According to Focus Label Machinery, making the best equipment decision involves doing your research, knowing your market, testing your preferred option, doing the maths and investing in the best systems you can afford. For this reason, sourcing a used digital press requires careful consideration.

You may have wondered whether the costs of a new press could be justified by the benefits it would bring to your business. Maybe you are currently printing on older digital equipment and struggling to compete with prices from companies producing large print runs at a lower cost on the latest inkjet hybrid systems, or you might have an old flexo label printing machine and be wondering if it is worth the cost to upgrade or replace.

What is a flexo label printing machine?

Flexographic printing works by creating polymer printing plates containing the images and text to be printed in negative, or a mirror image. A new plate needs to be created for each print run, however once it is made, it can be used indefinitely for no extra cost. This makes flexography one of the most cost-effective and versatile printing methods for medium to high volume printing. A flexo label machine can be used on a wide variety of surface materials, giving your business the opportunity to expand your market appeal and still keep costs competitive.

What are the benefits of a flexographic press?

The cost-effectiveness of a flexographic printer provides huge benefits to printing companies working with medium or large scale orders. It lowers the cost per unit, allowing you to be highly competitive when it comes to price. Flexo printing machines also print much faster than digital machines, with modern printers running at speeds of up to 122m (400 feet) per minute, getting orders completed quickly and effectively.

There is a much wider choice of inks and colour options than with digital printing, including water-based, oil-based and solvent based inks, which are often cheaper to purchase than their digital equivalents, again adding to the cost-effectiveness achieved by these machines.

The reliability and high print quality of flexographic printing presses offer a wide range of benefits to printing companies, including the improved efficiency of the printing process, less downtime and a higher quality end product.

What about digital printing equipment?

Digital presses are geared to shorter press runs, customised, personalised printing and variable data printing. There are a number of digital printing platforms so it can be confusing as they are not all equal. Technologies include toner, inkjet, offset and thermal printing and investment levels range widely.

The cost of running a digital system is higher than analogue printing press. Special inks, substrates and service/click charges need to be factored in to your business model. Most digital presses will require additional finishing machinery for over printing/varnishing, laminating, cold foil, die-cutting etc.

Now, considering the opportunities the latest hybrid digital/flexo technology is presenting in the market, investing in used press might just be a backward step.

Should I buy a used label printing machine?

Label printing machine prices can vary widely. Analyse why you are considering a used press. If it is just to increase capacity of existing production, purchasing another similar press may make sense.

If it is your first investment, be careful and find a supplier you can trust. Bear in mind that flexo equipment technology has advanced and digital presses are changing rapidly too. The latest servo machines reduce set-up time and downtime between jobs as well as higher production speeds and web controls.

Consider the condition of an older press, availability of technical support and parts. Not all manufacturers support ‘end of line’ machinery. This equipment is complex and several technologies may be integrated. Mechanical drives, PLC, UV and inkjet systems are all expensive to replace and may turn your bargain into an expensive money pit.

Ask about ex-demo machines – most manufacturers have showrooms and will always be happy to discuss them. These will have very few working hours and may offer some flexibility in terms of specification and have some bonus features. Plus they will have a full warranty.

Focus Label Machinery partners with a South African representative for their products. For more information, contact: