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Ever feel like giving up before you really got started?

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by N Johnston, Apr 3, 2021.

  1. N Johnston

    N Johnston Member

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    Hi guys, I'm a newbie since Sept 2020 in the signmaking/digital printing industry. My trade was graphic designer previously with outsourcing all print for 18 years, I'm into gadgets and technology so have a great interest in printers in general etc. To start out with in the printing industry I bought a Roland SP540V, Easymount cold laminator and Keencut Evo2 (all used and working) to learn on initially and like being able to learn and maintain things myself on the Roland. Just to make sure I want to do this long term and before moving onto a newer machine. In the last couple of months I've had problems like messing up print with the laminator, messing up applying vinyl onto Corroplast, Foamex and magnetic sign material. Done stickers where wasted a pile of laminated print as the cutting wasn't accurate and did everything to try to fix it, now everytime I print and cut (cropmarks or just p&c) I seem to have to adjust the cutting to get it right on each job whereas it was spot on before, v frustrating. Basically I've just been very frustrated with things going wrong last couple of months mainly due to human error except for the cutting issues. I've been teaching myself with no prior experience in practical printing and finishing through reading and videos with no practical teaching from anyone else and also doing this under pressure to get jobs out. So I am seriously doubting whether this is the right thing for me to do, should I just go back to outsourcing the print jobs or will this get any easier guys? I have bad anxiety at times and that doesn't help I must admit and go through periods of serious self doubt and feel it holds me back too. I have a fire in my belly to get this to work but problems just keep happening recently and it really gets me very down as I don't want to let clients down and want to give them the best result I can as customer service means alot to me. Just wondering what other peoples experiences were when they first started out, did you ever just want to give up as you thought you would never get the hang of things in this industry?
     
  2. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

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    There is a definite learning curve with digital printing, just accept the fact that you will make mistakes and those mistakes will cost you money, but as long as you learn from those mistakes and don't make the same ones twice you are learning.

    I've been doing this for years and I still get jobs that keep me up at night with anxiety, as a business owner the weight of everything falls on you, so its natural to feel overwhelmed at times. But most of the times my anxiety was for nothing as the client is usually thrilled with the final product. We are our own worst critic most of the time.
     
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  3. N Johnston

    N Johnston Member

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    Thank you for sharing your experience. With the likes of the vinyl application onto substrate I guess that will take a while longer to get to grips with, it can be frustrating to say the least! lol. I really have a passion for this type of work and hope I will pick up some of the more practical things sooner rather than later.
     
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  4. Reveal1

    Reveal1 Active Member

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    Something to think about is your motivations for doing what you do. You mentioned an interest in gadgets and technology. That's like someone with an interest in collecting or making guitars trying to make a living playing music. Some do, but the skill set is completely different.

    Maybe you should hire someone experienced in production and focus on your strengths. I have similar interests, but tend to stay out of the shop and instead focus on working with customers to develop solutions, determine products or methods to achieve sales etc. But I have an aptitude and interest in sales, a good eye for design and creativity, coupled with a good understanding of how to best use the various capabilities in the industry to the benefit of my clients. But I'm not a designer and just average in the skills needed in the shop so I have a great designer and shop manager. There is an up side to your problems; you are building experience and better understanding of the whole business that will pay dividends down the road. Just don't get stuck there.
     
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  5. Bubba06

    Bubba06 Just Somebody

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    The way I always look at everything is.......Education costs. You screw up thousands of dollars of material learning how, or you pay thousands to have someone teach you how.
    College aint free.
    Always try different techniques till you find what works for you. Not everyone does everything the same.
     
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  6. N Johnston

    N Johnston Member

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    Hi Bubba, thanks for your reply. I guess when you put it that way you're right. I appreciate your thoughts!
     
  7. N Johnston

    N Johnston Member

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    Hi Reveal1, thanks for your opinion. Thing is I really want to be involved first hand in this side of the business and don't want to give up just yet. I will perservere for another while to see how I go to know for sure if its for me or not, I appreciate your reply :)
     
  8. gnubler

    gnubler Member

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    OP, don't give up yet! I'm in a similar situation as you - a long background in design & commercial printing when a sign business basically fell in my lap at the end of last year and I decided to give it a try. I guarantee I have more self doubt than you could ever imagine, but I'm too far into it now to just give up. I did work in a sign shop for a year about eight years ago, but for the most part it's all new and yes, there's a lot to learn. Due to limited space and finances I'm outsourcing all my printing, and I do all mounting/production and cut vinyl in house. I'm a one-man shop and not sure I even want to do printing in-house unless I have a competent assistant to help with the inevitable printer malfunctions and random troubleshooting. Half the forum threads here are people having problems with their printers...I don't have the time or patience to deal with that by myself.

