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What to buy: small jobs


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Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2004 8:31 pm

Post Thu Jul 29, 2004 7:39 am

What to buy: small jobs

Yes, it's time for another "What should I buy?" question.

My situation: I'm a graphic designer who sells her own line of clothing and gifts. I plan on adding car decals to the "gifts" list these would be as small as 2" x 3". I also plan on cutting thermal vinyl to apply on garments (I own a heat press already).

I'd like something that:
works with Illustrator (or can at least take eps files)
is reliable
can produce curves well

And preferably:
is quiet
connects with a USB

Concerns I have:
Is there really a difference between a "stepper motor" and a "servo" motor?

How often to blades wear out and have to get replaced?

I've been looking at a Roland Stika 15 or their 24" one but I'm not sure I need to go so much higher in price for something that isn't my main business.

Any and all thoughts are appreciated!

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Post Thu Jul 29, 2004 9:21 am

Generally a stepper motor works in discrete fixed "steps" , however these can be VERY small and approximate curves to all intents and purposes , IE if you take a diagonal line going from the lower left to the upper right , you can do it by going one step up and one along. Big steps will look like a staircase and not a line , a zillion small steps will look like a line.
A non stepper motor essentially does zillions of "steps" and it actually interpolates the line properly.
But there is another angle to all this. In general a servo type motor will have what's called a shaft encoder on it , its a mechanism whereby the motor knows EXACTLY where it is or should be , much like a satelite navigation system which can pinpoint where you are and where you should be and how to get there no matter WHERE you are. Stepper motor driven stuff often doesnt have this , the software "counts" steps and bases movements on these cumulative "counts" (it assumes its in a position that is x steps up and y steps along) , however steppers can lose or miss steps , but the software is not aware of this and just processes further "steps". Problem is , the position from where it did so is not correct , so any further cutting is misregistered or wrong. The servo motor with a shaft encoder is less prone to missing steps and will not fall prey to the misregistration issue.
Ideally you want a servo motor with a shaft encoder and at a minimum a stepper WITH an encoder. There are other more techincal issue , but I wont go into that.

Your best bet would be to subcontract these out to someone that has a thermal print and cut machine (the thermals have stuff you can apply to t-shirts). A simple cutter is very limited in regard to what you want to do and a Stika is really a toy.
As to EPS etc , thats a function of the software and not the machine.
Blade wear is related to material you are cutting , the biggest factor in blade wear is abraisive materials or the most common problem , cutting too deep and thus into the paper backing , paper is HIGHLY abraisive and will mess the tip. Blades are not expensive in respect of how much they cost vs how much they can cut and are hardly worth consideration as a major consumable or a high operating cost.

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Post Thu Jul 29, 2004 12:17 pm

Well here's my tuppence worth.
Buy a branded name well recognised Roland. Summa Graphtec what ever and buy a 610 (24") minimum start at around £1200 here in the UK and I feel at this size they are all up to the job of professional work ie yuo get smooth curves (I have a summa D60 and it has 3 settings for curve resolution cuts nice an smooth no steps what so ever and you get an Illustrator add in to cut from there though I have never used it, use signlab)
These are a little more expensive but they will always sell secondhand as well if things don't work out with it. I feel and most on here will tell you to steer well clear of the Stika and their like though I have never used one but have seen their results (no comment).

You can always buy one secondhand of course but if you buy new you know what you have from the start.

It may seem like a lot of money to cut small decals but you will have the ability to go up to 22" - 23" if the need be and tshirt thermal transfer material is a lot cheaper on the roll anyway.

Hope this may help in your descion to buy.

Definitly go for a larger plotter / cutter (you can always use the pen for laying out drawings to paper which might help you on the garment side only guessing at this though but again you have the ability.


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Posts: 12

Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2004 8:31 pm

Post Thu Jul 29, 2004 4:32 pm

Thank you both for your input.

I think I am convinced I should go better than the Stikas -- which I was wary about anyway.

I am in the fortunate position that the money is not my consideration so that's one of the reasons I am able to purchase rather than sub out the job.

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