Experts Yet Not Limited to Imaging Equipment
Our perspective pertains to the type of equipment that we intimately work with in our service bureau & print shop, as well as equipment that we market, sell, lease and rent: wide format scanners and large format printers. If you are not in the market for a wide format scanner or plotter, this post may still be quite helpful as it resonates with a lot of other equipment as well. And although we primarily deal with new equipment, we are quite familiar with the used market as well. Understanding that investing in used equipment can be a savvy way to save some money, there are some innate challenges, and some warning signs to certainly look out for. To ensure you make the most advantageous decisions, herein we’ll share our experiences and provide invaluable insider tips and hints for purchasing pre-owned equipment.
Why You Might Consider Used Equipment
The most obvious reason for looking at pre-owned equipment is to save some money! Like a new car, the value drops considerably upon driving it off of the new car lot. This is also often the case with other used equipment as well. However, when it comes to technology, you want to buy it closer to the newer side than the “end-of-life” spectrum. Used wide format equipment can offer significant savings, but could also end up costing more in the long run.
Another benefit of pre-owned equipment is that since the item may have been out for some time, these devices may have a track record of reliability, they may have reviews and write-ups. There is certainly something to be said for having stood the test of time in real life demanding environments.
If you find the equipment that you’re looking for, you can often cash-n-carry, meaning you can get it today. With new equipment, you often have to wait for it to ship, and when you get it, you have to take some time to set it up. Pre-owned options are available when offered, which can speed up the setup process.
Our Experience With a Purchase
So, we were looking to replace our main production printer. In order to maintain being competitive while still offering exceptional service to our service customers, our parameters were simple; we needed a wide format production plotter that efficiently provides high speed sharp quality prints at a low operational cost with little down-time. Upon reviewing our print volume compared to the cost vs. return on investment, it simply didn’t make sense to purchase a new wide format production plotter. So, we reached out to equipment brokers that specialize in this type of pre-owned equipment. Being in the industry, we thought we knew who to avoid and who was trust-worthy. So, we started working with Kurt from North Carolina, he offered the type of machine that we wanted with software, new print-heads, a full set of cartridges a complete service and cleaning prior to shipping, and proper installation upon delivery. He required that we wire the sum prior to shipping. Fortunately, the machine did arrive. Unfortunately, none of the other promises were ever delivered! We paid a technician to repair the partially dilapidated leaking plotter and learned that the print-heads were expired, which was of less consequence to all of the other issues! And getting Kurt to answer our calls was an exercise in futility! Fortunately we were able to get it up and running, but learned that it soon requires a major extremely costly service!
Our Lesson Learned – Insider Hints!
Try to buy from a reputable Authorized Dealer with a track record of honesty and integrity. Research their reputation and trust your gut. Although it can be extremely challenging to tell if you are dealing with a dishonest seller or equipment broker, yet here are some smart hints to consider:
Test Before Buying
Whenever possible, test the equipment in person to ensure it operates smoothly and meets your needs. Go where the equipment is located and see first-hand that it runs properly. Do not rely on video or even video conferencing. A plane ticket could have saved us a considerable amount of money!
Age and Usage
Inquire about the age of the equipment and how frequently it was used. Lower usage and newer models are generally better choices. However, with certain equipment, like wide format plotters, this equipment stays healthier when it runs more consistently. So a “low mileage” plotter could be problematic.
If available, ask the operator of the equipment if there are any issues or restrictions of the equipment, software capabilities are often at the root of many restrictions. These restrictions may hinder you from maximizing all of the functionality that the equipment has to offer.
Request maintenance records to assess how well the equipment has been cared for and whether any major repairs have been undertaken. By requesting to see the service records and asking what and when it will require future service is important too. And also, what you can expect to pay for those upcoming service calls?
Be Cautious of the Rushed Offer
Often there is a small window of availability when seeking to buy used equipment; so you often have to react quickly, which can make it more challenging to do the proper research. Slow it down! Take your time to do the research!
What We Often Hear
This is a call that we get way to often:
Caller: “I just purchased this wide format scanner online, can you please help me to get it working?”
Upon hearing the answers to specific questions that we ask, it is an often occurrence that a significant ancillary component has been omitted from the sale. Not good!
Caller: “I just got this great deal on a used wide format printer but it’s not printing, can up please help?”
Oh, no! They were having issues with it, and sold those issues to you!
Caution: Potential Obstacles of Purchasing Used Equipment – Insider Tips!
Although you may be unable to prepare for everything, consider these important tips:
Is Everything Included?
Certain equipment requires ancillary components that are necessary for the equipment to function properly and/or to continue to functioning properly, knowing what these are and obtaining confirmation that they are all included is paramount!
How Long Should It Last?
Equipment only lasts a certain amount of time, buying pre-owned only affords you a shorter amount of its useful life; so consider that it may not last as long as you might want or need.
Is It Dependable?
Pre-owned equipment is likely to be less dependable compared to new equipment.
Does It Have Warranty and Support?
Determine if the equipment comes with any remaining warranty or if the seller offers post-purchase support. Used equipment may not have a warranty, and if it does, the warranty may not be transferable. Understanding that it could be challenging to figure, yet try to consider factoring in the cost of potential repairs.
How Old Is This Equipment?
New equipment should have up to date technology built in; which implies that it should be faster and run more efficiently than older equipment.
What Maintenance and Upkeep Factors to Consider?
- Regular Maintenance: Budget for ongoing maintenance to keep your used equipment in top shape and extend its lifespan.
- Upgrades: Consider whether there are any upgrades available, and you may need to upgrade components or software to optimize performance.
Will It Work With Our System?
Future Compatibility is a Key Factor. Ensure that the used equipment is compatible with your existing software and workflow needs.
Most equipment today connects to a computer system, internally &/or externally. For the computer to effectively communicate with the equipment, software drivers must be installed on the computer(s). The equipment manufacturers create these software drivers when the equipment is first released, and sometimes these software drivers may be updated. An often overlooked factor to consider when purchasing older equipment is what operating system is it currently running, and are there even any drivers available for current operating systems. If not, you’ll be saddled with having to use an older, possibly out-dated computer to run you newly acquired equipment; this creates a plethora of potential speed, compatibility, & security issues.
Purchasing seasoned equipment like used or pre-owned wide format plotters or large format scanners can be a cost-effective solution for businesses. However, it requires careful consideration and research. By following these insider tips and hints, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your budget and your needs.
Explore our selection of reliable used wide format plotters and scanners at AZ Overland Blueprint. We offer quality equipment with the peace of mind that comes from dealing with a trusted source. If you are seeking information or want to purchase a wide format plotter or large format scanner contact us today! Or, call us now at (602) 224-9971!