If you are looking for reviews of the Roland VersaStudio BN20 printer/cutter to help make your purchase decision, you’re in the right place. We’ve consulted professional users for their feedback and created the best resource to help you decide whether or not the BN20 is right for you.
Roland BN20 Quick Summary:
Roland VersaStudio BN20 Review: Integrated Desktop Printer/Cutter
- Least expensive option for professional quality Eco Solvent printing
- Start building a business custom printing car decals, stickers, t-shirts and signs
- Expand the services of your existing business offering more custom options
- Gentle learning curve for Roland VersaWorks software
- High quality ink that lasts and prints up to 1440 dpi
- Ink options include CMYK plus White or Metallic options
- Basic maintenance is easy and keeps your machine running flawlessly for years. Automated daily checks and weekly cleans keep your BN20 print quality like new!
starting at $6,775
(for CMMYK ink)
Due to ongoing supply chain issues, the Roland BN20 is currently on 4-6 month backorder. However, the Roland BN20A, the newly released CMYK-only model, is available and ready to ship.
What we’ll cover in this review
- BN20 in a nutshell
- Our BN20 professional user panel
- Who is the BN20 suited for?
- BN20 versatility for a small shop
- the Benefits of Eco-Solvent printing
- All about BN20 ink options
- What is the material cost of BN20 ink?
- Financing Options for the Roland BN20
- Maintenance and Care
- Roland VersaWorks software for the BN20
- The experts final word on the Roland BN20.
The Roland BN20 in a nutshell
This review isn’t going to just be recycling ad copy from the manufacturer and listing out all of the specs. You’ve probably already done that research and you are looking for confirmation that this machine is as good as it seems.
So we contacted real BN20 owners from across the US and asked them how they used it, what was needed to operate and maintain it, and what it does best.
This is what owners told us:
- the BN20 can print on an astounding array of different materials
- the print quality is beautiful
- the ink quality is exceptional, in terms of quality of color and durability
- the learning curve is expected but manageable
- the maintenance requirements are reasonable without being too difficult or resource consuming.
Who did we talk to?
- Debbie Hallar, of Academy Screenprinting and Awards in Peoria, Illinois (BN20 owner since 2012)
- Jeff Holsman, of Creek Bank Printing in Bigfork, Minnesota (owner since 2016)
- David Montgomery, owner of the Kobraw Clothing brand (owner since 2017)
First Takeaway: the BN20 is ideal for 2 kinds of users
The BN20 printer/cutter is an excellent choice for two main kinds of users:
- small entrepreneurs just getting started in professional printing
- owners of existing shops looking to expand their services without investing in specialized equipment
Two of the owners we talked to, Jeff and David, started their businesses around the BN20. The third, Debbie, had been running a well established screen-printing business before getting the BN20 in 2012.
For small entrepreneurs just getting started, the BN20 is one of the most economical entry points into professional quality printing. The BN20 will let you print amazing full color graphics for stickers, decals, t-shirts, signs and uniforms. The professional quality printing will give credibility with new customers to keep them coming back and referring their friends.
The BN20 is also a versatile tool that established shops can use to quickly add extra services to grow a business. Instead of turning customers away because they don’t meet minimum order quantities, small shop operators can fulfill custom orders quickly, without costly setup and command premium prices.
Debbie uses the BN20 for exactly this role. She is able to offer photo prints on apparel and one-off designs: “With screen printing we have a minimum order quantity of 12 shirts. [With the BN20], we can offer the customer that only needs one shirt a way to get their graphic or photo on the shirt.”
Comparison Chart: Roland VersaStudio BN20 vs. similar machines
Max Media Size
Roland VersaStudio BN20
Roland VersaStudio BN20A
Mutoh ValueJet 628
Roland TrueVIS SG2
Second Takeaway: The BN20 is the Swiss Army knife of a small print shop
For entrepreneurs like Jeff and David, the BN20 allowed them to print on almost anything, giving them a real advantage starting their businesses.
Besides apparel and stickers, Jeff says art and photo prints on canvas are very popular with his customers. He also uses the BN20 to cut media for other projects and for cutting regular HTV.
“The print quality it fantastic as long as you are feeding it good files. [The BN20] is a good starting point if you are a new business, you can learn to turn out quality work with a big selection of media for different projects.”
The benefits of Eco-Solvent printing
The Roland BN20 is an entry point into eco-solvent printers, which are a standard for sign making, outdoor advertising and vehicle wraps. The eco solvent ink is waterproof and UV resistant which makes it ideal for smaller projects like stickers, car decals and t-shirts.
Eco Solvent ink has much better durability over pigment ink, and doesn’t require heat application like latex inks. According to Jeff, the durability for apparel and vehicle signage is great.
“I have also done vehicle decals without a laminate that have been in the sun and weather for 3+ years and they still look fairly good. I also do work uniforms and they are usually starting to show wear after about a year, which is about what you would expect in a shirt that is worn once or twice a week”
What you need to know about the BN20 and Ink
Our expert panel was in agreement on the quality of Roland Eco-solvent inks. For David, the ink quality was the best feature of the BN20.
“If there was a stand out feature of the BN20 it would have to be the Eco Solvent ink. The ink is the driver of this set up.”
The BN20 uses five ink cartridges and has 3 different configurations. Among users, this is probably the stickiest decision making point: Which ink configuration should you choose for the BN20?
