Wide-format Printers: What are They?

By: James Kara Murat

Though few households and offices actually need them, wide-format printers are specialized printing devices that are in high demand. These wide-format printers address a requirement for special printing jobs that regular printers cannot produce.

Such printing jobs are usually architectural, engineering or artistic in nature. Examples of printing jobs requiring wide-format printers are engineering or architectural drafts and sketches, banners and general signage, posters, picture enlargements and other large prints. Typically, wide-format printers make prints that are 17 to 100 inches wide. The printing materials used for wide-format printers usually come in rolls rather than in individual sheets.

Wide-format printers are not machines commonly found in homes or offices. They are more often found in offices where companies prefer to do their own printing jobs, or in print shops or copy shops.

Different brands of wide-format printers make use of different types of printing technology, based largely on what they are meant to be used for. Some wide-format printers are inkjet printers, while some are laser printers. There are also wide-format printers that use thermal transfers in making prints, and there are some that use electrostatic instead.

There are many manufacturers of wide-format printers, but among the leaders in the industry are Hewlett-Packard, Canon and Epson.

1.Hewlett-Packard. Hewlett-Packard's offering to the users of wide-format printers comes in the form of the HP DesignJet printers. The best of this product line is the HP DesignJet 500 inkjet printer. This printer is great for graphic artists and technical professionals who need to come up with illustrations, line drawings and the like that are accurate and high in resolution. This printer is also noted for its printing speed and precision.

2.Canon. For Canon, the company has the Canon imagePROGRAF series to cater to users of wide-format printers. Considered to be among the best in this line is the Canon imagePROGRAF W8400. Its ink system is pigment-based, which assures users of printing outputs that truly last. It also has a very high maximum resolution that allows the accurate capturing and rendition of detail.

3.Epson. Epson's printers have always set benchmarks in quality prints, and it is the same with their wide-format printers. What is thought of to be among the best of Epson's line of wide-format printers is the Epson Stylus Pro 4800. The Epson Stylus Pro 4800 is a favorite among digital photographers in that it produces high-quality prints with very good resolution at a considerably fast speed. Moreover, it is very efficient in its use of ink.

Wide-format printers may not be a common feature of household computing systems or some small offices, but a demand for them does exist. They are cheap alternatives to screen printing and other methods of large format printing.

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