Corey: If you are purchasing a laminator without training, you are going to waste a lot of material (prints, ink, laminate, boards, time) until you hire someone with experience running a laminator or have a technical sales person can explain how to properly use this piece of equipment. Understanding how to properly set up the laminate and print so they don’t skew is critical and so is having the correct tension adjustments or you end up with wrinkles. Also, it is not unusual to have to reset the nips after a brand new laminator is shipped because of the jarring it takes during shipping. That is why it is worth it to buy a laminator from someone who is going to set it up properly.
David Cowart, director of sales, North America, Remington Laminations: The more extensively trained an operator is the better success he/she will have and turn out high quality finishing products.
Milazzo: Production-level machines are normally located in the finishing departments of production houses where the level of experience in the industry is much higher. The amount of training necessary is also to a degree dependent upon the applications that the shop is creating. Applying a cold laminate to a vinyl banner will require less a level of training and expertise than face mounting to Plexiglas. In the current marketplace, every business is being tasked to do more with less; highly trained and motivated employees are a valuable asset to any shop.
Saul: Depending on the expertise of the shop staff, most training is finished in one day. If you have a staff of beginners, it would be beneficial to have a second day of on-hands training.
When does investing in new finishing equipment make more sense than purchasing used equipment?
Emily Conklin, marketing communications specialist, Drytac: New equipment must be justified by its ROI.
Conrad: Purchase new whenever the economic and financial condition of your company allows for it. The continued development of laminators enables newer models to handle new and more demanding applications that may not have been main stream years ago. New equipment can provide increased application satisfaction. Although a well built laminator should last for many years, there does come a time when newer is better. Always be sure to purchase quality new equipment.
When you purchase used equipment you do not always know what you’re getting. Sometimes you may be purchasing someone else’s problem—buyer beware.
Corey: Used finishing equipment is hard to find because any cuts in the rollers transfer to the laminate and leave bubbles where the laminate ran over the cut. Unless you can buy a laminator with perfect rollers or one with few cuts but is cheap, it is usually a better deal to buy a new laminator.
Cowart: When capital is available and a warranty is desired over cost. There is a wide variety of high quality used wide format equipment available.
Milazzo: Buying new equipment from a major manufacturer is an investment in a print shops business. When a new piece of equipment is purchased, the service history is known. The machine is fully covered by all manufacturers’ warranties.
Saul: New equipment is always the best choice. It comes with a full warranty and has options that fit the requirements of today’s production requirements. Traditionally, the reseller or manufacturer has options to have the equipment installed and training for the production staff.
Used equipment has the unknown of how well the equipment has been maintained and will perform in the long run. Purchasing used equipment can be a gamble.
A good value is to look at refurbished equipment that has been serviced by the OEM. Many times there is a great deal for refurbished equipment with a limited OEM warranty.
How important is it to marry up the printing equipment in an existing shop with the correct finishing equipment? In other words, do existing wide-format printers dictate what kind of equipment would be best?
Conklin: The more versatile your finishing equipment is the less you need to worry about your printing equipment. When you purchase a coater that can handle many different applications, the need to marry up the printing equipment is reduced.
Conrad: It is more important to match up the existing printer technology with the appropriate substrate/ink and film/adhesive or liquid combination. You need to make sure that the ink and substrate technology being used by the printer can be effectively protected with film or liquid that is compatible with said technology. This is where money can be lost, jobs ruined and reputations questioned. Be sure you know the right “recipe” for ink, media, film and adhesive to provide the customer with the expected and desired results.