10 Questions to Answer Before You’re Ready to Buy Wide-Format Equipment

Decisions, decisions. There are plenty to make when it comes to researching, testing, and eventually investing in a wide format printer. That’s why it’s wise to address the following questions well in advance of making your purchase.

1. What are your overall business objectives?

Before you take a deep dive into product particulars, features, and benefits, take a step back to assess your organization’s overarching business objectives. Answer the age-old question: Where do you see your organization in three, five, ten years? This will help guide your decisions around which wide format technology fits the bill for your business.

2. What are your current printing capabilities and what are your future goals?

Are you looking to scale up existing operations or are you starting a wide format production program from scratch? Will this investment solve an immediate problem or is it more aspirational? Having a firm grasp of where you stand will help you get to where you’re going.

3. What works about your current print setup and what doesn’t?

The employees operating your equipment on a day-to-day basis will have the best insight into what is and isn’t working, so don’t neglect to collect and implement their feedback. Use this firsthand knowledge to inform decisions around your printer purchase and close the gap between your current and ideal future state.

4. What types of projects do you plan to produce?

The answer to this question tends to spawn many others: Will you be printing on PVC or foam core? Falconboard or acrylic? Are your printed pieces for outdoor display or indoor use? Do you want UV or solvent? Know what your projects require and what purpose they’re fulfilling.

5. How much volume do you put out?

Understanding how many boards or square feet you’ll be printing per hour is crucial. Consider the size and frequency of your print jobs—do you have more large-scale one-offs or are you printing continuous projects? The answer could dictate what size, type, and even what brand of wide format printer you buy.

6. How will your new printer integrate into your existing production?

Making sure your new machine plays well with your current equipment and software is key, as is factoring its physical footprint into your production workflow.

 7. Do you have the people power to run your printing program?

Wide format technology is designed to be user friendly, and most of it is—a veteran printing technician can get up and running on a new machine or software in a matter of hours. At Mac Papers and Packaging, we provide personalized training for any customer who needs it. Our goal is to empower your business and your people with the tools they need to produce their best work.

8. What are the details of the warranty and who will be responsible for repairs?

Aftermarket products and services, such as warranties, are often an afterthought for buyers. Resist the urge to overlook the fine print, including who is responsible for repairs. If the responsible party is located far from where you’re based, maintenance and repairs can become a logistical headache.

 9. Has the printer you’re considering been tested in the market?

It’s never a good idea to be the guinea pig for a product that hasn’t been road tested and user approved. Some wide format manufacturers might offer deep discounts on their newest models, but that can turn out to be a risky investment. You want a product that’s demonstrated its utility, quality, and durability in the field, especially if you plan to rely on this printer for significant, high-visibility projects.

 10. What type of environment will the equipment be placed in?

Environmental factors such as temperature, humidity level, and air quality all play an integral role in how well your wide format printer performs. For example, if it’s placed in an area where the air quality is poor, aerial debris can attach itself to your machine’s print heads and damage them, so consider your equipment’s placement carefully.

While not an exhaustive list, starting to answer these questions will help you select a wide format printer that will serve your needs for years to come.