managing print production

Wide Format Printers – Should You Buy or Lease?

It’s time to bring a new large-format printer into your business, but what’s the best way to do that? In this post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of leasing or buying your wide format printers.

Written by
Ella Faulkner
Internal Sales

Leasing large format printers – the pros and cons

Pro – Quick access to the printer you need

You’re probably not putting money in a jar to save up for your next wide-format printer, but unless you have the cash reserves to pay for it outright, you’ll need finance and finance can take time to arrange.

If you need a printer onsite asap, leasing is likely (although not definitely) to be the quicker route.

Pro – Easy upgrades keep your large format printers at the cutting edge

Leases typically last two to five years. At the end (or as you approach the end) of your lease deal, you’ll often get the opportunity to upgrade to a new printer, as you might at the end of your mobile phone contract.

There can be real value in this. A new printer doesn’t have the wear of an old one, so you protect print quality and production capability by regularly upgrading your print equipment.

Just as importantly, new printers offer new features, and every now and again you might see commercial opportunities in some of them. Upgrading every few years could help you upgrade the services you’re able to offer to and give you a  new way to recoup the lease costs of your printer.

Con – Long term costs tend to be higher

If you only ever lease your wide-format printer, you’ll be paying for it (or the printers that come after it) forever. If you regularly upgrade and take advantage of the other benefits in your lease package, that may not be an issue for you.

If you lease over the longest possible terms, you could pay significantly more than if you’d bought your printer outright.

Pro – Leases may include servicing, repair and ink

Some wide format printer leases bundle up the servicing and repair in a single cost. Some offer it as part of an additional package which may also include inks and toners.

Whether this is more cost effective than if you sourced the services individually is questionable, but there’s no doubt it’s more convenient.

Con – Regular upgrades may increase the training and learning time for staff

This is the flipside of that regular upgrade capability, because every time you bring in a new printer, your team has to learn how to use it and get the most out of it.

That may not be too challenging for experienced print-shop workers, but there will inevitably be a cost implication to training and getting up to speed – and that cost will be higher the more frequently you upgrade.

Pro – Costs are easily tax deductible

We should stress, you’ll also be able to offset the costs of buying your large format print system against tax, but then you’re into the world of capital assets and it’s arguably messier than with leasing. Usually, 100% of the lease cost can simply be offset against tax.

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Buying large format printers – the pros and cons

Pro: You own it

Some lease deals offer you the option to own your printer at the end of the deal although many businesses choose to upgrade.

When you buy your large-format printer, however, it’s yours outright which gives you complete control over what you do with it.

Con: You own it

Ownership gives you total control, but it also means there’s no automatic route to upgrade, so over time your printer risks becoming obsolete.

While some suppliers may offer maintenance and servicing packages as an incentive, you’ll likely have to source maintenance and start paying the additional cost yourself at some point.

Con: High initial outlay

Buying your wide format printer outright may be the cheapest way to do it, but it does require you to have the capital to hand. If you don’t, you’ll inevitably be seeking some form of finance.

That will always be more expensive than buying without finance (because you’ll need to pay interest). It may be more expensive than leasing. 

Pro: More end-of-life options

Sell it. Part-ex it. Keep it and use it as a reserve. Put it to work in another part of your business. Scrap it.

When you own your own large format print equipment, you have complete control over what happens when its primary role has come to an end.

When you lease, the terms of the lease dictate when time’s up and that may not always be at the most convenient time for you. It’s also the case that the end of the lease usually presents you with just three options: hand the printer back, upgrade, or pay an additional amount to own it outright.

If owning outright is the long-term plan, you’d usually find you’re better off taking a route other than leasing.

Pro: Complete market access

Not every printer – and especially not every niche or specialist wide format printer – is available to lease. Choose to buy and you get access to the entire market.

Talk to Soyang

Once you’ve made your choice to buy or lease, you’ll need materials for your wide format printers to print on. That’s when it’s time to talk to Soyang.

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