Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends defines wide format printing as printing on media that is 24 to 96 inches wide. This surpasses regular office printers, which typically print on paper that’s no wider than 13 inches.
Typically, wide format printers support cut-sheet as well as roll-fed media. This media can be paper, canvas, vinyl, or another type of plastic—such as plastic used in back-lit displays. While various kinds of ink and toner can be used in wide format printers, more basic models generally use aqueous (i.e., water-based) ink.
Wide format printers may also have the capacity to integrate scanners, cutters, and folders, as well as support for workflow and color control applications.
Popular Wide Format Applications
Common wide format applications include office documents, plotter replacement output, point-of-sale graphics, exhibition graphics, professional photography and art, and billboards and related media. Supporting these applications are media types like bond and coated paper, technical paper, film, photographic paper, and self-adhesive.
Wide Format Marking Supplies
As mentioned above, more basic wide format printers generally use aqueous/water-based ink. This section will discuss this type of ink as well as other inks that may be used, and toner.
- Aqueous/water-based ink: Aqueous/water-based ink comes in two varieties: dye and pigment. Dye-based inks can be used to deliver a very small dot size for fine output on prints, while pigment-based inks are often chosen for their resistance to ultraviolet (UV) light fading as well as water.
- In solvent inks, the carrier is not water but a volatile organic compound that evaporates into the atmosphere after being deposited. Often requiring a ventilation system, these inks are used for durable printing on vinyl substrates—such as vehicle wraps and graphics, billboards, banners, and adhesive decals.
- With latex inks, the carrier for the pigments is latex-based; exposure to high temperatures is required for drying. The inks tend to cure very quickly, however, which means they can be rapidly finished. Advantages include versatility, and durability for outdoor and indoor applications.
- With UV-curable inks, the ink is deposited on a rigid substrate and “dried” by exposure to strong UV light. Producing a very saturated image, they are also subject to cracking if the printed substrate is flexed. However, some of the newer types can be printed on more flexible substrates.
- Dye sublimation inks are inks that are vaporized by the print head; the vapor is deposited on the print surface. This type of print technology is generally used when printing on fabric.
- Toner: Within the wide format market, toner is typically used for architectural, engineering, and construction applications where color and/or graphical complexity are not the priority. For instance, construction drawings may be printed as black and white images that are fairly simple in nature.
- According to Keypoint Intelligence-InfoTrends’ definition, wide format printing is printing on media that is 24 to 96 inches wide.
- Popular wide format applications include office documents, plotter replacement output, point-of-sale graphics, exhibition graphics, professional photography and art, and billboards and related media.
- More basic wide format printers generally use aqueous/water-based ink, but a variety of marking supplies with different advantages and disadvantages are available.