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An X–Y plotter is a plotter that operates in two axes of motion ("X" and "Y") in order to draw continuous vector graphics. The term was used to differentiate it from standard plotters which had control only of the "y" axis, the "x" axis being continuously fed to provide a plot of some variable with time. Plotters differ from Inkjet and Laser printers in that a plotter draws a continuous line, much like a pen on paper, while inkjet and laser printers use a very fine matrix of dots to form images, such that while a line may appear continuous to the naked eye, it in fact is a discrete set of points.
See Plotter for a more detailed explanation of the function of a plotter.