There are so many things to think about when buying screen-printing equipment. Whether it is your first automatic, first gas-fired dryer, or your fifth press line, there are many things to consider. Of course, there are the obvious things:
- How many colors
- What dryer belt width
- Which flash-cure unit
Then there are the less “mechanical” issues like:
- What kind of technical service is available
- Where do parts come from
- Who is the local representative
Still, there is one point that rarely comes up in most printers’ thought process, and that is equipment resale value.
For screen printers contemplating buying their first automatic, most shops are in small commercial spaces. It is important to work up a floor plan to make sure the new equipment will fit, with space left for blanks storage, finishing, screen making, and offices. Equipment salespeople should help in the process by knowing critical dimensions and making suggestions regarding workflow. Many times a first-time buyer finds out they are cramped for space and there just isn’t enough room for that 12-color press they’d been dreaming of, so they have to compromise.
If screen printing is going to be your long-term career, your business plan should include plans for expansion. So, when you realize you can only get an eight-color press in your shop-and that will take care of things for a couple of years-the next step in your business plan is probably to move into a bigger space and upgrade your equipment. That next step will be a lot easier if you know there is residual value in the machines that you have on your floor and that you will be able to sell it quickly. That money then funnels into your next purchase.
Whether it is a manual press, flash, dryer, automatic, or pre-press equipment, buying machines that hold their value is good business. It allows you to move up to larger equipment when the time comes if it is a liquid asset. If the worst happens and you have to walk away, knowing the machines in your shop are worth money makes the transition less painful.
What affects resale value? First and foremost, it is the equipment’s condition. Keeping it maintained and in good working order is critical when it comes time to sell. The equipment manufacturer’s reputation in the industry plays a significant role in resale value. When buying equipment, you are really entering into a partnership with the manufacturer. You are going to be relying on them to continue servicing the equipment with technical support and fast parts distribution. Buying an off-brand with no history of performance longevity is risky. Many screen-printing manufacturers have come and gone over the years, and people that own their equipment are forced to work out service issues themselves. When it comes time to sell, they are lucky to get scrap value.
So, when buying a new piece of screen-printing equipment, ask the manufacturer about the life expectancy and service and parts department. Also, check used equipment pricing and see which manufacturers have a good history of resale value. You won’t be upset that you took a little extra time to do the research.