Tips on Buying a Digital Printer

When you are buying any digital printer, here are some things that you should consider, especially if you are a first time buyer:1

  • Anything mechanical can breakdown. What reputation does the manufacturer have for building reliable equipment? In the event of a problem, what service and technical support does the manufacturer provide?


  • Is a service agreement available? What type of maintenance must you regularly perform, such as cleaning of the printheads or replacing UV lamps? What are the estimated annual costs for parts replacement and maintenance? How long will the printheads generally last before they must be replaced?


  • How easy is it to operate the equipment? What training is required? What type of training does your distributor provide with the system? How long will it take your people to become proficient with the system?


  • What substrates can the system print on? What sizes of material will the printer handle?


  • Will the system handle rigid substrates, such as expanded PVC and foam boards, and roll-to-roll substrates, such as pressure-sensitive vinyl and banner material?


  • How fast is the printer? (Caveat emptor!  When shopping for new equipment of any kind, the best advice is to be skeptical of manufacturers’ claims. For example, published print speeds are usually for low resolution images. )


  • How many colors will the printer print? The advantage of a printer with more than four colors is that you expand the range of colors that you can print. In addition, because the transition from highlights to midtones to shadows is smoother, the resolution appears higher – in other words, higher apparent resolution.


  • How much floor space does the system require? What type of temperature and humidity control and ventilation equipment will be required for the printer?   Will you need to build a special room for the printer?


  • How much do the consumables, such as special top coated media, ink and printheads, cost?


  • What is the cost per square foot of the finished graphic?


  • What is the total cost of the system? In calculating your fixed    monthly expense, there’s more to consider than just the payment for the printer. The other costs of your system could include the work station, software, peripherals, scanner, digital camera, laminator, ventilation hood, maintenance agreement, and training.


  • What type of financing or leasing is available?


  • Can you generate the business to support your investment in the printer? What are your target accounts?


  • How easy is it to use the software?