Wide format printing is, essentially, the printing of large graphics or designs onto large rolls of paper (or other materials). It requires the use of specialist equipment, and much larger printers than standard commercial units. In general, ‘wide format printers’ are to considered to be those with a max width of 18-100 inches.
Still a relatively new development in the printing industry, wide format printing in the way we understand it today has existed in this form for around the past 25 years. As technology has evolved, the number of different inks, substrates (that material that gets printed onto) and printers available have expanded dramatically.
The advent of digital technology, and the development of software and tools such as AI and cloud-based computing have also made wide format printing more accessible and productive than ever before. It’s now possible to control printers remotely, and set them to run and operate overnight – newer models can even report their own faults.
Revelations such as these have redefined how large format printing can be used, and the scale at which it can operate. It’s not surprising, then, that the use of wide format printed graphics has increased so significantly.
What is large format printing used for?
This can vary from supplier to supplier, but in general, wide format printing is used to produce large graphics for marketing, branding, and advertising purposes. These can take many forms, but things such as construction site hoarding graphics, fleet and vehicle vinyl wraps, and printed retail graphics and displays tend to be some of the most common uses for the format.
For the most part, these kinds of adverts – particularly those that fall into the category of ‘outdoor advertising’ are intended to be displayed in front of a large number of people, and will be viewed from a distance. For this reason, large graphics are required, and it would be somewhat impractical to ‘stitch’ together a large number of small graphics.