    Just keep practicing. Like Bubba said, it's going to cost you one way or another. I'd rather mess up and lose material by doing it hands-on, just keep notes on what went wrong and don't do it again. I've also found tons of helpful info here on the forum and if you ask a question, you will get answers pretty quick.
     
  9. iPrintStuff

    iPrintStuff Prints stuff

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    Where in the UK are you/who did you buy your equipment from? We have a decent relationship with pretty much all the big brands in the UK so I can definitely try help you find some potential tech support.

    That and can probably point you in a few directions for some media suppliers if you wanna PM me.

    Just get yourself some cheap rolls of media and test test test.

    All that said, the easymount took us a good few rolls of media to get ours dialled in perfectly. We actually tape our new rolls (when loading) right onto the grey roller (bottom one) let it slowly go through, head to the other side of the laminator and untape it before it wraps round the roller (takes some getting used to) but now we only waste about 100mm at the start of every new roll of lam and never get any issues with bubbling etc. That laminator is a thread in itself!
     
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  10. Jester1167

    Jester1167 Premium Subscriber

    The title to your thread sounds like you've already given up. I would give some thought to what you enjoy and what you really want to do in life, because if your heads not in it you will give up eventually. A long time ago someone taught me that problems come in threes. Is it true, somewhat, but what the saying does is prepare you for the next problem. They always seem to come out of nowhere one after the other. If you are not prepared they'll beat you down.

    Rolands print, remove, laminate, and cut feature was never perfectly accurate. You have to design your files with appropriate bleed to compensate. The smaller the print file the more accurate the cuts are. For a big 4x8 logo we would put a 1/4" bleed on it just to make sure. If we were cutting 100s of small decals we would break them into smaller batches for better accuracy. Cutting around a thin outline will show how bad the cut is off, so design with a thicker outline. Start using your design experience to guide your customer in a direction that will be easier to manufacture and give them a better product without all the hassles. You can sell designs that don't require perfect cuts so learn to work with the limitations instead of driving yourself nuts.

    For example: if you know your cut is going to be off 1/16th of an inch in a 2' x 4' logo, why would you use a 1/8" outline? One end will have a 1/16" or 3/16" outline. 50% larger or smaller. If that same outline was 1/4" or a 1/2" it wouldn't be as noticeable.

    Also, Rolland's print cut adjust feature is deceiving. It prints the adjustment print then cuts, then you enter the offset. If you do it again the test will remain the same distance away no matter what numbers you enter. That distance is mechanical, if you keep adding the distance (2+2+2+2..) trying to get it to cut perfectly during the test, you will keep getting less accurate. If you change to a new blade with a different offset run it again and adjust accordingly.

    As far as laminators go, they are like a significant other. They all have their quirks and you have to learn to work with them. Most of us only got a few hours of training and had to learn most of it on our own. It's tough but not impossible. You just have to have a knack for paying attention to cause and effect.

    A couple of tricks:

    After you load the laminate, or anytime you can see wrinkles in the laminate after the liner has been removed and before it hits the roller. Raise the roller and grab the laminate from the backside and pull out a few inches. While still applying the pulling pressure put the roller back down. This will even out the tension in the laminate if done properly.

    Stating a new run is usually where all the problems begin. If you feed it crooked it will walk to one side, not a big deal on short runs. If your leading edge isn't a straight cut, or you put too much pressure on one side of the other it can cause problems as well. Now instead of laminate wrinkling, you may cause the media to wrinkle. My buddy avoids this by leaving a tail from the previous print sticking out, unlaminated. feed the new print underneath until it wedged under the exposed tail. make sure it lays flat then start the laminator.

    If you mess up and it doesn't feed perfectly flat while in the process of laminating. Pull on the print from the center and it will minimize or eliminate the wrinkling. We're using short rolls 10 to 40' rolled on cores. We drop the rolled-up print below the laminator feed table and add tension (pull down against the laminator).

    Learn about making sure your roller pressure is even on both ends as well. Sometimes the pressure gets out of whack and causes problems you can't compensate for.
     
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  11. rjssigns

    rjssigns Major Contributor

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    When I had My SP540V I solved the cutting issue. I Bought a Summa D140R.;)
     
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  12. KatePhillips

    KatePhillips Member

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    Ooof. There's definitely a steep (and expensive!) learning curve. I am a graphic designer 15 years, with a BFA that helps with hands on stuff, but only in signage for 3 years. It took ages to gain confidence with material handling and installation, and I'm still learning every day.

