Stand out BIG time with large format printing: a successful, flexible, and low-cost advertising option. We aim to help you maximize your brand, from permanent wall murals in your headquarters to temporary banners for your special event to full-wraps on your fleet.
Our graphics team offers vast options for materials and styles for indoor and outdoor elements. Color matching, branding solutions, file repositioning, and certified installation are just a few of the many capabilities brought to your partnership with Craftsmen.
We understand the value of your images and completed rigorous certification processes to ensure they are printed at the highest standard. We are recognized as a G7 Master Printer that can print to a neutral and produce the most accurate reproduction of your file, brand color and logo.
Anyone who wants to grab attention from afar, promote a new product, outfit an event venue, or simply create more brand awareness can benefit from large format printing.
Large Format Printing Examples
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Anyone who wants to grab attention from afar, promote a new product, provide a quick reference, or demonstrate a quick visual in an instructional setting can benefit from large format printing, often referred to as wide format printing. Using this technology, community groups and organizations can create banners announcing events. Artists can produce art and photography for art exhibits. Stores and restaurants can advertise special promotions with window decals and signage. Hospitals, schools, and museums can guide visitors with wayfinding graphics. The list of styles and materials is nearly endless.Indeed, this specialized process is much more than large-format banner printing; common products in large format printing include:
Large format printing or large scale printing refers to print materials that are too large to be printed on regular commercial printers. This process requires the use of specialized technology and production equipment that can manage larger than-normal print dimensions while still maintaining resolution and clarity. While standard commercial printers can typically handle up to 14-inch wide products when digitally printing, large-format printers can manage materials from 24 inches to 16 feet in width by almost any length.
Large-format printers can handle a wide variety of materials, called substrates, which include paper, vinyl, glass, aluminum, fabric, styrene, canvas, foam-centered materials, wood, and textiles, to name a few. Due to the large number of variables that can go into substrate selection, customers should talk to their large format printing service to determine what material would be best for a particular project. Some of these variables are:
Whether the product will be used in an indoor or outdoor setting can determine the type of substrate to be used. While indoor products can easily be printed on paper or other less durable substrates, an outdoor product will need to be able to stand up to precipitation, wind, and humidity.
The period of time a product will need to be in place will factor into the material selection. If it will be up only for a short time, such as an announcement for an event, paper, cardboard, or gator board may be appropriate. However, if installed for a longer period of time, a more durable substrate like expanded PVC may be necessary.
It is important to know if there are limitations, spatial or otherwise, on the type of substrate that can be used. For example, some fire departments may have specific codes that extend to materials being used indoors, often requiring materials to have low flammability.
There are many different kinds of large-format digital printers, which differ depending on the size of and type of printing material. Large format printing services most commonly use these printers, each which has its own advantages and drawbacks, to do their work.
These printers produce high resolution images and have a quick production time. They use water-based ink and so don’t emit harmful fumes, eliminating the need for ventilation in the production area. Downsides include that a special coating on the media is required so the ink will stick, and ink and paper for these printers can be a little more expensive.
The ink used with solvent printers is durable, making them great for outdoor use and exposure to elements such as wind and rain. Its scratch-resistant ink also makes it a durable product when a lot of human contact is expected. However, these printers require a ventilation system in order to vent hazardous ink fumes.
This type of printer is the most versatile, having the ability to print on a wide variety of materials, and has the advantage of producing the most durable items. They use resin-based and latex-based inks but are flexible enough to use some water-based inks. However, UV ink does not dry flat on media, and consequently, a perfectly dried image will have a matte look to it.
From the design and selection of the substate to file preparation to the actual printing of the product, there are multiple steps that large-format printing services must follow meticulously to produce high quality products.
Large-format products are usually designed with little text; instead, using imagery or bold, high contrast topography are the most effective in getting the message across quickly to people viewing the material from afar. Text is well spaced, easy to read fonts are utilized, and copy is kept short and to the point.
During the design phase, the colors can be chosen along with the substrate, sometimes in conjunction with one another. Some substrates aren’t able to produce certain colors in the same shine and gloss as on other materials.
In addition, color management is often needed to ensure that colors are the same across different products and substrates. Color can be coded in by a color technician manually, or a specialized software can be used to ensure faster precise color matching.
The standard resolution of 300 DPI (dots per image) for standard size printing is not appropriate for large-format printing. The closer an image needs to be viewed, the more resolution or DPI are needed to make the image colorful and sharp, and for the reverse, the opposite is true. For viewing from longer distances, the resolution can be as small DPI.
The smaller DPI requirements of DPI mean that files are a more manageable 200 MB file, and in some instances, an even smaller file is possible. In terms of file format, typically, PDF, EPS, or AI files are used to store the image.
After final approval of the graphic file, the document is sent to the printer memory. If the printing is to be done on paper or another flexible media, the substrate is placed in a roll-to-roll printer to ensure that the media arrives at the intake without wrinkles. If the substrate is rigid, a flatbed printer will be used to support it; for round or cylindrical items, a hybrid printer can be utilized.
After the substrate is installed, the ink then moves from large cartridges to the print heads, which are the key components of a printer. Printheads contain injectors, tiny holes which release ink in the right amount onto the substrate as the printheads travel over it in horizontal strips; the more passes the printheads make, the greater the definition. The printheads use one motor to move laterally and, for roll-to-roll printers, one to move the substrate in vertical steps. The printheads continue to move until the data in the memory is finished transmitting and the work is complete.
After the printing process has been completed, the ink must have time to dry, either by heat or evaporation, typically by hanging or through use of a professional drying machine. Drying times can vary significantly depending on a number of factors including the type of ink used, the brank of ink, the amount of ink, the temperature and humidity levels, and the surface porosity. If drying isn’t completed correctly, solvents will remain on the substrate, causing shrinking, peeling, and adhesive transfer.
After the ink has dried on the product, large-format printing services finish the product through cutting and preparation for mounting. Cutting can involve very simple X and Y (resulting in square or rectangular shapes), or products may require more specialty cutting such as die cuts or kiss cuts, which make lighter cuts on a product like stickers. Contour cutting, on the other hand, cuts around the outer edge of a printed material in a predetermined shape.
Finishing can also involve preparation for installation. Grommets can be installed on the material for hanging, or a rigid rod can be either sewn or welded into the product. Stands, special enclosures, and frames are other installation tools that can be placed onto the product.
As the technology for large wide format printing develops, shorter production time frames have become more feasible. Turn-around times can depend on size and scope of work, but we understand the importance of having your brand in front of your audience and do our best to work around short timelines. As quickly as two days for printing and installation of a 40’ tall Stanley Cup on Enterprise Center - our customers rely on us to be the fastest in class! Although less expensive than screen printing, large-format printing varies on the substrate used and the size requested.
As discussed in this article, large-format materials can be produced on a wide variety of sizes and substrates, assisting customers in getting their product exactly as envisioned. Another advantage is that inks like UV ensure that the product is durable, able to last for a long time, and capable of withstanding difficult environmental conditions.
The downsides of large-format printing are felt by large-format printing services, which must supply the appropriate ventilation for fumes. In addition, printing operations must comply with large space requirements due to the size of the printing equipment.
Large-format banner printing no doubt led the industry from its infancy. However, the industry evolved and continues to change in order to offer more options, ever-increasing precision, and more environmentally friendly processing. It will be exciting to see what trajectory the industry, already using cutting edge technology, will take in the future as it continues to push the boundaries of the products it can offer.