Large Format Printing

 

Large format is a term generally used for jobs that are larger than A3 in size. However any job that is printed on a large format ink jet printer can be called large format. Whilst offset printing presses can print as large as A0 (1189x841mm) in size, there are substantial make-ready costs that prohibit small volumes being printed. Therefore, lesser volumes are printed on large format printers

Posters

A2 to A0 sized posters can be printed on either an offset press or with a large format printer. The point at which it becomes cheaper to print offset instead of using a large format printer varies due to the actual printer being used and the size of the product. Below is an example of when a poster job might be printed using the offset process instead of a large format printer.

A0 Posters

(1189x841mm)

Over 50 posters will generally be printed using the offset printing process
A1 Posters

(841x594mm)

Over 100 posters will generally be printed using the offset printing process
A2 Posters

(594x420mm)

Over 200 posters will generally be printed using the offset printing process

 

Of course, as technology is evolving, it is becoming more economical to print higher quantities with Large Format Printers.

 

 

Banners

Another product that is printed with a large format printer is a banner. Banners are an affordable form of outdoor advertising. They can be finished with eyelets and ropes for attaching to structures such as walls and fences. The can be easily rolled up afterwards and used multiple times if necessary.

 

Large banners can be made by welding separate pieces together. This usually occurs when a large billboard is being constructed or the side of a building is to be covered.

 

The wind can be troublesome with vinyl banners so many are printed on a special mesh material so that the wind can pass through them. Double sided meshes for when the artwork needs to be seen from both sides. In fact, there are many, many different kinds of vinyl and mesh to deal with almost every application. Its useful life ranges from 3-5 years.

 

Digitally printed banners can printed with aqueous (water based) inks, eco-solvent inks, solvent based inks or UV-curable inkjet inks. The last three inks contain durable pigments are weather proof and scratch resistant.

 

In some cases, the banner might be screen printed because a large quantity is required and digital large format printing would be cost prohibitive or because special colours such as fluorescents might be desired.

 

Vinyl banners are commonly seen on billboards, as building banners, table banners, trade show banners and shop front banners.

 

 

Boards

Sometimes a banner may not be suitable and a board may be more appropriate. Examples of this might include directional signage, information boards, company logos at a trade show or a mounted image on a wall.

 

Boards are made from any of three processes.

  1. They can be printed onto a vinyl sticker which then mounted onto a rigid substrate such as foam core or MDF.
  2. They can be printed on directly using a flatbed printer. Here the substrate is placed onto a table and the print heads prints directly onto the substrate. This method is relatively new and allows printing onto substrates with uneven surfaces such as a door or corrugated iron.
  3. For larger quantities where the cost of digital large format printing is cost prohibitive, screen printing is used.

 

Stickers

Clear (transparent) vinyls, translucent vinyls, coloured vinyls and block-out vinyls are other options that are available if required.

 

Vinyl Duration

The length of time that a sticker needs to be on display helps us choose what kind of vinyl sticker to use. If a sticker is going to be up for a short term promotion, we will likely use a “monomeric vinyl” which is cheaper but tends to shrink over time. A “polymeric vinyl” shrinks less than a monomeric vinyl and is generally recommended for jobs that will be up for three to five years. If a vehicle needs to be wrapped, then a cast vinyl will be used as this has the least shrinkage and is also “conformable” i.e. it will apply around rivets and complex curves. It is likely to last up to seven years.

 

Vinyl Adhesives

For jobs that need to only be displayed for a week-long special, you might only require a mild adhesive so that it can be removed easily. These stickers are called “removable” and don’t leave a residue when they are removed. Floor signage, however, requires a very aggressive adhesive so that it does not lift due to the excessive traffic it is exposed to. Permanent adhesives can also be initially removable and then achieve a permanent bond after a period of time.

 

When deciding on what adhesive to use, another thing to consider is what surface the sticker is being adhered to. You wouldn’t put an aggressive adhesive on a polished floor unless you were prepared to redo the floor boards afterwards.

 

Quality Of Printing

Having a high quality photographic image on a bill board would be excessive as it is unlikely to be viewed at close range. It is smarter to print a large image such as a billboard at a lower resolution because it is faster to turnaround and at the same time uses less ink, which makes it cheaper as well.

 

Installation

Installation can be expensive – sometimes more expensive that the printing itself!

 

Large format stickers can be challenging to stick up yourself if you are not familiar with the correct procedure and this can result in visible wrinkles, bubbles or stretched areas. Often a professional installer is required to complete the work and if the job is a complex one, extra installers may be required for assistance, resulting in higher costs.

 

When a job is to be installed at a height at over 3 metres, a scissor lift or a boom lift will be compulsory for safety reasons and this may require council permits if the work is in a public place. It will usually have to be installed outside of normal hours too which can increase costs again.

 

Travel time is another factor when it comes to installs. Often, particularly in the case of a complex installation, the installer may have to inspect the site before the job can be accurately quoted and will charge accordingly, especially if the site is distant.