Previously owned computer to plate equipment is a great option for many offset printers looking to save money on equipment costs. Used CtP is significantly less than a new CtP system while providing nearly the same level of functionality. Second-hand systems are usually between 30 to 70 percent less expensive than new devices. However, there are several factors printers should consider when buying a used computer to plate equipment.
What to consider when buying CtP equipment:
The condition, support, and compatibility with the print production environment are critical to reliable and affordable CtP plate-making. Buying an incompatible or unsupported system can mean the difference between saving money or developing major headaches.
Is the system right for your current production environment?
There are a lot of vendors on the market that make a variety of different CtP devices. There are also multiple technologies used in CtP plate-making. How do you know which one is right for your production needs? Is the laser technology outdated? Will the system be able to properly image the plate you are trying to produce? Are there upgrade options available for a particular system? Working with an experienced CtP dealer can help answer these questions and help find the right system for you.
What is the condition of the laser element?
The laser element is the most important component of any CtP system. It’s important to know what type of laser is in a system. All laser elements degrade over time or with use. It’s also important to know how many hours has the laser element has been used for. If the system uses a multi-diode array, are all of the diodes functioning? Buying a machine with a weak laser is like buying a car with an engine with too many miles on it. Inevitably, the system will break down, leaving you with a nonfunctioning system.
Can the system produce the plates you need?
Each plate type has specific requirements. Higher resolution imaging requires a different laser element than a lower resolution system. Plate sizes, punch systems, and processors are all major considerations when installing a system.
Who will transport and install the equipment?
CtP platesetters are delicate, precisely calibrated machines. How the system is packed and transported can greatly affect the condition of the machine. CtP systems need require a proper working environment, plate calibration, and technical knowledge to properly install. Having a trained engineer on-site is necessary to properly perform the installation.
Is the system complete?
Computer hardware, software, and machine specific cables and accessories are needed for CtP equipment to function properly. Make sure everything is included with the system before you buy.
Is there a warranty?
Most used systems purchased directly from an end-user do not come with any warranty. Buying from a used prepress equipment dealer is usually a better option because the buyer is ensured that the equipment is in working order and covered against equipment failure.
Why buying used equipment from a trusted supplier is the most economical
Buying used equipment can lower the initial cost of running a CtP, but only with the right support. CtP platesetters require an experienced engineer to install and maintain the equipment. Without proper support, printers risk downtime and equipment failure. Choosing the right supplier is critical. Without a support team that can keep your machine running, any initial cost savings can be quickly lost through downtime or equipment failure.
As a used equipment dealer and technical service company, we have experience with all major brands of prepress equipment. Our team has over 25 years of experience working with CtP platesetters and have grown alongside the industry as a highly trusted used equipment dealer and service supplier. As a third party equipment dealer, we are willing to set you up for any plate type. While we can provide low-cost plate options, we can calibrate your system to any compatible plate on the market. We offer proven, reliable service to keep your equipment working for years to come.