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Considering a second printer, views please?

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Matthew Boulton

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Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 3:11 pm

Considering a second printer, views please?

Hi guys,

So I can't honestly believe we are actually considering this less than 12 months after purchasing our Roland Vs-540 but we are thinking we may need a second printer.

Just to put this out there our business is 99% online wall stickers for children's bedrooms and vehicle graphics on online marketplaces so margins are much tighter than the sign world.

I'm just looking for some opinions, as stated currently we use the VS-540. Our operation is print then 5 minute delay then cut, left for 24 hours before weeding application taping and packing. Some of our designs are quite intricate and 90% are over bleeds. It's got to the point now where our labour of weeding, application taping and packing ready for post is taking about 5 hours for 12-14 hours worth of print/cutting. We are only a 2 man team but obviously at present we have the man power it seems that the equipment is slowing down the operation.

Firstly I would like to say we are having a busy few weeks so I would like to wait a month to see how our sales are but I have been at the unit from 8am till between 8-10pm Monday-Thursday over the past few weeks and from around 2pm onwards it is solely due to printing. We have Christmas around the corner (our busiest time of year) and I am somewhat concerned our current setup will not be able to handle it.

My first thought was to just get another VS-540 so all prints would be the same colour and we know the printer and software well however finding one with our ink setup seems difficult to find (C M Y K C M Lc Lm). I'm quite shocked to see that second user VS-540's seem to be more expensive now than when we were looking and bought ours 12 months ago.

Another thought was to just purchase a separate cutter such as the Roland GR - 540, use our current printer solely for printing with reg marks and moving them over to the cutter but i'm not sure how quickly we would outgrow this setup (if things continue to progress) and still need to invest in another printer (probably print only).

Had a look at Mimaki CJV's and they seem to be much cheaper (Up to £3000) and readily available than the VS-540's but then it would be learning new software and a new machine which i'm not sure how much of a headache this would be.

Lastly had a look at the cheapest option which is the slightly older HP Latex machines such as L26500 but when it comes to these I haven't a clue how they compare in terms of speed of printing etc. Done a bit of reading and understand they won't need the outgassing that the solvents do which would be ideal but would then need to buy a cutter to go alongside this.

Sorry for such a long life story post but my heads in a whirlwind as you can tell.
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Denise Goodfellow

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Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:20 pm

Re: Considering a second printer

My first thought would be having the same set up as you already have now. Then hopefully if you print a job on one machine, it’ll look the same when printed on the other machine. Diffent machines, diffent inks diffent rips I would have thought will give you diffent results.

If you are getting really busy, should you consider biting the bullet and get a printer that can cope with the increase work load... sell your printer and buy a printer that’s 3 times as fast, giving you the equivalent of 3 printers.

Consider a separate cutter or if that’s where the backlog is 2 cutters
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Alex Crosbie

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Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:43 pm

Re: Considering a second printer

What sort of length of material are you printing and cutting on a daily basis in linear metres?
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Matthew Boulton

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Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:21 pm

Re: Considering a second printer

Thanks Denise never thought of selling the printer and going down that route, I am a bit apprehensive of that route as we had the head replaced back in April (after a nasty head strike) and had a service so we know the machine is in top condition.

I'd say we probably print on average 10-15 linear meters a day at the minute in the busy spell its probably between 15-20 which may not sound a lot but when you take into account the cutting as well it adds up. For example our most common job we do takes 34 minutes to print on standard print settings. I've just checked the job log and with the cutting it takes roughly 60 minutes. Which is leading me to think getting a roland cutter to pair up with this might make a lot of sense.

Do any other machines read roland crop marks?
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Daniel Evans

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Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:50 pm

Re: Considering a second printer

You could print other manufactures crop marks such as graphtec? Out of interest what material are you using for the wall graphics. I know there's been talk of them not sticking due to to what paint is being used.
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Chris Wilson

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Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:51 pm

Re: Considering a second printer

Having read your post I would be inclined to go with a separate cutter. Much cheaper. Useful tool to have. You can also set printer to run through the night which will increase its productivity, but I have only done this for print only, not print and cut.

