Go Wide!

Welcome to the Wide Format Department of Orange County Printing Company, a Consolidated Graphics Company. Ever get stuck without any ideas? Looking to learn something new about Wide Format marketing? Have questions about Wide Format applications? Then this is the blog for you. Please do not hesitate to message with questions or contact your sales rep or myself directly at 949.475.1900. OCPC is located at: 2485 Da Vinci, Irvine, CA 92614
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A great article for all those print nerd out there about how to better prepare files to get the output that you are looking for. This also important to remember when designing with white ink in Wide and Grand Format printing!


Click to enlarge the image. 

There are so many routes to take when developing a marketing campaign. TV, web, direct mail, gorilla marketing, sampling, billboards, social media and the list goes on. Why not combine them all with the help of Grand Format? The scope of opportunities that Grand Format printing offers is vast and can easily tie together all goals of the campaign. Here are some examples of how Grand Format is not just print but a user experience. 

Print to Web: Hennessy’s Wild Rabbit Campaign

Wild Rabbit Campaign

By now I am sure that most people have either heard, seen, or used QR codes and how effective they can be in a marketing campaign. But what happens when you integrate QR codes with Grand Format’s capabilities? MAGIC! 

Hennessy recently kicked off its “Wild Rabbit” campaign onto the sidewalks of Chicago and San Francisco. In each city, floor projection units were strategically placed outside of bars and nightlife venues casting a “What’s Your Rabbit” shadow, making the innovative campaign hard to miss at night! Posters solidified the experience and encouraged Hennessy fans to pursue their “Wild Rabbit” by scanning the poster’s QR Code, directing them to the company’s website and increasing brand awareness. 

Print to Product Sampling: UNILEVER using Dispensers in Australia


Sampling is an effective and immediate way to interact with the public; whether it is dispensing leaflets, products, or coupons, you are placing your brand directly in the hands of the consumer. At the press of a button, dispenser units disburse a wide range of promotional give-aways in an engaging and innovative way. Utilizing Grand Format, you will effectively drive product sampling in high-traffic locations and reach a mass audience by achieving high levels of product trial. 

Print to Social Media: The Field Museum

The Field Museum

When we are constantly flooded by marketing and advertising images, the only way to get your message heard is by standing out. Grand Format can help create a unique user experience that consistently gets your message heard. Chicago’s Field Museum wanted to drive people to their new exhibit by giving people an authentic taste of pirate life. Life-sized statues of pirates began to pop up along the street, on wooden benches, in bus shelters, on curbs holding treasure chests, and they could even be found scaling the walls of the famous Berghoff restaurant. This made for a very “treasured” photo-op (pun intended). People began posting to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, spreading the word, essentially advertising the new museum exhibit for free. By creating an interactive user experience, Chicago’s Field Museum reached hundreds of people effortlessly. 

Look what a difference a graphic wrap makes to an environment. Call us to get started on planning your wall graphics!


CBS Outdoor unveils 180-degree wrap at Oxford Circus

What is one of the cheapest yet unique marketing techniques? Elevator graphics. With just a cleaver graphic, you can make a huge impact on customers and improve brand retention. Click on the pictures above for some fun examples.  

The world of wide format printing continues to experience rapid change, not just
as a result of the new technologies that are vying for dominance, but also due to
end-user applications and expectations. Nothing can be taken for granted in this
new market. Understanding the wide format market takes focus and expertise,
as this market now consists of three distinct segments: technical (which includes
architectural, engineering, and construction documents), production (posters, signs,
and banners), and creative (prepress, photography, and fine art printing). Here are OCPC we are prepared to walk you through every step of the way help help you on your next project. Give us a call or stop on by! 

I received a new product from one of my vendors today and it is some pretty awesome stuff. It is wallpaper with special adhesive vinyl on the back. Why is this product so cool? The graphic is almost seamless to the wall, and due to the adhesive, it allows for quick and easy installation, sticks until you take it off, and works in all environmental situations. I am gathering ideas to use at OCPC!

Retractable banner stands are an economical and easy way to have marketing at your fingertips. It is perfect mobile marketing for trade shows and career fairs. Standard size is 33.5” x 80” but there are a variety of options that will accommodate all your banner needs. Please call your sales representative for pricing.

Retractable banner stands are an economical and easy way to have marketing at your fingertips. It is perfect mobile marketing for trade shows and career fairs. Standard size is 33.5” x 80” but there are a variety of options that will accommodate all your banner needs. Please call your sales representative for pricing.

Many ask what types of substrates they can use for Wide Format. The answer is: ANYTHING! Really, the sky is the limit in Wide Format. I have printed on everything from paper to AstroTurf. Yes, AstroTurf.

So even though you can pretty much print on everything under the sun, the majority of Wide Format jobs are printed on just a few common substrates.

