Large Format Printing is used with scaled vector format images to cover large areas with high density. These huge prints are commonly used for banners, posters, signage and advertising graphics like bus stops and car wraps. There are several different technologies for achieving the results desired at different price points.
Solvent rolling is a process that produces a single thin film of color onto the substrate, or printing surface. The dye is heated and fused, after being sprayed onto the surface in a dry form. Solvent printers and dye sublimation printers are extremely expensive and command a hefty fee per print because of the large outlay required to acquire and maintain such large, expensive and technologically complicated equipment.
Here are couple of examples by NiceDesign, large format printing company from Perth, Australia
Here is a VuTek 5330 16 foot solvent roll printer rolling out a gigantic Les Paul guitar print.
Printing for large awnings, sunshade pavilions or for wall hangings is another common use of large format printing technology. In these cases special formulas are used in the dyes to produce a thinner, more vibrant color to penetrate into the fibers of the particular fabric being printed. When printing over lighter colored fabrics the dyes are nearly transparent.
A large format inkjet screen printer produced this large wall hanging.
Because of problems with banding, gaps in the printing or bleeding of colors into one another at the edges, one development in recent years has been intelligent interweaving technology.
Intelligent interweaving uses computer controlled ink printing heads with a cluster of ink nozzles. Each nozzle is controlled separately by the computer output to the printer and is able to move independently, providing better control of the ink dispersion. The superfine control of the nozzles moving in tiny increments produces a superior result.
This is an example of an interweaving head with separately controlled nozzles:
Sometimes advertisers, event organizers and decorators go so far as to wrap entire buildings with large printed facades to make them look completely different. A building can be visually transformed from one type of architectural style to another. The eye of the beholder may even be fooled into believing a building is composed of an entirely different material than it actually is.
Here is a building wrap in New York City:
In this case the wrap serves to turn an entire building into an advertisement. The material of which the building wrap is made is similar to Mylar, and in fact Mylar is often used for the window portions of these installations. In the case of this Chrysler office, the building wrap is mostly transparent to remain unobtrusive. This also prevents detracting from the architecture of the building itself.
This is the Luxor Resort Casino in Las Vegas with an extremely large adhesive vinyl window wrap that makes the building look entirely different. In this way the complete building installation, from its unique architectural shape to its placement in the urban environment, can be turned to maximum advantage.
In another case of wrapping a building, the architectural elements are left alone and only the windows receive the large format print treatment, with larger than life cars serving to aid in the selling of cars at this Ford dealership. These types of installations are printed on self-adhesive vinyl and are relatively simple to deploy and remove.
Wall murals are another common application for large format printing. Prints are available in extremely large sizes to completely transform the look and feel of a room. Dye sublimation printing is common in this type of work. The ink chemically bonds with the substrate and penetrates the surface, making these types of prints very durable.
A wall mural can have a striking effect on a room, transforming it into a completely different atmosphere. They are often used to project a feeling of more space or to make a room appear as if it is open to the elements or even outdoors.
Here’s another example of a wall mural, this time in a shopping mall to help establish a relaxed yet purposeful atmosphere. This is one of the most common uses for large format printing.
Probably the best known type of large format printing is seen on billboards. Billboards use weather proof types of printing media that are usually sprayed with interleaved heads onto waterproof vinyl fabric. These large printed sheets are then fitted to the frame of the billboard using a variety of tensioning methods.
This is a solvent rolling dye sublimation printer, capable of prints over 10 feet in width. In this photo the large format printer is rolling out a large wall mural for a trade show. These types of advertising pictures are used in displays at trade shows and conventions to attract attention from across a large auditorium, and help serve to set an atmosphere conducive to selling.
Large format printing is an important and varied industry employing tens of thousands of people in every economic stratum. It is an industry experiencing rapid growth with the development of new digital processes and new ink technologies. The effects which can be produced with the large format printing process can be absolutely amazing.