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What machine did you start out with?

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Neil Beckett

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Post Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:38 am

What machine did you start out with?

Hi all,

I'm still unsure about whether to just buy a Roland GX24 cutter, or spend some more dosh on a cutter/printer to start with?

I'm really looking to do cars/vans/utes and small shop graphics locally and to start up alongside my full-time job, hopefully doing most of the work at the weekends.

What did you choose when started up? Is there still much demand for cutting pre-coloured vinyl sheet work as apposed to the 4 colour printed vinyls?

Thanks in advance
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Dave Willis

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Post Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:34 pm

hi im just now replacing my liyu sc1261 for one with an optical eye.
its served me well and is quite a cheap machine.

ive run a small home based business on ebay for about 18 months. all single colour vinyl.
and some weeks ive made more money than in my full time job
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Martin Pearson

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Post Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:47 am

Have you got a market for printed graphics or are you just hoping to build one after buying the machine??

Problem with solvent printers is that they need to be running all the time or the heads dry up & clog. More up to date machines have maintenance programs that prevent this happening but your still using ink when the machine is not working so costing you money just sitting waiting for a job.

Don't know about where you are but there is still a market for cut vinyl graphics in the UK so someone starting up working part time would probably be better off just buying a plotter to start with & buying in any print required from a trade printer.

If that side of the business starts to grow then look at buying a printer of your own once you have an established market & it becomes more cost effective to bring it in house.
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Jason Xuereb

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Post Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:26 am

Started with a $500 plotter off eBay. Quickly moved to a Roland SP540V.

Then added an XJ640, XC540, L25500, L26500 and now an FB700.

If your going to do printed vehicle graphics also factor in a laminator.

You can start small with a plotter then move up to a printer.

If you get a cutter with optical registration you won't need a combined device. You can just get a printer. If your laminating the workflow won't matter.

We have two Graphtec's and two Fotoba cutters and have never used the print and cut function on the XC540. Well I lie I have on mylar that's all it gets used for.

If you want a chat offline I'm happy to give some advice.
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Neil Beckett

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Post Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:20 am

Thank you for your replies. I actually posted this question back in March. I now have a Roland GX24 and I'm getting the odd job here and there. I'm still keeping my full-time job (packaging engineer) for now until the business gathers enough momentum.
Like you say there's still plenty of work out there with the cut vinyl,so I'm focusing on that for now. My hometown is Mornington, Victoria. Where are you Jason?

Thanks again :wink:
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John Harding

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Post Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:01 am

Jason is to the left (west) of Melbourne - or should that be right as your all upside down way under :D

John
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Jason Xuereb

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Post Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:10 am

John's correct. I'm in Sunshine West. In summer I sometimes jet ski out of patterson lakes river down to the heads. So past your way wind permitting.

If you do cut vinyl jobs that you post out pass on your email. We tend to refer that work off now. Can give your contact to my brother who handles inbound enquiries.
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Robert Lambie

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Post Tue Sep 18, 2012 12:50 pm

our first machine, Spandex Gerber 4B with Apple digitising station.

will reply again when i get sec, not very constructive i know. :lol1:
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Mike Grant

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Post Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:35 pm

I still have my 4B. And it is still connected to the computer and works, although I have not used it for a year or two.
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KevinGaffney

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Post Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:01 pm

I started out with an epidioscope projector and a set of brushes. Doubt if that piece of information will interest too many today
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Martin Pearson

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Post Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:26 pm

KevinGaffney wrote:I started out with an epidioscope projector and a set of brushes. Doubt if that piece of information will interest too many today


Yes but is that completely true Kevin or did you start out with some brushes & a couple of pots of paint & the projector came along a bit latter once you had earned some money :lol1: :lol1: :lol1: :lol1: :lol1:
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Alan Drury

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Post Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:29 pm

Same as you Kevin, first computerised signmaking was APA Supergraph with digitising and 406mm Houston Instruments plotter - 3 months later Logoscan/SignStudio scanning system, for runner of Signlab. About £13,000 - about 1990 ish
Alan D
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Robert Lambie

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Post Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:34 pm

I know this is veering way off topic now, sorry. :oops:
i may split the thread to get it back on track.

anyone remember Strucom?
think the C-logo connected with the O i think. :lol1:
remember they ran a contest many moons ago too.

great many names come and gone in our industry.
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KevinGaffney

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Post Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:52 pm

Martin wrote:
KevinGaffney wrote:I started out with an epidioscope projector and a set of brushes. Doubt if that piece of information will interest too many today


Yes but is that completely true Kevin or did you start out with some brushes & a couple of pots of paint & the projector came along a bit latter once you had earned some money :lol1: :lol1: :lol1: :lol1: :lol1:

Actually you've reminded me Martin, I actually borrowed my first epidioscope from my local school till I had the cash to buy one. Used to blow bulbs for sport and they were a horrendous price. Bit like blowing a print head now
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Martin Pearson

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Post Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:49 pm

Robert Lambie wrote:I know this is veering way off topic now, sorry. :oops:
i may split the thread to get it back on track.

anyone remember Strucom?
think the C-logo connected with the O i think. :lol1:
remember they ran a contest many moons ago too.

great many names come and gone in our industry.


