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DC4 - or... thermal vs inks

Discussion in 'Summa' started by Conor Knoxx, Jun 9, 2007.

  1. Conor Knoxx

    Conor Knoxx Member

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    Looking, researching, and thinking day and night about my first digital printer. When I review my situation (I try to be objective, but its SO darn easy to fool yourself!) and requirements, the Summa really seems the "perfect fit".

    However, it is indeed my first (hope it won't be my last! lol ) and a mistake here could be uhm.. unpleasant.

    Sales Reps: "mine is the best, of course.. here's why!".. that doesn't help much..

    So... Some parameters that I'm looking at / working around:

    - space - quite crowded/cramped and a very open, retail/office environment. So odors, mess, fumes.. alll are a very big consideration!

    - space/utility: One of the "sales pitches" is "one machine to rule them all".. no laminator, no seperate cutter... is there truth here? What about on tough, high-scrub environments like vehicle work?... Still no laminating? Again, saving the space of seperate machines is more than a little attractive here!

    - odors: claim non-existant? True?

    - off the press, and into action. No drying, etc. Again, with limited space, and being a rather small / new shop this is a great feature to me.

    - the double cut/contour thingy (don't make me break out that brochure again, for the right wording!) - eg: makes rows of decals, contoured and ready to "tear off" into their respective sizes. Cool. Useful. (I think)

    - spot colors and white printing. Good in theory. In practice?

    - Speed: sounds slower than ink/solvents. However, the claim of running "24/7 unattended" might offset this too? Not to mention, if the machine ends up running day and night, I'll probably be looking at a bigger location and wanting more cool stuff to work with! Also, when I add in laminating, back to cutting.. I'm not so sure time is still slower?

    - Media cost: more, but how much more? Allowing for time and laminating again, is it still true?

    - Can't print on paper. I dont' see a current need for this, but I CAN see how it might be useful, and open up other business opportunities. Totally excluding this potential is actually one of my bigger concerns.

    I'm sure there's other comparisons to consider, but I'll stop here and see what others have to say. If I were leaning towards an eco-solvent model, it would probably be the Mimaki JV3 at the top of my list.


    Opinions are more than welcome, some debate is darn fun too!

    Thanks in advance,
    Conor
     
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  2. chopper

    chopper Very Active Member

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    the summa is a good machine no doubt, is it confusing you bet!
    I have a friend that has a summa printer (and I use to own one) it isnt the dc4 but it works the same the dc4 has a few up grades like built in cutter and pre cleaner that is kinda like a lint roller that picks up dust etc before it lays down the resin on the vinyl,
    he always laminates his prints also and if you talk to summa they will tell you the same thing if it is going on a vehicle or out doors it should be laminated,
    the big deal with the summa is when you are not using it you dont have to worry about ink drying out etc, but the draw back is that its cost per sq ft is higher, (I think more than double of an ink jet) and summa also wants you to use their approved materials to print on.also the print heads are costly for the summa and are a high ware item ( because of the heating and cooling cycles that the print head goes through constantly)
    the ink jet when laminated will hold up just as well as the summa's prints
    since you should laminate anyway ( I know some will say you dont need to but if you want to do it right you will be laminating) there really is no loss other than some maintenance on the ink jets which for me hasnt been a issue thus far and I have had my roland versacamm for aprox 2 years... you can also print and cut with the versacamm, but there are also other makes of printers that I know little about and most of them are not print and cut machines
    they have the cutter separate from the printer and some think this is better, since you can be cutting on one machine and printing on the other at the same time, and for high output this may be a plus (I have a separate cutter with the optical eye that I use if I need to do alot of printing and cutting at the same time) also it depends on how fast you need to print the faster the machine the higher volume it puts out I think in this category the summa is also slower than an ink jet some of the ink jets are really fast and that depends on how much you want to spend$$ these are my opinions and conclusions that I have come to in doing research on the same subject you are asking about hope this will help you //chopper
     
  3. gnemmas

    gnemmas Active Member

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    Summa should give you the printer free and make money on consumables. Printing cost is about 10 times more if full color because there isn't 3rd party stuff. Spot color is it's advantage.
     
  4. Conor Knoxx

    Conor Knoxx Member

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    :Big Laugh
    oh yes, that made me laugh hard, because I see the truth in it! Kinda like desktop printers! I also run a small computer shop, where we were recently selling Canon printers for 49 bucks. The cartrides would set you back 65. Go figure.

    well, so far 2 important things I've learned.
    I'm not getting out of laminating that easy, and to look at aftermarket inks as well, when comparing media/print costs of the two technologies.

    Am I glad I asked? :glasses:

    :thankyou:
     
  5. didital_mike

    didital_mike New Member

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    One more thing to mention is perhaps;

    If I need some prints desperately, one the Summa I can cut if off and use it immediately.

    When we print from the Mimaki, and the Ink coverage is more the 80%, I have to wait 24 hours before we cut as the solvent seam to shrink the media badly.

    (This is from a non-print operater)

    best regards

    Mike
     
  6. ColesCreations

    ColesCreations Member

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    We have an older Summa DC1, print cost is high, so if you intend on printing 24/7, go with something else.

