March 31, 2023

A Brief History of Wide Format Printing

wide format printer

Wide format printing is a must-have for many of today's businesses, with their ability to print graphics, posters, and more.

The Birth of Wide Format

The most important historical events of wide format printing begin in the early 1990s. Digital fine art photography became an appealing capability, and the Iris Graphics Model 3047 inkjet printer was the only available machine for this work. The Iris 3047 was expensive and costly to maintain. In addition, the prints were not long lasting. The printer was conceived only to print short-lasting proofs.

Rock Musicians take it to the Next Level

Rock icon Graham Nash, along with his manager Mac Holbert, saw the potential for more uses with the Iris 3047. They eventually bought the printer, and ultimately realized the prints they were planning to make were in-demand. They opened Nash Editions and began seeking ways to make the prints long-lasting.

Ongoing Improvements

Invested parties, such as photographers and artists, joined the quest to solve the problem of lack of permanence in the prints. Many formed a short lived but influential group, International Association of Fine Art Digital Printmakers. Finally, in 1999, Nash Editions, working with Epson, became a beta testing site for the Epson Stylus Pro 9500, a ground-breaking large format printer.

The shift to pigmented inks was the final step in the history of today’s wide format printers. By 2002, the quality and appearance issues associated with those inks began to be resolved by industry leaders, beginning with Epson and eventually including Hewlett-Packard and others.

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