Closeup of a wide format printer that is producing a large, mosaic-based print.

Wide Format Printers: Would Your Business Benefit from One?

Printers come in all shapes and sizes, from compact desktop units that are perfect for home office use to massive production machines optimized for high-volume jobs. When it comes to grabbing people’s attention with a full-sized poster or a big banner, however, only wide format printers are up to the task. This post goes in-depth about these devices and what they have to offer the typical office. In the end, you’ll find out if a wide format printer works for your printing needs.

Wide Format Printers 101

Wide format printers are nothing like your average multifunction printers. Whereas the largest sheet a typical printer can handle measures 11 inches by 17 inches, a wide format printer can handle entire rolls of paper as wide as 100 inches or more, depending on the size and model. Needless to say, that makes the wide format printer ideal for churning out big banners for special events, signage for trade shows, and large posters for art shows.

Not only are wide format printers available in a variety of sizes, but the types of ink they use are just as diverse. Most use aqueous or water-based inks that are intended for indoor use, but also offer faster output and good visual quality while being easy to use. Solvent-based inks are more durable, making them ideal for outdoor signage and other all-weather uses, but their toxicity makes them more challenging to use. A growing number of wide format printers are using “eco-solvent” inks made from mild biodegradable solvents, making them less volatile than traditional solvent-based inks while allowing for easier handling and clean-up.

Many wide format printers use ultraviolet light to cure ink as it passes across the material during the printing process. Capable of printing on a vast array of surfaces, including wood, vinyl, and PVC, these printers are typically found in a “flatbed” configuration that takes advantage of their highly versatile printing features.

Wide format printers are used by a number of different types of businesses. Marketing and advertising firms rely on them to create visually impressive, graphics-rich materials for various campaigns. Architects and engineers depend on them to create expansive blueprints and schematics for new buildings, while interior designers use them to bring room-design concepts to presentation. Schools use wide format printers to create informational banners and displays for school and extracurricular functions. Even the healthcare industry uses these printers to create informative signage for patients and promotional materials for various health-related events.

What They Have to Offer

High-Resolution Quality – One of the big benefits of owning a wide format printer is its ability to create high-resolution images and graphics. Instead of relying on ordinary inkjet technology, wide format printers opt for high precision droplet technology that allows for precise, microscopic placement of ink droplets. The end result is text and graphics that offer far greater clarity than what can be achieved from a typical inkjet printer. The impressive fidelity offered by wide format printers also makes it easier to distinguish text and graphics.

Faster Print Output – When it comes to speed, it’s hard to compare a wide format printer with its smaller and slower multifunction printer counterpart. Most wide format printers are designed specifically to offer fast print output without sacrificing quality. Consider that the typical wide format printer can churn out up to 15 large, high-quality posters per hour. Such speeds also lead to faster turnaround times, which is perfect for clients demanding graphics-rich materials in a short amount of time.

Easier Access – Owning your own printer has its benefits, and those extend to owning a wide format printer. Instead of relying on another department or a print shop whose turnaround times are measured in hours or even days, you can simply print your own materials whenever the need arises. Having your own wide format printer also makes it easier to produce prototypes, giving you more opportunity to fine-tune your work before creating the final product.

Reduced Costs – Farming out your wide format print jobs to an outside vendor comes at a significant cost. For rush jobs, you can expect to pay exorbitant fees while wondering if you’ll get your product in time. Having your own wide format printer cuts out the middleman along with the drama that comes with outsourcing certain print jobs. The savings in rush fees alone make it worthwhile to invest in a wide format printer.

Material Diversity – Many wide format printers give you the freedom to print on a broad range of materials besides paper. All it takes is a UV flatbed printer to create a wide variety of eye-catching and innovative materials for just about any project. For instance, you can take advantage of heavy foot traffic by creating durable vinyl signage directing clients and customers to specific areas.

Is A Wide Format Printer A Good Fit for Your Business?

If you like what you see about wide format printers, then chances are you might be considering one for your Houston-based business’s print environment. While these printers offer a multitude of benefits when compared to ordinary multifunction printers, you should consider whether one would be appropriate for your printing needs. If your company regularly needs to produce the banners, posters, decals, and other large format materials that make having a wide format printer worthwhile, then consider adding one to your print fleet. Otherwise, you may be more satisfied with sticking to a smaller and more manageable multifunction printer for your everyday printing needs.

Is your Houston business ready to step into the world of wide format printing? Contact Stargel Office Solutions today and schedule a consultation with one of our sales specialists.