Poster / Photo Paper: Photo paper is pretty much the cheapest substrate if you are looking for a cost effective way to print Wide Format. It comes on a roll so there is a lot of options on length, but few options on thicknesses. You can purchase thicker stock, but then it becomes more expensive, and there can be size limitations. Photo paper is typically used for short run posters, POP indoor signage, and mounting to foamboard (although this is becoming obsolete because many Wide Format presses can print direct to foamboard…like ours!). The down side of paper is that is very short term and gets damaged easily in high traffic areas.

Polystyrene: Also known simply as styrene, is probably my favorite type of material because it is so versatile and durable. It comes in a variety of thicknesses and because it is plastic, is completely waterproof. When combined with UV inks, it makes for the perfect indoor/outdoor signage, no lamination necessary. Color options are limited, but you can diecut this material into any shape you desire. It is fairy inexpensive as well. Most of the thickness options only come in sheets, so for better pricing, use sizes that will fit more number up on a 48” x 96” sheet. For example, a 22.25” x 28.25” poster (22” x 28” poster with 1/8” bleeds) will fit 6 up on a sheet, vs. a 24.25” x 36.25” poster (24” x 36” poster with 1/8” bleeds) that will only fit 3 up on a sheet. Obviously the 24” x 36” poster will cost almost double more than the 22” x 28” poster.

PVC (aka Sintra): PVC is another durable material, very similar to styrene. PVC comes both on a roll and in a sheet form. The roll material is usually used for Retractable Banner Stands while the sheet form is usually thick and used for durable outdoor signage. PVC does tend to scratch easily but it comes in a variety of colors.

13oz Banner/Scrim/Front-Lit: I feel like this material (like many of the others) have a million names. But I think that most people know what banner material looks and feels like. We see it every where. It is usually used for outdoor signs and banners, or mounted banners. This material is super durable especially once the edges are hemmed 1” and grommet.

Foamboard/Foamcore: Foamboard is a lightweight economical material that is good for short term indoor signage. It is made of paper and plastic foam. The average thickness is 3/16” but can go up to 1” thick. It comes in a variety of colors but white is the cheapest sheet. Gloss laminating on foamboard gives it a very nice look for conferences, but for directional signs, I would recommend matte or no laminate at all. 

Ultraboard/Gatorboard:  I know many people swear by this material, but I think for most applications it is a waste of money. Foamboard is more economical, and Styrene and PVC are more durable. There are few reasons I could think of that would warrant paying for the expense of Ultraboard. I do think it looks nicer than foamboard when cutting around a die line, but for such a short usage life, it may be too expensive for some budgets.

Self Adhesive Vinyls: Self Adhesive Vinyls are by far the most complicated substrate. There are so many different options, using the right material can be a challenge. I always as for samples from my supplier as this will tell me exactly what I am getting and how it will work with the current project. Self Adhesive Vinyls come clear, white, permanent, removable, low-tack, changeable, gloss, matte, calendered, etc. Seriously the list goes on and on. Talking with your Wide Format contact about the application of your project will guarantee you love the final out come. Leaving your production team in the dark about what you will be using this material for will open up the potential for an unhappy outcome. Any and all details are better than none. Think about: weather, location, humidity, traffic, item it will be applied to, and any other environmental conditions that you can think of that might effect the end use of the vinyl.

There are so many other materials that you can use, the list goes on. Here are a few more: static window clings, wall graphics, canvas, glass, acrylic, wood, AstroTurf, metal, plastic, cardboard, rubber, fabric and much more!

There is just so much to do with Wide Format. Love these ideas! (Click on the images to see larger images.)

These days, it seems like everyone is wearing multiple hats in their company. People whose rolls were once very defined have found themselves being immersed into projects they never were trained to do. On the other hand, Wide Format and Grand Format is a fairly new industry to most people, yet more ad dollars are bring spent on Wide Format now more than ever. For these reasons, the question I get asked about most from my sales team and their clients is: “How do I design for Wide Format? What file type should I use?”

Acceptable Files:

PDF .pdf           EPS.eps           TIFF.tiff           Illustrator.ai           Photoshop.ps

Document size: Whether you use a template or you create your own document, please make sure the dimension of your file is the exact size of the finished size plus 1/8” bleeds on all sides. For example, if your banner is going to be a finished size of 33.5” x 80”, your file should show that the image size is 33.75” x 80.25” (image + 1/8” bleeds on all sides).

Image Resolution: Your image resolution should be no lower than 125 DPI at full size. (*Note: Most images take off online sources, with exception to stock photo sites, will be 72 DPI and are not appropriate for Wide Format graphics.)Good vs Bad Image

Color Mode: Please convert all images and files to a CMYK color mode. RGB files will come out looking different than expected as Wide Format printers all print with Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black ink. 

Fonts and Links: If you are not using PDFs as a way to transfer files, please make sure you are either packaging your files into a ZIP/Archive folder (InDesign has a function that can do this for you), or remember to convert all your fonts to outlines. Missing fonts will be automatically substituted for in the printer’s RIP to Courier (yuck!) and images will be at a extremely low resolution or just disappear. Don’t worry too much, because our pre-press department will notify you of potential file issues before we go to press.

