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Picture It: Superlarge-Format Graphics

Service providers and manufacturers flaunt the latest graphic couture.

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A picture is worth a thousand words. A superlarge-format picture may be worth even more. According to a survey conducted by I.T. Strategies Inc., end users paid $26 billion for wide-format graphics in 2004, and that number is expected to soar to $37 billion by 2009.

From vehicles to building wraps to larger-than-life billboards, superlarge graphics send an undeniably big message, and the numbers indicate that companies eager to advertise are taking notice.

"There has been a significant growth in the number of advertisers considering using superlarge-format prints," said Stephen Freitas, chief marketing officer for the Outdoor Adv. Assn. of America (Washington, DC). "I do see it as a trend. It is continuing."

Technology, Freitas said, has propelled superlarge-format graphics forward, making it easier to print and install the applications. For example, transparent fabrics have simplified wrapping buildings, eliminating the need for a "blank wall."

But, for the technologically challenged and visually awed, superlarge-format graphics can easily be compared to a high-end fashion show. Vivid colors, various textures and ultra-hip designs mimic the high-profile fashion runways, boasting high-caliber production and triggering the viewer’s sensory perception. Superlarge banners hug the curves of skyscrapers, and vinyl wraps suction onto vehicles and trains, offering a sleek, skin-tight fit. Statuesque billboards rise above roadways and sidewalks, tempting consumers with their oversized images of anything from food to fun. Looking good has its price, though, and superlarge-format prints are the couture, luxury items few companies can afford.

For a glimpse at some recent superlarge applications, ST approached various printer manufacturers and service providers about their latest

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