Wide Format and Specialty Imaging Defined

Part of our series where we seek to uncover unfamiliar terms in the world of print.

If you’ve been following along with our print term definition series, then by now you should have an excellent base knowledge of the terminology and processes surrounding digital, offset, and web printing. Let’s switch gears and focus on a printing process that reinforces brands in perhaps an even more visual and memorable way: wide format printing and specialty imaging.

Wide format printing is best suited for (but not limited to) retail locations, corporate offices, and trade show displays. It covers everything from indoor and outdoor graphics to point-of-sale and digital die-cut displays. With a print area of up to 10’ high and 100′ long, wide format printing can be applied to just about anything.

This type of printing is completely different from digital, offset, and web printing, so let’s take a minute to break down some of the terms you may encounter when working with a wide format printer.

Wide Format Printer

Wide Format Terms to Know

  • Backdrop Display: A large banner that takes up the entire space of the back of a trade show booth. These can be printed as one piece, or multiple pieces that fit together for easier travel.
  • Backlit Display: A type of display that uses lighting technology behind it to illuminate an image or message.
  • Cloth Banner: This type of banner involves a graphic being printed directly onto a cloth material. This is best suited for backdrops and tablecloths for trade shows.
  • Corrugated Cardboard: Typically used for standing displays, corrugated cardboard is stronger and more durable than regular cardboard. Images can be directly printed on corrugated cardboard up to 2″ thick, and die cuts can be made to produce unique shapes.
  • Die: A special, customized tool that cuts or shapes material.
  • Die-Cutting: The process of using a die to cut out unique shapes.
  • Eyelet: Banners are supported by eyelets or grommets, which are small for wire or rope, reinforced by metal or strong plastic to prevent tearing of the material the banner is printed on.
  • Foam Core Board: A type of thick material that you can directly print images on. Easel stands can be attached to foam core boards to allow the board to stand on its own.
  • Grand Format: A large format printer that prints on surfaces up to 10’ high and 100′ wide.
  • Grommet: See eyelet.
  • Indoor Graphics: Commonly used in retail locations and corporate offices, these include banners/banner stands, posters, backlit signs and displays, floor and stair graphics, elevator wraps, trade show displays, and directional and wayfinding signs.
  • Kiss Cut: Similar to die-cutting, kiss cutting is also the process of using a die to cut out unique shapes. The difference is that kiss cutting uses a lighter cut and only cuts through the top layer of a substrate, rather than cutting all the way through. When printed on a substrate with an adhesive backing, a kiss cut would produce a sticker sheet and a die cut would produce a standalone sticker.
  • Native Art File: The file format that a design was originally created, edited, or published in. Printers require customers to send native files to ensure that the image is not damaged or blurred as it is resized.
  • Outdoor Graphics: These include anything displayed outside: street pole banners, bus shelter signs, bus and vehicle signs, and other outdoor signage.
  • Popup Banner: This type of banner comes with a metal stand that allows for easy travel and display. A metal bar supports the banner so it can stand up on its own (without needing to use wire, string, etc.)
  • POS & Product Marketing: These types of materials are featured all around retail locations. Types of materials include POS Displays (anything displayed near the cash register), shelf talkers (printed cards or signs attached to store shelves), comment cards, table tents, ceiling danglers, or bottleneck/door hangers.
  • PVC Board: Similar in look and feel to Foam Core Board, but made from a stronger and more durable material.
  • Retractable Banner: See popup banner.
  • Scrim Vinyl Banner: These types of banners are made of a strong, plastic material that is difficult to curl or tear.
  • Substrate: The material something is printed on (paper, plastic, corrugated plastic, acrylic, wood, foam core, vinyl, etc.)
  • Super Wide Format: See grand format.
  • Vector Image: Unlike a JPEG, PNG, TIFF, or other fixed graphic image, vector files are easily scaled and resized to fit any format without stretching or blurring.
  • Wide Format: A type of printer that prints on large surfaces.

Key Takeaways

  • For best results, provide your printer with vector images and native art files, so they are able to easily resize your images to fit even the largest of print formats.
  • Wide format printing is great for reinforcing your brand in a visible and memorable way.
  • Popular applications for wide format printing include retail locations, corporate offices, and trade show displays.

What has been your experience with wide format printing? Are there any other terms you’ve come across that you’d like to share with us, or ask for clarification on? Comment below!

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About Dual Print & Mail

Dual Print & Mail (www.dualprintandmail.com) provides high quality, green printing solutions for all your commercial print and mail needs. Headquartered in Cheektowaga, NY, Dual Print & Mail’s specialties include magazine, publication, and inline foil printing. Dual Print & Mail can be reached at 800.358.4348 or marketing@dualprintandmail.com.
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