Top tips and market trends from Loïc Delor - the wide-format expert (and who is really buying wide-format printers and why)
Loïc Delor is the managing director of Josero Printing Solutions located midway between Cambridge and Huntingdon just off the A14. The firm stocks new and used inkjet products with a particular accent on wide format printers, used printers and equipment, print finishing kit, inks and adhesion promoters, RIP software and spare parts and consumables for the print, signage and graphic industries.
We caught up with Loïc Delor to ask him how the market for his products has changed and who buys what when it comes to wide format. It is a market that’s changed rapidly in the last three decades as technology and the science behind inkjets has been transformed.
Loïc Delor said: “The market for used equipment is growing, it’s not a mad growth but the demand is of a stable growth unlike the first ten years when there was rapid growth. If you compare wide-format to litho technology then compared to litho there has been a big change. If you look at inkjet heads and the technology behind them that has made them smaller, of a higher quality and more reliable then things have moved on. They were not really there until the mid-1990s for wide format, but after that wide-format really started to happen.”
We asked what who bought new and who purchased used machines as now there is a big market in pre-used equipment. Loïc Delor said: “Printing companies who have a couple of new machines and who know what they are doing and just want to add extra capacity then they will probably look at a used machine of the same model that they have already got. If they are happy with the make of machinery they have already bought then buying an extra used model makes sense and it will be less expensive than their new models. From their point of view it is a better deal as well.
“Other companies who will buy a used machine are often smaller outfits who want to put their foot on the ladder – especially on UV flatbeds because clearly used machines are cheaper than new. If the buyer has a limited budget then buying used makes sense while people with larger budgets will look to complement their machinery as they know what they are looking for and can save money.”
Is the down side of buying a used machine the popular convention that it won’t last as long as a new piece of equipment we asked?
The Josero managing director commented: “It depends on the make and model and how the machine has been worked and how well the machine has been serviced and looked after. The mechanics of the machine is one aspect - in particular the heads and whether they have been replaced. If for instance the machine was five year’s old and the heads have been replaced and the machine looked after then it’s life expectancy won’t be far off a new machine. It’s a bit like when you buy a used car that has been very well looked after and it has had a new engine put in. So yes, it’s not brand new but it will probably last almost as long as a new model.”
With so many makes and models on the market for a newcomer to the business of sign-making or printing the choice can be confusing. Loïc Delor said there were certain factors to think of when looking to buy. He said: “It depends on the application and what you plan to do with the machine. There are not really that many options but it depends on what you want to do. Say for a small plotter then maybe you’ll be looking at Mimaki, or Roland, or HP or Oki which has come on the market not that long ago. And Ricoh is also in the frame as they’re in the market now and you also include Mutoh in that list. So not a long list but there are several to choose from that are well known and reliable brands. There are possibly unknown makes from China coming onto the market or some sort of sub-brand but they won’t be from a tried and trusted world-wide company. “Then you need to decide between the different technologies, but again it depends on your budget, what you want to do in terms of the application and the speed the machine works at. Smaller wide format say the sub £25K machines well there are only about eight or ten brands to choose from. Above that price level you’ve got Mimaki again and HP, Agfa have a new machine, and then there’s Fuji.” As the machines have improved there is a feeling that the amount of potential applications have broadened out and helped to expand the market. Loïc Delor sees it slightly differently although the improvements are as much to do with inkjet refinement and the speed of the machines.
Loïc Delor said: “The material you can print on has remained the same for some time as it is linked to the technology - UV technology has been around for over 20 years. You could still print on glass 15 years ago, but the big differences are one: the print quality has improved dramatically in the last 10 years. And because the print quality has increased that has broadened the applications. Years ago if you looked closely at the print quality it was not very good but now it is so much improved it’s of a high quality and that is what has increased the market for these machines. More applications are now available because of the quality improvements. And the second thing that has increased the potential of these machines is the speed. Before there was a point that it was more economic to switch to litho but now that number has increased as the equipment has got fast so wide format machines can print higher numbers to rival litho, so the bar has been raised. This is where the bridge between inkjet and litho has changed.”
He said shows like The Print Show and Sign and Digital UK are good to see how the UK market is progressing but to see major changes in the industry then there was only one place to go and that is Fespa. That trade show he said was the true barometer of the business.