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Types of Wide Format Printers

More and more businesses today are finding a need for different types of wide format printers. These specialty printers are both utilized by large advertising firms, offices who need to print various marketing materials, and many more. In fact, many sales and marketing teams will find at least an occasional need for print jobs that require larger than the standard 8.5 x 11-inch paper. 

Instead of outsourcing for these print jobs, companies are seeing cost-savings and a great return on investment by purchasing their own wide format printer. Purchasing or leasing a wide format printer may be the right decision for your business, but first, you need to know what type of large format printer best suits your needs. We are here to help by walking you through different types of wide format printers – including size and printing style.


1. Over-sized, Tabloid or Super-tabloid

When you think of a wide format printer, you probably think of a large machine that handles professional printing needs, such as poster-sized media or engineering/architectural documents. However, over-sized, tabloid, and super-tabloid printers are types of wide format printers and can help with many common printing needs, as well.

Over-sized, tabloid, and super-tabloid printers can use wide-format sized papers like 11 x 17-inch tabloid or 13 x 19-inch super-tabloid paper. However, they are sometimes referred to as “over-sized multi-function printers,” since they can accommodate smaller sized paper, as well. In addition, they can usually also scan, copy and fax all in one machine, making them a great fit for businesses with versatile printing needs. 

Commercial grade tabloid printers offer an affordable office solution, but if you need a higher quality print production, you can opt for a professional grade wide format printer. The price of the professional printer will be higher, as well as the cost of ink.

Common uses:Benefits:
– Large spreadsheets
– Small posters and flyers
– Brochures
– Reports
– Booklets
– Photos
– Regular sheet paper is used. There’s no need to purchase specialty paper rolls.

– Can accommodate paper up to twice the size of the standard letter size

– Versatile, multi-functional capabilities

2. Wide and Super-wide

More traditional wide-format printers can print hundreds of square feet in less than an hour. A super-wide printer, sometimes referred to as a “grand large format printer,” has a print roll capacity of over 100″ wide. There are 3 basic options when it comes to professional wide-format printers.

  1. Roll-fed – roll of paper or other flexible media is loaded into the machine
  2. Flatbed – prints on single sheets or boards
  3. Hybrid – can accommodate both rolled and sheet substrates
Common uses:Benefits:
– Banners
– Posters
– Trade show graphics
– Wallpaper
– Murals
– Back lit film
– Vehicle wraps
– Architectural drawings
– Construction plans
– Large artwork
– Signage
– Flexibility in printing a variety of widths and lengths

– Can print on a wide variety of mediums for industry-specific needs

– Super-wide printers can usually print on both flexible and rigid substrates

Wide Format Printing Styles

Wide format printers come in many different types, in terms of the printing styles they provide. To best understand which wide-format printer is best for your business, get to know these common types of printing styles:

Aqueous Inkjet

An aqueous inkjet wide-format printer is probably the most common type on the market. They are a popular choice for industries such as graphic design, photography, marketing, and similar fields. This is a form of inkjet printer that utilizes water to print ink. They are very easy to use and set up in office settings, and are relatively inexpensive to buy. However, aqueous inkjet printers typically require a layer of lamination to keep the printed images intact for long periods of time.


Solvent printers are great for printing materials that are likely to come into heavy contact or located outdoors. This is because they are durable, weather- and scratch resistant, and long-lasting. Common materials printed on solvent printers are billboards, banners, and vehicle advertisements. They are also typically less expensive than inkjet printers. However, they emit hazardous fumes, so you need a good ventilation system wherever you house the machine. This can make them not a great fit for office environments.

Dye Sublimation

 Dye sublimation printers operate by transferring dye to the printing material. They are typically used by professionals who need their prints to dry almost immediately. These types of wide format printers are commonly used for banners, clothing, dishware, plaques, and more.


UV-based printers, also known as UV-cured printers, are becoming more and more popular as a wide-format printing technology. They use ultraviolet light to heat ink on paper and allow it to dry quickly and solidly. They are typically less expensive than aqueous inkjet printers, and can accommodate outdoor images without needing to laminate them for extra protection.


Similar to solvent printers, latex printers are great for outdoor printing needs. However, since they are water-based and do not emit harmful fumes, you can also use latex printers for indoor needs. Latex printers are known for high-quality, durable graphics - even more so than solvent printers. They can also print on a wide variety of materials.

Learn More

If you want to learn more about large format printers, read our 5 tips for finding the best wide format printer for your needs. Also check out our Wide Format Printer Buyer’s Guide.

If you want to take a look at traditional multi-function printers, we can help with that too! Check out our office copier buyer’s guide or weigh the pros and cons of leasing vs. buying.

If you’re ready to compare your options for wide-format printers, simply fill out our form and we can connect you with up to 5 reputable suppliers in your area!

Get free quotes from up to 5 wide-format printers & plotters suppliers!
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