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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

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We have kept the PIE system simple -- we get a monthly fee from the commercial printers who belong to our service. Once the bid request is submitted, all interactions are between the print buyers and the printers.

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Poster Printing: A Multitude of Imaging Options

A dramatic poster can take your breath away. Think of the building wraps you have seen covering entire exterior walls of high rises. Even smaller posters, such as those in movie theaters, can touch you deeply. At their simplest level, posters are advertisements for any number of products, services, or lifestyles.

Technology gives you flexibility in your poster printing run.

In the age of digital large format printing, you have a number of options when tasked with producing a poster for a client. If you need 1,000 copies of a poster printing run to promote an upcoming high school event, you may want to consider offset printing. After all, for longer press runs this technology would be the most cost-effective. But for shorter runs of perhaps 20 or 50 posters, or if your goal is to produce a single banner, flag, or vehicle wrap, you would choose digital large format printing on inkjet equipment.

Touchplates increase the number of printable colors.

If you choose to print your posters via offset lithography, your color choices include process color (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) or black ink plus a PMS match color. That said, you can pay a little bit more and add “touchplates” to improve the vibrancy of colors within the poster printing run.

For instance, let’s say your poster includes a large flower in multiple hues of violet and blue. Process inks can do a reasonably good job of representing these colors, but by adding a touchplate of an additional match color, you can get the violet and blue to really stand out. Some printing companies will even replace one or more of the process colors with a fluorescent cyan, magenta, or yellow to give the images even more zing.

Keep in mind that adding a touchplate is not exactly the same as including a fifth color (a PMS match color). An additional PMS hue is usually reserved for a background solid color or a logo: essentially a localized color placement. Touchplates of additional match colors actually enhance colors within the photographic images themselves, bringing out a yellow, orange, green, or violet portion of the photo that might otherwise be lackluster.

Digital large format printing creates color with multiple inks.

If you have chosen the digital route, you are probably producing your poster printing run on a large format inkjet printer. These machines approach the constraints of a limited color gamut (the inability to print certain colors) by adding additional inks to the CMYK color set. A high-end inkjet printer may add a light magenta, a light cyan, multiple versions of black, and even orange, and the additive primaries (red, green, and blue, the colors used to create images on computer monitors). Most inkjet printers don’t use all of these at once; rather, they include a few, or several, extra colors from among these options. However, to date, advanced color sets can include up to 12 inks. In all cases, the goal is to add enough colored inks to simulate as much of the color spectrum as the eye will perceive. No printing process can capture all colors, but digital large format printing comes incredibly close.

Substrates: what to print on

Your next choice is the substrate on which to produce your poster printing run. Offset printing is rather limited. You can print on various thicknesses of paper, either coated or uncoated stock. Digital large format printing, on the other hand, offers more choices. On a roll-fed inkjet press, you might choose to print on transparent film for backlit signage, canvas, fabric, vinyl, or archival paper for fine art prints, just to name a few. On a flatbed inkjet press, you might choose a rigid substrate, such as a GatorBoard, Sintra PVC Foam Board, aluminum, etc. The list goes on.

Consult your printing companies early and often.

Not all printing companies will have capabilities representing all of these technologies. Therefore, educate yourself on your options. Talk to printing companies. Do research online. And then discuss your goals for your poster printing run with a number of different printing companies to get the best results for the best price.

8 Responses to “Poster Printing: A Multitude of Imaging Options”

  1. I can’t imagine anyone serious about the printing business not reading this blog. There is a wealth of information and attention to points of detail that I don’t see anywhere else. I have forwarded the blog address to the printer in Wisconsin who recently published my novel and know they’ll find much to like. Keep up the great job!

    • admin says:

      This is wonderful feedback. Thank you. I always try to share the experience I’ve gained in the various aspects of publications management and printing to help new print buyers do their jobs more effectively and economically. I do appreciate your encouragement.

  2. I truly appreciate the content of your blog. Keep going.

  3. Hey that’s really a great post and a wonderful description. I really like the way things are being discussed here.

  4. I am in complete agreement with you that poster printing is an art. A simple poster can convey a beautiful message and can even build a strong impression. It is all a mind game.

    • admin says:

      I think posters are very powerful. When you mention their building a strong impression, I think of companies that depend on images and type in posters to build their brands.

      Good large-format visuals can incline viewers to associate the qualities and attributes of the poster with the company it promotes. As you say, a mind game, but very lucrative for advertisers.


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