    If printing 1 day/ week, small stuff or pictures on sides of 18-wheelers, not for close wieving, Summa is great.

    Spotcolors bring down print cost, that's about the only advantage, as a solvent printer mixes spotcolors just as well, to make a color CMYK, on a 1 sqm picture, summa uses 4 sqm of ribbon, or 40 meters. a roll holds 100-120 meters, @ $50 or so, so "ink cost" is around $20 / sqm or $2 / square foot... + media...

    We are looking for a used Mimaki JV3 SP, but will probably keep the Summa for smaller stuff and decals etc.

    As for built-in cutter- don't want it. (At least don't want to pay extra for it)

    Good Luck!
     
  7. Stan B

    Stan B Guest

    (signweb.com - has few used Mimaki listed)
     
  8. Mike Paul

    Mike Paul Major Contributor

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    Get Both... :thumb: :tongue:
    I use my VersaCamm more than my Edge 2 but having both is real nice.
    It really depends on what the majority of your work consists of. They are two different animals and both have their pros and cons. This subject has been brought up many times so you may be better off trying a search on this forum for information.
    .
     
  9. dclet

    dclet Active Member

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    fdsfdf
    I own a dc3+ hopefully I answered some of your questions below

    You need enough to get to the back easily, they put nice wheels on it and it does roll easy but it's a pain to load. 50 yards of 40" vinyl is heavy ( dc3 ). You must squat behind the machine to load it. I do not like loading the machine.

    None. Unless I am around :)

    indeed. I think alot of people do not consider the backend of this machine.
    from the machine, weed, tape and apply. Time is money isn't it?

    yup, spot on too.

    Both work well, spots are fantastic to work with, and being able to use white
    can be a god send.... :)

    it's a dog, all thermals are. Has it caused issues? yes, so does poor scheduling.

    who cares! :)

    What's nice - if it runs out of ribbon it will stop and tell you to load it.
    then it's back on it's merry way with out a hitch. Try that with an inkjet.
    You can also print window perf, using white ribbon on clear vinyl. This works well, and no dirt to clog the holes.


    not true with the newer series dc3 and 4. I put the square ft cost at 2.62 (summa premium, cym)
    I run mine 24/7 I turn a good profit. :) We do some wholesale stuff for local guys and all are pleased with the results.

    The Summa machines have a steep learning curve,they do not like crummy files, things you get away with on an inkjet will not fly on Summa stuff - but then again there used to be talented people in this business who new the difference :)

    Buying Summa brand stuff isn't all that terrible and the price isn't bad atleast you know it's clean.

    It's a specialized machine and it is not for everyone, you really can not compare the 2 technologies.

    inkjet prints fade even with laminate, laminate a resin print and it will last as long as the vinyl does.

    We've replaced the print head twice. Once under warranty (no big deal) and then I believe about a year later - $1495.00 for a new head plus another 500 for core charge which you get back when they get the old head. I wasn't smiling.

    We do mostly vehicles and yes I have put stuff on without lam and it does hold up well.

    Color is vibrant and repeatable <- is that a word?
     
  10. PGSigns

    PGSigns Active Member

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    I have the DC4SX and for my limited space and the type of work I do it does very well. I do a lot of decals for manufactures and a lot on clear. Being able to print white has been a big seller. I lettered a truck yesterday that the logo was printed. Measured the truck when it got here, adjusted the file for size, printed it with the scratch guard coating (works good) while it was printing the cut vinyl was rolling off the graphtec. Two and a half hours later the truck was done. That is the advantage of the thermal. I do laminate some of what I do and I farm our my big prints. I also use mostly Summa material. I have shopped around and for the most part they have better prices than my other suppliers.
    Jimmy
     
  11. gnemmas

    gnemmas Active Member

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    Let's say you print 4,000 sq.ft. a month, (average 200 sq.ft a day), at $1.00 per sq.ft. difference in consumables, you do the math.

    My Gerber Edge, Red doesn't last 2 years, CYM even worse. Guess Suma use Super thermal ribbons?

    I really encourage you guys stick with Suma printers. I know you won't be lowballing me on prices. :)
     
  12. Checkers

    Checkers Very Active Member

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    I gotta agree with mike on this one :)
    Comparing inkjet to thermal is like comparing a pen to a pencil. Both serve a similar purpose and do their jobs well. However, each has its own benefits and liabilities.
    I could list a whole lot of pros and cons on both. But I'm feeling lazy.
    Pros...
    Thermal is odorless, clean and fast.
    Injet produces some beautiful images at a lower cost.
    The cons can be the flip of the pros :)

    Either way, the cost of materials should have little impact on your purchase decision. Being abole to provide your clients with what they want and need is more important in my book. So, it's up to you to decide on what printer will work best for you.

    Checkers
     
  13. Conor Knoxx

    Conor Knoxx Member

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    Wow, everyone's input here, and in other threads as well, have been extremely helpful! I don't think its made it any easier to decide, but I sure am making a far more informed and objective decision.