Looked at a jaguar plotter once before for this. I was told the two could run together. Never bought it though. Had a “cutting speed” of 60cm per sec, which is double what your machine can do, but most top line plotters can do that anyway.
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Matthew Boulton

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Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:41 pm

Re: Considering a second printer

Cheers guys, we do have a small graphtec CE6000-60 unfortunately not large enough to put most of our stickers through but I suppose I could use it as practice to get the crop marks setup correctly.

As for vinyl we tried quite a few, being on online marketplaces means being competitive on price so we wanted a cheap monomeric that would stick to walls. As we are competitively priced there was no chance we could use the designated wall art vinyls from some suppliers. Kevin Busby from here advised us of the LG Vinyl that allprint stock and we have been using it ever since, the stuff sticks like you know what. Would probably pull the paint off the walls but we do advertise as a one time use, semi permanent sticker. Thousands of stickers sold and it's rare we have a complaint of edge lift, but they do happen once in a while.
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Luke Culpin

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Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: Considering a second printer

Would definitely suggest a separate cutter!

Does your printer have a take up system? Allowing you to leave the printer going overnight/run it from home? If not the latex 260 will have and should be a great printer for what you are doing!
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Alex Crosbie

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Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:50 pm

Re: Considering a second printer

A separate cutter would definitely be the way to go. The print and cut all in one is a great space saving option but that’s all it does well.

A roland cutter will be the easiest option for your current workflow and will drop straight in to versaworks. The standalone cutter will be faster at reading crop marks and cutting speed and accuracy than a print and cut machine.

You could use a different manufacturers cutter but you’ll need different rip software as versaworks won’t run any non Roland cutters.

Your current printer should easily print 50 square metres during a day shift and the same overnight if you get the jobs queued correctly. The cutter should easily get through whatever you’re throwing at it.

One thing to look at is slightly simplifying the cut path if it’s a job you cut regularly.... taking a few nodes out to make things smoother can make quite a difference to cut speed!

Hope that helps!

Alex
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Matthew Boulton

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Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:21 pm

Re: Considering a second printer

Thanks all, we do have a take up unit for our printer but honestly have never used it since we just setup roughly 2 linear meter print and cut jobs by nesting then sheet cut then start the next one.

Obviously will have to watch some tutorials but could I technically set up all the days prints in the morning in one nested job but have it setup to print crop marks every 2 meters or so? So when it comes to the cutter it would be in 2 meter sections so the cut alignment doesn't end up tracking off? I have no clue how to work the take up... haha

Personally after the head strike we had previously I'm really wary about leaving the room where I can see the printer for any period of time, so I couldn't imaging allowing it to print overnight. I suppose the take up technically is a safe measure holding thw vinyl tight.
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Alex Crosbie

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Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:34 pm

Re: Considering a second printer

Yes absolutely using the take up would be the way to go, incredibly simple to use it just takes up the slack and winds it on to the roll.

You’re correct you would set up each print and cut job with crop marks for each job.

What was the cause of your head strike previously? They’re generally most prone when first starting a print as the media tends to wrinkle during changes in heat, do you use the Roland media clamps on the edge of the vinyl?
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Matthew Boulton

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Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:40 pm

Re: Considering a second printer

It was pretty much 1.5 meters through a job seemed to be heat related though. Vinyl puckered next to the media clamp slowly over time the clamp cut into the media lifting it, ended up completely mangled under the head... only left the room for 20 minutes.

