Whether outfitting a new business, replacing a worn-out piece of equipment, seeking to benefit from newer technologies or simply adding capacity, acquiring a new or even a pre-owned printing press deserves careful consideration.

Your investment may be sizable. Digital printers can range from $5,000 to as much $200,000, reports business.com, with advanced copiers and production printers costing from $20,000 to $200,000.

The length of ownership is another reason for due deliberation when making a purchase. While there are no studies to quote from, many rely on their printers from 10 to 15 years or more.

Given these factors, you’ll want to proceed carefully with your acquisition. Here are some factors to take into account:

  1. Room: Consider available square footage, and not only for the new press alone. Today’s equipment can churn out paper at high speeds and large volumes, so a fair amount of floor space should be allotted for work-in-progress material.
  2. Service: Make sure the manufacturer or dealer has a responsive service network. And, don’t simply ask the seller. Seek an impartial opinion through your own industry sources or conduct some online research to determine the satisfaction level of others.
  3. Compatibility: Any new machine, of course, must integrate seamlessly with your current pre-press and post-press set-up. Be sure to check the compatibility of it with your pre-press workflow and other equipment.
  4. Versatility: The adaptability of your new print equipment directly relates to its long-term viability. Be sure it can handle a variety of media — including paper stock you don’t currently use but may do so in the future.
  5. Operation: Will the new machine practically run itself or is extensive training required? If so, how will instruction be provided? And, is your current staff up to the task?
  6. Resale value: Even if it costs a little more now, it may pay in the long run to go with a premium brand. Presses with a good reputation for reliability and factory support can be expected to fetch top dollar later. As a plus, they may be easier to sell.

Buying new, or purchasing pre-owned?

Almost all the new printer buying considerations listed above apply to used equipment, too, especially if purchasing one that’s relatively recent. In fact, many machines marketed on websites dedicated to the trade like allforprintmarket.com are fairly new and in reasonably good condition.

Whether purchased online or bought locally, shopping for used equipment poses its own challenges:

  • Does the machine have its manual? Make sure that it does! Online forums are full of people who’ve invested in used printing equipment and later encountered difficulties with assembling, maintaining or operating it because the manual was not included.
  • Is the transaction legal? In some cases, printing presses are for sale because a company went bankrupt. Be careful. You don’t want to end up with a piece of equipment that really belongs to a lien holder.
  • Does it work as promised? This factor alone may favor a local buy. After all, the most important aspect of purchasing pre-owned is whether the printer is fully functional. Ask for a demonstration and pay close attention to operating features as well as output in terms of printing quality, colors and volume.
  • Is it the right model? An attractive low price may tempt you to go for a deluxe model in favor of a more modest one. But, any extra features may be for naught if you don’t plan on using them. What’s more, the added complexity may hinder operations or complicate maintenance and repairs. Of course, the flip side of the coin is getting a great deal on a printer that’s almost, but not quite, what you need. You may regret its limitations later.

The benefits of working within a network.

Independent printers go it alone when it comes to assessing their new printer needs and evaluating options. Not so if you are part of a well-established network like Allegra. Our Technology Group is your source for expert advice on many issues — including new equipment purchases and questions relating to pre-press compatibility. As a plus, they also offer ongoing help desk support with your printers.