Markets for Large Format Printing

What is large format printing?

Large format printing refers to materials that are too large to print on most standard sizes of commercial printers. If you want an oversized graphics display for a trade-show, exhibition or special event, for example, then you’re likely to need a large format printer to produce these materials.

This type of printing, also known as wide format printing, requires specialist printing equipment that can accommodate larger-than-average dimensions and can be used to produce items such as:

  • Window and wall posters
  • Maps, diagrams and charts
  • Architectural plans and blueprints
  • Store displays
  • Promotional signage
  • Display banners
  • Public notices
  • Large wall calendars
  • Event announcements

Large- format print materials have many uses, they can be used to generate attention from a distance, provide quick reference, act as a promotional tool and more…

Who uses large format printing?

Large format printing is used by an array of industries, for a wide range of purposes. These include:

1) The Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) sector

The AEC sector is an important market for large format printing. Despite predictions that printed technical drawings, such as blueprints and construction plans, would gradually become obsolete, they’re still widely used by the AEC industries – as a walk around any construction site will demonstrate! This is in large part due to their accessibility, portability and the fact that they exist independently of technology, so if your Internet connection goes down work that relies on the drawings can continue.

In recent times, there has been a gradual move from black and white technical drawings to colour. Most architects and engineers are now confident in working in colour due to the widespread use of computer-aided design (CAD). Colour also offers the ability to communicate additional information in the drawings.

AEC businesses often outsource their print work to specialist third parties, whilst perhaps having a few smaller printers on-site to carry out urgent jobs. However, as the sector is increasingly being tasked with completing projects in shorter timeframes, it is also under growing pressure to produce high-quality, accurate printed technical drawings quickly.

As technology evolves, there is potential for this sector to produce colour and monochrome prints in faster turnaround times, and at lower costs than have previously been possible by investing in in-house large format printing equipment. Innovations in technology have also allowed those working in the AEC industries to benefit from prints that are more durable by using thicker substrates (base materials) and water-resistant inks.

2) POS and poster printing

Poster printing is used by a variety of organisations across several sectors. It’s particularly significant in the retail industry, where large, attention-grabbing point of sale (POS) and point of purchase (POP) displays are used to promote brand awareness and generate sales of specific product lines, for example.

Posters are commonly used at events such as trade fairs and exhibitions to display information about the event itself or as a promotional tool for pop-up stands and their products and services, for example.

Posters are also frequently used for informational or persuasive signage purposes by a wide range of organisations from diverse sectors (from the NHS to leisure brands), and are a convenient medium for displaying practical information. They can also be displayed both inside and outdoors, providing they’re weather-proofed.

Banners are another popular form of large-format printing that are regularly used in a similar way to posters and can be deployed everywhere from retail to business premises, exhibitions and event venues. Banners are available in a range of materials including hard-wearing, water-resistant vinyl and are ideal for making a statement!

A further example of large format printing which falls under this category is billboards. These large-scale display boards are typically used to advertise companies to local audiences where they live, commute, work or socialise.

3) Photography and art reproduction

Large format printing is also frequently required by artists, galleries and photographers, with the printed output often used in exhibitions or in professional portfolios. As a result, this sector tends to have very specific requirements, with print quality being of obvious importance. The vibrancy of colours, extent of colour fastness, light fastness, and the material on which the images are printed, for example, are all particularly significant.

Giclée printing is the term that’s generally used to refer to high-quality art and photographic inkjet printing on fine art photo paper, using archival pigment inks. This printing technique is ideal for digital art and illustration, fine art reproduction and photography.

With advances in technology such as this technique, it’s now becoming easier to achieve the quality and level of detail desired by these users of large format printing. For many businesses in this sector, investing in a large format printer can make economic sense and offers the opportunity to expand their service offering to clients, thereby opening up additional revenue and profit possibilities.

4) Corporations, public/government organisations and SMEs

Large corporations, SMEs and public/government organisations, e.g. banks, libraries and universities, tend to have ongoing needs for large format printing for marketing activities or providing practical information to service users, for example. These include printed output such as wall art, display boards and hanging displays, for example.

While some large organisations have their own in-house printing departments, many use a third party to fulfil their large format printing requirements.

However, many of these organisations could save a substantial amount of money and complete their print projects in a faster timeframe if they had the equipment to allow them to carry out large-scale printing in-house. Ongoing advances in technology also mean that large-format printers are becoming simpler and more intuitive to use, which is a further incentive for organisations with ongoing large format printing needs to consider investing in this technology.

These are just some of the examples of significant areas where large format printing is required on a regular basis. Whereas many organisations currently manage their large format printing needs through a third party, it could be beneficial for them to consider bringing this technology in-house by investing in their own equipment.

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