Exploring Flatbed vs. Roll-to-Roll Printers: A Guide to Large Format Printing

Exploring Flatbed vs. Roll-to-Roll Printers: A Guide to Large Format Printing

In the ever-evolving landscape of large-format printing, the choice between flatbed and roll-to-roll printers stands as a crucial decision for businesses and professionals alike. Each type offers distinct advantages and disadvantages, catering to different printing needs and preferences. Understanding the current trends in the large format printing industry alongside the pros and cons of each printer type can help you make an informed decision. Let’s delve into the world of flatbed and roll-to-roll printers to uncover their nuances and preferred applications in the market.

Before delving into the specifics of flatbed and roll-to-roll printers, it’s essential to grasp the prevailing trends in the large-format printing industry and how they relate to each printer type:

Customisation and personalisation are at the forefront of any printer purchase. Roll-to-roll printers are particularly well-suited for catering to the trend of customisation and personalisation. Their ability to handle a wide range of flexible media allows for the printing of bespoke designs on banners, wallpapers, and vehicle wraps, meeting the growing demand for tailored prints across various industries.


Environmental sustainability has started to become increasingly more important within the industry. Both roll-to-roll and flatbed printers play a role in addressing the trend towards environmental sustainability. However, flatbed printers have an advantage when it comes to printing on eco-friendly rigid substrates such as wood, metal, and glass, thereby offering sustainable printing solutions for applications like signage and décor.

With advancements in printing technology high-resolution printing is also of vital importance. Both flatbed and roll-to-roll printers are capable of achieving high-resolution prints. However, flatbed printers excel in delivering intricate details and vibrant colours on rigid substrates, making them suitable for applications where print quality is paramount, such as fine art reproductions and architectural displays.


The trend towards automation and workflow integration benefits both flatbed and roll-to-roll printers. However, roll-to-roll printers, with their continuous printing capability, are particularly well-suited for high-volume production environments where efficiency and workflow optimisation are critical. Automated features such as media handling and colour calibration further enhance the productivity of roll-to-roll printing systems.

Flatbed Printers

Flatbed printers, as the name suggests, feature a flat printing surface where the substrate remains stationary during printing. Flatbed printers bring the advantage to their owner in the form of versatility in being able to accommodate a wide range of substrates as well as exceptional quality and by printing directly onto the substrate without additional mounting or lamination required. The shortfalls however include higher initial investment as well as the printer not being suitable for flexible media such as vinyl or fabric.


Roll-To-Roll Printers

Roll-to-roll printers, on the other hand, utilise a continuous roll of flexible media, such as vinyl, that moves through the printer during the printing process. Key advantages of these printers include high productivity, cost-effectiveness and media flexibility in accommodating a wide variety of flexible media. Limitations include potential media wrinkling and limitations in substrate compatibility.

The preferred printer of the printing industry

The preferred printer type of the current printing market often depends on individual users’ specific printing requirements and business objectives. While both flatbed and roll-to-roll printers have their strengths and limitations, the choice ultimately boils down to factors such as substrate compatibility, production volume, print quality, and budget considerations.


In industries where printing on rigid substrates is predominant, such as signage, décor, and architectural applications, flatbed printers are commonly preferred for their ability to deliver high-quality prints on diverse materials. Conversely, roll-to-roll printers find favour in applications requiring flexible media, such as outdoor banners, vehicle wraps, and textile printing.


Moreover, technological advancements continue to blur the lines between these printer types, with manufacturers introducing hybrid printers that combine the capabilities of both flatbed and roll-to-roll systems, offering enhanced versatility and flexibility in printing applications.


The choice between flatbed and roll-to-roll printers hinges on a careful evaluation of your specific printing needs, budget constraints, and long-term business goals. By staying informed about the latest trends and understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each printer type, you can make a well-informed decision that aligns with your objectives and maximises your printing capabilities.

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