    But, you're tapping into this resource, and there are many other places to look for support. Ask lots of questions to your suppliers, to installers, to your vinyl sales reps. They've got experience to share too.

    This is great advice, we do this all the time. As Jester said, paying attention to set up (into the Roland, into the lam) is worth spending a extra time to get right. If you have a gut feeling that the lam doesn't look like it's going to turn out, or the vinyl might roll you a head strike, just take the time to try again and fix it instead of hoping for the best.

    You're going to find all the little efficiencies and tricks with experience, good tiling, good workflow ... it just takes a while! You got this!
     
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  13. De.signs Nanaimo

    De.signs Nanaimo Member

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    Keep in mind running any print, laminate and cutting set up is a full time job in itself, and making a large format printing operation profitable, you need to have it printing sellable prints at least 4 hours a day. I have run many printers and laminators for other shops, but I still outsource all of my printing. I am a small home based shop and it does not make sense for me to run a printer yet, I just have a small 24" cutter.

    I do have excellent relationships with all of my print sources, and have a local sign shop run by an old work buddy print my vinyl.
     
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  14. Notarealsignguy

    Notarealsignguy Very Active Member

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    You have to suck it up and press forward. Owning a small business is all about the long game and if it was easy then everyone would be doing it. It's not out of the norm to feel like this when you are starting out or learning something new. As you grow and hire employees, your hired help will make the same mistakes (and then some) that you used to stress over so it never goes away. It's all part of the game and the sooner you learn to cope with it the better off you will be. There have been many times that I have wanted to throw in the towel and I am sure that the future will bring more of those times. Still beats working for someone else.
     
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  15. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Yeah, almost everyday, but then I remember........ I wanna eat and so does my family and others depending on me.

    Ya might wanna stop feeling sorry for yourself and just keep your nose to the grindstone. Coming in a backdoor like you did is always gonna be harder than someone coming up through the ranks learning a trade as they go. I'd like to take people's liver and gallbladders out and do transplants, but I can't find a place to start. Any pointers on that ??
     
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  16. N Johnston

    N Johnston Member

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    Hi there, thank you for your reply. We are in a very similar situation I see! I guess practice, practice, practice is the way forward if I want to keep in this business. I'm so glad you replied and for this forum! :)
     
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  17. N Johnston

    N Johnston Member

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    Hi there, I'm in N.Ireland. I bought from a business that was closing in the republic so not so much support I'm afraid and the printer is older so really its only forums, FB support pages and Youtube I can rely on, thank goodness for them! :) That is so kind of you and I really appreciate your help! I will send you a PM! I like your idea about the easymount in taping the media to the lower roller, I must try that! I might need a pic for you to show me exactly what you mean though if thats ok? Yes indeed, I've heard laminators are wayyy harder to learn to get it right than learning how to work a Roland! lol. Thanks so much for your help!
     
  18. N Johnston

    N Johnston Member

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    Hey Jester1167, thanks so much for your reply. I've had a rough 2 weeks and when I wrote this post I was very down I have to admit, but I definitely don't want to give up as I really do enjoy this work! :) I really want it to work for me as I have so much interest in it and I am technically minded and enjoy learning new things like this so I want to make a good go of it for sure. Generally I am a big self-doubter, so that will not help me at all! I really appreciate your advice so thank you! Can I just ask, when you say about the Print Cut adj - you say about changing to a new blade with a different offset, what do you mean exactly? Like changing from a 45 to a 60? I tend to adjust the settings in Service mode when my cutting is off as I realised it doesn't do anything in User mode. Many thanks!
     
  19. N Johnston

    N Johnston Member

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    Hi Kate, thanks for your reply! Its nice to hear that I will eventually get there going by other peoples experiences! Yeh when things go wrong I like to investigate why so I can make sure it doesn't happen again, sometimes its just takes longer than other as to 'why its went wrong' lol. There certainly is quirks with printers and laminators for sure, I guess it just takes time to get used to these things and as you say to build up a good workflow in gernal. Many thanks :)
     
  20. N Johnston

    N Johnston Member

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    Hi there, thanks for your advice, I see where you are coming from. Yes there is many factors in running a business, not just the practical side and I guess all those put together can get everyone down sometimes. I think time and practical experience is the key to this and learning to accept things will go wrong and to learn from it and keep pushing on to make myself better! I just need to learn not to worry so much I think! As you say, defo beats working for someone else! :) Thank you
     
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