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Advice needed on the best entry level printer please?

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Peter Thomas

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Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:11 am

Country: United Kingdom (uk)




Post Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:58 am

Advice needed on the best entry level printer please?

Hi

I’m relatively new to the world of Sign making and only started in August 2017 as a change of career. So far things are going really well and on average getting a couple of jobs a week.

At present I only really offer cut vinyl to my customers, have done a few CNC lettering jobs where I have sources externally and then just fitted for the customer.

Now I’m looking into the world of printing and it seems a costly one to enter. I want to look at offering better window decals to clients and also the printed vehicle graphics.

I wanted to ask really if I would be better getting these printed 3rd party for now until there is a real requirement and then just fitting for the customer. Or look at purchasing an entry level printer etc?

If I was to purchase a printer any suggestions for a good entry level printer please. Found a couple of Roland Camjets on eBay going cheap but don’t know if they are too old and slow? Also would I then need to invest in a laminating machine???

I am also thinking of purchasing a manual laminating machine as I’ve done a few jobs where I need to flood panels and have been doing these manually. Fairly easy to do single handed with a wet application for hardly any bubbles, but think it might be easier with a laminator.

Any help, advice or suggestions would be really appreciated on both laminators and printers or techniques you guys use.

And finally can I say what a great help this website is. I have learnt a lot of tips from the questions asked and the advice given it really is a great help to read through everything.

Thanks in advance.

Peter.
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Chris Wilson

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Post Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:26 am

Re: Best entry level printer

Hi peter,

We bought our first just 2 years ago so been through the research you are doing.

It depends on a number of factors.
We settled with a Roland vs 540, second user, it’s print and cut, it’s also under Roland care so all parts covered and gets a service once a year. So far that’s saved me a lot of money.
Personal I world stick with a print and cut machine, however others on here will disagree. Great for small volume though. We do 25m-50m a day.

We also bought a laminator. You don’t have to laminate everything, but I would for vehicle graphics, window graphics etc.. anything that can be touched, rubbed against, scuffed past etc..
as for doing sheets you can, not as easy as it looks I believe. We haven’t tried yet.

All in all we spent about 15k. But for the volume we do now it was all worth it.

Personally I would avoid eBay. These machines need to be on 24/7. Amazing the amount I have seen sat in a yard with a cover over them that have been picked up at auction or something.

I would avoid going to cheap just to get one in the near future, we looked at were we wanted to be 3 years from now and bought what we needed for that. There are plenty trade printers out there that do a good job but it will reduce your profit for time being.
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Martyn Heath

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Post Sun Jan 14, 2018 1:49 pm

Re: Best entry level printer

I was in your shoes for the last 8yrs. Until last summer when i got a second hand solvent printer and laminator. My advice (as most peoples i expect) is to learn to walk before you can run. Find someone that will offer you trade prices on print and buy it in until you are doing high volumes and you can take the jump. I can tell you financially that with doing low volume (couple of print jobs a week) you would make more money buying it in.
The machinery is costly and more importantly its happier when its be worked regulary. Continue as you are and reconsider in a year or two when your more established. Thats my 10p anyways-
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Martin Pearson

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Post Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:23 pm

Re: Best entry level printer

Pretty much as has already been said, anything cheap probably doesn't come with a RIP, have a look at the price of RIP software & all of a sudden your bargain printer isn't such a bargain, then when you finally get it to run you find that the print heads need to be replaced at £500 each (that's if you can fit them yourself) so you spend another £2000 trying to get it to run :lol: :lol: :lol:
There is also quite a steep learning curve, they aren't quite as simple to run as the desktop printer you are use to :lol:

you will also need to buy a laminator at the same time, if you don't then you will be asking for trouble, anything going on a vehicle should be laminated, solvent prints may have UV inhibitors in them to help with fading but constant washing to keep a vehicle clean can fade a print fairly quickly :lol: :lol:

As the others have said already, it is often best to stick with a trade printer until the volume of print work has grown to a level where it is worth buying in your own machine. By then the amount of money you are making from digital print will more than cover the cost of buying a decent machine. The other plus is that this also gives you more time to concentrate on building the business & learning all the other stuff you need to learn if your quite new to the industry :lol: :lol:
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Peter Thomas

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Posts: 23

Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:11 am

Country: United Kingdom (uk)




Post Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:18 pm

Re: Best entry level printer

Hi guys

Thank you all for your comments and personal experience it is invaluable to me to say the least.

It would be great to have all the equipment to produce everything in house but like you’ve said you need to walk before you can run.

I’ve learnt a fair amount over the past few months and looking forward to the year ahead and hopefully building the business more.

If anybody fancies doing some trade price prints for me then let me know

Thanks again all and keep up the great work and keep pushing forward.

Peter
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Hugh Potter

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Post Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:01 am

Re: Advice needed on the best entry level printer please?

I went for ten years without my own printer, subbing it in from various people until eventually buying a used Latex, rip, laminator and new cutter. A big jump even after 10 years and a lot of experience!!

The other thing to bear in mind is getting used to the files you're working with, I don't know your background in design but designing (sometimes very large files) for print, in cmyk with cut lines etc. is a lot different to designing cut files in solid rgb colours and simply cutting from solid vinyl.

As a final condieration, these printers take up a lot of space, floor space alone my printer is 2400 x 600, laminator 1700 x500 and cutter 1700 x 1000, a decent size workbench to handle weeding and prep of large would be a min of 2.4 x 1.5m, then all the space to work around, store the variosmedia etc. etc. I 'managed' in my old unit for about 18 months with very little space and while it was do-able, it wasn't practical and I've had to increase my unit size by moving, with increased costs and everything else that goes with moving!

I wish you the bst of luck but as others have said, learn the industry aas well as you can before taking the plunge. I've seen an awful lot of people spend a lot of money early on and end up in trouble. Some of course have gone on to great things!!
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Mark Andrews

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Post Tue Jan 16, 2018 11:51 am

Re: Advice needed on the best entry level printer please?

Morning all, I wish that I had been given this valuable advice 4 years ago!
Jumped in rather too early with less than no knowledge of what I was doing and landed myself a load of kit before I really knew what I wanted to do with it...
The good news is that I seem to have survived, and all but paid off the machinery costs.
I would definitely suggest finding a decent supplier of printed or print/cut items and keep beavering away with the cut vinyl for the time being.
When you have a machine stood still because you either can't work it (suffered that one) or you simply don't have the work for it (yes, this too) you will find your enthusiasm diminishes very quickly. And your money.
Ebay machines always seem too good to be true, and often are - no warranty, unexpected repairs and high running costs are not to be taken lightly. I had a bit of a blow when the workshop roof leaked in a storm- right on top of the business end of the printer...that stuff makes a grown man cry.
Am I still doing the right thing by carrying on? Sometimes I wonder, but as every day goes by and the business gets stronger it seems it is worth it. Would have done it differently if given the chance though..
There's my tuppence added!
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Peter Thomas

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Posts: 23

Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:11 am

Country: United Kingdom (uk)




Post Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:07 pm

Re: Advice needed on the best entry level printer please?

Thanks everybody for your great advice from experience and stories. My mind is now made up that outsourcing seems the better option. Better to make a small profit than a huge loss in equipment etc. Leave it to the experts for now lol.

Thanks again any other advice more than welcomed

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