What is Wide Format Printing?

Terry Holten

January 9, 2023

Wide Format Printing may be defined as any print media that is firstly larger than our standard A4 and A3 size formats.

Secondly the media requirements are more extensive than the standard paper printing formats that are used for personal, or individual and corporate requirements.

We are all subjected to high visibility advertising as we travel and commute in our daily lives, therefore the importance of Wide Format Printing cannot be ignored.

History of Wide Format Printers

Wide Format Printing is a rather recent development largely driven by the advertising Industry (POS – point of sale) and is built on the manufacturing experience of standard run of the mill printing as we have or had come to know it.

Wide format printing has developed more rapidly over the last 15 years.

This relatively young industry has emerged out of the standard printing environment for personal and corporate applications with:

Xerox – Electrostatic Technology and
Hp and Canon – Inkjet Technology

The Wide Format Printing Market Segment

Wide Format Printing is suited for use wherever high-profile visibility product branding is required.

This can be for use in roadside Banners, Billboards, in and on Buildings and especially for trade shows, transport vehicles and is usually made available to the advertising customer base by Printing Service Providers as an extension of the standard printing formats.

The Technology Requirement

Wide Format Printing necessitates the use of larger machines with the following inherent features provided as standard:

Robust media production requirements for outdoor use, need to be weather resistant, scratch resistant and colour fading resistant as well as being water-proof.

Volumes for the various requirements tend to be less than those of standard paper media printing.

More Technology

The Substrate

A Substrate may be defined as the base material onto which images will be printed such as paper, and plastics these both being in various degrees of thickness.

The Substrate media is roll fed through the printer or is scanned by a moving print head while statically positioned on a table or platen.

The substrate medium is made up of the following types:

Canvas, cloth, Polymer plastic, PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) and can also include ceramics and glass.

The stringent accuracy demands can only be achieved through computer control of the printing device.

The Different Types of Ink for Wide Format Printing

The types of inks have developed significantly in conjunction with Wide format printers.


This water based ink can be used with thermal or Piezo inkjet printers.

For indoor use: Dye ink is higher and richer in colour but less resistant to UV (Ultra-Violet) radiation.

For outdoor use: Pure pigment ink although not as bright in colour has higher UV resistance and therefore is able to better withstand fading.


This petroleum or chemical liquid ink is slow drying and can tend to give off an odour while drying.

Solvent ink is useful in that it can be used to print directly onto uncoated vinyl and other media as well as ridged substrates such as painted or coated metal, foam board and PVC.

Dye Sublimation:

The use of high quality “diffused” ink which is the process of firing ink into the surface of plastic substrate. This results in a high scratch resistant end-product as the ink sits microns under the surface

UV (Ultra Violet) Light

The polymer is cured with UV light using mercury lamps after ink transfer via Piezo inkjet and is highly waterproof.

It is suitable for “embossing” with its vibrant appearance finish.


This water-based ink is heat-fused and allows printing on various un-coated base materials making it waterproof and scratch resistant.

A well-known supplier of Latex Ink printers is HP.

Where to find Wide Format Printers

We at Syntelo are ready to discuss any Wide Format Printing requirements you may have and are pleased to be a part of this exciting and important growing industry.

Contact us on - 087 147 0878. We are waiting for your call

Or visit our website and review our Wide Format Printing solutions – www.syntelo.co.za

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