Might have gone a bit off track Robert but the question was answered, well actually it wasn't untill a few months after Neil went ahead & bought a GX24 because none of us would talk to him :lol1: :lol1: :lol1:
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George Zerbino

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Post Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:02 pm

Gerber GS15 plotter, a NEC pc with a whopping 40 megabyte hard drive and a 5.25" floppy drive, optional maths coprocessor chip (£1,000!) running Windows 3.0 and MS-DOS 5 I believe, Gerber Graphix Advantage with 25 fonts, outline package, special effects package (welding), shadow package, and a 12" x 18" digitizer....all for £14k+vat.
Still have and use the GS15, and occasionally the digitizer, but sadly not the PC :)
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Phill Fenton

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Post Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:39 pm

Robert Lambie wrote:anyone remember Strucom?
think the C-logo connected with the O i think. :lol1:
remember they ran a contest many moons ago too.

great many names come and gone in our industry.


Yup - I bought my complete sign system from Strucom when I first started 16 years ago. It was a complete package comprising of a cutter (Summagraphics 610) software (Casmate), a PC, a desktop inkjet printer and a scanner. They used to advertise in all the sign magazines. I still use the same cutter and software to this day which is great testament to it's robustness. I think I paid about £7000 for the complete system.

The original PC used windows 3.1 as it's operating system and had a hard drive something like 100mb. Having said that, it was probably faster than the computer I am using today but struggled with complex graphics and couldn't handle raster images very well at all.
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Robert Lambie

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Post Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:11 pm

ahh nice one, so i am not alone in remembering them Phill. :D
Yes Strucom is one i remember, Autac is another, so many... shame some great companies and products no longer around.
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Steve Morgan

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Post Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:06 am

I actually used 24 pt Letraset on glass slides in my dad's slide projector before I found out about episcopes. I bought my first vinyl in from a guy who had some model of machine from Spandex but when I started ordering too much from him he took me up to SignEx and showed me round all the equipment, vinyl and software suppliers. Shortly after that I bought my Roland PNC 1100, and logitech hand scanner together with Sign Studio (now Signlab).
I've still got my episcope and Roland.
Last edited by Steve Morgan on Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Alan Drury

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Post Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:18 am

Hows things change, Thinking about the money I spent then and what that amount would be worth now, the system I got for my money then and what I could get now - could have started with a digital printer, laminator, the works.
Alan D
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Chris Wool

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Post Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:46 am

Allan ah! the DMP66 my kids said that the tapping noise of the tangentel head sent them to sleep and missed the noise when i upgraded (or downgraded) to a drag knife. but that was my 2nd plotter.
the first was a graphtec A3 flat bed and windows was just a twinkle in gates left dodah.
but before that was the amstrad CMP computer and printer which lettering was sized and printed then cut by hand after laying over the vinyl or used lettraset and a photo enlarger to draw the letters then cut.

you kids today don't know you are born :wink:

several people have asked how did i got started and say it was a hobby that got silly.
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Neil Davey

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Post Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:29 am

My first was a No. 6 Sable powered by yours truly :D

My first set-up was an AppleMac Quadra 630 on iOS7 running FlexiLetter software, scanner and a Roland Camm1 PNC 950 which is actually still working now and was cutting only yesterday. I've only replaced 1 pinch wheel and the cutting strip, it's still a very good plotter.
I bought mine from Granthams and it all cost around £10,000 if I remember correctly.

The noise the Roland makes when it's cutting, always entertaining!!!
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Alan Drury

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Post Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:15 pm

Ah - sable writing pencils I remember them well, 1974 and a home made pallet and mahl stick, still got them, I'm starting to feel pretty old now.
Alan D
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Martin Cole

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Post Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:38 pm

Neil Davey wrote:
The noise the Roland makes when it's cutting, always entertaining!!!


The PNC 950 was my first cutter aswell. I thought there was something wrong with it when the guy did a demo for me.... what a noise :o
still got it under my bench
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Derek Heron

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Post Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:54 pm

Think mine was a pnc as well
Then got a Mimaki for weeks couldn't work out how to slow it down panicked every time I set a job away once ended up with about 20 metres attacking me
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Gert du Preez

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Post Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:46 pm

KevinGaffney wrote:I started out with an epidioscope projector and a set of brushes. Doubt if that piece of information will interest too many today


I started out with a Roland PNC 950. Later lusted after these newfangled printer things.

Once I had my hands on a digital printer, cnc router and laser engraver........I started doing brushwork :D

I seems everybody and his mate thought signs is an easy way to make money, and bought the (cheaper and cheaper) printers. So nobody left to do hand painted signs. At one stage I did painted signs over weekends and in the evenings, and had work for every single spare hour in my life.

Dont do it (hand painted signs, that is) anymore, but at least I can if I have to. (BTW, I frequently charged way more for painted signs than what a signboard with digital print would cost, but the older, more conservative customers still preferred it. And just about every site I worked, resulted in somebody stopping to ask me to do a job for them as well.)

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