4 Major Questions You Need to Think About As You Search for A new Printer
Category : Blog
Investing in a piece of equipment that can potentially rival the cost of a luxury car is clever. Even though the initial price tags on many of the best large format UV flatbed printers on the market may be un-nerving. As long as you find the right printer and partner, the potential return on investment for your business can be sky-high.
We have compiled 4 major questions you need to think about as you search for a new printer.
- Why Do You Need This Printer?
There are plenty of reasons why you may be exploring your printer options. Maybe your current equipment is outdated . Maybe you’re looking to add another piece of machinery to the mix to boost production capacity. Or it could be that you’re finally ready to purchase your own flatbed printer after years of outsourcing to a third party.
Here are some tips for whatever your current situation may be:
If it’s a Replacement:
If you’re looking at replacing an older model, consider if you want to stick with the same brand or possibly move to a new one. Has your current model been reliable? What is the reason you need to find a replacement? If you haven’t owned the machinery for very long and it’s simply not producing like it used to or should be, you may certainly want to think about switching to a more reliable brand.
If it’s an Addition:
If the new printer will be an addition to your current production line, keep in mind the other brands and models. Maybe you have a roll-to-roll printer from a particular manufacturer and they have a flatbed in their line that will fit all of your needs. Or maybe there’s an alternative manufacturer that has the right printer for your specific needs.
Either way you’ll also need to consider the software programs that each printer requires and how using multiple brands and models could impact your workflows. (We’ll go into detail on software later on in this post.)
But the most important takeaway here is to understand the capabilities of the printers you already have versus the capabilities of the printer you’re looking to purchase. This will ensure you get the most for your money.
If it’s Your First Flatbed Printer:
If your ultimate goal is to make a step into production after you’ve been outsourcing, the transition into flatbed UV printers will be littered with options at various price points. Finding the right model for your printing applications and business needs is a key reason to find a distributor who will be a true partner with a strong knowledge base in the models you’re considering. Not only should they help guide you in making the right choice for your current business needs, but should those needs change in the future they may be able to provide more options and help you avoid significant financial loss.
If you’re unsure what printer is right for you, try out our Printer Finder Tool and we’ll give you recommendations tailored to your specific needs.
- Will You Lease or Buy?
Should Your Business Buy or Lease a New Printer?
Like with any large investment, there are pros and cons to leasing and buying. Your financial situation may sway you in one direction, but you should still weigh the benefits and disadvantages of each option before settling on a decision.
Purchasing your printer outright will be the least expensive and fastest option in the long-run, while leasing is often a quicker way to bring equipment in vs. financing through a bank, for instance. Bank financing involves an incredible amount of paperwork that can take weeks for approval. On the other hand, the ease of leasing can be offset by interest rates that are generally higher. Financing, though a longer process, can offer lower rates and a lower long term cost of ownership, but will often do so with little to no flexibility when it comes to the terms of your repayment contract.
You can learn more about the pros and cons of each option in our blog post, Should You Lease or Buy Your Industrial Wide Format Printer?
- What Substrates Does Your Business Need to Print On?
One of the most important factors to think through are your actual production goals. What products are you intending on printing? The substrates you use will dictate the type of flatbed. They will give you the highest quality end product and best overall value for your investment. Keep in mind the following features and capabilities in your search:
How Big of a Print Bed Do You Need?
Are you printing billboards, or thumb drives? If you’re on the smaller side, will you may want the option to expand in the future? The size of the print bed can be a deal breaker for a lot of possible printing projects. If you’re unsure of what possibilities the future may bring, it might be beneficial to look into a manufacturer like MIMAKI that has a full line of UV printers from a table top unit.
What Materials Are You Using?
Sure, you may have spent top dollar on a UV flatbed printer that’s the highest-rated in the industry. But that will mean nothing if you need to print on films and it’s more ideally suited for printing on rigid plastics. Make sure the printer you select is ideal for your intended use.
Do You Need White Ink?
The limits to what you can print on are seemingly non-existent, if you go with a printer that has white ink capabilities. That’s because white ink will help create high-quality graphics on rigid or flexible substrates, like acrylic sheets or backlit films, and can also be used as a “base coat” for printing on non-white materials. Printing white simultaneously with color is ideal when required.
Not every machine is capable of printing with white ink; the equipment must be engineered strategically to handle it. White ink requires agitation to keep it from separating – think of an old paint can whose pigments have settled. Some machines automate this process while others do not. Some simply address it by purging your ink. It is another operational cost to be considered.
- What is the Upkeep?
What Is the Cost of Printer Maintenance?
The initial investment you make in the printer won’t be the end of your financial responsibility. When you own a car, you need to expect added costs for fuel, routine maintenance and servicing when necessary. An industrial printer will have similar needs.
There will be additional expenses like ink, media and other consumables. Not to mention the utility costs of actually running the machine. And for the longevity of your printer, you’ll want to make sure it’s serviced and properly cared for throughout your ownership.
You should also figure out the financial implications of having an operator actually run the equipment. Will your current employees have time to learn the ins and outs of the printer? Are they going to have enough bandwidth in their day to monitor production or will you need to hire someone?