When I have bought used offset printing equipment for our company, I generally look for the same things each time. I compare it to looking for a vehicle. Things like mileage, body condition, age and maintenance records all play a large bearing into what I perceive as it's worth. Buying used offset printing equipment is much the same way. Here is a list of the elements that I look for when buying a printing press or any other type of printing equipment.
- running condition
- bearers, cylinders and auxiliary equipment
- dealer support
1. Running Condition
If you cannot see the press running this is not unusual. However it certainly affects your estimation of it's running ability. Approach it much the same way as you would buying a car that is not running. Be skeptical and cautious. At the very least, ask for samples of the printing and examine them closely. These are no doubt the best samples the press can produce so critique them and look for any type of slur or dot gain that is unusual. Some questions to ask:
- What is the top speed of the press?
- Did you routinely run it at that speed? If not, why?
- May I see your records of production?
- What was your maintenance schedule?
- What was your number one source of downtime?
- What was the last part you replaced?
My favorite is to try and talk to some of the pressmen nearby and casually ask some of these questions.
2. Bearers, Cylinders and Auxiliary Equipment
Knowing the condition of the bearers is like knowing how often the oil was changed on a car. It tells much about the life that remains. Well maintained offset presses will have bearers in good condition. Ask for the blankets to be taken off and examine the condition of each cylinder. Did anyone drop a tool in the press which required a major repair?
Examine each piece of auxiliary equipment and ask how it runs.
I quote Indiana Jones, "It's not the years, it's the mileage." This saying rings true for presses. The downside of an older piece of equipment however are the following factors:
- Availability of parts.
- Profitability (speed)
- Ability to upgrade
|Good brand equipment is |
worth the extra money.
With used offset presses nowadays, there is much more to the press than just the printing units. Press manufacturers will partner with other companies to include a complete press line. Products like a UV coater or a dryer are not necessarily made by the press maker and are also subject to scrutiny. Ask the seller the following questions:
- What auxiliary equipment does the press have?
- Is it all functional?
- Does it in any way limit the speed of the press?
- Have any upgrades been performed on the press since it's installation?
This is important. You will pay a small premium by buying used offset printing equipment from a reputable dealer. This is okay. Be certain though that you will get the necessary support from the seller. Good dealers may charge a little more, but they will ensure you get a good running product. Don't be cheap. This can pay for itself many times over. Have an expert on your side. Here are a few:
I leave price last because it is certainly not the most important factor. When buying printing presses, good equipment is worth every penny as the press will no doubt pay for itself many times over if you have done your homework right. The competition is fierce and prices are certainly negotiable.