To get the best from your large format printers, you need the right large format print software, and of course regular printer maintenance.. But which software? Here’s our guide to choosing the right print software for your business/application.
Why do you need large format printer software?
It all comes down to what you print and the speed with which you can set your printer up to switch between tasks. A large format printer may be printing floor graphics now, but its next job might be a mesh banner or wallpaper.
The better the print management software, the more of the setup process will be automated, enabling you to streamline workflows and increase productivity without sacrificing print standards.
What does large format print software do?
At this scale, it’s not just about the printing (although that’s clearly the chief role of the role of large format printer software). Choosing the right software can help you estimate faster, invoice quicker and manage inventory better as well as helping you simplify and speed up the job production process.
At its most basic level, large format print software will help you:
- Manage the day to day, keeping an automated eye on things like printer servicing requirements and toner levels.
- Spot waste, and help you print more for less by automatically optimising print efficiency.
- Stay in control of costs thanks to comprehensive reporting and costing tools which you can then use to create detailed and accurate invoices.
- Keep media files secure, important for systems which may be sharing confidential files across large networks.
Beyond these features, which most large format printer software will boast, which software is right for you will depend on your role and the type of print you’re working with.
Print software types and how to choose the right large format printing software for you
1. Workflow software
Workflow software streamlines your print processes, minimising the need for manual intervention, reducing print idle times and reducing (or even eliminating) waste.
Features vary depending on the specific print software, but will typically include:
- Nesting: An automated process which lays out content for print in the most print-efficient way.
- Ganging: Similar to nesting, but where nesting will involve changes in the orientation of the same image to maximise efficiency, ganging involves laying out images from different files in the most efficient way.
- Tiling: The ability to print elements of very large format print as ‘tiles’ (like pieces of a jigsaw).
- Pre-flighting: A nifty Adobe tool which lets you analyse and fix PDF contents before you print to ensure there are no missing fonts or different colour spaces in the file. It helps ensure you only need to print once.
2. Print shop management software
Print shop management software is all about efficiency and profitability. It enables printers to complete large format digital print orders more efficiently and on time, ensuring they make the most efficient use of existing print resources (the emphasis being on software, not additional and extremely pricey hardware).
Features vary, but will typically include:
- The ability to scan without pausing printing
- Automated load balancing across multiple devices, so queues don’t build up at one machine when there’s availability at another
- Central print management, where incoming digital orders can be easily analysed, prepped for print and allocated to a specific large format printer
- Job archive, so it’s easy to recover previous jobs for a reprint
An example of large format print management software is Canon Repro Desk.
3. Display graphics workflow software
What if the print you deal with every day relies on detailed colour consistency and careful cutting, the sort of essentials you’ll need if you print wallpapers and fabrics? That’s where large format printing software for display graphics comes into its own.
Like the other software in this list, but with a specific focus on colour management, increased productivity and reduced waste and costs, it’s the print software option of choice when a consistent output is essential.
An example of large format print management software for display graphics is Canon Onyx.
4. Large format print software for architects and engineers
While standard large format workflow printer software may be ideally suited to print rooms, architects, engineers and builders will want a system tailored more specifically to their CAD/GIS needs.
Construction software such as Bluebeam Revu brings powerful design collaboration tools as well as print capabilities.