before plotter printing, whether your printer or a designer does this.

Using Too Much Text

One of the biggest plotter printing mistakes designers may make is incorporating too much text. The goal of text in these types of designs is to complement the imagery, not detract from it. Generally, it's best to minimise the amount of text you use and only include it as needed in plans and drawings (along with other designs).

Printing Low-Resolution Images

If the graphics in your designs don't have a resolution that's high enough, your images won't look as good as they should when printed. When it comes to large format printing on a plotter, you should use an image resolution of at least 100 dots per inch (dpi).

While higher resolutions mean larger files, you may benefit from high-resolution images exceeding 100 dpi in some cases. Factors such as the distance at which people will view your image, whether the image will be moving, and others will influence the resolution you set.

Not Understanding Error Codes

If your printer experiences an issue, such as a paper jam or a more complex problem with page setup, your printer is likely to display a corresponding error code. Many of these error codes may be straightforward, but others may be a little unclear at first.
For example, you might encounter an error on an HP printer that reads "Error 59.F0," which indicates an issue with the printer's internal motor resulting from an issue with an internal sensor. Meanwhile, "Error 79" means that your print job is corrupt or there's a problem with the connection between your print spooler and printer. Knowing what these and other error codes mean could save you time and headaches when resolving printing issues.

These are a few of the many common large format printing mistakes to avoid, but you can more effectively avert these issues with certain precautions.

How Can You Improve Your Printing Skills?

To avoid other potential mistakes with plotter printing, you should adhere to some of the following design and drafting best practices:

Develop Solid CAD Standards

Computer-aided design (CAD) drafting should go smoothly with every project. In 2D and 3D CAD design, you'll want to ensure good standards are in place to facilitate this. This will entail using the right layers for equipment, layouts, and other elements. Additionally, the text sizes and line weights should be uniform across all mechanical drawings.

Avoid Including Unnecessary Details

In your technical drawing, avoid adding too many details that clutter the image. Otherwise, these details could be just as problematic as failing to include enough details in materials like shop drawings and plans.

Look Over All Drafts

Before printing on a plotter, review your mechanical drawings and plans to make sure everything is as it should be. For example, check all:

  • Line weights
  • Fonts and text sizes
  • Spelling
  • Drawing clarity
  • Measurements
  • Other CAD drafting elements

Taking these and other steps to optimise the CAD drafting process can help avoid plotter printing mistakes that might otherwise set you back.

What Are the Common Printing Defects?

The following are some common flexographic printing defects that can impact print quality and other aspects of your projects:


One common printing defect is a mottled image, which occurs when an image has uneven specks or spots. Some potential causes of this defect include dirty impression cylinders or printing forms, chemical residue, and poor ink transfer.

Skip Out

Another issue is when the print web produces a blank area. This is the result of poor ink transfer caused by a damaged gear, low-impression pressure, inconsistent contact pressure, and other underlying problems.

Belt Buckle

This defect takes the form of a pattern on the print material resembling a belt buckle. This particular flexo printing issue results from the misalignment between a large area printing plate and the printer's print head.


In some cases, inks may not sufficiently wet the print material's substrate, resulting in small holes. Potential problems behind this effect include drying ink on anilox rollers, poor ink transfer, and dirty impression cylinders.

Filling In

This occurs when excess ink gathers in spaces other than in the intended areas. The potential causes of this issue include leftover ink left in the printer, uncontrolled pH, and the transfer of too much ink.

Preparing for these and other potential flexographic printing defects can help ensure that they don't occur with your drawings and plans.

Get the Best Results From Your Printing Projects With HP

Looking for the best printing solution for your next plotter printing project? HP is here to help with a wide selection of reliable large format printers.

Contact us today to discuss your printing needs with us.

Download our eBook now and discover how innovation is streamlining workflows, producing prints of unmatched quality and increasing IT efficiency like never before.

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