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What to consider when buying a used sublimation machine?

More and more large-format used sublimation machines are becoming available in the market, but people are continuously asking themselves: “Is it worth the risk?” In this article we use our 10+ years of experience in dealing with sublimation to help people make better informed choices on their sublimation equipment investments.

The debate between investing in a new or used printer is a topic worthy of attention. While we will cover that in one of our upcoming articles, today the focus is on the things you should consider while looking for a used sublimation machine.

Our 8 Top Questions will help you sail smoothly through the decision what to buy.

Top 8 Questions when buying a used sublimation machine


Top Question 1: What do you need?

Sublimation printer in action_Close up on the inks

New or used, your printer considerations will begin with the products you intend to produce and related to that the requisite ink system. Will you be printing on hard substrates, textiles for  sportswear or fashionwear, signage, interior or any of the other wide range of applications of sublimation? Depending on the end usage of your printed substrates you will need to be using certain types of inks, which in turn are not always suitable with all used sublimation printers you will come across. Besides compatibility your have to think of aspects like colour range, ink adhesion, lightfastness, cracking etc. Make sure to also do your homework on the ink prices you can expect from the different sublimation ink options, as ink will be one of the most expensive consumables in your process and cost savings there can quickly add up to quite big amounts.

Secondly, you will be faced with the task of integrating the sublimation printer into an existing or new production process. Are you looking for a flatbed, roll-fed, hybrid, or perhaps a special printing line? What volumes do you expect to be producing and what printing productivity does your printer need to offer in relation to that? Whatever your choice, make sure that the machine your are purchasing comes with access to technical support for the installation and maintenance or else you are bound to face a bundle of stressful and time-consuming problems along the way.

Top Question 2: Where to look?

There are several avenues to explore for used large-format kit. If you know a printer who wants to sell the equipment that you think you want, great! But even if it appears ideal, it may not be the best solution available so it’s always worth looking at alternatives.

Multiple companies, ColGraphix being one of them, act as agents in the sale of used sublimation machines. Such companies have a list of used machines on their websites which is being updated on a regular basis. You can view the used machines currently available through ColGraphix at https://www.colgraphix.com/categorie/used-printers/. One of the main benefits of contacting a specialized agent is the possibility to discuss with someone experienced in the field the condition of the machine and its fit to your needs.

What is more, if you you are purchasing a used sublimation printer as an upgrade to an existing machine you have, you can post your old machine for sale.

Top Question 3:  Help!

Top of your checklist needs to be the availability of technical support for the machine you’re looking to purchase. If there is no technical support and you are not an experienced engineer with access to spares do not buy it – unless it is for spares only.

Sublimation printer print head close up during printing

Top Question 4: What is a good price?

Ah, the tricky question of pricing. The cost of a particular machine model will vary enormously dependent on age, condition, service history, volume undertaken, estimated print cost per square meter and other factors. Also, think about the cost and availability of spare parts? Sometimes a replacement head could substantially increase the price of a machine which looks like a good deal at first glance.

Make sure to inquire about all aspects before making your choice in order to avoid any hidden surprises after you have purchases the sublimation machine.

Top Question 5: Inspect the machine thoroughly

We understand that the used sublimation machine you have chosen might currently be located anywhere over Europe. If possible, however, it is a good idea to inspect the machine at its current site and see the equipment in operation. If it is decommissioned, ask for a video of the machine? Are there printing sample available to inspect the print quality available? Check also the service records and the company which has performed the servicing. Also, make sure that the running hours on the service record tally with the read out on the machine.

Lastly, ask to see documents that prove any debt on the equipment has been settled. If there is an amount outstanding, ensure that it is paid off before you pay the invoice.

Top Question 6: Clarify the sales process

Discuss with your agent who has the responsibility for decommissioning the equipment and removing it from the shop floor? At what point does responsibility transfer to your company? Make sure you have suitable insurance as soon as ownership is transferred to your company. Who will arrange shipment to your premises? Who will install and commission the equipment?

ColGraphix is able to assist with all aspect of the purchase and installation process of your machine and related training and maintenance. All you will need to do is turn on and print!

Top Question 7: Related elements

Is the used sublimation machine in a “good to go” condition or does it need additional elements, such as software in order to be operational? If so, are those included in the sale?

• Is the RIP software included and transferable?
• De-commissioning is not just a case of unplugging from the power supply and lifting on the back of a flatbed. The heads may require flushing, etc.

Top Question 8: What are my rights?

In the UK, if the purchase or sale of used equipment is to and from a company, the sale is covered by Sale of Goods Act 1979. If the buyer is an individual, then the sale is covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Across the European Union similar Acts protect your rights.

In simple terms the equipment has to meet the conditions as advertised, in terms of running time, service history etc.

Depending on your preferences warranty or additional insurance on the equipment are possible.

ColGraphix serves as an agent in the sale of used sublimation machines. An up to date list of the used machines of ColGraphix is available at https://www.colgraphix.com/categorie/used-printers/. We are always available for any further questions on the topic by phone +31(0)547 335 600; +49 561 400 776-0; +48 696 968 407 or mail at info@colgraphix.com


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