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Grand Format Digital Printing Glossary

May 9th, 2011 | Posted by Admin in Grand Format

Grand Format Digital Printing Glossary

Below are some of the terms commonly used in this industry.

Aqueous Based Disperse Dye — Disperse dye is the class of dye used in the AquaJet, direct to textile printer. These very fine dye particles remain in suspension though the jetting process. Heat is then applied in the fixation chamber that allows the polyester molecules of the textile substrate and the dye molecules to bind.

Aqueous Ink – Refers inks in which water is the liquid dimension in the ink. Aqueous based inks do not have good UV or weather resistance and are often limited to indoor print applications or require a secondary lamination of the printed substrate to protect the ink.

Aqua Jet — three-meter wide dye sub grand format printer originally manufactured by Gandi Innovations. The AquaJet uses specially formulated water based dispersed dye inks which allows direct printing to polyester fabrics. The Aqua jet dye sub printer is equipped with and in-line infrared fixation system and in-line high temperature hot knives. This is a single stage print process with no secondary or tertiary fixation processes.

Chain Stitch – Sewn stitch that uses one piece of thread fed from the top. This is a very common stitch for short-term advertising or economical advertising graphics. Opposed to lock stitch chain stitch does have the potential to unravel if the thread breaks anywhere along the hem.

Direct to Substrate Dye Sublimation – Refers to the process of printing dye directly to a substrate, skipping the traditional transfer step from a primary print substrate.

Dye Sublimation – Sublimation is the scientific term referring to the passing of a solid to a gas skipping the liquid phase. Dye sublimation uses the application of heat to fix the dye to a substrate or more commonly to transfer and fix the dye to a substrate.

Enduraguard TM – Trademarked product description for the opaque thermoplastic polymer used by Quality Banner Company. Uses include, indoor banners, retractable displays, short run digital pennant strings and in store POP display.

Finishing — In reference to flags and banners finishing is the process that takes place after the product is printed. Such as: hemming, creating pockets, laminating, adding webbing reinforcement, etc.

Flat Bed Digital Printing – Refers to a digital printer, which has a table where substrate is loaded. Either the table moves under a print head array or a gantry moves a head array over the table. Most often used for the printing of ridged substrates or sheets of flexible material.

Grand Format Digital Printing – Typically refers to a minimum print width of 98”. Better attributed to print widths of 126” plus.

Hem – Sewing a cut edge of material so as to prevent it from unraveling.

Hook and Loop – Technical term for “Velcro”.

Lock Stitch – Sewn stitch, which uses two pieces of thread, one fed from the top and one from the bottom that lock or knot in each stitch. The benefit of lock stitch construction as applied to flags and banners is that it creates a stronger, more durable stitch. Even if thread breaks in one section the hem or seam will not unravel as a result of the knot in each stitch.

Pass – Refers to the number of passes the print head or head array takes over the substrate in order to complete a print band.

Pies Print Head — Refers to piezoelectric print head technology. An electrical charge is applied to a piezoelectric material the resulting material deformation ejects a droplet of ink from the ink chamber. Used often in Digital Grand Format production printers as opposed to the cheaper to manufacture thermal drop on demand heads used in most desktop printers.

Pole Pocket – Pocket formed on banners to capture a pole usually for mounting or hanging purposes.

Pre-Press – Step between the creation of the artwork layout and the actual printing. In a digital shop pre-press is entirely electronic. The Pre-press technician checks the layout for errors, adjusts art as needed to reflect color and or finishing requirements and generates the final soft-proof to be checked by the originator.

Print Head – The element of a printer that applies the mark or image to the paper

PSA – “Pressure Sensitive Adhesive”, an adhesive that bonds to the application substrate with pressure meaning that no further activator is required such as heat or a solvent.

PSV – “Pressure Sensitive Vinyl”, vinyl that has a pressure sensitive adhesive back. There are many materials available under the broad heading of “pressure sensitive vinyl” such as those used for wrapping vehicles, wall graphics, floor graphics, window graphics and adhesive laminates.

Roll-to-Roll Digital Printing — In roll-to-roll printing the unprinted substrate is fed into the printer directly from a roll. The printed substrate is then re-wound onto another roll of printed product upon exit from the print unit.

Scrim – Refers to the woven polyester support material sandwiched between the PVC layers in reinforced vinyl.

Soft Proof – a soft proof or monitor proof, does the originator create a digital file representing the artwork as it will be after output and finishing. The soft proof should not be used if color is a critical factor in the output. The soft proof is only accurate for proofing layout and copy.

Solvent Ink – Refers to the more aggressive solvents used as the liquid dimension in the ink. Solvent-based inks adhere to a wide range of substrates and have exceptionally good weather, UV and abrasion resistance.

Sonic Welding — Welding process by which ultrasonic waves are focused on an area of the substrate causing it to melt. As with thermal welding the two layers are also compressed together and a bond between two PVC substrates is formed once they once again harden.

Substrate – Material to which inks or dyes is being applied.

Thermal Welding – Process by which heat is applied to two PVC substrates melting the outer most layer of each, then the two layers are compressed together and a bond between the two is formed when the melted substrate cools and hardens. Used most often for tiling or seaming large graphics and for the thermal hemming of edges.

Variable Data – Where one or more element is changed given that all other design aspects remain the same in a multi-unit print run. For example: a sponsor change on light pole banners or a price change for different regions of a national product campaign.

Vinyl – Catch all term for the many and varied PVC substrates used as media for banners, displays, wall graphics, etc. Available in many weights and configurations the most common in the United States being 10oz and 12-13oz supported PVC.

Vinyl Mesh – Also, referred to as scrim vinyl or fence wrap. Vinyl mesh is available in many weights and % of open area. Because of the open areas in mesh it is normally nearly half the weight of a standard vinyl laminate therefore it lends itself well to projects which weight is an issue such as, extremely large pieces like building wraps, because of its lower wind load and abrasion resistance it is also often used as fence wrap at events and for construction developments.

Vinyl Scrim – Trade term most often describing vinyl mesh material

Webbing – A flat strip of material used to reinforce the hem on a flag or banner.

Wide Format Digital Printing – Traditionally a term referring to printers capable of printing a minimum of 24” wide material.

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6 Responses

  • Hi, Thanks for the support of the post! Beautifully written article, thank you for sharing this with us, you have been liked!

  • Justin says:

    I’m happy it was of some help. That’s nice to read.

  • Wow! This information was truly valuable to me. Ill be coming back to your blog. Speaking of printing you may visit

    • Grace says:

      lifted rocks Spot colors are also spimly called solids, they are either straight base colors, like Rubine red, Warm red, Yellow, Reflex Blue, Process Blue, Black, etc. or combinations of the base color. I respectfully disagree that that just because a spot color layed down thicker it will last longer. There are lightfast inks, primers, overlaminates, uv process inks that will ensure longer label life as well although it is correct 4 color process is generally more expensive.

  • Really a nice post and very Informative.However, I would like to add some more description for Dye Sublimation.Die Sublimation Printers uses heat in order to transfer color to the paper.As soon as the picture is printed the ink is dry and there is no risk of smearing hence it is much more resistant to environmental damage from liquids than are Inkjet printer photos.But seriously a very nice post and lot of things can be learnt from this post.

    • Justin says:

      Thank you for the comment. Yes I agree I can add more description with regard to dye sub. We will update the glossary with specific dye sub processes. Direct sublimation, transfer sublimation, etc. Thanks.