To truly understand any industry is to understand its lingo. This is simply because without understanding the jargon that surrounds so many industries, it’s easy to misinterpret or misunderstand what others are talking about – or what the goals of a project or task are.
In the case of wide-format printing, there’s no shortage of jargon for you to get your teeth around. Like many other creative industries that rely on technological innovation to carry out a job, if you don’t understand what’s going on, there’s no way you’re going to create the perfect job.
Here’s just a few of the most common terms used in the wide-format print industry.
Aqueous Ink - If you’ve detected the ‘aqua’ reference, then you’ve probably twigged as to what this is. Aqueous ink is simply ink that has a basis in water. While it’s great for paper jobs, it cannot stick to plastic unless the media is coated. By nature it also has weak UV and (obviously) weather resistant properties, and so is really limited to indoor applications.
Solvent Ink - Conversely, solvent inks aren’t based in water, therefore they have a better UV and weather resistance making them ideal for outdoor applications. They also have great abrasive and fade resistance.
Substrate - This is a technical term that merely denotes the material to which inks or dyes are being applied.
Vinyl - Not quite like your record collection, this definition of vinyl represents all kinds of PVC plastics that are used for banner, display and wall graphic printing. Vinyl comes in a wide variety of sizes but carries some standard weights, such as 10oz and 12-13oz in the US. Vinyl is perfect for outdoor use, or indoors if it needs to be in hard-wearing environment e.g. a concert venue with high humidity levels.
Scrim - This is the woven polyester support material that is sandwiched between PVC layers to create reinforced vinyl banners. These are even harder than regular vinyl prints.
Webbing - Webbing is an optional flat strip of material that can be used to give further reinforcement to the hem on a flag or banner.
Print Head - This is the head of the printer which applies the mark or image to the substrate.
Pass - Passing refers to how many times the print head must pass over the substrate in order to complete a single band of printing.
Pre-Press - Following on from the design of the poster or banner-to-be, the pre-press stage comes in. It is an intermediary step in which a print technician checks the design for any potential errors in layout or colours. They’ll also make a soft-proof that can be checked by the customer to ensure it is to their satisfaction.
Finishing - This is the final process of printing in which jobs such as hemming, laminating and adding reinforcement takes place.
Wide-Format Printing - This term applies to any kind of printer capable of printing on material at a minimum of 24″ wide.
Now that you’ve got a basic grasp of the lingo, try not to waste any time in using it on your next print job!