Finding a reliable secondhand large format printer that can still provide useful service is a hard task. Over the years Roland has manufactured many great machines with some proving to be more successful and long-lasting than others.
In this article we look at a couple of Roland’s more successful older models, the SP Series (manufactured from about 2008) and the more recent VS Series (manufactured from about 2012).
There are many of these machines still in operation successfully producing reliable print results and where they have been well serviced and maintained they will still be productive for years to come. For those still running one of these models you’ll enjoy hearing about your printer and how to make it last a little longer and for those thinking of purchasing a secondhand printer you’ll pick up some pointers on what to look for to ensure you get the best buy.
The original Roland SP series, including the 300 (760mm wide) and 540 (1370mm wide) models were bundled with Roland ColourRIP software, if this is still in operation we recommend an upgraded to Versaworks which can be done by a technician for minimal cost and makes daily operation much more user-friendly.
The 540 was popular with signmakers because of the print width which handled a good range of media and because of the simple two print head configuration running a single CMYK ink set using two Epson DX4 print heads. Each print head has two channels with one print head running Black/Cyan and the second managing Magenta/Yellow. This setup kept the original cost of the SP low and meant that head replacement costs where lower compared to many multi-head machines. As a result there are still plenty of active models still in service and while they are don’t have the higher production speeds of current models they can still produce a good quality print around 8m2 per/hr when in good working order.
The SP Series originally retailed for just under the $20,000 +gst and even now 10yr’s old examples in good refurbished condition will still fetch between $5,000 – $9,000 +gst. You can pick up ‘as is’ examples for under $5000 but there is possibly between $2,500 – $4,000 worth of work required to bring one of these up to scratch.
The Roland VS series, included the 300 (760mm wide), the 540 (1370mm wide) and the 640 (1624mm wide) models. Due to their print width the 540 and 640 were popular in the signage industry with the 640 being the biggest seller. The original VS Series machines ran dual CMYK using a distinctive eight vertical cartridges configuration. They provide excellent print results and at good production print speeds, so even in todays fast paced environment they are still a practical machine, particularly in dual CMYK configuration.
In later VSi models Roland added the capability of running a four different ink configurations including white and metallic silver inks. While running white or metallic ink can be useful it also slows the print speed down and raises costs, so it’s important to evaluate which option is best for your needs.
Here is a basic configuration guide:
- CCMMYYKK – this has the fastest print speeds.
- CCMMYKLcLm – the 6 colour configuration.
- CMYKLcLm + WW – 6 colour with dual White inks giving the fastest print speed when white is being printed.
- CMYKLcLm + WM – 6 colour with White & Metallic inks providing the biggest variation of colour and effect.
The VS 640 originally retailed in excess of $27,000 +gst while a refurbished VS-540 still in good order is now worth between $10,000 – $13,000 +gst and a VS-640 between $12,000 – $16,000 +gst. Later VSi-540 and VSi-640 examples command another $2,000 +gst premium. Picking up an ‘as is’ example is more problematic with the likely need to replace the solo print head and in most cases, the preference to convert models running 6 colour configurations across to dual CMYK. Due to their configuration a VS can be very expensive to refurbish, so make sure you get a thorough technical assessment completed before you making any purchasing decisions.
Getting a good deal
If you’re looking for a refurbished VS or SP model or would like to trade in your old printer make sure you give us a call and we’ll see how we might be able to help you! We can also assist you with printer maintenance and offer low-cost inks to reduce your ongoing running costs without compromising on quality.