Need opinion on decision to expand business to printing...

klevrgrafix

New Member
I've been doing vinyl graphics (die-cut) for about 5 years now (locally and online) and I feel it's finally time to quit turning people away that are seeking printed products - I'm ready to add printing options to my list of services.

I'm torn between spending extra for new and having support/warranty, etc. or saving some money (who knows - Maybe it won't work out for me?) and buying something used since I'm just starting out. I've been researching for a couple months now and have realized that I should go the Latex route over Solvent, so I've been eyeballing the HP printers...

I found a 2012 model HP L26500 within 100 miles of me for (what seems to be a good price) of $1500. The seller states that it's in good working condition (sold as-is), decommissioned in June 2020 (ran great at that time), includes the feed & take-up rollers and has had 650,000 sq. ft printed so far.

Do you think this would be a good option for me to start with? Or should I look into lending/leasing options for a new machine, something like a HP 315 Print & Cut setup?

Thank you in advance!
 

JBurton

Signtologist
Assuming you are going to get a used laminator and used plotter with OPAS as well, you are really either looking at dropping 20k now for a new 5+ year setup, or dropping 5k now and spending more time and money working on the used machines... The owner of that l26500 would be ecstatic for you to haul that thing off and leave him with cash. Most people are paying to dump these when they can't find a buyer.
 

balstestrat

Member
Don't bother with the old series. Get a L300 used with any numbers behind the L.

Those old ones you can't get supplies anymore.
 

White Haus

Formally known as RJPW..........
I'm pretty sure those older latex printers are no longer supported (or close to it) but someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Personally I would work with a local company and get your feet wet with outsourcing first, that's what we did 10+ years ago. Got the hang of setting up, ordering and working with digitally printed graphics, then took the plunge and bought a Roland and laminator. (Don't forget the laminator in your planning)

We've always leased our equipment and it has worked well for us, but there are lots of people that prefer to pay cash for everything. Pros/cons of both options.
 

Billct2

Active Member
Try outsourcing first, there are good wholesale vendors on this site. You may find you stick with outsourcing, you don't have to deal with maintenance and screwups and you have access to materials that would be cost prohibitive to purchase for a particular job.
 

klevrgrafix

New Member
Assuming you are going to get a used laminator and used plotter with OPAS as well, you are really either looking at dropping 20k now for a new 5+ year setup, or dropping 5k now and spending more time and money working on the used machines... The owner of that l26500 would be ecstatic for you to haul that thing off and leave him with cash. Most people are paying to dump these when they can't find a buyer.
Yeah, I'm figuring I'll be dropping some more money into a laminator and a plotter wide enough to cut the bigger substrates. So, you're saying the machine is worthless and it's a bad decision... Lol

Don't bother with the old series. Get a L300 used with any numbers behind the L.

Those old ones you can't get supplies anymore.
Thanks, I didn't realize the parts were that scarce. You're suggesting just to find a used version of the one I'm looking at buying new then, right?
 

klevrgrafix

New Member
I'm pretty sure those older latex printers are no longer supported (or close to it) but someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Personally I would work with a local company and get your feet wet with outsourcing first, that's what we did 10+ years ago. Got the hang of setting up, ordering and working with digitally printed graphics, then took the plunge and bought a Roland and laminator. (Don't forget the laminator in your planning)

We've always leased our equipment and it has worked well for us, but there are lots of people that prefer to pay cash for everything. Pros/cons of both options.
Unfortunately (but fortunately), there aren't any companies that I'm aware of local enough to work with practically. And the vinyl graphics business is a side-gig on top of my "regular" 40 hour / week day job so that would make it even harder to with someone that's a bit of a drive away.
 

klevrgrafix

New Member
Try outsourcing first, there are good wholesale vendors on this site. You may find you stick with outsourcing, you don't have to deal with maintenance and screwups and you have access to materials that would be cost prohibitive to purchase for a particular job.
When I was doing some research on others that were doing research (Lol), I saw some of these responses recommending the outsourcing and it made me sad... But maybe this is the best way to do it. *shrug* I'm definitely going to look into this.
 

MI Bearcat

New Member
Do not buy the 200 series HP Latex. Can no longer get ink and supplies from HP. As mentioned, I was ecstatic JJ Bender took mine away without me having to pay them. If you wanted to go with that printer and search online for inks that would work, you could probably get one for free.
 

