12 Feb Large Format Printing Stoke On Trent
A guide to large format printing and the available services supplied by Alpha Signs And Print in Stoke On Trent and thorughout the UK
What Is Large Format Printing
So, what is large format digital printing?
Well, large format printing or wide format printing as it is also known is a form of printing performed by digital inkjet printers capable of printing images at large sizes. These printers can print on multiple media types including vinyl, paper, material, correx, aluminium panels and even glass, depending on the ink used.
Not only can they print extremely large sizes, they are also fast with high end commercial machines being capable of printing over 150sqm per hour.
With the advances in new technology, large format digital printing capabilities are becoming greater than ever. Some ink sets now incorporate white inks and metallic inks as well as an increasing number of colours, widening the opportunities for designers to produce eye catching designs.
Types Of Large Format Printing
Roll Based Media Large Format Printing
The most common types of large format printer are roll to roll based machines that print on rolls of vinyls, materials and papers.
These printers are usually found in sign shops and print shops where they are used to print signage, vehicle graphics, promotional items such as posters and banners and other non rigid materials.
The width of these printers varies with different models and manufacturers and ranges between 760mm or 30 inches all the way upto 5m wide giants used to print advertising hoardings and other extremely large items. The length of media they can print is generally limited by the length of the media itself.
These printers usually use solvent based or latex based inks that are weather proof and hard wearing.
Flatbed Large Format Printing
These printers are used to print on hard surface, rigid material such as glass or aluminium panels.
They have two tables, one for feeding the material into the printer and one to support it as it exits the printer. These printers commonly use UV curable ink that is extremely hard when cured, providing excellent scratch resisitance and durability. After the design is printed, the ink is passed under UV lights to cure it.
These printers can be used to produce anything from backsplash panels for kitchens to complete wall panels for shops, sports arenas and building hoardings.
Dye Sublimation Large Format Printing
These printers are very similar to the roll to roll based printers but use a specialist ink to print onto polyester materials.
Dye sublimation is a process of printing an image onto a polyester material or layer and then heating the ink to infuse it into the material or layer. When heated under pressure the ink turns to gas and impreganates the material for a permanent, colourfast finish.
These printers are used to print polyester material that is used for signage, clothing, furniture and various other applications.
Fine Art Printers
These printers are not really a commercial type of printer. They are a much closer relation of your desktop inkjet printer. They use water based inks, but usually have a much larger colour set containing up to 12 colours, to allow them to reproduce fine art prints and print photographic reproductions.
Water based pigment and dye inks are not sufficiently weatherproof or UV resistant enough to be used in outdoor situations or in heavily exposed direct sunlight for long perids of time as they fade a lot quicker than commercial inks.
These printers are designed to print on canvas and coated paper stocks. They are usually capable of amazing quality prints and cost hundreds of times more than a desktop inkjet.
Unlike the monitors used with computers, large format printers produce graphics using the CMYK colour space. Computer monitors use the RGB colour space. CMYK refers to Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black or Key. RGB refers to Red, Green, Blue. Think of colour spaces as an artists palette where different colours are mixed to produce new colours and tones.
This is important when designing grapics for print as the two colour spaces differ significantly. RGB, in its various forms, has a much wider space meaning it can display a lot more individual colours. This means that any graphics designed in the RGB colour space may not be printed correctly on a large format printer.
Most graphics programs such as Adobe Photoshop allow users to switch between colour spaces and colour spaces should be taken into account when designing for print.
The CMYK colour space is muted compared to the RGB space and when printing graphics the RIP program, used to control the printer, maps any non supported colours to the nearest CMYK alternative. The printer operator has control over this matching and if they are skilled at their job, can minimise the difference in the appearance of the colours.
Large Format Print And Cut
Here at Alpha Signs And Print we use a Mimaki large format print and cut machine. This printer allows us to produce high resolution, photo quality graphics suitable for indoor and outdoor applications. Once printed, if needed, we can use the printer to cut the graphics to size and shape, ready for installation or application.
The printers capapbility of printing and cutting graphics upto 1370mm or 54 inches wide, gives us the ability to provide printed and cut graphics for a wide range of applications and situations. It allows us to produce vehicle graphics, signs and other uniquely sized and shaped graphics along with the more standard posters and display graphics.
