As far as minimum size, I could go with smaller or maybe smallest, space is a problem. Size of machine and operating size around it.
Budget is open, I have a pretty good credit line for equipment with my bank
No white, no metalic, CMYK is good
Quality is best available in a small package, speed less of an issue.
So if you don’t need something that can print a 4’ by 8’ sheet. There aren’t too many big players unless you want to go the China route.
you should probably look into the mimaki UJF series or the Roland LEF-12i. The Roland has a max print area of 12” by 11” if you want really small, though there are larger models.
As far as flatbeds go though, I’ve always found the really small ones like the two above aren’t miles away in price from the 4’ by 8’ ones. So if you were ever going to go that route it might be better just biting the bullet now.
Again, I’ll mention that generally if you’re going for a flatbed, the jump in price from 4x4 to 4x8 won’t be huge. So if you think you may regret not getting the 8’ down the line, you’ll save yourself a ton of money going for the larger one right off the bat.
Let me paint a better picture if possible. We have a 30" VersaCamm and we have been printing on vinyl and applying to coro for quite a while. The jobs were never very big but with covid they have grown. We started sourcing the larger jobs and found the turn around times and quality were not what we wanted so we are looking at an alternative. Now that we have done thousands of yard signs we are getting orders for non-covid related yard signs such as elections and other causes and community support projects. If we could print up to 4x4, that would be great, if it is 2x2, that would be ok as we have a more expensive source for larger format printing but the larger signs have a better price point that allows us to source those, but not the 18x24s.
The current work area is just under 30'X30' and has the VersaCamm, a four head and a single head embroidery machine and work tables, a computer and built in cabinets all the way around which house most of the consumables. The work benches have build in storage so we get double benefit from them. All equipment and workbenches are on wheels which makes them easily movable although they haven't moved in years and the tables are movable as well. Budget is under $130K but I would like it to be far under that. I would like to see a retun on the investment in less than a year as all of our other equipment has gennerated that type of return. If the price difference between a smaller format and a larger format were close enough, we would go larger if it fits.
Thanks for the responses and if you need any more clarification, please ask.