Large format printing, or sometimes wide format printing refers to any type of printing that is at least 24 inches wide, that is, from A3 to A0. In other words, large format printing is a kind of printing that a traditional office printer cannot do. In most cases, the sizes may vary in between the A series dimensions. The printing materials used can be paper, canvas, vinyl or even card which can subsequently create banners, posters and signs. Over the past few years, new technologies have enabled large format printing to advance in both operations and cost-effectiveness.
A few years ago, large format poster printing was a painstakingly long and expensive process that involved offset printing which required a lot of labor. Also, each ink type templates were to be transferred from a rubber blanket onto the vinyl or canvas. This process would be extremely costly if large scale printing volumes was involved. However, modern digital large format printing eliminates the need for printing plates since digital print heads can directly transfer ink onto any surface.
Solvent Based: This type of printing uses petroleum-based or its substitute e.g. Acetone ink. The prints are usually waterproof once fully cured. It is suitable for outdoor prints.
Water Based: It can either be UV-based or Dye-based. The UV-based method are usually dull in appearance but can withstand UV light without fading. Conversely, Dye-based type is normally brighter in appearance but can easily fade when exposed to UV light. Dye-base is suitable for indoor prints.
The design process for large format starts with how or where the artwork will be displayed. For outdoor display, the printing material should be resistant to outdoor weather such as vinyl. Although large format printing encompasses high resolution file outputs, ranging from 150 ppi (pixels per inch) up to 300 ppi, higher resolutions might be costly which makes the viewing distance a great factor. For close up views, about 3 ft. (such as a wall mural), the file output should be more detailed and a higher resolution might be necessary, say 200 dpi. Note that a 6 x 84’ file can be in the range of 80 MB – 100 MB at a resolution of 20 ppi but can reach up to 20 GB at a resolution of 300 ppi!
Another factor to consider before rolling out the printing process for large format is the ink type. Unlike other color mixing techniques, only CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) can provide a detailed color output for virtually all printing applications. So, do not set your file to RGB.
Certain companies can greatly benefit from large scale printers as they would not need to outsource their printing projects. Below are examples of those companies.
Photographers: Having an in-house large format printer for photo companies is a perfect way of producing high quality prints. It saves printing costs in the long run.
Art Studios: If you own an art studio, then a large format printer should be a priority in order to produce posters in an instant.
Construction Companies: All constructions are designed using CAD, therefore the CAD prints are always in large format which requires a large format printer within the design lab.
Graphics Studios: Graphics studios can also benefit with the large format printers as they would conveniently produce large quantities of prints with a consistent high quality throughout the printing process.
The general benefits of large format printing is that posters and billboards all always visible from a distance. This improves the exposure of your product or brand. Similarly, large format prints are extremely versatile and can be customized to fit virtually any surface regardless of the shape or dimension.
There are tons of applications that large format printing can be applied, both indoor and outdoor. The current economy has become highly competitive and the best way to stand out is to be seen by many. This is where large format printing comes in when it comes to advertising. Posters, stickers, vehicle wraps and banners are the most popular prints that utilizes the large format printing technology. Here are examples of large format prints:
Maps, Diagrams and Charts
Large Format Calendars
Horizontal and Vertical Banners
Window and Wall Posters