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What is an A3 Printer?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A A3 printer is a printer which is capable of handling paper up to A3 size. The large format A3 size measures 16.5 inches by 11.7 inches (420 by 297 cm) and is commonly used for posters, photographic prints, and other projects. A3 printers are stocked by many stores which carry printers and printing supplies, and they can also be ordered directly through manufacturers and through catalogs which stock printing equipment. It is also sometimes possible to lease or rent an A3 printer for an office or similar work environment.

The larger format available with an A3 printer provides more flexibility for printer users. One common use for such printers is posters; the larger size can provide more space for laying out information and creating eye-catching designs. The A3 size can also be useful for preparing presentations for reports and other displays of visual information, such as materials in a classroom which are designed to enrich the environment or convey visual information to students.

Commercial printers often accommodate paper up to the A3 size. In the office, an A3 printer can be useful for printing charts and graphs, and in places like architecture offices for producing large-format drawings and renderings. It is also possible to fit multiple pieces onto one piece of paper and cut it up later, as is sometimes done in photography studios, with pictures of various sizes being printed on a single A3 sheet for convenience.

The need to accommodate a larger print head and paper tray, means an A3 printer is usually larger than a conventional printer. It may also come with features like a copier and fax machine, in which case the printer will take up more room. These printers are not usually designed to be portable, although they can be set up on a wheeling cart for movement around the office. A3 printers also tend to be slightly more expensive than printers of comparable quality which do not accommodate the larger A3 size.

People can also use an A3 printer for rasterbation, in which an image is printed across multiple pieces of paper which are taped or glued together to make a very large image. Special programs can be used to break up a print job for rasterbation. A3 printers with print heads which go all the way to the margins can produce tiles with very little bleeding at the edges which will fit neatly together to make a finished project.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a EasyTechJunkie researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By jennythelib — On Jun 04, 2011

@MrsWinslow - I don't know if it's exactly a metric issue, but yes, A3 and A4 paper are international sizes. Those sizes are slightly narrow and longer than what we use in North America. Most printers that you buy can handle A4 at least, but a standard cheap portable printer (like that might come free with your new desktop) will only do letter paper or smaller (A4 or 8.5 by 11), while offices often need printers that can handle so-called ledger paper (11 by 17 or A3).

By MrsWinslow — On Jun 03, 2011

My regular wireless printer keeps defaulting to A4 size (working on that problem). Are A3 and A4 metric paper sizes or something? Because wouldn't the standard paper size be 11 by 17? (That's the largest size our big printer/copier at work can handle.)

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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