We have continually upgraded our equipment and thanks to the Mimaki’s speed and capabilities we can offer low cost large format printing to businesses in Stoke On Trent and throughout the UK.
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Large Format Print Design
Designing for large format print has its own set of requirements.You can read about designing graphics for large format print in our article.
If you already have a design and require large format printing services get in touch to see how we can provide you with a great customer experience and fantastic printed products.
If you need your large format graphic desiging, then our team can help. We provide a full design service.
Whether you need graphics for your company van or vehicle or artwork for your store branding, we work with you to produce your ideal graphics and then print them. We also offer a full installation service should that be needed.
Large Format Print Finishing
Is finishing necessary for large format printed products?
Hate to say it but….. it depends.
For products printed with UV curable inks, then no extra finishing is usually required as the inks harden and by nature are very hard and durable.
Sublimation printed items do not really require any print finishing as the ink is impregnated into the material, although the actual product itself may require further work if it is part of a cut and sew process used to make garments etc.
Large format print finishing is most applicable to products printed with solvent, water or latex based inks. This usually involves applying a laminate or coating over the print to provide extra protection and/or a desired finish to the print.
In commercial large format printing for signage and display, laminate is usually appiled as a self adhesive film that is fixed to the print by applying pressure to the laminate to activate the glue. Laminates come in different finishes such as gloss, matt and crystal amongst others and can be used to change the final appearance of the print.
Laminate is also available as a liquid that is applied by a roller, brush or sprayed onto the surface of the print. This is more commonly found in the fine art and photographic printing sector where water based inks are used.
Large Format Printed Products
Large format printing companies product ranges will differ depending on their equipment and experience. A good large format print shop should be able to provide everything needed to brand and promote your business. Alpha Signs And Print offer a wide range of large format printed products including the following.
For more details see each product’s individual page
Print and cut graphics for company vehicles
Large Format Sign Printing
We provide large format printing for signs of all sizes and shapes. Choose from our wide range of signage options.
Roll up banners
Lightweight and portable promotional banners used everywhere from exhibitions and events to shops and business premises.
Large Format Banner Printing
Tough, water-resistant vinyl banners up to 5m long with eyelets fitted for easy mounting.
Large format poster printing suitable for indoor or outdoor display. Available in standard A sizes or bespoke dimensions.
Large Format Vinyl Printing
High quality, printable, self adhesive vinyl suitable for signage, point of sale and many other applications.
Window Graphics Printing
Available as solid printed graphics or as one way vision window graphics.
Large Format Wallpaper Printing
Custom large format printed wallpaper with your own design.
Large Format Printed Backdrops
We provide large format backdrop printing suitable for photo studios and other applications.
Large Format Exhibition Printing
Exhibition stands and displays printed with your business, product or service details and graphics
Large Format Vinyl Sticker Printing
We can produce vinyl stickers in any size upto 1370mm wide. We can gang stickers onto vinyl rolls to cost effectively print large quantities on the minimum amount of vinyl.
Large Format Transparency Printing
We can provide large transparancy printing, either colour or black. Suitable for silk screen masking and other applications.
Large Format Printing Price Guide
Several factors come into play when pricing large format prints
The first is the media that the design is printed on.
Next up is the size of the design.
Is the image to be printed print ready or is there a lot of work to be done to get it ready for print.
A lot of print shops will price their printing based on area. This will be a known cost to the print shop, each media type having it’s own known costs and prices.
Some large format print shops do cost print jobs differently depending on the graphic to be printed. If the graphic is large but not colour dense, they may charge differently to a design that is solid colour throughout. Regardless, their price is what you will pay.
The retail media costs will depend on the quality and purchase cost of the material to the shop. It is always worth checking what media they are using as costs for vinyls and other materials can vary a lot depending on their manufacturer, type and quality.
If cost or quality are really important, it is best to do a little research to find out what the good makes of the media are and if the print shop uses those or other lesser grades. Just be prepared to pay a little more for the higher quality products, but it is often worth it in the long run.
