Sat, Aug

Used, and abused?

The secondhand market for large-format kit is now becoming substantial, so is it worth risking investment in a used machine? PDS International, which now shows a multitude of used large-format machines for sale on its website, provides an independent voice on the issue.

In a recent Top Tips Cestrian’s first point was “be an early adopter.” Excellent if you can justify the investment, but not everyone is in that position. With the perceived speed of change in digital printing developments, it is easy to think that without the most up to date equipment you will not be profitable.

But there are bargains out there for aspiring companies. Just bear in mind a few key rules of thumb when deciding what to buy.

1 What do you want?

New or used, your printer considerations will start with the requisite ink system, which in turn of course will be governed by the substrate/s you intend to print, and how they will be treated once printed. Then you’ll no doubt think ink cost. And the ink type will also determine extraction required on the machine to remove ozone, overspray or the volatile organic compounds (VOC) created by solvent etc. But remember too issues like ink adhesion, lightfastness, cracking etc. Then comes the question: roll-fed, flatbed or hybrid - or perhaps specialist textile printer? Whatever your choice, remember that there is no point buying a machine that is not supported by engineers, so do your homework.

2 Where to look?

There are several avenues to explore for used large-format kit. If you know a printer who wants to sell the equipment that you think you want, great! But even if it appears ideal, it may not be the best solution available so it’s always worth looking at alternatives.

There are companies that buy used equipment and resell it, others that act as an agent for the seller and take a commission on the sale of the machine. Then there are OEM’s who have demonstration equipment and will sell at a discount. Auctions too can be an excellent source of equipment, but unless you know exactly what you are doing, they can be a very expensive mistake.

The first two categories will almost certainly have websites and mail out to potential clients on a regular basis. OEM’s are a little more reticent about advertising their used equipment and a search of their website is often required or even making direct contact. The same applies to resellers and commission agents, as they may well know equipment coming up for sale. You may need to do your share of digging to see what’s really around.

3 How much?

Ah, the thorny issue of pricing. The cost of a particular machine model will vary enormously, dependent on condition, service history, age, volume undertaken, estimated print cost per square meter. As with new equipment, remember to haggle - there’s always room for negotiation on price.

Also, think about the cost - and availability - of spares? A replacement head could cost more the price you pay for the machine. Is there a warranty?

4 Help!

Top of your checklist need to be the availability of technical support for the machine you’re looking to purchase. If there is no technical support and you are not an experienced engineer with access to spares do not buy it - unless it is for spares only.

5 Do thorough checks

See the equipment in operation. If it is decommissioned, is there a video? Are there examples of print quality? See the service record and check with the company that serviced the equipment. Check that the running hours on the service record tally with the read out on the machine.

Ask to see documents that prove any finance on the equipment has been settled. If there is an amount outstanding, ensure that it is paid off before you pay the invoice.

6 Potential problems

Who has the responsibility for decommissioning the equipment and removing it from the shop floor? At what point does responsibility transfer to your company? Make sure you have suitable insurance as soon as ownership is transferred to your company. Who will arrange shipment to your premises? Who will install and commission the equipment? Any professional intermediary will be able to help you with these issues but it is still your responsibility to check every aspect of the purchase.

7 What are my rights?

In the UK, if the purchase or sale of used equipment is to and from a company, the sale is covered by Sale of Goods Act 1979. If the buyer is an individual, then the sale is covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

In simple terms the equipment has to meet the conditions as advertised, in terms of running time, service history etc. As with any business deals if you are unsure take legal advice.

Some sellers offer a warranty, or it may be possible to buy a warranty that is an insurance policy against failure. Similar conditions apply with regards servicing and maintenance. Most sellers want the buyer to be satisfied with their purchase.

8 Other notes

Does the printer need a key or dongle and if so is it included in the sale.

  • Is the Rip included?
  • Is the software transferable?
  • De-commissioning is not just a case of unplugging from the power supply and lifting on the back of a flatbed. The heads may require flushing, etc.

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