Large Format Printing

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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Whether it is for advertising or purely decoration, many modern businesses require the graphics handling skills of large format printing shops. Such printing shops often specialize in the creation, printing, and installation of over size images--often 36 inches to a side or larger. Large format printing covers posters, banners, and graphic installations, and some shops may also do outdoor advertisements and digital vehicle wraps.

There are a few main differences between the processes that printing shops may use for large format outdoor graphics and indoor graphics. First, the shop must assess the needs of the application, such as whether or not the graphic must endure the weather and what kind of surface the graphic will be installed on. From there the shop can determine what kind of material to print on and what kind of printer/ inks to use.

Large Format Printing in Outdoor Applications

Most outdoor images are printed on vinyl. Vinyl has many attributes that make it a good candidate for the printed image: it is durable, takes ink well, and is easy handled. Some kinds of vinyl are thin enough that sheets of vinyl can be easily overlapped without attracting too much attention to the seam, which is great for large format printing applications.

For example, printing shops will often use a thin, pliable vinyl for vehicle wraps. The images are designed in a computer and printed on 48-inch wide sheets of vinyl; they are then cut out and carefully applied to the vehicle, starting from the back. By applying the graphics from the rear of the vehicle forward, installers can insure that all of the seams face the rear of the vehicle, where they are less likely to be noticed.

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