Wide Format Printing
Wide format printers support any printing widths between 18 and 100 inches and printers supporting more than 100 inches are considered “Super Wide” or “Grand” format printers. Wide format printing often employs a roll of material rather than individual sheets and used to print such things as posters, vehicle wraps, wallpaper and other large signs or artwork.
Most grand format printers, on the other hand, employ a vacuum bed to allow for various substrates such as vinyl, canvas, cardboard, Coroplast (a corrugated polypropylene sheet), or Dibond (an aluminum composite material), all used for printing signs, banners and displays.
It’s All in The Ink
There are a variety of ink transfer processes used by these printers and each has their own benefits and limitations. Here’s how they are categorized.
Solvent inks: These oil-based inks are most often used for outdoor signage given they provide a high level of weather and UV (sun), resistance. Unlike aqueous inks, the fumes are dangerous and require good ventilation to remove the airborne solvent fumes during the printing process. The ink also tends to hold an unpleasant smell which can persist for weeks, preventing most printed products from being used indoors until the inked areas dry
Aqueous inks, also known as water-based ink, generally use water as the main carrier, but some formulas use other liquids such as a soy base to hold the ink’s pigment. Aqueous is a non-toxic ink safe for general use in home and office environments, but it is slightly more expensive than solvent inks. This ink comes in two types: Dye and UV (or pigment).
Dye inks offer the widest range of colors, but have limitations as they don’t withstand UV rays very well, while the UV variant is slightly duller, it has much higher resistance to fading from UV rays and both will need to be laminated if they are to be used outdoors for long periods. There are various substrates that can accept this ink, but any material that aqueous ink is printed onto needs to be properly coated in order to hold the ink sufficiently.
UV inks dry instantly when cured with ultraviolet light. Colors are more consistent and vibrant with UV ink because it doesn’t absorb into the material it is printed on as much as other inks. Nearly any media can be used with this ink, including ceramics, wood, metal, and glass.
One of our top specialties at Kessler Creative is large and grand format printing, utilizing a variety of printers and all of the ink types listed above. Contact us today and we will help bring your BIG print jobs to reality!