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Vinyl Cutter vs Vinyl Plotter: What Are The Overall Differences?

Printing things on different surfaces often demands one of the most useful things nowadays. And for that, it is necessary to use two of the most valuable devices out there: vinyl cutters or vinyl plotters.

You will find that printing businesses are always anywhere nowadays. With the introduction of small machines that can do all the job of printing & cutting in a breeze – they are becoming super cheap to start.

But of course, not all printing & cutting jobs are the same. And for that, it is essential to go only for the right machine.

That’s why we want to help you pick between a vinyl cutting machine and a cutter plotter – or else end up with both if you wish.

So come further and learn – you’ll learn how they work and what each one offers!

What is a Vinyl Cutter?

A vinyl cutter cuts vinyl. By using a computer-controlled blade, this device can cut almost any shape on materials. It can be used to cut logos, cut animal or human figures, and a wide array of designs – all over vinyl.

Some vinyl cutting machines do not receive the design directly from a computer but from cartridges. That makes the process even easier and prevents the use of another device.

But still, it is like using a desktop printer. Instead of printing different colors and shapes on paper, it cuts vinyl.

After the vinyl is cut, you can separate the cover from the sticky paper and stick the vinyl whenever you want.

It is easy to use, simple and makes it possible to cut a wide array of designs depending on the computer-controlled software or cartridges. That’s a vinyl cutter.

What is a Vinyl Plotter?

A plotter or also known as a vinyl cutter plotter, is a similar device to a vinyl cutter. But instead of cutting the vinyl, it also prints over it.

It allows users to transform their favorite designs from ideas into vinyl shapes, making them more comfortable to work with and much more good-looking.

People use vinyl plotters for almost the same kind of things than vinyl cutters. But sure enough, plotters are slightly more complicated due to the advantage of marking the vinyl instead of just cutting it.

A vinyl plotter will cut fast and effectively and makes it possible to cut letters, shapes, figures, signs, posters, and much more.

They can be small or large, and they are super simple to use even for the hardest of jobs. That’s a vinyl plotter.

Vinyl Cutter vs Vinyl Plotter: Main Differences

Now that you have a clearer idea of what each one offers let’s go more in-depth into each.

As a general rule, you should know that a vinyl cutter works more like a knife while a vinyl plotter works like a pen.

Yet, their results are pretty similar – but they start all different. Here are a few differences to consider:

Cutting & Printing

The cutting on a vinyl cutter is done with a knife. This is a small piece that looks almost like a utility knife and cuts things directly from a mechanical arm. Sitting on the mechanical arm, it can cut following a pattern that the computer sends – as this arm moves following such pattern.

In contrast, a vinyl printer cutter doesn’t necessarily cut the vinyl. Instead, it prints the design on the vinyl directly from a mechanical arm that follows the pattern sent via computer or cartridge. This allows more elaborate pieces with proper shapes & coloring if needed.


Both vinyl plotters & cutters are handled differently – even though they can also be used together.

For vinyl plotters, for example, you’ll find them better for projects such as billboards and banners, floor plans, blueprints, and the like.

This happens because plotters paint on vinyl, which is less expensive than buying different vinyl colors and cutting them accordingly.

From the apparel to the engineering, car-painting, and even marketing industry – all tend to use plotters as their go-to machine for printing on vinyl.

On the other hand, you’ll find vinyl cutters more commonly used in jobs that demand only one color. For example, they can be used on cards, trimming, stickers, car decals, signs, letters, and so on.

But apart from cutting vinyl, they can be used to cut a wide array of other materials such as vellum, thin cardboard, and trimming paper.

They are perfect for small projects that don’t demand many colors and/or challenging designs into vinyl and other materials. For modest jobs, a vinyl cutter is an excellent machine.


If you want a vinyl cutting machine, then you’ll have to spend a few bucks. But of course, it depends heavily on what you’re looking to get.

Starting with a vinyl cutter, we can say your wallet won’t suffer that much. At around $100 or $300 – you can find a pretty useful vinyl cutter without having to worry about anything.

If you want something bigger for more commercial applications, then you may end up spending between $300 and $600 or a little more.

Those cutters with scanners, large sizes, and additional tools will surely be more expensive – yet also more useful, so they’re totally worth the investment.

When you go over vinyl plotters, then you find out they aren’t as affordable as cutters.

With plotters, you can find models going from $500 up to $2000 in the low-end range. That means small 24-inches plotters that don’t offer too many features to enjoy.

For commercial use, you’ll need something that offers at least 36-inches of total size and with tons of different features, software, and useful extras for a more convenient experience. These can cost up to $10,000 without problems.

Vinyl Cutter vs Vinyl Plotter: Which One To Go For?

Now that you’re more aware of the differences between vinyl cutters and vinyl plotters, it is time you get the ideal vinyl cutting machine for your needs.

This won’t be easy, mainly because they are slightly different products – so choosing one over the other may not match all your needs completely.

On one side, you have the vinyl cutter, which uses a small knife to cut patterns on vinyl and other materials. And on the other hand, you have the vinyl plotter – which prints and marks vinyl of different colors for a more exact result.

So, if you need something precise with highly stylized results – then go for a vinyl plotter.

But if you need something with fewer colors & simpler shapes and/or letterings – then go for a vinyl cutter.

Pick accordingly, and you won’t regret it.

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