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Used: The Previously Owned Option

(April 2008) posted on Tue Apr 15, 2008

Evaluating the pros and cons of purchasing a used printer.

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By Anya Rao

Buck strongly suggests checking out a printer in action before investing in any used machine. When he purchased his used Inca printer, Buck didn’t have access to that specific printer, so he did the next best thing: He visited another shop that owned the same type of machine and observed the printing of his own customer’s job. That way he could be certain the model would produce what his shop required.

He plans to buy used again in the future: "I would rather let someone else figure out the issues and hiccups of a new machine. So we then get a used machine with a reliable track record," he says. "I may buy a newer used machine in the near future to get a faster speed."

Dealing with downtime and quirks

In Plain City, Ohio, Walter Kittredge and his associates at FNA Graphics ( pursued the used option when they were looking to get their print shop venture up and running. In March 2006, they purchased a Mimaki JV3-250SPF and a Nur Salsa Ultima 3200 from brokerage firm Wildcat Imaging, and opened for business just two months later.

"Buying a used printer," says Kittredge, principal and director of sales and marketing at FNA, "was the more affordable option for us. Buying used equipment can really make a lot of sense for new businesses."

FNA choose Wildcat Imaging because of the one-stop shopping experience that the company offers, Kittredge explains. "He’s a broker that also maintains inventory. We needed a broad range of products and services and we are able to take care of everything in one place."

While the shop has had a very positive experience with its used machines, Kittredge admits that the major drawback of purchasing used equipment can be a big one: Without a warranty, when something breaks, it’s up to the shop to fix it. "Potential downtime, due to a broken machine, is your worst enemy," he says. "There is phenomenal value in purchasing used equipment, but you simply need to be prepared to repair if the equipment goes down. The cost of fixing the machine or the cost of downtime can outweigh the initial value of purchasing a used machine."