Oh no, not another CAD user!
<just messing around!>
Adding to the posted information, here's some more bull-oney to confuse you
Per the Hard Copy device you plan to use, there are Plotters, then there are Wide Format Printers. Slang has somewhat dictated that any printing device which uses large size paper and works with a CAD application is a Plotter. Even AutoCAD refers to sending a print job out as "Plot" (type PLOT at the command line and up pops the print dialog!).
A typical Plotter works with physical Pens, and the paper media does more moving than you hagve ever seen!!! Pen Plotters are cool to watch! They print everything per the "X,Y" coordinates - in other words they "Plot" the "X,Y" coordinates; hence the name - Plotter.
So much for Plotters 101!
Wide format printers are like Electure mentioned - Big - Old desktop printers! These printers can be either Ink Jet type or Laser type (Man, I would LOVE to have an E size Laser printer!!!).
There are some Impact type printers, which are like a cross between a printer and a plotter.
The difference in the Wide Format printer is that the CAD drawing, which is a database of Vectors, must be changed into a Raster (Bitmapped) image, so the printer can make sense of it.
Ink Jet and Laser printers are glorified Dot-Matrix printers.
This is just FYI information, so you can hang with the "Big Wigs Of CAD Land" and know what they are talking about per plotters vs other printers. Just a big trivia thing!
If you plan to print out on smaller media - like no larger than B size paper (11"x17"), there are some affordable and decent Ink Jet printers available. HP has one which I am considering. Great for "Check Plots".
If you are planning to print on larger sizes - such as Arch. D size paper (24"x36"), or Arch. E size (36"x48"), then go for a wide format printer.
I have a HP 450C, which accepts upto Arch. D size media, and is a Color Printer (Yellow, Cyan, Magenta + Black). It's an Inkjet printer. Cost me $1,800.00 new, plus an additional $200.00 for the legs and Roll assembly. Roll media kit allows you to attach rolls of paper media and have it automatically loaded - as opposed to reloading each separate page!
I use a 24" x 150' roll of Monochrome Vellum as a common media, and swap out a 24" x 150' roll of Color Inkjet Opaque Bond for "Fun Things".
The 450C is connected to my Print Server machine via an IEEE 1284 Parallel Port. Print server driving it is a simple P55C [Pentium MMX - before the PII] and this works fine.
I am running AutoCAD release 14 on my "Work Computer", which is where I usually do my Electric - related designing / Engineering junk. This machine is a PII (AL440LX based) machine with 128 MB SDRAM, a Laser printer for the local printer, and a simple scroll mouse for input.
If you can afford a good Digitizer tablet, get one of these!!! They are really helpful! Digitizers are tablets with "Pucks" that are moved across the tablet - like a mouse does, except the puck has many functions. Drawing "Pens" can be used in swap of a puck, which makes tracing easy.
Getting the basics of any CAD application is the first step. After that, learn to design / write your own helper applications, so your work gets done faster
If you have more Q's, feel free to ask!