Large Format Printing Glossary

LFPP Academy

What You Need to Know About Print Terminology     

Whenever you embark on a new area or discuss with tech guys, it can be difficult to follow some conversations and you will need to learn the specialized vocabulary of the discipline. And this process can be particularly painful. But guess what? We’ve been compiling a shortlist of printing terms you need to know to help you lift in the print upper class. 😉



Banding, also called pass banding, is a print defect which takes the form of horizontal or vertical lines or halftone pattern area fills. There are several reasons it may occur, but generally, it happens when the print head pass over the substrate multiple times while the substrate is not perfectly lined up during each pass. It may also occur when the print head has blocked nozzles or nozzles are not firing completely straight, or due to a lack of calibration.



Calibration is the process of adjusting colors of any device (monitor, scanner, output device) to conform to established industry standards. This is essential with print jobs, particularly as regards to color rendition. It is considered as the first step of Color Management Process.

The artwork must have a similar color rendering both on the graphic designers’ monitor and print job. This is why calibration must be performed on a regular base (depending on the output) to represent accurate colors.



CMYK is the acronym of Cyan/Magenta/Yellow/Black, the primary pigment colors used in 4 color process printing and most desktop publishing programs. CMY are the subtractive primary colors and are used to reproduce full color on the printed sheet. If these pigments are combined in equal amounts, black is supposed to be produced, but because of imperfections with the pigments, a muddy brown color is produced. For that reason, black (represented by K) is added to give definition to color reproduction and to create bolder text.


Color Management

Color management is a way of ensuring the consistent color reproduction of graphics across different media and devices in a digital graphic production process.

More specifically, Color Management Systems (CMS) helps translate images for devices that use different color models such as RGB (Red/Green/Blue) and CMYK (Cyan/Magenta/Yellow/Black). In order to standardize the way colors appear throughout the production process, color profiles are generated for the devices and processes involved in the process. The combination of these color profiles makes it possible to calculate the coefficients necessary for data conversion.


Color Profile

Color profile is a specific description of how any device either sees or produces color information as referenced by an industry standard IT8 color target.

Color profiles define the colors we capture with our cameras and see on our displays. They control what colors are used and help provide consistency between devices.

Color is a pretty complex subject. Your eyes can see far more colors than your camera can capture or your monitor or even a piece of printed paper can display. This means we need some way to define the subset of colors that cameras can capture and monitors can display. We also need a way to keep colors consistent between the two. A certain shade of red that your camera captures should look the same shade of red on your monitor or your prints. This is where color spaces and color profiles come in.

Manufacturers supply color profiles with professional devices. To ensure high-quality results, profiles need to be created individually using special measuring instruments. This procedure may need to be repeated at regular intervals.



A damper is used to prevent ink starvation. It acts as a filter and it is located directly above the head. Dampers are usually replaced approximately every 3-6 months depending on the intensity and quality of the ink.


Deflection or Nozzle Deflection

Deflection is a printing issue related to the print head. It occurs when the nozzles are firing droplets that are being diverted from their normal path. This is mainly due to partial clogged nozzle and it is characterized by wavy patterns.


Digital Printing

Digital printing is a printing method that transfers images and text directly from a computer to a digital printing device. The process eliminates the time-consuming and costly processes associated with traditional printing methods such as making film and printing plates.



DPI stands for Dots per inch. It is the number of individual dots that can be placed in a line within the span of 1 inch (2.54 cm).


Dye-Sublimation Printing

In thermal inkjet technology, a dye is a colorant dissolved in solution that forms color by the process of selective absorption of wavelengths of light. Dye-sublimation printing (or dye-sub printing) is a computer printing technique which uses heat to transfer dye onto materials such as a plastic, card, paper, or fabric.



The process of completely sealing a print in laminate film on both sides and all edges using combined heat and pressure.



Where the printed materials get put into their final format. Examples of finishing include guillotining, folding, binding, drilling, and numbering.


ICC Profiles

Printer profiling or ICC profiling is considered as the second step of color management process. ICC profiles are color management profiles that meet the ICC standard.



The process of applying film to one or both sides of a print using either pressure or a combination of heat and pressure. Lamination is compulsory for outdoor use.


Micro Piezo Technology

Micro piezo technology is works as tiny electric pump powered by Piezo crystals which change shape with speed and act as a piston when electrical impulses are sent by the printer. This process produces consistent droplets, both in shape and size, to deliver clear and sharp prints.




Nozzles are the small holes through which ink drops are ejected.


Nozzle firing frequency

The maximum frequency at which a single nozzle may be fired, or how fast the nozzle can recover and be ready to fire again.



A wide format plotter is a very specialized type of printer which generates printed documents ranging from two to six feet wide. Businesses which design or construct things have historically used a plotter rather than a traditional printer because only plotters were capable of unparalleled degrees of precision. Today, wide format printing has caught up technologically, making plotters less common than they used to be.


Print Head

Print heads are printer components that are used to transfer ink onto the substrate. It does this by firing tiny droplets of ink via numerous printer nozzles to create a desired print.

Print heads, that are usually located on the bottom of the ink cartridge, receive printing instructions from the printer processor or the computer. It then evaluates the intensity, amount and location of ink required and moves the head horizontally, line by line, to those locations to write or print the contents.


Raster Image Processor or RIP Software

A raster image processor (RIP) is a software that translates (rasterizes) computer vector files (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, PDF, JPG, etc.) to a raster image also known as bitmap that is composed out of a matrix of dots that the printer can understand and print. The raster image is similar to the pixels on the computer screen. The RIP software processes multiple content types for a specific print environment and communicates that processed data to the printer for final output.

RIP software enables handling many file types and file sizes. In addition, most RIP software come with ICC (International Color Consortium) color profilers and allow color management. A powerful ICC color profile management maximizes the color gamut of the inks. The RIP can also be used to enlarge images for printing without loss of detail since it increases the file resolution.

The RIP is an important component in the printing process as it determines the color, screen pattern and resolution of the printed product. The quality of the RIP software directly determines the quality of the output. RIP ensures reliable color reproduction, saves time in the long run and reduces waste due to multiple reprints.



RGB is an acronym for Red, Green and Blue – the colors that make up all the color combinations seen on a computer screen. Documents and images set for screen viewing are typically in RGB. In order to use the images for print, they must be converted to CMYK. It also helps to make sure they’re at 300ppi, as images taken from the Internet are usually set to 72ppi and may not be large enough to print.



A spectrophotometer is a color measurement device used to read the wavelengths of reflected or transmitted light. The most common application of spectrophotometers in the printing industry is the measurement of light absorption.


Wiper or wiper blades

Wipers are printer components which that are used to clean the underside of print heads.

Leave a Reply