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New member, looking for advice on vinyl package

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Barney Sollars

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Post Sat Nov 12, 2016 5:00 pm

New member, looking for advice on vinyl package

Hello All,

This is my first post here and I am new to the world of signs and graphics, however I think all I need to do is join up a few gaps in my knowledge to have some professional success.

Me

I spend a lot of time on boats and around boatyards, most of them have cut vinyl signs on and I have put many on myself in my time.

I am computer literate , have a spare laptop (and a couple of PCs actually) and have built my own PCs since the 1990s.

I am familiar with and comfortable using all the Serif design software, including Drawplus 8 and Webplus 7

The Cutter

I am acquainted with a sign maker who is cutting back on his activities and happy to sell me hi spare machine and help me get a toe hold. It is a Graphtec CE3000-60. I know the machine is old and some of the free software will not work with it but I believe that though aged it is lightly used and in good condition, he will supply with a new knife and some expertise. Is it worth the £500 he wants to part with it reckoning it is old tech.

Software

The new Serif package can out put DXF, DWG, SVG, PLS and plenty of other formats, I would prefer to design with this and export to the cutting software.

What would be the best value and suitably advanced cutting software for this plotter and graphics?

Alternatively: I have been looking at Signlab but cant work out which components are relevant to me and the minimum I would have to spend on dongle and software, I have downloaded and tried the trial, I am finding it useable but am sure it is a sledgehammer to crack a walnut for me!

Alternatively: I have downloaded and tried CoCut standard 2017 into which I find easy to import Serif files and it should be compatible with the Graphtec.

Any thoughts anyone? I am looking for a good value start which I am prepared to build on but shooting in the dark at the moment!

Thanks for making it this far!

Barney
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Robert Lambie

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Post Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:59 pm

Re: New member, looking for advice on vinyl package

I would prefer to buy a well looked after second hand reputable branded machine than any found on ebay and the like.

As long as you are working in a vector format, i am sure you will be able to export to another cuttable format compatible with your machine. but i would suggest checking first.

Signlab would be my first suggestion over any other. If you have design software then you will only need the "cut only" version of signlab. this will give you basic options and give you the ability to import, cut etc. once you feel like taking the next move, you simply add/upgrade the signlab module to the next level and so on. so you grow your business with the software step by step. hopefully you can ditch the other software you use and have a stand alone design and cut platform by signlab.

best of luck!
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Barney Sollars

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Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2016 9:34 pm

Country: United Kingdom (uk)




Post Sun Nov 13, 2016 8:14 pm

Re: New member, looking for advice on vinyl package

Robert Lambie wrote:I would prefer to buy a well looked after second hand reputable branded machine than any found on ebay and the like.

As long as you are working in a vector format, i am sure you will be able to export to another cuttable format compatible with your machine. but i would suggest checking first.

Signlab would be my first suggestion over any other. If you have design software then you will only need the "cut only" version of signlab. this will give you basic options and give you the ability to import, cut etc. once you feel like taking the next move, you simply add/upgrade the signlab module to the next level and so on. so you grow your business with the software step by step. hopefully you can ditch the other software you use and have a stand alone design and cut platform by signlab.

best of luck!



Robert, thanks for that, a couple of things to come back to you on....

I totally agree on the kit and have no problems with second hand, only concern is that with the CE 3000 being so old has it been completely superseded, what will I miss out on, though as a layman reading the manual: http://www.graphtecamerica.com/docs/Sup ... Manual.pdf I cannot see much.

On the SignLab, also agree, would like to be in with not only a known make but and expandable software solution, I believe that SignLab supports the cutter, does that mean that I don't need to worry about additional windows drivers?

Who have you found to be the best value supplier, Harry at Mathias' who I happen upon when phoning round? (he seems to have quite a name for himself!)and does the cut only module have to be from signlab 10 or can I drop back a version or two with and old cutter?

In terms of formats, Serif Drawplus will export in DXF format and that seems acceptable to SignLab, any comment on it as a format?

Thanks for taking the time to read and reply.

All the best, Barney.
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Robert Lambie

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Post Sun Nov 13, 2016 11:57 pm

Re: New member, looking for advice on vinyl package

I cant comment fair on the machine, it is like buying a second hand car. might look in great condition, bodywork perfect etc. but the engine is knackered! However, another way of looking at it is ide rather rely on a relatively unused used Bentley than a new Fiat Cinquecento for long term performance. :smiles:

Harry is a nice guy and does know his stuff, spoke with him recently regarding a Summa cutter. Yes he will sell you a module of Signlab like other Signlab agents selling the software in the UK, as a recommended UKSG supplier for "software", i would lean towards Brian Hays at Impact, not only as he sells signlab but also creates vehicle outline libraries we use daily, something else you should consider purchasing once you find your feet. https://www.impactgs.co.uk
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Martin Pearson

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Post Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:58 am

Re: New member, looking for advice on vinyl package

Quick google search revealed that the ce3000 was first launched in May 2003 so even if this is one of the first machines ever made it is still a few years younger than the FC4100 that I have :lol: :lol:
It will probably have a serial connection so you will need either a computer with a serial port or an adaptor from Serial to USB
If this is from someone you know & is their back up machine then you could always ask to see it cutting which should give you a better idea.

Another software package to look at is Vinylmaster, comes in a range of different levels & there is a downloadable demo so you can try before you buy :lol: :lol:

DXF is not a great format for the sort of vector work you will be doing as a signmaker, something like EPS would be much better
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Steff Davison

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Post Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:38 am

Re: New member, looking for advice on vinyl package

Why not go with the Flexi Sign cloud package, just pay a monthly rental? You can use a package which matches your business and it can grow as you grow. Flexi is also sold in the UK by the same company which distributes Graphtec machines.

