What is the difference between large format printers versus plotters?
SpeedPro Chicago Loop 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 Chicago Loop 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 Chicago Loop 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 Chicago Loop 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 Chicago Loop 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.
SpeedPro Chicago Loop
Located just three-blocks from McCormick Place on Michigan Avenue, serving the entirety of downtown Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, we are convenient, accessible and able to support all of your large format graphic printing.
The Best Large-Format Printing in Chicago
SpeedPro Chicago Loop was the largest SpeedPro franchisee in the region (Illinois, Iowa, Michigan & Indiana) for 2022 and in the Top 10% of all SpeedPro’s nationwide.
We are humbled and proud of of the recognition we have received, not merely as a high performing studio, but by the accolades of our clients and the awards we’ve received, to include; the International Franchise Association’s (IFA) ‘2022 Franchisee of the Year’ (Nominee), ‘3 Best Sign Shops in Chicago’ 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023, ‘Exceptional Customer Service’ 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021, the only two-time winner of ‘Project of the Year’ 2018 and 2021, ‘Exceptional Growth’ 2018, ‘Rookie of the Year’ in 2016, over 300 perfect 10/10 online reviews and countless other franchise awards– SpeedPro Chicago Loop is committed to delivering great results and a delightful experience for our customers.
What Are the Advantages of Partnering With SpeedPro Chicago Loop?
Why should you choose SpeedPro Chicago Loop over other studios in the area? We offer a range of unique benefits, including:
- Fast turnaround on projects against tight deadlines
- Professionalism in every interaction
- Reliability you can count on
- Precision of graphics, which we use digital measurements to create
SpeedPro Chicago Loop creates one-of-a-kind graphics that will last for your company. See how we can connect you with the potential customers you want while also creating graphics you feel proud to display. Our graphics will make you look better. When companies partner with us, they see results.
Schedule a Consultation With SpeedPro Chicago Loop
Let us get your message noticed. You have something you want to tell potential customers. Visual communications such as the ones designed by SpeedPro Chicago Loop can deliver that information and build bridges that could develop into longstanding relationships.
We want to help you accomplish your goals and grow your business. Chicago-area companies can contact us today to discuss a consultation or request a quote.