Wide-Format Printing Tips

Recently a colleague approached me regarding a straightforward wide-format graphic print and installation project. As the dialogue continued with the client, we realized the details surrounding the project were adding a level of complexity that required a higher level of attention. This post is designed to give you a basic sense of the questions to ask when approaching a wide-format graphics project.

Whether your wide-format printing project covers an office wall, conference room window, high-end window display, or city apartment building, considering a few key points can make the project more successful.

How long will the graphics remain in place?
Wide-format substrates can vary significantly from one to another. The material used for a massive billboard may cost as little as a quarter per square foot, whereas the more versatile vinyl used for vehicle wraps may be more than a dollar per square foot. It is critical to the success of any wide-format printing project to know how long the graphics need to be in place in order to the best substrate for the installation.

What type of surface will the graphics be installed on? Glass, drywall, concrete, metal?
A project can fail––literally fall off the wall onto a client or customer’s head––if the wrong material is selected. The complexity of a specific location can add hundreds of dollars to the installation cost as well.

What kinds of images will be printed? Full-color images or type only?
Believe it or not, not all digital output devices are created equal, and not every wide-format printer prints using the same settings. One printer may be running its machines at a higher resolution while a lower-priced vendor is running them at the bare minimum. In reality, if the graphics were intended to support the sale of a high-end product, the print from the lower-cost vendor using lower resolution would most likely detract from the buying experience. It is important to provide an early mock-up of the planned graphics for the wide-format project. If the project is printing skin tone, cosmetics, or a neutral color like silver, color consistency and high resolution will be critical, whereas large solids and small images may make the lower-cost printing option work out just fine.

Where will the graphics be installed?
Is the location outside or inside?
“Location, location, location” applies to wide-format graphics as well as real estate. Indoors or outdoors is the biggest factor, but if graphics will be installed on a narrow, closed window in direct Miami sun for 10–12 hours per day midsummer, that could make or break a wide-format graphics project. Graphics installed against the top edge of a wall in close proximity to an air conditioning vent will, with the changes in temperature and dust produced from the ventilation system over time, peel from the wall if not properly reinforced and printed on the correct substrate for the wall type.

There are several other dozen factors that should be taken into account when printing wide-format graphics, but considering duration, surface, imagery, and location will get you on the right path.


Author: John Carew


One response to “Wide-Format Printing Tips

  1. That is true. Quality materials matter and the types of materials you ought to use depend on the location of the print. If you are to place it outdoors or in a location where temperature is an issue, the materials you will choose should be able to stand all these.

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