Billct2

Active Member
Sad? For me sad is spending $$$$ on used equipment and then starting to realize what's involved ($$) in learning how to use them and keep them running. Or you can spend your time selling, designing, fabricating and installing signs. If you follow this forum you'll notice that half the questions are about technical issues with machines or materials. Maybe you enjoy the
challenge of technology in which case go for it. I hate it and want to spend my time on the parts of the business I enjoy.
 

klevrgrafix

New Member
Sad? For me sad is spending $$$$ on used equipment and then starting to realize what's involved ($$) in learning how to use them and keep them running. Or you can spend your time selling, designing, fabricating and installing signs. If you follow this forum you'll notice that half the questions are about technical issues with machines or materials. Maybe you enjoy the
challenge of technology in which case go for it. I hate it and want to spend my time on the parts of the business I enjoy.
Makes sense. Thanks!
 

CanuckSigns

Active Member
there are quite a few online wholesale printers who can ship to you (often next day) and save you the drive if that is a concern.

It would be a way to test out how viable the market is with no upfront investment.
 

Notarealsignguy

Active Member
If you can afford it, buy new. Not just to save yourself from headaches but you're not really saving anything buying used. Not many will agree but to get going I would (and did) buy a print/cut machine. You can always add another stand alone plotter later if needed.
 

d fleming

Member
Pros and cons to buying new, used or outsourcing. Outsourcing is an excellent way to get started in providing digitally printed materials for your customers and to learn the ropes so to speak. It does leave you at the mercy of provider and fed ex for timely delivery of correct product to meet customer deadlines. If you are not doing a bunch of this type of work at the beginning, purchasing the equipment can be a burden. I personally would not by used. Just too many pitfalls. There are brand new printers out there in the 10k range with a nice warranty. Of course as everyone has told you a laminator is a necessity as well as a plotter that can die cut your output from printer. Most likely an upgrade or new purchase of proper software as well.
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
You answered your own question in post #7. There's no one around who does this sorta thing. Be the first one on the block and supply all of them. Become a localized wholesaler, once you learn how to use it. Not only servicing your own accounts, but all your competitors. Be fair and be nice and you could do well for a few years.
 

Stacey K

I like making signs
I've been outsourcing for a couple years, I'm not sure I'm ready to take the plunge yet. There's a learning curve to printed graphics and I would suggest you start now with outsourcing so you have some idea how to set them up, contour cutting, different kinds of vinyl, etc. I get most of my prints from Signs365 and it's almost always no longer than 3 days of a wait. I've gotten very efficient with ordering. I have some basic school bumper stickers I always fit in here and there or signs to fill in etc. Nice freebies for me to resell.
 

JBurton

Signtologist
So, you're saying the machine is worthless and it's a bad decision... Lol
Unfortunately so. The suggestions for outsourcing to get your feet wet are pretty smart. Honestly, plenty of the folks on here know more about printing than me, but still outsource either to eliminate overhead or use the extra time provided to drive more sales. It kindly boils down to what you want to do with your time, deal with people or deal with machines.
 

klevrgrafix

New Member
I've been outsourcing for a couple years, I'm not sure I'm ready to take the plunge yet. There's a learning curve to printed graphics and I would suggest you start now with outsourcing so you have some idea how to set them up, contour cutting, different kinds of vinyl, etc. I get most of my prints from Signs365 and it's almost always no longer than 3 days of a wait. I've gotten very efficient with ordering. I have some basic school bumper stickers I always fit in here and there or signs to fill in etc. Nice freebies for me to resell.
Thank you for the insight! I've "applied" at Signs365 to give them a shot as well.

I think I've decided for now that I'm going to outsource with a wholesaler and, as you mentioned, get accustomed to designing for full-color work, learning the ropes for the contour cutting, etc.

I'm so glad that I made this post on here because I think it's saved me a ton of money, especially in not making a bad decision by purchasing an outdated printer.
 

Stacey K

I like making signs
Thank you for the insight! I've "applied" at Signs365 to give them a shot as well.

I think I've decided for now that I'm going to outsource with a wholesaler and, as you mentioned, get accustomed to designing for full-color work, learning the ropes for the contour cutting, etc.

I'm so glad that I made this post on here because I think it's saved me a ton of money, especially in not making a bad decision by purchasing an outdated printer.
I think that's a great decision, you can always buy one down the road! There's a little video you should watch on contour cutting that is on their website. Click Login, Adhesive, select an adhesive such as the wrap, upload any artwork, way on the right under the artwork square click on "contour cut", it pulls up 3 videos, watch them all (they used to only have one, I haven't watched all 3 of these since I already understand). You will have to upload something, just anything so you can get to the videos.

You are starting the weekend off with money in your pocket! Yippee!
 
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