I am always inquisitive to know what happens to roll to roll inkjet printers when a manufacturer decides to run a trade-in program. I totally understand the desires and aims of the manufacturer to “upgrade” users to the latest and greatest new specification printer, and by doing so protect their ink business from the menace of competitive inks. However, which large black hole do the traded printers disappear in to.


I’m sure that the machines are disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner. I have even heard rumours of the printers being shipped out to less fortunate countries and markets where the financial climate doesn’t allow for abundant sales of new machines. However it would great to know exactly what does happen to them and solve the mystery for me and many others.


Revealing my many years on this planet, I always remember when I installed new litho presses and there was always an old Heidelberg letterpress platen sitting in a dark corner of the production area. These were pampered machines and kept as prize possessions due to an ongoing need for shorter run volumes, difficult substrates or sizes to be printed where it wasn’t viable for the new all singing and dancing litho machines to be used. With the improvement in performance and robustness of inkjet printer manufacture surely this is also the case in this market, despite the manufacturer’s designs on protecting their liquid gold assets. 


An inkjet printer should last at least 5 years before it should be considered for change unless the PSP has a need for new applications or print sizes beyond their current printer capacity. To simply trade-in their current printer due to a spell binding offer after 2 to 3 years quite often doesn’t move their production abilities much further than they currently achieve. This can also be a waste of money when their existing printer could still be doing a great job on the everyday work they produce if they decided to keep it, plus it can be a great back up should their new printer develop an unexpected fault.



In the past, the 3rd party ink market has always been frowned on and dismissed like an ugly sister at a beauty contest. In fairness, some 3rd party, or re-manufactured ink suppliers have not done the wide format market any favours in the past by trying too hard to be the cheapest without enough focus on their raw material supplier’s quality or sustainability/stability of the material used.  


More recently the quality and consistency issues with these inks have been diminishing and PSPs have seen the benefit of keeping their older inkjet printer up and running and making money for them after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired. Often, they may decide at this stage to consider reputable 3rd party inks due to the potential for cost savings of up to 40% while they no longer risk invalidating the manufacturer’s warranty. Especially when these days there is very little risk of compromising print quality. Ok it may be printed a little slower but does the PSP’s customer know any different? 


When we see so much focus in the news on reducing pollution and the need to recycle more of the materials we use I can only respectfully hope that users of inkjet printers spare a little more time considering beyond the sparkling manufacturer offer and make the most of their existing investment which can still earn them money.