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Comparing new and used equipment

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Reasons to buy used

“I would be willing to purchase a plotter and cutter and racking system used, mainly because the tool heads are replaceable,” says Tim Robinson, American Fabric Filter. “If it’s from a good company, I don’t see where years of use will negatively affect its function. An RF machine we probably wouldn’t want to buy used simply because we want it tailored to our needs.”

Olympus Group has purchased used printers, but they inspect the machine and see prints from it, “so you know what its condition and capabilities are,” says Andy Arkin. “If cleaned up and refurbished by the manufacturer and they’re going to warranty it, I have no problem with buying used.”

Reasons to buy new

When the new/used question goes beyond the condition of a machine to “where it falls in terms of technology: what technology is in the unit versus the technology that has just been released or is on the horizon to be introduced. Why would you restrict yourself with buying old technology?” Arkin says.

Custom Canvas Alaska bought a used sewing machine on eBay. “The picture looked like a Juki; the man taking our bank card info sounded sincere. But when the machine got here, it turns out its make was questionable. There was no ID plate,” says Eric Walton. “It worked for a short while; but as the paint wore off, exposing the rust underneath, and it became impossible to keep properly timed, it became our ‘spare-parts head.’ When you add a 4,000-mile shipping bill to a ‘good deal,’ it can turn bad real fast. After that, we have only purchased used equipment from people we know or from those with good reputations—and ideally close by.”

Janice Kleinschmidt is a freelance writer based in Palm Springs, Calif.

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