Wide-Format Printers for When Width Is Important

Wide-Format Service Bureaus Are No Longer Necessary

Canon's Pixma Pro-100 wide-format photo printer
Canon's Pixma Pro-100 wide-format photo printer. Photo courtesy of HP

Here's a link to some modern wide-format printers: Top Wide Format Printers

Things have changed drastically over the past two years or so. Yes, as Peter describes in the article below, it's still necessary to send your very wide-format documents, such as, say, over about 19 inches, to a service bureau, nowadays, most of the major printer makers, including Epson, Brother, Canon, and HP, all make wide-format printers--and some of them are pretty darn good.

So, since the market has taken such a drastic turn from what the underlying article anticipates, rather than try to rewrite it I have pointed it at a round-up of wide-format printers, including a laser-class, or LED-array machine that prints 11x17-inch (a.k.a. tabloid) laser-like prints.

Also included are reviews of several wide-format inkjet all-in-one printers from all of the major printer makers, including stellar photo-centric models from HP and Epson. Brother's wide-format printers, on the other hand, are all tabloid-size (8.5x11-inches), which are plenty wide enough for oversize spreadsheets and other wide-format documents.

Even so, consumer-grade wide-format, which generally doesn't surpass 19 inches, has become significantly cheaper, both in the initial price of the machine itself and in overall cost per page. To get prints "24 inches and wider," as Peter describes below, you'll still need a service bureau--most businesses, even humongous businesses, can't often justify the expense of a 24- to whatever-inch printer.

In these cases, then, the definition below of a wide-format printer might fly. These days, though, good 19-inch printers abound, and they don't cost much initially, nor is the cost per page, or CPP, prohibitively high, depending, of course, on a number of factors. The point is that the days of running out to pay Kinkos to complete your next wide-format print job might not be necessary. Unless you absolutely need over 19 inches wide, that is.

Definition: Wide-format printing (also known as large-format printing) usually refers to devices that can handle sheets of paper 24 inches and wider. These aren't commonly purchased printers; according to a study by CAP Ventures, nearly 76 percent of those who own a wide-format printer are print-for-pay businesses -- print shops, copy shops, etc.

That being said, if your company prints a great many posters, blueprints, maps, or other large-format documents, a wide-format printer is a useful device to have, especially if the alternative is sending your jobs out to print shops.

Wide-format printers can use a variety of printing processes, including inkjet, laser / LED, copy press (which literally presses the image into the paper), thermal transfer (which melts color "crayons" onto the sheets), and electrostatic (where the negatively charged toner is attracted to a positively charged drum). They are usually freestanding systems.

Although most are meant for professional or corporate milieus, there are in fact some "personal" wide-format printers available. However, if you're looking for a professional-level printer, offering a capacity for wider paper, automatic paper cutting, a wider variety of media types, among other features, then you're going to be looking at anywhere from $2,000.00 to $20,000.00.