So would I load all my files for the day into versaworks, create 2 meter jobs by nesting them to fit with the crop marks then highlight multiple nested jobs and send them to the printer queue?
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Bernard Gallagher

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Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:44 pm

Re: Considering a second printer

Recently got a new HP 335 with separate plotter has increased productivity massively. Def recommend it for your job. The HP Latex for fast turnaround no curling edges & a very good print. We are doing online stuff as well. The HP Latex are miles ahead of solvents for turnaround times.
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David Stevenson

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Post Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:10 pm

Re: Considering a second printer

We have a Roland EJ640 printer, GR640 cutter, & XR640 print & cut. Most of our stickers are done without much human intervention on the XR640. It prints and cuts happily in the corner. The plan was to print like you've mentioned in short lengths then cut on the GR using the crop marks but I find the machine constantly runs off after a few sheets which is a real pain. Doesn't seem to matter how accurate you set up the 1st sheet or still seems to run off. I believe there are cutters that automatically adjust the sheet, the our Roland is missing this feature for sure :-(
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Leigh Howden

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Post Wed Sep 05, 2018 10:33 am

Re: Considering a second printer, views please?

I do a lot of online work most of which is print and cut

I have a Roland versa express and 2 mimaki cutters (cutting is also the holdup)

Never understood why you would buy a print and cut machine unless you are tight on space!

I'll be honest when doing unlaminated stickers I have the printed vinyl coming out of the printer straight into the cutter parked in front of it doing printing and cutting simultaniously
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Matthew Boulton

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Post Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:23 am

Re: Considering a second printer, views please?

Noticed a few of the mimaki cutters about how are they compared to the likes of Graphtec? Is it simple enough to set up the reg marks that the mimakis read?
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Leigh Howden

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Post Wed Sep 05, 2018 11:38 am

Re: Considering a second printer, views please?

I used to have a summa cutter which was great. Only changed as the summa was a 1220mm and I needed a 1600mm cutter to match the printer. I was at a show and deal was done

Regarding reg marks. They are both the same to set up although the mimaki uses only four marks (one at each corner) that makes jobs over 2.5m near impossible to register at all four marks. The summa printed black squares along both sides and read several marks alone each side allowing for scew. This means it can do far longer print/cut images if required

Other than that I can't fault it. Brought a second one last year and may swap the oldest one (10 years old now) for a shinny new one next year
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Shawn Bentley

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Post Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:05 pm

Re: Considering a second printer, views please?

hi Mathew, we are looking at putting our 54inch gx540 up for sale if your interested? its £1600. we used to run a print/cut roland then changed over to a ej640 with seperate cutter and have never looked back, we do alot of print cut with lamination so used to always have to wait for print jobs to finish before cutting them all, now by the time the next print job has finished we have weeding and packed the previous jobs, its halved our time for jobs,
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Matthew Boulton

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Post Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:42 pm

Re: Considering a second printer, views please?

Hi Shawn,

Certainly interested although i've tried looking up the model and can't find any information. Im just either getting gx500 50" or gx640 obviously 64inch. I would say if you could message me with some more details that would be great but not sure if I can access that unless I become a full member?
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Shawn Bentley

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Post Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:09 pm

Re: Considering a second printer, views please?

Hi Matthew sorry i ment the gx500, i have the gx640 as well as we own a 64in ej640, i kept both thinking i could cut on both or use one a stand alone cutter and the other as a print cut but majority of my work is print cut so we seldom use the gx500 now, i literally took pics the other day to put up for sale on that well known auction site lol, not sure if id need to put up in equipment section buy/sell (rob if you could let me know if ok tia) its only ever spent its life in a clean office and not been work hard as when it was only cutter we had the print/cut machine.
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Matthew Boulton

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Post Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:07 am

Re: Considering a second printer, views please?

Looks in great condition, where are you based Shawn? Were in Stoke-on-Trent
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Shawn Bentley

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Post Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:55 am

Re: Considering a second printer, views please?

hi mate, we are based by stansted airport, hertfordshire
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Shawn Bentley

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Post Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:29 pm

Re: Considering a second printer, views please?

Sent u a pm/email with my contact details if helps

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