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Buying Used Wide Format Printers – What You Should Know

SCDear Desktop Engineering Reader:

While there are deals to be had buying used equipment, you can also be had buying used equipment. Or more precisely, you can skunk yourself if you commit to a used equipment purchase with dollar signs dancing in front of your eyes instead of information well ordered in your head. Today’s Check It Out is about cramming information into your head before you leap at a used equipment bargain.

Buying Used Wide Format Printers – What You Should Know“Buying Used Wide Format Printers—What You Should Know” is an easy to read, four-page paper penned by Anonymous for Canon Solutions America, Large Format Solutions, Océ Engineering. It’s obvious from the title what this paper focuses on. Still, the insights you can glean from it are applicable for anybody in any engineering discipline tempted by the deals out there in used equipment land or even in your personal life. Think of it as an even-handed and adaptable hitchhiker’s guide through the thicket that is the used equipment market no matter what your area of interest, because that is exactly what this paper happens to be.

“Buying Used Wide Format Printers” hones in on eight key factors to consider before you purchase a used wide-format printer. In order of presentation, these are security, software licenses, file processing speed, service and parts, printer drivers, print quality and color output, financing and total operating cost. Each discussion is brief and to the point. Service and parts is the longest section, while financing is the most succinct.

Security, however, is the biggest head-slapper. A real Homer Simpson “d’oh.” Two things here. First, an older printer may not have the removable drives that secure IT environments routinely require. Two, many older printer controllers run under a pre-Windows 7 operating system, and it’s likely that they are not upgradeable to something higher. That means features like requiring user authentication before printing or scanning sensitive information probably are not supported. In other words, a good deal on a used wide-format printer might turn out to be a white elephant in your secure environment.

The service and parts segment offers a litany of gotchas to keep in mind, particularly when you buy used equipment at an auction or online rather than from an authorized dealer. Among these are the obvious, such as service contracts on as-is purchases are not generally available, and the not so obvious, such as the approaching end of service life for expensive, difficult-to-find specialized parts like circuit boards and print heads on soon to be or already obsolete equipment.

Although brief, the section on print quality and color output bears close attention. Older printers may well be monochrome only. Printing the colors of your full-color CAD drawings as shades of gray might not bother you too much. But if you’re eying a color printer, its lower-resolution print quality might bother you a great deal. It could hit you like the difference between a great for its day used 2001 era CRT monitor and a modern monitor with LED backlighting and extreme definition screen resolution.

All the sections offer valuable tidbits. The discussion on total operating cost, for example, brings up hidden money suckers that can lurk in older equipment. One of the juicy reminders here is the simple fact that an older device may not be as energy efficient as a new unit. You know this somewhere in your gut, but you may have forgotten that a geriatric wide-format printer sitting idle for long stretches of time can eat up wattage by the hundreds or even thousands in stand-by mode. In low-volume environments, that appetite can mean a lot of bucks donated to the electric company annually for services not rendered. Such goodies are what recommend this paper to a broader audience than what its title might lead you to believe.

In the abstract, you may feel that you know well each individual consideration covered in “Buying Used Wide Format Printers—What You Should Know.” Maybe so. But the paper’s strength lies in the collected weight of all the little things that are so easy to forget when you’re smitten by what seems a great deal. Hit today’s Check it Out link, download your complimentary copy and keep it handy. You’ll need these reminders someday whether buying a used wide-format printer for the office or a used car for the family.

Thanks, Pal.  – Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood

Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering

Download: Buying Used Wide Format Printers – What You Should Know

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About the Author

Anthony J. Lockwood's avatar
Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Digital Engineering’s founding editor. He is now retired. Contact him via [email protected].

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