Roland BN20 ink configurations
option 1: CMMYK – 2 x Magenta cartridges, Cyan, Yellow and Black. Great for vibrant photos, skin tones and color. Great for most applications. This is also the most economical ink option, as each color ink cartridge retails for about $70 to $75.
option 3: CMYK + Metallic – The metallic ink has a nice finish, but it’s expensive. One cartridge retails for about $220, almost as much as the other 4 colors in the ink set. According to Derek Alvarez of Sierra Stickers (who we did not interview), the metallic ink needs to be laminated because it will bleed if it’s scratched or scuffed.
“You need to laminate when you are doing decals or stickers…rated for 3-5 years,” Alvarez says. “It’s double the cost. Even if you are using…good quality materials, it’s going to be double the material (cost).”
Also important to know about the metallic ink option: it will triple your print time. According to Alvarez, the metallic ink will only print uni-directionally no matter what resolution you are printing at, and it also requires half the print heads on the printer.
This information is important because once you load an ink set into the BN20, that is the configuration you are more or less stuck with. Flushing metallic or white out of the printer tubes can be done, but not without wasting tons of costly ink.
Another important tip before you buy: ink cartridges are not included with the initial purchase of the Roland BN20. They are sold separately or can be purchased in a bundle with your printer/cutter.
How much does Roland BN20 Eco-Solvent Ink cost?
As we mentioned above, Eco-solvent ink cartridges for the BN20 range from $70-$75 for CMYK colors, $100 for white ink and over $200 for metallic ink. How does that translate to unit costs per project?
According to Alvarez, you should estimate ink and material costs for the BN20 at about one half cent to one cent per square inch of printing. (Daron Nay, another shop owner we didn’t interview directly, estimates ink cost for the BN20 at 50 cents per square foot, or about 0.34 cents per square inch.
Introducing the Roland BN20A: CMYK only and a smaller price tag
If the question of ink configuration has got you hung up, (or if the price tag of the BN20 still seems too high), Roland has another option for you.
Introduced in October of 2021, The new BN20A is a “lite” version of the original, meaning that it offers only the CMYK 4 cartridge setup, and it costs about $1,000-$1,500 less than the original.
The BN20A can also print bi-directionally (at 720 dpi) to improve production speed. As this printer is brand new, we have not spoken to anyone using it (yet!) but in all other regards, it seems like the same machine as the original BN20.
Is the BN20A right for you? David says, “I think that the CMYK option will be helpful to some, but the White ink option is where the money is, based on the ability to print on top of the white and stand out amongst other colors.”
Financing Options for the Roland BN20
As we’ve mentioned, the BN20 has a price tag of around $6,000 USD. For a machine that literally unlocks a brand new business, that seems reasonable, but for aspirational entrepreneurs, it can still be out of reach.
For people interested in monthly payments, Swing Design offers financing through Affirm and QuickSpark.
BN20 Maintenance and care
Regular care and maintenance is important to the health and long-term performance of the machine, but the good news is that it is not a huge commitment for the owner.
According to Debbie, who has been running the BN20 since 2012, the basic cleaning check can be done every other day. “You have to run a head cleaning about every other day, depending how often you use it. The machine does that for you.”
Jeff encourages regular maintenance as a preventative measure to keep the BN20 running trouble free.
“Keep up or ahead on maintenance. We usually do manual cleanings on this machine at least once a week. We also keep the feed rod and idler wheels clean – a little scrap of adhesive will really make your cuts off.”
The BN20 comes with a one year warranty, and users can get access to support via email or forum.
Roland VersaWorks 6 RIP Software
Roland bundles the BN20 with its own software that allows maximal control over your print and cut files so that you reduce material and ink waste and get impeccable color results.
VersaWorks 6 also manages up to 5 different print queues, adds cut lines to designs and also offers a predictive ink calculator for unattended printing. If you load a job on the BN20, the VersaWorks software will let you know if you have enough ink to complete the job.
One important thing to note: VersaWorks software is Windows compatible only. There is no version compatible with Mac computers, iPads, iPhones or Android devices.
Even thought the software has a lot of features, our panel of pro users emphasize that the learning curve is pretty forgiving. According to David, if you have experience using other design software platforms, you’ll be comfortable with VersaWorks.
“The VersaWorks [software] is something to get used to. If you’re coming from a [Silhouette] Cameo or if you have used graphic design software for vector images and converting page files, you’ll catch on to the terminology of VersaWorks.”
Jeff says to expect to make a few mistakes in the beginning, but practice will pay off.
“[VersaWorks] is actually a nice program. As with any new software, there are a few things that will frustrate until you get the hang of it. Like anything new, expect to screw up a few times.”
Our Experts final word on the Roland VersaStudio BN20
We’ve come to the end of the review and we’ll let our panel give the last bit of advice on choosing the BN20.
Jeff: The print quality is fantastic as long as you are feeding it good files. You can learn to turn out quality work with a big selection of media for different projects. I have taken on some pretty large projects that had me keeping that machine running 18 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Debbie: I would advise getting one if you are looking to expand your t-shirt or decal business. You can take on that one piece your customer wants.
David: Expand, Experiment, and Execute, meaning…Expand outside the normal: try new ways to use the BN20 for different products. Experiment with different uses i.e. wood, steel, canvas, stacking designs to give your design breathability. Execute: just get out there and get it done! There’s no need to worry – you can print on anything!
Roland VersaStudio BN20 Integrated Printer/Cutter
- Beautiful quality printing on many different materials
- 3 different ink configurations to choose from
- Workhorse printer for starting a small business
- Create personalized orders on demand!
starting at $6,775