Wide-Format Inkjet

Today, no matter where you go, there is probably something that has been printed with a wide-format inkjet device. Potential applications include indoor and outdoor signage, packaging, mobile advertising, art, wallpaper, and point-of-purchase displays. Inkjet devices can produce wide-format prints for short or medium length runs in a cost effective way. Combining this with a wide range of substrates, the ability to tile the prints to increase the image size, and the potential to customize images has made wide-format inkjet a popular technology.

Wide-format inkjet works by firing ink through print heads onto a substrate. Each print head consists of hundreds of nozzles that can be based on thermal, piezo electric, or continuous inkjet head technology. The ink is then cured via oxidization, heat, or UV (lamps or LED arrays).

The devices are available in either roll, flatbed, or a combination of the two producing prints on paper, board, and plastic up to thick substrates such as glass, tiles, and wood.

There are many types of inks available today, each with different capabilities, which are identified below. Inkjet technology makes it possible for device manufacturers to add print heads, allowing for more colors and the inclusion of white and metallic inks.

Type of Ink

Typical Applications

Aqueous

Banners (Indoor), Color Proofing, Fine Art, Packaging POS/POP, Packaging Folded Carton, Packaging Corrugated, Photography, Signage (Indoor)

Aqueous with Laminate

Banners (Indoor), Banners (Outdoor), Fine Art, Furniture/Counter Covering, Packaging POS/POP, Packaging Folded Carton, Photography, Signage (Indoor), Signage (Outdoor)

Eco-Solvent

Banners (Outdoor), Floor Graphics, Furniture/Counter Covering, Light Boxes (Backlit), Packaging Corrugated, Signage (Outdoor), Textile, Vehicle Wraps

Hybrid UV (LED)

Banners (Indoor), Banners (Outdoor), Fine Art, Floor Graphics, Light Boxes (Backlit), Packaging POS/POP, Photography, Signage (Indoor), Signage (Outdoor), Three-Dimensional Objects

Latex

Banners (Indoor), Banners (Outdoor), Fine Art, Floor Graphics, Furniture/Counter Covering, Light Boxes (Backlit), Packaging POS/POP, Packaging Folded Carton, Packaging Corrugated, Photography, Signage (Indoor), Signage (Outdoor), Textile, Vehicle Wraps, Wall Paper

Multi-Purpose (MP)

Banners (Indoor), Banners (Outdoor), Fine Art, Furniture/Counter Covering, Packaging POS/POP, Packaging Folded Carton, Packaging Corrugated, Photography, Signage (Indoor), Signage (Outdoor), Textile

Solvent

Banners (Outdoor), Floor Graphics, Light Boxes (Backlit), Packaging Corrugated, Signage (Outdoor), Textile, Vehicle Wraps

UV

Banners (Indoor), Banners (Outdoor), Fine Art, Floor Graphics, Furniture/Counter Covering, Light Boxes (Backlit), Packaging POS/POP, Photography, Signage (Indoor), Signage (Outdoor), Three-Dimensional Objects

Deciding on which technology to select can be challenging, as one print engine will not be capable of all applications. Things to consider:

  • What will complement your current offerings? Consider offering inkjet as a short-run option. For example, if you do a lot of board or plastic printing for packaging or posters then you may want to look at a device to complement that.
  • What will be the environmental exposure to the print?
  • What width of image are you considering?
  • How much do you expect to use the device?
  • What finishing do you have available and how will this be implemented?
  • Do you have adequate floor space? [Finishing wide-format inkjet pieces requires considerable room.]

Many of the companies offering solutions are listed below. By clicking on a company name you will have access to production information on a variety of their wide-format printers and links for further information.