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Large Format Printers buying guide

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Large Format Printers Guide - An Introduction

Large format printers are printers designed to print on larger paper sizes. These colour printers are generally able to handle B or Tabloid size papers, generally 11 x 17 or 12 x 18 paper, and some print on even larger sizes. You can buy a machine that only prints; or you can buy a multi-function printer that will also let you copy, fax, or scan your documents.

In addition to accepting larger paper sizes than a standard desktop printer, large format printers will accept a large quantity of paper, reducing your downtime when the paper must be restocked. Work group printers will let you connect your entire office through a network, Ethernet connection, or wireless connection.

Large format printers are generally utilized in professional printing shops, although they are also used by specialty businesses that need to print larger sizes. Professional or serious amateur photographers may also want a large format photo printer to print photo enlargements without reducing the print quality.

If you are in the market for a large format printer, Price Inspector will help you find the right model. Our buying guide answers your questions, making it easy to choose the right printer. Our Inspectors compare prices around the UK to ensure you always get the cheapest prices possible.

Types of Large Format Printers and Accessories

As with standard-size printers, there are several different varieties of large format digital printers to choose from, and it’s important to understand the differences. This will help you compare the advantages and disadvantages of each type so you’ll get the right printer for your needs.

  • A large format inkjet printer uses droplets of liquid ink to create a digital image. They are also known as ink jets, and they are the most common printer type overall. They are quiet to operate and provide finer print details at higher resolutions. They may be more expensive to operate than a laser printer because the ink can be expensive. Also, if you use a water soluble ink, the ink can blur or run if exposed to moisture.
  • A large format laser printer is another common printer type. They produce high-quality graphics and text quickly. The printing process involves a direct scan from a laser beam onto the receptor. The image to be printed is projected onto an electrically charged drum. The dry ink particles cling only to these areas, which are then used to print the image on the paper through a combination of heat and contact. Laser printers receive and output large amounts of data at once, letting them work quickly and continuously.

Once you have selected your large format printer, you will also need to buy accessories like large format printer ink and paper. The ongoing operating costs, especially ink or toner, can greatly affect the overall cost of your printer, so find out in advance if your particular model’s ink cartridges are more expensive than average.

Popular Brands

Large format printers may not be as common as traditional desktop printers, but you still have choices between popular brands.

  • Canon large format printers include the Pixma Pro900,which delivers 4800 x 2400 dpi printing. It can support fine art paper measuring up to 13 x 19 inches. It has two different paper paths, including a front feeder to handle heavyweight papers. Some of its professional features include the Easy-PhotoPrint Pro, which is plug-in software for Adobe Photoshop. It also provides advanced colour controls with its new printer driver.
  • Another professional Canon model is the 1016B002AA. With its brilliant colour, high-speed output, and sophisticated print head technology, this is a high-performance large format printer. It offers an ideal solution for any colour printing needs, combining full-bleed colour outputs, paper handling strength, and exceptional print speeds. It reproduces colours and details for even the most challenging environments, including professional photography, proofing, and graphic applications.
  • Roland large format printers include their professional AdvancedJET AJ-1000i & AJ-740i model. It offers a maximum printing speed of 968 square feet an hour, redefining the standard for professional high-volume, large-format printing. The printer is capable of printing vehicle graphics, billboards, banners, outdoor signage, and more. Print on either coated or uncoated materials. The printer provides superior ink bonding, resistant to scratching or alcohol for outdoor durability. The automated system eliminates the need for manual cleanings.
  • Xerox makes the 8254E wide format printer for either indoor or outdoor uses. The print speed is 143 square feet an hour. Print on coated and uncoated media, including banner vinyl, adhesive vinyl and PVC, or satin outdoor paper. This model lets you cost-effectively print your colour wide-format needs such as posters and banners. Xerox uses the latest ink jet technology to use less ink, and their eco-solvent inks are environmentally friendly and durable, even without lamination.
  • The HP DesignJet series of large format printers is ideal for high-volume, large-format printing projects. Print in colour or black & white for maps, drawings, presentations, and photos. This fast, versatile printing system will give you the quality your clients demand.

Tips to consider before buying Large Format Printers

  • First, consider the type of printing you will do. Large format printers are application-specific, which means there are different machines designed for different types of printing and different businesses. Monochrome LED printers are designed for CAD (computer-aided design) blueprints where high resolution is not as important as faster printing. Other printers provide higher resolution for colour graphics, making them more appropriate for businesses such as retail stores, schools, and ad agencies that want to print signs or posters.
  • What size of paper do you need to print on? Common paper sizes for large format printers include 24, 42, or 44 inches, but there are also speciality printers that can accept 72 inch paper or even larger.
  • For comparing quality, dpi (dots per inch) is a common measurement. However, the best way to compare quality is to compare printed documents. Even if you plan to buy online to save money, it’s a good idea to visit a dealer first to look at the exact quality.
  • Do you need the printer to provide other functions such as scanning or copying? These are not inexpensive add-ons on a large format printer, unlike with a desktop printer. If this option is important to you, find out if it is built-in or an add-on cost.
  • Check that the printer will work with your network. This includes having the right drivers to run on your computer and whether the printer can support your file types, such as PDF documents.
  • Do you need to match specific colours? If so, you need a Raster Image Processor for precision colour work. This can dramatically increase your costs.
  • Other optional features to consider include built-in paper cutters or sorters, accounting software that tracks print jobs for billing different clients, or the ability to support multiple print sizes.

Jargon Explained

BleedWhen a printed image goes all the way to the edge of the paper with no margins, this is referred to as a ‘bleed.’ Some printers require a blank margin of a certain size. If you need borderless printing, you will need a printer capable of printing a bleed edge, or else you will have to crop the border.
dpiThis refers to dots per inch, which is a common comparison method for printers. It refers to how fine of details the printer can print, with higher numbers being high quality. However, especially for a large format printer, comparing the actual print output on your specific type of paper is the best way to compare quality. 

Buying Guide to Large Format Printers
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