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Scouring through forums, Facebook groups, and other printing groups, you will often see the infamous question “I’m thinking about buying an auto, what brand should I go with.” Queue the pages of threads arguing back and forth about brand loyalty and when it is all said and done, you have read hundreds of different opinions but still can’t figure out.

We’re here to tell you today that your printing business is completely different from the neighboring one and that your equipment could be different. That is perfectly fine.

Here’s the long and short of it - if an equipment manufacturer is part of the big three or four manufacturers in the game, you probably will be alright. If they have a legitimate presence in the industry, are visible at all the large trade shows, you will probably be okay. Nonetheless, you can probably find a dozen shops that have had great experiences and a dozen shops that have had bad experiences with the same manufacturer.

As far as the technology goes, a few companies might have a slight advantage to some others, but if you are still buying your first automatic, printing 750 shirts an hour versus 650 should not be your largest concern. For the most part, all the key players in the industry do relatively the same.

Let’s talk about some key factors to consider when making that big purchase:

Customer Service & Support

There will be a large learning curve when buying your first big piece of equipment. Things will malfunction and breakdown. Maintenance will be required. If you think presses don’t break down, guess again. How accessible is the support team? Do they have a parts warehouse that is logistically sensitive to your shop? Will they check-in regularly in person? Ask these questions when exploring different brands.

Ease of Use

Newer equipment should be easier to use and more efficient. Make sure that your shop is technologically ready for those jumps. While a great registration system seems like a smart buy, a direct to screen machine might also be something to consider to bring a shop to your full potential. Make sure that your equipment can easily integrate with what you already have.

Industry Experience

Just because something is new and popular does not make it the best purchase for your business. Carefully analyze how many versions of this equipment have been produced. Early editions and versions of the technology will need to be revised several times while buying the 10th edition of something could mean a new version is coming. Don’t be a guinea pig, but don’t be left in the dust when a new model comes out next year!


Is the purchase you are making financially responsible for your shop? Don’t lease the “Rolls Royce” because it seems like a good idea. Buying used is never a bad idea and you can save quite a bit of money along the way. Whether financing, buying outright or buying used - make sure you have a plan to pay for it.

Life Expectancy

Without listing any brand names, ask other shops what equipment they use, and how old their machinery is. If someone has been using a press for 20 years, the life expectancy of that brand is pretty good! When you make an investment like this, think about the long-term!
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