The Immortal Wide-Format Printing

December 12, 2017

Large format printing is everywhere. Go to a shopping mall and nearly every store has some large or wide format printing project displayed. Go to New York City, walk a few blocks and you’ll be inundated by banners, flags, posters and billboards. Drive any U.S. highway, draw near a city and you’ll see billboard after billboard with each message printed on large or grand format printers.

The electronic billboard was expected to completely replace the traditional printed billboard, but this hasn’t yet happened. In fact, more traditional billboards are still surfacing along the highway landscape. Why? Because although electronic billboards display multiple marketing messages in minutes, how many of those messages do you actually see and absorb while driving by at 65 miles per hour?


Most people prefer the traditional billboard. The static messages are large and usually easy to read. This printing is done in two ways. First is a Silk Screen printing on a fabric material with UV inks in one large sheet, covering the entire billboard. The second method is printing in multiple panels on an adhesive material, also with UV inks. Installers apply the panels to the billboard in sections.

Wide format printing is widely used on banners, clothing and signage, too. Some applications — including fine art reproduction of tapestries — are now printed on wide format devices. Of course, many point of sale or purchase displays use wide format for high-quality print applications, such as end-cap displays in retail environments that are constructed on rigid materials.

Traditional wide format printing devices take on a hybrid configuration. These devices print on both rigid flat and roll flexible material. These hybrid devices are in great demand because it gives the printer the option of printing various large format job applications and helps grow their market. Trending is the InkJet UV LED wide format printers. These hybrid printers are available through Konica Minolta, like our EFI H1625i and our newest release, the EFI Pro 16h.

The popularity of these devices are the hybrid capabilities: UV ink and LED curing. The LED curing allows for no drying time and high productivity. The substrates availability is wide and deep and the substrate thickness is up to 2 inches. You can print on metal, glass, gator board and wood; along with adhesives, coated and uncoated stock, plastics, vinyls, fabrics, foam core, Teslin, and Tyvek. You can even print directly on a wood door or glass shower sliding door.

According to Electronics for Imaging (EFI), a global technology company progressing the worldwide transformation from analog to digital imaging, these UV LED InkJet wide format printers are the most versatile printer’s on the market today.

Wide format print applications continue to grow as the technology improves. Some common job applications are indoor and outdoor signs, banners, posters, yard signs, window cling, vehicle and building graphics, POP displays, marques, and floor graphics.

Another market in wide format printing is the “technical” market.  These wide format printers are both black & white and color toner or InkJet pigments. The print applications are engineering drawings, architectural designs, blueprints, exterior/interior designs, and manufacturing specifications.  The most common substrate is a bond paper either coated or uncoated. These system placements are showing flat growth according to IDC with a slight projected decline of 1 percent to 2 percent year-over-year. Toner based systems are also giving way to the newer InkJet based systems. Products will still be designed and built, and until an electronic plate or pad that can be durable for transporting and is for outside use; the “technical print” will still be present in the market.

Large and wide format printing is growing with more printer placements year over year, with a healthy projected growth for the next five years according to KeyPoint Solutions and IDC. Konica Minolta is growing the industrial printing product-set with wide format print solutions for graphics and technical markets for our direct and dealer channels. Why? Because to us, size really does matter.

Visit Konica Minolta at the EFI Connect 2018 users’ conference at The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas on January 23 – 25. We’ll be in Booth #114.

Ed Bokuniewicz
Manager, Product Marketing Industrial Print Products

Ed Bokuniewicz is a 35-year veteran within the graphic arts industry in the areas of marketing, management, business development, sales and sales support. His prime focus is in print production from Offset & Flexography to Digital Print. Ed joined Konica Minolta in 2017 in the Product Marketing/Management area for Industrial Print and currently has responsibility for the AccurioJet KM-1 solution. He also assists with the Wide Format solutions. He also is an Adjunct Professor at the New York City College of Technology where he teaches undergraduate students about production printing. In his spare time he plays golf, cooks, plays and listens to music, and spends time with his family.