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Wide Format Printer Warranties, Maintenance, and Service Agreements - A Large Format Printer Buying Guide

Like any large piece of equipment, your wide format printer lasts longer and works better with regular maintenance. This is why most companies choose a vendor that includes a service contract. Of course, service agreements vary between providers and manufacturers. While some include regular inspections and cleanings, others only include actual repairs while still others include replacement parts and toner. When comparing quotes, be sure to carefully review what the vendor includes in the service contract. A bid significantly lower than other quotes you receive may be hiding a lackluster service agreement.

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Why Do I Need a Maintenance and Service Contract?

A wide format printer represents a significant financial investment. You want to maximize your return on that investment. When the printer fails to work properly, or breaks down entirely, that directly impacts your bottom line. Not only is it not making you any money, it may be losing you money in the form of angry clients, reprints, and missed deadlines.

Unless you have a service team onsite capable of maintaining a large format printer, you need a maintenance and service contract. The best service providers make sure their repair techs have the best training and expertise needed to keep you, and your printer, up and running.

Maintenance on a printer is no different from regular oil changes and tire rotations on your vehicle or preventive medical and dental visits. These maintenance visits ensure potential problems are discovered early, while they're still cheap and easy to fix. What's more, some warranties require regular maintenance.

4 Benefits of Service

  • 1. You get an experienced technician who has had substantial exposure to a wide variety of issues on a wide variety of systems. What's more, these techs have the certification and training on new technologies and the most up-to-date systems.
  • 2. Your technician has a network of other printer techs that he or she consults with over tricky fixes or new problems. It's like hiring a whole team of printer techs.
  • 3. Service contracts typically cover OEM replacement parts, so you know you and your printer aren't being compromised by cheap, low-quality third party parts. When it comes to electronic and computer equipment, this is especially important.
  • 4. Your service contract includes software support. This includes more than the occasional upgrade to the printer's software. If your office upgrades to the latest Windows operating system, or makes the change to iOS, a service contract that includes software support means that you have a qualified service tech to make any necessary changes to the printer's software.

Warranties and Extended Warranties

The typical manufacturer's warranty on electronic equipment lasts between one and three years, with more and more products moving to a single year of coverage. Look carefully at the manufacturer's warranty when comparing equipment. You want to know:

  • How long it lasts
  • If it covers consequential damages, such as damages caused by a malfunctioning printer
  • If it includes conditions or limitations, such as maintenance requirements
  • What happens if the product fails
  • What parts and repairs the warranty covers
  • Who provides warranty service

The last items is where you find serious variability, as some warranties cover parts but not labor, or include expensive conditions, or even conditions nearly impossible to meet, such as returning the unit in its original packaging.

An extended warranty does exactly what it sounds like: it extends the manufacturer's warranty for a given period of time, typically for two or three years. However, if the manufacturer includes a one-year warranty, a two-year extended warranty really only provides one additional year of coverage.

Things to Remember

Maintenance is a key component of making the most of your investment. This includes regular cleanings and inspections, as well as replacing parts as they wear out. Not all service agreements are created equal, so look closely at what each dealer offers. Two things you definitely want: onsite labor coverage and replacement parts shipped via next-day delivery.

The pricing on most service agreements is by the number of pages (inkjet) or square feet (toner) printed each month. Before you sign anything, read the warranty carefully. After purchasing, save the receipt and the warranty together, and make sure you fulfill any special expectations required by the warranty (regular maintenance, saving original packaging, etc.).

The Bottom Line

A wide format printer can be used for a variety of applications, including signage, banners, posters, and textiles. As technology advances and becomes more affordable, more and more organizations choose to handle large format printing in-house, with niche and specialty printers getting in on the action.

Buyers have an incredible amount of choice, from size to ink type to platform and more. That's why research is key, especially for any organization buying its first large printer. Items to look into before buying include:

  • The applications you'll use the printer for
  • Ink choices: aqueous, solvents, latex-based, and UV are the most common
  • Do you want roll-to-roll, flatbed, or hybrid
  • How does printer speed affect quality
  • What is your budget and what can you expect to spend
  • What size do you need

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