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What is Large Format Printing?

Updated: Jan 9

PYou’ve probably heard of large format printing before, but you don't know any details about this printing setup. If you have always wondered what is large format printing precisely and how it's implemented in the materials we see and use in everyday life, you are at the right place!

In this article, we will explain everything about large format printing and the equipment used for this type of printing. Likewise, you will learn whether a large format printing machine is the printing solution you have always needed.

Let's go together through the basics of large format printing and help you discover how to implement it without any complications.

Large Format Printing Definition
Source: / Photo Contributor: 3d_man

What Is Large Format Printing?

Large format printing is a term used when referring to printing materials that are too big for standard printing presses. In other words, traditional-sized prints can’t handle large format printing, and large format printing materials need different methods and printers to be printed flawlessly.

Large-sized prints need precise definition and clear image clarity, which can be achieved with the proper printing equipment – large format printing machines.

Large format printing technology is used in large format commercial printing because it’s advanced, fast, and affordable.

What is the difference between large format printing and wide format printing?

Large format printing and wide format printing are both used to describe prints that are done on a large scale. Yet, there’s a disparity between the two terms.

Large format printing is used when a specific print size is discussed. To explain, large format printing refers to prints with dimensions bigger than 36 inches (width or height).

In contrast, wide format printing refers to any type of large format printing, no matter the dimensions of the print. That’s why wide format printing is a type of large format printing.

In brief, all wide format printing can be considered large format printing, but not vice versa.

What Is Large Format Printing Used For?

Generally, large format printing is utilized by companies, brands, and individuals who require large format prints. Implementing large format printing is often commercial; however, that may not always be the case.

Large format printing examples include poster and banner printing, wall panel and billboard printing, and trade show and point of purchase displays, among other things.

These prints' printing process differs from standard printing because of the diverse techniques, tools, and materials that are used.

With the help of a large format printing machine, large format prints keep their original resolution and quality, no matter the size.

How Large Format Printing Works?

Large format printing needs a large sheet of paper and a specific large format printing machine. This type of printing can also be employed on different materials, such as glass, plastic, wood, canvas, and metal, to mention a few. Therefore, large format printing enables users to print on various types of materials, shapes, and sizes, which is a great benefit.

The messages that need to be received with large format printing can make an impact thanks to their resolution and clarity. Besides, the messages on large prints are bold and clear and attract customers quickly.

To start with large format printing, you must decide how to choose a commercial printing company. Then in consultation with the professionals, decide on the material you will print on. The type of material often depends on the product in question and your specific needs.

The print design also plays a role when choosing the materials. In other words, the design you choose to print must correspond well with the physical material. According to the type of material you print on, you must consider the size, color, typography, and color mode, among other things.

The second thing that must be determined regarding large format printing is the size. When you define your print size, the dimensions are programmed with a computer and relayed into the printer.

The final step is when the programmed large format printing machine sprays the ink onto the material, ensuring that the graphics match and providing you with the finest possible outcome.

What Is a Large Format Printer?

Large format printer is an essential part of large format printing.

Today, with all of the technological advancements in the printing industry, large format printers are competent, work with different kinds of ink, and have various features.

Large format printers are often divided into three basic categories:

  • Flatbed printers

  • Roll-to-roll printers

  • Hybrid printers

What Is a Large Format Printer
Source: / Photo Contributor: Dja65

Flatbed printers

Flatbed printers are used for flatbed digital printing. This large inkjet technology is far more capable than the standard inkjet technology.

Large flatbed printers can print on miscellaneous materials, including wood, plastic, paperboard, tile, ceramic, foam-core, sintra, and more.

All in all, large flatbed printers can print on both flat and rigid materials.

The print bed of a large flatbed printer is 4′x8′ or 5′x10′. The material in the printer is held by suction, and it can be around 2′ to 3′ thick.

Roll-to-roll printers

Roll-to-roll printers are also known as fabric printers because they are usually used for materials like fabric, vinyl, and paper. These printers are high-speed and print directly on the roll of the material.

Roll-to-roll printers usually employ cylinder technology, perfect for printing on a large quantity of material.

Hybrid printers

These types of printers are suitable for both rigid and flexible materials and use a combined printing technology, hence the name hybrid.

Hybrid printers combine traditional with digital printing technology, and their dual nature and flexibility make them often a top preference when it comes to large format printing. When a hybrid printer is utilized, the process equals less space, costs, and equipment for a perfect result.

Using Images in Large Format Printing

When large format printing is discussed, the question often posed is whether you can use photos in large format printing.

With large format printing, the options for printing are practically never-ending. This means that all kinds of different images can often be printed with large format printers because their high quality can be easily maintained.

However, for the image prints to keep their high quality and desired graphics, there’s a process by which they are prepared for printing. So, you must know how to prepare the images digitally before the printing process takes place in order to get the best effects and desired results.

How to prepare images for large format printing

The images or photos you want to print must be shot in RAW format for the best large format prints. Also, the camera with which the photos are shot must be clean because little unwanted details, such as dust spots, can appear on the large print.

Another critical thing to be done before printing is setting the viewing distance and optimizing the images. When this is accomplished, you must correctly calibrate and profile computer monitors because what you set and see on them will be printed on the large print.

Of course, a vital step in the preparation process is Photoshop and its soft-proofing feature, which will show you how the image will look when printed.

After all of the preparation steps are done, you need to save images appropriately. Keep in mind that EPS and TIFF are the best file formats for large-scale printing.


Large format printing is an essential tool for every business out there because its possibilities are practically limitless. So, whether you want to print an advertisement banner, a trade show display, or a billboard that will attract and amaze a crowd, you should turn to large format printing.

Large format printing continues to be a huge part of various industries because it's essential to every marketing and advertising campaign. We are visual creatures, and that's why large format printing's large and clear messages impact everyone.

To wrap it all up, on what is large format printing exactly, we can say that it is a creative, effective, and affordable way of catching attention and making a service, product, or message captivating.

Steve Bates

Steve is the president of CityPress and brings a wealth of knowledge from the printing industry to readers, helping them make more informed decisions in an ever changing printing space.


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