What is “Wide Format Printing”?

Wide Format Printer

Global Signs operates an in shop wide format CMYK Ecosolvent Mutoh printer. 

This make carried with it a reputation for reliability when we acquired it, for the Mutoh brand was originally solely geared toward architectural drawing prints, so their quality had to be above par.  The nozzle head comes with a wave pattern functionality which discourages the banding effect to which some other printers are prone. 

We use this digital printer to run off everything from banners to vinyl to paper to canvas and more.

Color matching can be a headache for some print shops, but we use one or two color profiles alone that seem to cover the gamut of files that are out there, without much usual hassle. 

If ever there are discrepancies we readily reset the profile and reprint until the match is where it should be. 

We request files that are submitted to either be flat TIFF or Jpeg–or more preferably .ai, .pdf, .eps or other vector-based file, as long as all fonts are outlined, so there is no substituted text cropping up.

Production can be quite quick, often with 2 day turnaround–or overnight in a pinch–since we have a print operator on call every day of the year and our printer is always ready to go.  But production cannot commence before the proofing stage is complete. 

However long it takes to make sure the sign will look like how you want it is never too long–and once it is ready to go, the sign will be done before you know it. 

But that being said, some certain types of signs can take time. 

Digital wide format printing overall is quicker than the vinyl cut side of the business, when there is something of high detail being produced.  But vinyl cut wins the race when it comes to heavy ink graphics, for the digital print will need time to dry, especially if there is a lot of black in the picture. 

If you are producing a rich black graphic with us, then be forewarned it usually takes an extra day of drying time before the second half of production can finish.  This is unless you are purchasing a banner, since banners tend to dry rather quickly compared to plastic vinyl, for the material absorbs the ink better. 

Generally speaking, if there is not a lot of black, a digital vinyl coroplast sign can begin production in a morning and potentially complete later that afternoon, while a simple vinyl cut sign with little detail and not many words can be executed in a few hours.

But a vinyl cut sign with extensive detail or many words will take much longer than simply printing the project, so be informed that pricing takes these matters into account, for some graphics are exponentially more labor intensive depending on how they are made.

We will always advise you your alternate options, which is the most economical route–and which is the more expensive due to the increased time involved.

If you would like to see a sample print before production commences, to determine if the quality is suitable or the colors are preferred, then let our operator know and he will advise when a small print is ready for your viewing. 

It will typically be left on our pick up counter where you first walk in to the shop.  It should be marked FREE sample print and you can take it and leave if we are occupied with customers at that moment.  Then let your operator know via e-mail whether to proceed.  The production will complete and you will be notified the moment your sign is ready for pick up. 

Arrangements can be made to ship the sign to you–or for your pick up after hours via appointment–or if you are picking up during business hours, we will be glad to see you then.  We accept payment by credit card (all except AMEX), cheque, cash, Paypal and invoice.  If in the future you would like repeat prints of the exact same sign, you will receive a price freeze at previous rates.

So come put our Mutoh to the test, we would love to see your art prints, banners, posters, vinyl signs and more come to creation in our shop. 

After the material is run over the printer’s platen and the head fires down the graphic, the drying lip heats the sheet from beneath, drying the ink enough that it will not tack to itself as it feeds down over a take-up reel, on to a roll below. 

From here, the roll is then taken into the back, where the operator unravels it on a big cutting table and goes to work. 

He will trim the graphic back to its border and either apply it to a substrate like coroplast, alumapanel, painted wood or pure aluminum–or if it is a banner he will tape-hem the edges and/or punch grommets every 2 feet around the outside. 

Back to the printer then, he will release the roll and realign the sheet so as to be set for the next job.  He will check the ink levels to ensure nozzles do not dry out and clean the print head, spit tray and wiping station thoroughly with Q-tips and rubbing alcohol.  Regularly cleaning is necessary to ensure fuzz and ink do not end up on the printed projects. 

The shop is kept at a stable humidity to ensure our wide format prints are of the utmost quality–and our Mutoh lives a long and fruitful life, helping endless customers along their way to digitally printed signage solutions.

Just as vinyl cut signs were the kings of their day, so are digitally printed signs today–with 3D printers just around the corner ready to wear the crown. 

But all three will likely continue to be used now as much as before, if not more so due to increased access and reduced costs to purchase and operate.  For now, however, whatever are your signage needs, let us show you all of the options that are available to you–and what exactly our wide format Mutoh printer can do for you.

What is a “Quick Sign”?

Old Gerber Plotter

When computers were first designed to create signs, the production methods were very elementary.

Data input was a combination of 37 numerical variables on a keyboard for each line of text while viewing a generic LED text reader, one line at a time. This was before “Windows”, in 1981. The only way to see the completed sign was to draw (plot) it with a pen like a drafting machine.

Once the operator was confident that all the variables for each line were correct, vinyl was fed into the same plotter, this time equipped with a blade to kiss cut the vinyl text. If everything worked out as planned, the operator would then peel all the excess vinyl so only the letters remained.

The operator would then cut and prepare a sign board (substrate) by cleaning it and measuring the proper placement of the text, one or more line and color at a time.  Finally the text was transferred from the carrier paper to the substrate using a tacky transfer paper that resembled masking tape. The text was then permanently transferred to the substrate by rubbing the transfer paper with a squeegee until the aggressive adhesive on the back of the vinyl text bonded to the substrate and the tacky adhesive released the letters to the substrate.

The operator would then inspect the vinyl text for bubbles and damage and repair them as necessary.

Believe it or not this process was considered QUICK in 1981, because the alternative was laying out and lettering by hand with paint. This required time, patience, skill, a steady hand … as well as time to clean up and time to let paint dry (one coat at a time). Mistakes were also harder to fix. So the computer lettering machines were an advancement and as time went by they became more sophisticated.

The same process is still used for many types of signage, but with some improvements, not the least of which is the advent of Windows and the internet, so that the entire sign can be seen before it is made. This also allows the customer to approve the sign layout, colors, etc. without leaving their office, before the sign is made.

Some of the advantages of this type of signage are :

  • text colors can be specified from vinyl swatches, which helps maintain consistency in applications like fleet vehicle graphics
  • substrates are exposed, so that rich substrates can be chosen for certain effects, such as award plaques, window lettering, wood, granite or stainless steel signage etc.
  • metallic, prismatic, sandblasted etched glass, carbon fiber texture and many more effects can be achieved by using specialty vinyls. This increases the POP and WOW factor
  • durability can be predetermined by selecting from a range of vinyls suited to the project and  budget. The life expectancy can range from 1 to 12 years or more
  • text can be removable for certain applications, like changing dates on a banner or prices on a menu
  • retro reflective vinyl can be used to make signs readable at night,  just like the highway sign
  • many more applications abound in the industry

Please contact us for a free consultation to determine if QUICK VINYL CUT SIGNS are the right choice for your project or sign.