Here’s a quick, fairly accurate rundown of what you might want to look at (I don’t know this vendor, just found their nice succinct write up online.)
Machines are expensive.
Check into leasing options.
I’d lean toward the eco-sol if you want to do shrink films. Roland is a good entry level machine that does have white capabilities and cuts as well as prints (I haven’t found anyone at all pleased with the metallic option though. The flakes don’t stay in suspension very well, at least in the older versions.) Just remember, when the machine is cutting, it isn’t printing.
Epson has a very good solvent printer as well.
Just be aware that adding white is an upgrade option.
Either of these might set you back $10k. That’s why I said to check leases.
HP and Mimaki are out there too, but I don’t have a lot of experience with anything HP except their aqueous printers, which you don’t necessarily want. Not cuz they aren’t nice machines, they print beautifully, but because they don’t print to films of the sort you might want to use. Not to mention you can’t get the prints wet…
Our HP aqueous plotter printer will take up to an oaktag thickness stock (a low end 42" with gorgeous photo quality but dye based inks that fade within weeks in the sun.) We use card stock for stud templates but could easily be scored and folded for box templates.
Media can be expensive as well. When buying a printer, check for the media it will run and in what widths. A lot of good general purpose media out there is all 54". You might be able to get OEM media or narrow widths on some things. All media should come with a canned profile to assist you with color management.
Learning curve on a protyping machine isn’t anything difficult. Not rocket science. You most probably won’t even need a rip at first if you learn to use the profiles and/or chart if you need particular pantone matches.