Running a successful vehicle wrap business involves strategic decisions about equipment and efficient working practises.
One of the many choices you'll face is whether or not to invest in a printer, a decision that can significantly impact your operations, costs, and overall business success.
In this article we will explore the pros and cons of purchasing a printer for wrapping, helping you to weigh up your options and decide if such an investment is worth it for your business.
Pros of purchasing a printer for vehicle wrapping
Control and Customisation
Having your own printer gives you full control over the printing process, allowing you to experiment with various materials, sizes, and designs to create unique and eye-catching wraps.
You can make quick adjustments to designs without relying on external printing services, ensuring that your clients' preferences are met accurately.
In-house printing drastically reduces turnaround time. You can meet tight deadlines and respond swiftly to client demands, enhancing customer satisfaction.
The ability to produce wraps on-demand can be a competitive advantage, especially for urgent or last-minute orders.
With an in-house printer, you have direct oversight of print quality and colour accuracy. This consistency is crucial for maintaining your brand reputation and meeting client expectations.
You can also quickly remedy any mistakes, if a wrap design does not conform as expected, or if your vinyl becomes damaged and you have to reprint a section.
In-house printing offers the flexibility to accommodate both large and small print runs. You can cater to a wider range of clients' needs, fostering business growth.
Over time, the cost of outsourcing printing can add up significantly. Investing in your own printer could lead to long-term cost savings, especially for high print volumes.
If you are thinking long term and able to whether a few years of non-profitability, you may find yourself in a position to eventually capitalise on your investment and diversify your business.
Owning a printer can open doors to additional revenue streams. You can offer printing services to other businesses or expand your service offerings beyond vehicle wraps.
You can print onto other substrates for example and in any shape, giving you the ability to sell other products such as banners, posters, stickers or POS cardboard displays.
Cons of purchasing a printer for vehicle wrapping
Purchasing a professional-grade printer and related equipment involves a substantial upfront investment.
A good printer can cost upwards of £20,000-£30,000. You can invest in a cheaper end of life model, but understand you will be investing more money than you paid for it to restore it to full working order and just like an old car, it will be prone to issues and won’t last long.
You need to perform a cost benefit analysis to make sure that you will actually be profiting long term by investing in one.
You won’t just need a printer
You won’t just need a printer, you will need to invest in a laminator and cutter too which together can cost another £20,000.
You will also need to buy a MAC to prep artwork prior to printing which can easily cost another couple of grand.
Operating a printer requires technical skills. You and your team will need training to effectively use and maintain the equipment, potentially requiring additional time and resources.
If you operate a high volume business, you will likely need to hire one or more people to manage print production or artwork prior to printing, to ensure you don’t waste time and resources.
Sourcing and hiring such talent requires a significant financial investment too, far more than the cost of a printer. To hire just 2 extra people with the requisite experience could easily cost you £60,000
If you combine the cost of all the above you may well be looking at a £100,000 investment, and a long long road to profitability. You won’t have the same level of mobility you enjoyed as a lone operator and you will bear an enormous amount of responsibility.
Health and Safety
Printers can cause health hazards due to toxic emissions produced by solvent based ink. Solvent based inks contain organic solvents that evaporate during the printing process, releasing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into the air.
Therefore your printer needs to be well ventilated, and compliant with any relevant emissions regulations. Using eco-solvent or water-based ink can also reduce the amount of emissions produced.
Maintenance and Repairs
Printers require regular maintenance and occasional repairs. These costs can accumulate over time and impact your overall profitability.
Printers are often large and require adequate space in your workspace. Allocating this space might be a challenge, especially if your workspace is limited.
The printing industry evolves rapidly. The printer you invest in today could become outdated sooner than expected, necessitating costly upgrades.
You then have the challenge of selling your old printer on to another organisation, which might prove difficult if it is redundant tech.
Managing printer supplies, such as ink and media, can be a logistical challenge. Running out of essential supplies can disrupt operations and cause delays.
You need to ensure you have a strong relationship with your suppliers and manage extra stock to keep business flowing during times of disruption.
So, should you invest in a printer for vehicle wrapping?
The decision to invest in an in-house printer for your vehicle wrap business is a complex one.
While an in-house printer offers advantages in terms of control, customisation, and cost efficiency, it also comes with challenges related to upfront costs, long-term profitability, technical expertise, and ongoing maintenance.
Careful consideration of your business's needs, budget, and long-term goals is essential. Purchasing a printer may well be a long term goal for your business, but it might not be practical decision right now.
Analyse the cost of outsourcing vinyl graphic printing vs the cost of investing in and running a printer yourself. Estimate the order volume you might need to justify the investment, and sit tight until you can grow your business to produce that level of revenue.
Then if you want to make the jump, you can take a calculated risk, instead of a gamble.