As an example, vinyl comes in different types – monomeric, polymeric, and cast. That is also the order of quality and price.
Monomeric vinyls can shrink after they have been applied and are the cheapest type of vinyl
Polymeric are the industry standard and offer good all round performance but as with everything, some are better than others.
Cast vinyls are the best and are used for full car wraps etc. These are the vinyls used for wrapping your Ferrari or Lambourghini. Expensive.
So, price wise, the print shop will have a known cost, usually per meter of material, that you will pay. Other factors that are added are not so obvious to the customer. For every item the shop produces, there are the associated running costs – electric, gas, wages etc. These too are factored into the price.
When it come to print ready images, virtually every image will take some adjustemnt through the software rip to make it printable. This is a standard operation and is already factored into the price. The extra costs may arise when the image is of low quality or poor resolution for the needed size and some extra work is needed to correct these problems. These costs are always going to be subjective to the amount or difficulty of the work required.
So, finally onto how much it costs.
Large format printing costs in the UK, as an average are around £35 per m. This is for the basic print on a resonable quality vinyl. Other factors that may be additional are lamination and cutting if either are required.
UV printing is usually more expensive as both the media and print process are more expensive.
Large format Sublimation printing is also widely variable due to the nature of the process and differing polyester materials used. Performance fabrics as used in sports wear, cycling jerseys being a good example, are far more expensive than the basic material used for signage. Prices can be anywhere between £15 and £75 per m.
What Size Can I print With Large Format Printing
Common widths of large format printer used by sign and print shops are 1370mm (54 inches) and 1828mm (72 inches).
Print size is limited by two things, the size of the printer and the length of the media.
At it’s extreme, large format printing can produce prints up to 5m wide on a single piece of media. Thats is not to say that it is not possible to make bigger prints though. Vinyls can be welded together to produce much bigger prints. The graphics are tiled across multiple sheets and then the sheets are welded together with heat and glue to form a much wider panel. Some of these panels can be seen draped down the fronts or sides of high rise buldings.
Standard Large Format Print Sizes
Standard sizes used in large format printing are standard A sizes. These are commonly used for poster and display prints but as most large commercial prints are usually unique to their application or situation, standard sizes are not relevant in most occasions.
What Is The Best Resolution For Large Format Printing?
It is possible to say that there is no ideal resolution as resolution as it is directly related to the size of the graphic and the viewing distance but 150ppi is the most common resolution for large format print. This is because it is relevant to the most commonly printed types of products such as signs, window graphics and vehicle graphics.
Magazines require a resolution of 300 ppi. Please note that is ppi not dpi, pixels on monitors are measured at pixels per inch, printers print at dots per inch and the two are completely different.
The 300 ppi is needed for magazines and smaller items because they are viewed close up. The human eye can distinguish upto 300 ppi and so anything of lower resolution can appear blocky or of poor quality.
A sign on a billboard however can be designed at a much lower resolution as in order to view it, you have to stand meters away from it and lower resolution will not appear poor quality.
Minimum DPI For Large Format Printing
Like the ppi of the original graphic, the dpi is relative to the size of the printed graphic. Bilboards can be printed as low as 4 dpi if the image is fairly blocky with a low amount of colours but anything that is viewed close up requires at least 300 dpi to appear clean and distortion free. Photographic quality inkjet printer manufacturers boast of 2400 dpi print resolution which may seem wonderful but the human eye can rarely distinguish beyond 300 ppi / dpi.
Large Format Printing UK
We have been offering bespoke large format printing services for over 20 years. Our equipment has changed over that time as has our customer base. Along with this our experience and our expertise has grown accordingly.
We started off offering large format print services in Stoke On Trent and the local areas. We then started to expand with large format printing for Stafford based customers and then onto large format printing services for the West Midlands.
We now provide large format digital printing services to all the UK as well as locally, with our tracked delivery service and quick turnaround times.
For our remote customers, images for printing can be sent via email and contact is only a call away.
We provide outstanding customer service backed by our product quality guarantee, so there are no worries about our services or the products you will receive. For further piece of mind you can read our multiple 5* Google reviews from our satisfied client base on our Google Business profile.
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