What is the difference between large format printers versus plotters?
SpeedPro starts off where most print shops finish. Of course, we have the ability to print the small-sized graphic requests, we specialize and even prefer to produce large graphics including vehicle wraps, full-color outdoor banners, large format laminated signs, trade show exhibits/displays and much more.
A plotter produces vector graphic drawings. Plotters illustrate lines on paper using an internal pen. Conversely, a traditional printer cannot draw continuous lines, it makes lines out of dots. Furthermore, the main difference between plotters and format printers is the file format used. Plotters use vector graphics, while format printers use raster images, also known as bitmaps or pixels. Vectors create images from point-to-point nodes connected by mathematically determined lines and curves, thus plotters are often better suited for illustrated logos while large format printing is better for photo-realistic images.
To explain further, vector images are line art graphics that will maintain their quality no matter how you resize them, and raster, or bitmap, images are composed of tiny dots that form a larger picture. These images can only stand to be enlarged to a certain size before losing clarity.
How does this affect resolution?
Vector images alone or with text can be scaled up to almost any desired size as they are not composed of thousands of small dots like raster art is. However, it is important to point out that image-centric banners are more often made from raster data as raster allows for more resolution detailing and coloration.
For example, if you are creating a graphic banner, SpeedPro advises you to save it as a Vector file. Doing this ensures that the image won’t lose clarity when it is later enlarged. If you’re using a photograph or any type of raster image — including .jpg, .tif and other common file types — make sure the file is not compressed down, and save it with an output resolution between 100 and 200 dots per inch (DPI) at the full image size to ensure optimum clarity. When choosing an image to use, the best option is to have a high-resolution photo taken by a professional photographer. Using images found online can be disastrous because often there is not enough pixel data to create a clear image. A low-resolution image can be enlarged in Photoshop, but this multiplies the pixels around each other, taking each pixel and creating a new pixel next to it that is halfway in color to the next, and on. Website graphics are created at a small resolution in order to reduce bandwidth so that web pages load quickly while still creating an image acceptable on a computer monitor.
Royalty-free images can be licensed from many sites online, however, we advise you as a best practice to check with your SpeedPro advisor to see how much images can be enlarged before spending money to license them. When taking your own photos or hiring a professional photographer we recommend you try to take high-resolution photos with a minimum of seven to eight megapixels and a maximum file size of 200 megabytes. This will ensure no problems arise regarding image enlargement, coloration clarity and sharpness.
Modern high-end cameras may be as high as 12-Megapixels or more. (1 Megapixel = 1 million pixels). In keeping our file within the 100-200 DPI guideline mentioned earlier, the maximum size we can output with minimal distortion is 42.88″ wide (4288 pixels wide divided by 100). The more pixel data you bring in and the larger the original image, the more leeway you then have to work within creating the final graphic design. With a lot of pixel data, SpeedPro can go larger than 42.88″ and still achieve good results. However, the more we enlarge, the fuzzier and more pixelated the final output will be. However, for certain jobs, this may not be an important consideration as it depends on how the image will be viewed. You wouldn’t look at a wallet-sized snapshot from 10 yards away, nor would you walk right up to a billboard to get the best point of view. Billboard resolution can be as low as 2 to 20 DPI, but when the image is 40 feet in the air and seen from cars rushing past hundreds of feet away, the resolution can be much less.
We can still work with you if you do not have access to higher quality images. SpeedPro uses special software to smooth out the “jaggies” of less than optimal files. The software has proprietary algorithms to create better enlargements than Photoshop, as long as there is sufficient pixel data. We do not guarantee to perform miracles, but we can make a significant improvement.
SpeedPro printers can print up to 1440 x 1440 dpi, with a standard print resolution of 720 x 720 dpi. To increase the likelihood that your art will be printed crisp and clear, convert your image to a vector file. Remember, vector images can be enlarged to larger sizes without distortion.
The Apex/Cary area of North Carolina has grown quickly in recent years, with new technology and improving infrastructure attracting new residents. The increasing size of the population has led to more businesses raising their flags. It’s a great time to start a small- or medium-sized business, and when you do it, you’ll want to stand out from the competition.
The best way to make a statement? Bold, eye-catching graphics that let people know who you are and why you can help them. The experts at SpeedPro Apex can make your vision a reality. Our large-format printing solutions meet your needs and accomplish your aims, whether you want to advertise an upcoming sale with an elevator wrap or send delivery vans with full, partial or decal vehicle wraps around town to expand your branding.
You can find so many ways to use wide-format printing to make a difference in your business’s bottom line and improve your name recognition. Creative, well-planned graphics executed by SpeedPro Apex put you in the driver’s seat. See how we can aid your small- or medium-sized business with your visual communication needs.
Get Large-Format Printing for Your NC Company
What do you need to help your business grow? Whether you want trade show displays or step and repeat that will pop, indoor signage to guide people around the office or outdoor signage to signal where your retail shop is located, our sign company can help. We specialize in visual communications that relay useful information to your potential customers. The right signage and graphics can create new relationships that grow into steady business.
No task is too big or small for the team at SpeedPro Apex. Our capabilities and services include:
- Wall graphics
- Fleet wraps
- Window graphics and decals
- Backlit graphics
- Floor graphics
- And more
Why Pick SpeedPro Apex?
As the nation’s leader in wide-format graphics, we have aided companies just like yours throughout the region in North Carolina. We understand what customers in this area respond to and how you can set yourself apart from the competition. With experiencing working with companies in dozens of sectors, including real estate, athletic organizations and government, you can trust us to help grow your bottom line.
We rely on state-of-the-art technology to provide winning solutions for our clients. Each graphic we design has a specific purpose — to achieve your goals. We collaborate closely with you to develop a solution that truly works for your business. You’ll appreciate many things about working with us, such as our:
- Speed: We can meet quick deadlines.
- Dedication to the environment: We use green approaches such as quick-dry printing processes.
- Reliability: We communicate with you throughout the graphic design, creation and installation process.
- Precision: We use digital measurements to ensure an exact fit on our graphics.
Contact SpeedPro Apex Today
We have assisted customers in Apex and Cary as well as Raleigh, Wake and Chatham counties. We start with a one-on-one discussion, determine your specific needs and decide what will benefit you the most. What are you waiting for? Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation or request a quote from SpeedPro Apex.