    Heh.. It seems just as I get one facet figured out, I discover there's two more important things to consider! :glasses:

    I can see where media cost really shouldn't be major criteria for such a purchase. Though this whole laminate/don't laminate seems to be tough to decide on. I had a rep visit with samples from the summa and Mimaki, and that person insisted that laminating was unneccessary :rolleyes: and I'm certain many folks who use the thermal systems don't. When you add in the cost of laminate, AND the labour of applying, it gets easier to argue media cost. I suspect that in applications where its a judgement call to laminate or not, you'd probably be fine not doing so, using thermal products. However to me, there's a huge difference between "laminating less often" and "never, ever having to laminate"! If you have to laminate "sometimes" then you have to have that equipment and inventory on hand, which takes away from that overall appeal (to me)

    "Buy both"... heh.. I can see the wisdom in that actually! Not in the budget just yet though.

    I'm in a small town, so I think versatility is going to be the most important consideration. Covering the widest variety of services seems to be most logical way to stay busy here :thumb:

    Also had a rep who handles Mutoh products in... hmm.. some impressive stuff there, and reading the forums here seems to support the quality and versatility of these little guys. Though only 48inch max width, I can have a 1204 Valuejet up and running here for just over half the price of the "big lads" previously considered....

    More to think about.

    Thanks again all!
     
  14. imakeitwork

    imakeitwork New Member

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    Very pleased new DC4SX owner.....

    My 2 cents says you won't regret getting one. I've had mine up and running for about 2 weeks and the results are amazing. I am using Corel X3 and have done a personal crash course on learning the machine with excellent results. I have tried multiple materials from Oracal, Summa and Vinyl EFX all with great results.

    This is a fantastic machine and is already paying for itself. :)
     

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  15. PGSigns

    PGSigns Active Member

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    Imakeitwork looks like all the time you spent asking questions paid off. Good to see you like your Summa.
    Jimmy
     
  16. imakeitwork

    imakeitwork New Member

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    Thanks Jimmy...

    It's folks like you who make this forum a great place. Your advice and experience helped me get a head start on learning this machine. You were right in saying this is not a plug and play machine but once you get familiar with the basics it's just plain fun and really does some amazing stuff.
    As I run more jobs and try new stuff I will post pics and I enncourage anyone else who has questions or who is considering purchasing one of these machines to feel free to ask questions..... that's what it's all about.

    Thanks again.

    Mike T.
     
  17. ColesCreations

    ColesCreations Member

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    One more thing- I agree with Mike- get both.

    We started with the Summa, but needed photo quality, and bought an Epson 10600, which is great on paper, but useless on anything else, so we're buying a Mimaki JV3, keeping the Summa for stickers, some signs etc, getting rid of the Epson, and adding on to the shop... We have been in business for 2 years now, and know a bit more now, what our customers want.

    And- the Epson DOES let you know when it's out of ink, today in the middle of a 8' print, just removed the cartridge and put a new one in, the print continued. It has even had the "ink low" light on for a month or so, I sure hope the Mimaki does the same! This feature is just as good as the Summa's "uninterupted print".

    Oh- Summa unattended Overnight? No way! 1-2 hours max unattended I'd say, unless you put in a new roll of vinyl, and replace all 8 ribbons before you leave, and what if there is a speck of dirt on the print head? Everything printed will be ruined. I would not chance it even if it was possible.

    PS- We only want to use original inks, the equipment is way too expensive to experiment on, and ink cost is such a small percentage of what the customer pays, that it should not be an issue for a small shop, unless the printer runs all the time.
     
  18. onesource

    onesource Very Active Member

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    Get one and get started your wasting time thinking about it.
     
  19. Hitch-Hiker

    Hitch-Hiker New Member

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    We Manufacture outdoor food consession trailers for the fair industry.

    http://www.hitch-hikermfg.com/

    http://www.hitch-hikermfg.com/frontlitsigns/index.htm

    We have been using Summa for the past 3-4 years.

    When the DC3 (36" machine) was intorduced, we upgraded from a prisimjet printer and were very satisfied with the DC3 machine.

    We added a DC4 last year.

    after well over 100,000 sf, on these machines. (this is probably a lot for some and not much for others) I can give my input on your questions.

    Summa service - very helpfull and personal

    Supply cost of material thru summa - as reasonable as anyone else, most times better.

    Dependable - dc3 only down one time needing print head replacement - we did this in house and only was back up running the next day.

    Unnatended printing - for about 2-3 hours at a time, we dont have a need for longer.

    Speed - seeing many other options that are faster.

    Photo quality - I dont understand many of these comments about it not being tight enough, not a photograph, but pretty darn good, we have printed our ads and have them framed on our office walls.

    Noise - not silent, but I can be on the phone beside it.

    Odor - none

    ----

    Would I buy form them again? Yes, We are now looking at flatbed printers, as my research just brought me to this forum.
     
  20. bwatson15

    bwatson15 New Member

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    hitch-hiker NICE STUFF! You did all that with the dc4 without lam?Im looking at a printer.I don't use it everyday.So the cleanup thing is a concern of ours.Along without having to laminate.The Racing guys around here are wanting the raps?
     
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