Ever since the invention of the first printer in 1968, the printing industry has been on the rise.

In 2019, the industry was valued at USD 400.5 billion. It is estimated to be valued at a whopping USD 460.3 billion by 2025.

The growth can be attributed to advances in printing technology as well as a creative increase in the variety of applications the printers are used for.

As printing developed, people realized that they would like to see printed material from a further distance. Thus, wide format printing was developed.

In this article, we’ll take an elevated look at the basics of wide format printing (synonymous with large format printing).

By the end, you’ll be able to identify the best printer for you based on your own business needs and budget.

types of printers

Types of Wide Format Printers

Printers are mainly distinguished by the type of ink that they deploy.

There are generally 6 categories of large format printers:

Solvent Printers

Solvent printers create long-lasting exterior graphics. They are perfect for outdoor prints that need to last in harsh weather conditions.

Solvent printers are generally considered to be health hazards and have a toxic odor. As a result, eco-solvent printers have been implemented that are safe for the environment and humans. However, eco-solvents are used mainly for indoor prints.

On the other hand, solvent printers have relatively low-cost material, which is why the printing industry continues to invest in them.

Beware that the toxic fumes of solvent printers means that proper ventilation is required to safely operate the printers, possibly adding to your costs.

Because of the low cost of ink, solvent printers is a good choice for cost-efficient production of large orders.

Aqueous Inkjet Printers

Aqueous inkjet printers provide the widest range of color gamut. They can use one of two types of ink – dyes or pigments.

Dyes have the highest level of color gamut but their low level of UV-resistance makes them poor choices for outdoor usage.

Pigments are slightly duller but have a higher level of UV-resistance.

Both types of inks can be applied to many substrates such as canvases, banners, and cloth.

However, all aqueous prints lack in durability and must be laminated, or similarly protected, before application outdoors. This may significantly affect costs of printing.

Aqueous printers may be your choice if quality is of utmost importance and cost and durability are not issues.

UV-Based Flatbed Printers

UV-based flatbed printers use strong UV-rays to prepare the ink. When the curable ink is placed onto the board as an image, the UV-rays essentially cook the ink into a solid.

Resulting prints are waterproof, embossed, and have vibrant color.

Because the ink is solidified by UV-rays, UV-based prints don’t require lamination and can withstand harsher outdoor environments.

Further, their inks are less costly than aqueous inkjets, making UV-based flatbed printers a more economical choice than aqueous printers.

While polymers perform best with these printers, any material can be used with UV-Based Flatbed Printers.

Glass, ceramic, wood, and metal are just some of the possible applications of this printer.

UV-based flatbed printers are a great all-around choice printer.

Dye Sublimation Printers

Dye sublimation printers use a diffusal process to create photographic quality of prints in incredible consistency.

Sublimation is the scientific term for the passing of a substance from its solid state into its gaseous state. Dry ice is a common example of this.

Heat is applied to the ink, which begins in its solid state, and the residual reaction leaves the image.

After the dye is transferred onto the substrate, the print is dried almost immediately.

Dye sublimation can be used for many applications, however they are limited to polyester-coated substrates and polymer substrates.

Dye sublimation printers are great for the specific type of job where the medium allows for this type of printing.

Latex Printers

Latex printing’s most popular brand is HP. Latex printers can be used across a variety of materials. Their prints can be used both indoors and outdoors.

A big advantage of latex printing is that they do not rely of materials to be coated or uncoated before printing.

Latex inks, being made of around 70% water, proved to be much less toxic than solvent inks while just as versatile. These products are environmentally friendly as well as healthy for those who handle it.

Latex printers also boast high quality and high speeds of printing. There is no dry time at all so the process is quick with latex printers.

With all these benefits, latex printing might seem like an expensive solution. Quite surprisingly, one of latex’s many benefits it also its cost-effectiveness.

With latex printing, you don’t need to worry about lamination. Production speed is increased which means less hours spent working, and the capability of taking on more jobs.

Plotter and Pen Printers

Plotters and pen printers are used primarily for CAD drawings. Computer Aided Design drawings are mainly for engineers and architects who require diagrams to be printed.

Pen printers are very specialized printers. The allow the user to draw directly onto the printed substrate.

Do you really need a large-format printer?

While it might seem like you need a professional printing machine, they aren’t exactly cheap to purchase or maintain.

They can start at around $20,000 just for the printer. The ink can cost you $150 per color.

Furthermore, you may have to hire professionals to work with troubleshooting, managing, operating, and working with the digital software.

To know if you need a professional printer, ask yourself the following questions:

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you might be in need of a professional printer.

If you have any further questions, we can guide you through the process of choosing the best printer for your needs.