If you have any further questions about how to design proper files, please don’t hesitate to contact your sales rep or me at OCPC!

Wide Format is the printing industry’s term for a printer with a print width between 17” and 100”. Printers over the 100” mark are called Grand Format. Wide format printers are used to print banners, posters, indoor and outdoor graphics, window clings, vehicle wraps, and all other general signage. In some cases, it is more economical than short-run methods such as screenprinting. 

There are a large variety of wide format printers out in the market, and they are categorized by the type of ink they use.

Solvent Ink: Inks that use a carrier made of various chemicals that penetrate material, but evaporate quickly. Printers using solvent-based inks emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and should be ventilated. Solvent ink is considered to be the back bone of the digital inkjet printing industry for outdoor signage, especially for vehicle wraps and window-perfs.

  • Fast drying time, does not require use of external heat.
  • 6-24 hour curing time
  • Able to print on a wide range of materials
  • Scratch/water resistant; long term outdoor durability
  • High color gamut


  • Due to the high level of emitted VOC, solvent printers must be used in a well ventilated area (although there are Eco-Solvent inks available that have much lower VOCs than true solvent).

Latex Inks: A water-borne inkjet ink developed by HP designed for outdoor wide-format printing applications. The inks contain about 70% water, 30% co-solvents, pigments and latex polymer particles that form a film and bind with substrates with the application of heat. HP’s Latex inks have no odor and use a 6 color printing mode (CMYK plus Light Cyan and Light Magenta). Latex prints achieve up to three years display permanence when left unlaminated, five years when laminated, and provide scratch, smudge, and water resistance.

  • Latex printers require no special ventilation whatsoever
  • Latex inks have been tested on a wide variety of coated/uncoated materials with success, including vinyl, banner, fabrics, and paper substrates
  • Due to quick drying, prints can be handled or laminated immediately after completion, thus producing less turnaround time in a production environment
  • Latex inks can stretch and hold their image perfectly upon release


  • Evaporation rate is much slower, and required more heat to cure. This requires more precise profile tuning for specific materials.

UV Inks: UV-curable inks are “cured” once they are exposed to specific wavelengths of UV light. The ink consists of a photo initiator, and when exposed to the UV light, it undergoes a chemical process that transforms the ink into a solid film that tightly adheres directly onto the substrate’s surface and is dry to the touch instantly. Curing to its full extent does take up to 72 hours. Essentially, during the curing process, the ink is transformed into a thin layer of plastic that acts as a top layer to the substrate it has been applied to. The flatbed printing industry is dominated by UV Inks as they have the distinction from solvent inks based on their capability to print directly onto a large variety of rigid substrates. Due to color and hardness, it is ideal for outdoor signage.

  • Typically cheaper per ft/squared than solvent
  • UV Ink system is environmentally friendly, containing little to no solvents
  • Little to no odor
  • Faster print speeds reduce production cost
  • Due to ink being cured into a film, it is ideal for outdoor durable signage
  • Unlike solvent printers, flatbed printers utilize UV Ink technology to print directly to rigid materials
  • Instant curing allows for handling of material as soon as it leaves printer; allowing for faster turnaround in production environment
  • UV Inks are better for the equipment itself, as it will not harden within the print components, but rather only when cured onto the material it is being applied to
  • Does have capability to print on vinyl and banner, and other rolled substrates


  • Finish of the ink is considered flat or matte
  • UV Ink is not ideal for applications with high level of abrasion
  • UV Ink is less flexible than other ink systems, due to the cured ink being more brittle

Aqueous Inks: Inks that use water as a carrier are aqueous inks, and contain dyes or pigments as colorants.  Traditional water-based inks are widely used for photographic printing and short-term indoor signage applications. Aqueous inks can utilize 8 color sets, up to a 12 color ink set; blue, green, magenta, red, yellow, gray, photo black, matte black, light cyan, light gray, light magenta, gloss enhancer. Aqueous inks print on a different set of medias, known as coated medias, due to the way the inks dry on the surface of the material.

  • Due to high color gamut, aqueous inks can produce photo quality prints
  • Ink chemicals pose little to no health risks, in comparison to solvent inks


  •  Aqueous ink applications typically are not appropriate for durable outdoor signage
  • The dye-based colorants have a tendency to fade over time
Hello! Welcome to OCPC’s Wide Format Department. We want to be your  Wide Format or Grand Format resource here in Orange County. Follow us  for tips and tricks to save on pricing, marketing ideas, and industry  news.
Feel free to reach out with questions, or contact your sales rep directly.
OCPC is located at:  2485 Da Vinci Irvine, CA 92614 949.475.1900

Hello! Welcome to OCPC’s Wide Format Department. We want to be your Wide Format or Grand Format resource here in Orange County. Follow us for tips and tricks to save on pricing, marketing ideas, and industry news.

Feel free to reach out with questions, or contact your sales rep directly.

OCPC is located at:
2485 Da Vinci
Irvine, CA 92614