Small, Wide & Large Format Printing: What’s the Difference?

large format printing denverWhat Printing Format Do I Need?

When you need something printed for an event, tradeshow, or even your office there are a million things to consider. One of these considerations is size, because that determines the type of print shop you hire for the job. Not all print shops have the same capabilities, so it’s good idea to know what you need before you start calling around.

Small Format Printing

Small format printing refers to print jobs smaller 13 x 19 inches or smaller. If you’re looking for items like door hangers, calendars, business cards, or brochures, you should seek a smaller format printing company.

Large Format Printing

Large format printing is the formal term for what most people call “big-ass prints”. Other than size, large format printing differs from regular printing in a few major ways.

First, the printer itself is different – it’s not just giant printer. Depending on the job, a large format printing company will use either a roll-to-toll or a flatbed printer.

This brings us to the next difference – material. Large format printers can print on almost any type of material, vinyl, canvas, glass, wood – you name it. The type of large format printer used for the job depends on the material being printed upon. A roll-to-roll printer works well with materials like vinyl, whereas a flatbed printer works best with materials that really shouldn’t go through a roller – glass, wood, etc.  

Examples of items you should hire a large format printing company to do include: 

  • Store displays
  • Promotional signage
  • Trade show signage
  • Banners
  • Murals
  • Wayfaring signs
  • Vehicle wraps
  • Backdrops

Is Wide Format Printing the Same as Large Format Printing?

The short answer – kinda. 

Wide format printing is a type of large format printing. While large format printing is a general term for prints that are larger than a common commercial printer can handle, wide format printing generally refers to the specific size of the print. Most wide format printers have a width capacity between 18” and 100″. 

Ok, So Then What Is Grand Format Printing??

We’re just getting bigger! Grand format printers have a printing capacity of 100” or more. (For the mathematically challenged, that’s a little more than 8 feet.

Where to Find Printing & Design Services

Remember, when we are talking printing capacity, we’re referring to width and not length. You could print something dozens, even hundreds of feet long with any type of large format printer. But with the right design, the width capacity of the printer won’t be a major issue because the prints can be fastened together.

No matter what you decide, a quick Google search for “large format printing near me” should pull up a wide variety of results. If the first few print shops that pop up don’t offer the exact service you need, most print shops are well connected and should be able to point you in the right direction.

In the Denver area, we can’t lie – we think Harmonic Media is the best large and wide format printing company around … because that’s us. But don’t just take our word for it! Check out our portfolio for recent examples of our work, or contact us for a free consultation. And like we said, if we can’t take care of you, we know someone who will.