One of the big issues a shop runs into when they are thinking about upgrading is what to do with all of their used screen printing equipment. Upgrades will always make your screen printing experience better, but you still have to deal with getting rid of, moving, un-installing, selling, and trying to recoup some money out of the old gear. Let’s talk about how to sell your old equipment, what to upgrade first, and what to look for when buying new versus used equipment.
USE A BROKER
Using a broker is probably the easiest way to move your used gear, but there are some limitations you should be aware of. First of all, make sure you work with a reputable broker. Get references and get a payment or deposit up front. Have the broker review and go through the equipment first and sign a contract. This way you’ll know exactly what you are getting, who is doing what, and when it is all happening.
You may not make as much money back with a broker as you would if you sold your old equipment directly, but sometimes it’s worth it. The broker takes care of uninstallation, shipping, selling, and making sure the new buyer is happy with the product. The broker has to make money too, but they also are typically able to get more for the equipment than you would selling directly. You'll have less stress trying to sell your old equipment.
When selling directly, you can definitely get more value out of the transaction than if you went through a broker, because 100% of that profit goes to your bank account. This comes with a trade off, though. There will be more work and risk involved.
Just like working with a broker, you want to make sure that you have upfront disclosures and a contract when you go to sell the product. The contract should clearly outline what is your responsibility vs. the buyer’s responsibility, the condition of the equipment, whether the equipment is sold as is or if it comes with any type of warranty, payment terms, and expectations for installation and delivery.
Expect to be haggled with and low balled. The most important thing to remember is not to take offense at this. If you want to get max value, you’re going to have a lot of these conversations. Selling your used equipment might take a little bit longer. If you need to move the equipment fast, you may have to take a lower offer. Be as clear as possible and definitely get payment up front.
Sometimes, word of mouth is a good enough way to sell your used equipment. Another way to sell your old screen printing equipment is to sell it through Facebook groups like Rogue Printers or Craigslist. This is a fairly simple task, but can take a while, because you’ll be haggling with potential buyers. If you’re selling the equipment solely online, you’ll likely need to provide photos and videos to prove that the equipment you’re selling is in working condition.
Depending on how much equipment you are selling, attending or participating in an auction can be a great way to maximize the value of your equipment. Though they don’t happen very often, auctions and auction websites pull in a pool of buyers and do advertising that gains a lot more eyes on the deal. Check out what an auction looks like with one of the biggest equipment auctions of the year here.
INCREASE PRODUCTION WITH UPGRADES TO YOUR SHOP
So you’ve sold your old equipment. Now what? Upgrade options are everywhere. Here are the top three equipment items you’ll want to upgrade first.
If your current exposure unit does not have LED bulbs, you’re going to want to change that. LED exposure units are becoming the standard, and for good reason. The spectrum of light output, energy usage, and speed and consistency draws in many printers. With an LED unit, printers save energy and money while seeing better results on their stencils.
Maybe you already have an LED unit. Does your exposure unit have a compression or vacuum lid? Compression units work great, but if you’re doing halftones, CMYK, sim process, or highly detailed prints, you’ll need a vacuum unit. Vacuum exposure units create the best, tightest positive contact between the light source, glass, film, and emulsion.
RELATED: EXPOSURE UNITS DESIGNED TO PERFORM
SCREEN PRINTING PRESS
A press is one of the most important pieces of equipment a printer can have. The trick is to find the best press that meets all your current needs. If you’re just starting to learn the trade or printing as a hobby, you’ll want to find a strong, sturdy press. Investing in a good quality press means you won’t have to worry about the structure falling apart, your prints moving out of alignment, or other issues that can come up in lesser-quality presses. By investing in quality, you’re also investing in yourself.
If you’re printing more and more multicolor jobs and your current press does not have micros, you may want to consider upgrading your screen printing machine. Having micros like XY or tilt streamlines the registration process. You no longer need to unclamp the screen, tap it a few times, re-clamp it, and hope it’s aligned correctly. With a press that has micros, all you have to do is turn a few knobs and the job is ready to be printed. Your time is money. Upgrading to equipment that helps you save time is the best ROI.
When your business becomes a full-blown production shop, it’s time to get a large, heavy-duty press. Not only do you need a tough press to withstand the rigor you’ll put it through, these top-of-the-line presses usually have more features that improve your efficiency even more. For example, the Riley Hopkins 300 Press has two-point roller gates, which strengthen the holding power on the printhead when it's down. Latching screens down with the roller gates reduces the amount of adjustments needed. Other aspects like an anti-flip registration plate, an XY-micro, and a Z-micro have created faster setup times for printers. Again, your time is money. When you’re busting thousands of prints a week, finding ways to save time and increase efficiency is worthwhile.
Photo by Symmetree Clothing.
If you're busting out high-volume orders each day, then a conveyor dryer is the way to go. Conveyor dryers run multiple shirts through at a time, which helps speed up production. When looking at conveyor dryers, you have a ton of options. Which one you go with depends on how much you’re printing and what inks you are using.
The length of the tunnel on a conveyor dryer plays a huge role. Think of the tunnel as a bullseye on a dartboard (the bullseye is achieving optimal cure). The shorter the dryer, the tinier the bullseye. The longer the dryer, the bigger the bullseye. Longer tunnels offer more flexibility. It allows you to have more time to mess around with belt speed and temperature, so can fine tune your curing process.
If you’re often printing with water-based ink, you’ll want a forced air conveyor. Water-based inks need air movement to effectively drive the water out of the ink and move the steam outside the dryer so that the heat can cure the ink. Without proper air movement, most printers either have to slow their belts way down or run the shirts through the dryer multiple times. The forced air and longer tunnel in these conveyors evaporate the water from the ink, allowing the ink to cure. If you’re nervous about not reaching full cure with water-based prints, adding Warp Drive will keep you in the clear.
RELATED: ENSURING PROPER INK CURING
BUYING USED EQUIPMENT
Buying used screen printing equipment is like buying a used car. If you know what you’re getting, it’s a great investment. Used equipment is usually less expensive, and you can typically pay cash for it. You can get used screen printing equipment in a variety of places: on forums, Facebook, Ebay, Craigslist, and at auctions. No matter where you get your used equipment from, make sure to test it before you buy it.
If you’re buying used or refurbished equipment, you won’t get a warranty on it. If the product has missing or faulty parts, you’ll have to eat the cost of repairing it. Get lots of photos and videos from the seller to make sure the equipment you’re buying is in good condition and works well. If you can, use or inspect the equipment yourself before buying it.
WHAT SHOULD I BUY USED?
The best screen printing equipment to buy used are products that don’t have a lot of moving parts. A washout booth is a great example. If you’re looking to buy a piece of used screen printing equipment, chances are you’ll find tons of heat presses for sale. Used heat presses are easy to find. If you’re buying one, do your due diligence to make sure it works. Get video of it in action, photos of the heat press plugged in, and any information specific to that heat press. Otherwise, what you buy is a total guessing game.
If you can get your hands on an entire used shop space, take advantage of it. By purchasing the whole shop, you’ll be guaranteed that most (if not all) of the pieces of equipment are working. All you’ll need to do is clean up the shop and fix what’s broken.
Photo by Joey Avila.
By selling your equipment and upgrading to newer and better equipment, you’ll not only be giving your shop a huge update, but putting money back into your pocket. If you’re looking to buy used equipment, make sure you trust the seller and have seen the equipment in production. By upgrading your shop and selling the old equipment, you can give your business and the screen printing businesses following your stead a much-deserved lift.