Wide format printers come in a wide array of characteristics. They can range from about two feet wide to several feet wide. Printers wider than eight feet are usually referred to super wide or grand format printers. Technologies range from fast drying water based inks to modern inks cured by UV light.
Aqueous printers use dye and pigment inks. Dye inks produce more vivid colours but fade when exposed to sun and light. Pigment inks, on the other hand, can handle UV better than dye but don’t have the same amount of pop. Both dye and pigments ink prints are limited to indoor use.
Solvent inks are petroleum based, they are waterproof and more durable than dye and pigment inks. The drawback with solvent inks is that they produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when exposed to heat from drying and require ventilation, such as an exhaust fan, to evacuate the fumes. Solvent inks have been largely replaced by eco-sovent and ultra-solvent inks which are less toxic.
Latex inks are made of synthetic latex polymers and are healthier than all of their predecessors. When used in a wide format printer they require higher amounts of heat and hydro to cure.
UV inkjet printers use inks that are cured by UV light. They produce prints that are vivid, embossed, durable and are among the most modern and expensive on the market.
Flatbed printers are also considered wide format but will not be discussed in this article.