As for the price of the Graphtec machine, its worth to you what its worth to you. You need a reliable machine which will produce consistent quality results, Graphtec have a good reputation within the industry.
Get a good demo from the seller before you buy it. A new blade with the cutter shouldnt be the deal clincher, blades are frumpence each.

When I bought my first used cutter my thinking was "If I can get 6 months profitable use out of it I'll be happy." I got 3 years out of it before it died, I got my money back in the first 2 months.
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George Neagu

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Post Mon Nov 14, 2016 4:21 pm

Re: New member, looking for advice on vinyl package

Barney, would you be able to test the machine properly to make sure it works fine? Cutting fine graphics, good tracking, accuracy etc?

To me £500 is quite a lot for an old machine like that with no warranty so why don't you buy a new Graphtec CE6000-60 for just over £1k (without stand, you can buy the stand later if you need one)?
It is a new machine, 2 years warranty on site, USB (no adapter needed) and it comes with all the software you need to start your business (no other software required). Later on, as you learn and find work, you can buy the stand, get a better software and move on.

Think the other way round (my personal experience), the machine will be your work horse for this business. If it doesn't work properly you can't get quality work done, you will waste loads of vinyl. You will waste time trying to get the machine running rather than finding work. And then you will realize you need a new machine.

Don't shoot in the dark, invest into a new machine first thing first. The computer and the software are accessories at this point, you can buy them later.
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Barney Sollars

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Post Thu Nov 17, 2016 9:40 pm

Re: New member, looking for advice on vinyl package

Thanks everybody for taking the time to read and reply, much appreciated and my apologies for not getting back to you all sooner.

As a bit of a round up in reply and maybe a supplementary question or two........:

The machine... none of you have condemned a machine of this age out of hand and since it has a USB port and I have the offer of help to not only see it working but to set it up and try it with my laptop it begins to look like a serious contender. I see the sense in going for new but there is a significant difference between £500 and £1200, the difference will set me up with all the start up ancillaries and materials in fact.

Software, design.... I like the serif package, I have been used to its predecessors for years and though it doesn't have huge distribution it is cheap enough to ditch if I don't like it and I am sure sophisticated enough to output vector graphics of the correct quality for most of the cutting programs.

Cutting software.... how vital is this, it is the most difficult wood to see amoungst the trees. I have tried the demos of Signlab, Flexisign and Vinylmaster. They all appear to be able to drive the CE 3000 60. after that it is difficult for me to judge but the vinylmaster cut basic seems to offer enough features to make things work but I have no idea what the extra bucks buy me in this area?

Let me know what you think and the pitfalls I am missing!

Thanks all over again! Barney
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Steff Davison

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Post Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:26 am

Re: New member, looking for advice on vinyl package

All the components are important, the tools are there to help you produce consistent quality results. They are also there to help you save time. I dont know your circumstances in any detail but I presume that you are going to produce graphics for boats.

Everybody has to start somewhere, from what you have said maybe it would be safer to get someone to cut your vinyl for you to start with, then you have saved maybe £2,000 on your setup. If things work out then look to invest in some kit and software.

At the stage you are at, sales are much more important than owning a cutter. You have a relationship with a man who has the equipment already.

Good luck
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Craig.Tiley

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Post Sat Nov 19, 2016 11:04 am

Re: New member, looking for advice on vinyl package

I'm not sure, but I think you can get the design and export only part of Flexisign, like Steff said you may not need the plotter if your mate can do it for you but I'd say you definitely need to get used to the design software. You do t need the rip so I think you can get it for around £16 per month. -I think!!!
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Brian Barringer

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Post Sat Nov 19, 2016 11:19 am

Re: New member, looking for advice on vinyl package

Hi , I started sign making 6 years ago i bought a cheap 2nd hand pcut for £100 i downloaded sign blazer for free , bought starter package of vinyl 5 colors 5 mtr in a roll plus app tape , knives , squeegies (cant remember cost) START UP COST WAS WELL UNDER £200, the cutter was a headache to set up but once i sussed it out i used that cutter for 2 years then upgraded to a new one for £300, i sold the old one for £120 on ebay, I still use pcut cutters i have a new one (bought in april this year) again that was around £300 ,with the the older cutter as backup, i also bought a roland cx 24 2nd hand for £300 but i am so used to the pcut i dont use it at all,
As for the software i still use the FREE sigblazer, i have no problems with it. I've been using it for so long i cant seem to get to grips with any other software i've tried, So the moral of my story is "you dont need to spend a lot to start up" :thumbsup: :tongue:
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Barney Sollars

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Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2016 9:34 pm

Country: United Kingdom (uk)




Post Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:18 pm

Re: New member, looking for advice on vinyl package

Hello All,

I would like to thank you all for your input and thoughts on my options and for offering me your advice and guidance even though I am a hobbyist/ start up.

In the end, I managed to secure the Graftec 3000-60 for £450 which I though was reasonable, it came along with a roll of vinyl to practice on and a spare blade.

The issue was always going to be that the graphtec design software would not work with a plotter of this age but I have managed to sort a solution.

A cheapy home build PC, drowningas it was in the modern world has been stripped right back and is now running Windows 7 and a Vinylcut master HLT from Ebay only.

We are therefore up and running for £550. the Serif software will save and export to the Vinyl master software but being as I am keeping it simple I don't think it will be needed.

So, thanks to all, now cutting ad weeding in the shed!

All the best,

Barney

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