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FC9000 + Take up reel review

Discussion in 'Graphtec' started by ikarasu, Apr 8, 2020.

  1. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    So I know when the FC9000 came out, people had a lot of questions... It's new and no one knew how it'd be.

    I've been using it for a month... I honestly think it's one of the best purchases we've made in a long time. We have 30+ rolls of vinyl to cut for one job... It's all variable data setup in 14'6" sections... I can send a job, open the other job..send it, and repeat 10 times... walk away, come back in 3 hours and the whole thing is cut and neatly rolled up. I don't have to babysit it, I don't have to worry about it skewing... It just works. I've done about 12 rolls for this job so far without a hitch.

    And to top it off... We started making Covid floor decals. We've been selling them at near cost, just to help all the small stores out - I've printed maybe 4 rolls so far... I set it up with a barcode on each set of graphics, hit the barcode button.... And I can walk away and it'll cut the whole roll without any issues! No way we could have helped out with providing all these decals if I had to babysit the machine... so another bonus to it.

    It sucks having to switch the blade to do a perf cut - but it's not too bad. I let the roll run with a kiss cut... put the whole roll back in in the opposite direction and let it run with a perf cut. it takes a minute to scan each section only, so I cant imagine summas being much faster not having to swap...and not having to change the cutting mat is great, so I still feel graphtec has the upper hand on perf cutting, even more so now that the barcode option for graphtec is so easy.

    So all in all...I give it 2 thumbs up. There are some quirks, but no machine is perfect. some things to note -

    1 - The barcode reader... You can have it pull files from your PC or from a USB. when I pull from the PC, it'll make a copy of the file...then the next time it tries to read the same file... it'll have 2 options and sit there asking which one I want. This seems stupid to me, and I'm going to assume for now that it's a glitch in my software - I havent tried uninstall/reinstalling, so it could be something to do with my install - but even if its a software glitch, I can't see graphtec keeping it the way it is. I reached out to support to ask... but with Covid, no reply in 2 weeks. So for now I just put everything on a USB and it works as intended.

    2 - The take up reel - You have to go under the bar and tape it up from the back.. so you absolutely have to use a 3-4 FT Leader to do it. I have a 3 FT Scraps of vinyl cut off, the first few times I loaded it was a pain in the ***... now that I've done 15+ rolls, It's super easy. It still feels a bit cumbersome... And can definitely use some improvements in the future, but overall it's not bad once you know how to do it - I can just imagine the headaches trying to teach our backup operator how to use it though.


    Long wall of text for a review! I know some people were asking and wondering about it though - Hopefully this helps you decide. I havent touched my FC8000 since we got the 9000... the takeup reel and being able to just cut unattended is such a convenience, I love walking away and operating all the printers...doing laminating and not worrying. I've considered offloading the 8000 on craigslist and buying another 9000... Still considering it!

    3 - The takeup reel uses 2 hubs in order to hold the core. Most hubs have a bit of an extension past 3" so when the media wraps around the core... if it's not a perfect fit it'll still have 1/8" on each side. The hubs are flat...so if you push them all the way into the core, you better be dead on when you attach the vinyl. And if you try to push it an 1/8 of an inch out before you tighten the spindle... Unless you're perfectly dead straight (Which I havent been able to do yet) It'll wobble in the take up reel part. Again.. not a big issue, just surprised they went with a straight edge design. I see in their videos theyre usually using a 60" core even for 48" Media.. which I guess is an option. But I have 20+ 48" rolls to do... so once one finishes, that becomes the new takeup core.


    The new ARMs sensor - The old FC8000 couldn't read media bowing. So far this is dead on - Even on the cheapest material we print on. It has an option for center marks in the top and bottom, I've used them once and it seems to work ok. All I know is everything is MM accurate now... Our fc8000 was getting old and would on occasion read off... That hasn't happened yet on this one.

    The new reverse-print mark system is great too. It makes printing on reflective a breeze - We even printed on chrome and holographic and it read them fine. Much, much bigger improvement than pre-masking all the marks, taking a ruler and felt and drawing the marks in.

    It has a new feature called recommended settings. I originally couldn't get it to read on the holographic material, even when I used the reverse print - Theres an option where it'll scan the mark, tell you which mode you should use, what you should set the sensor to, what color the mark, and non printed inside mark is, etc. I dont know why it doesn't automatically change that for you... You have to do it yourself, but it's super easy and a pretty nice feature to have. I was dissapointed I couldnt print and cut on holographic... then I tried this and it read perfectly.


    Overall... It's a great system! If you've been thinking of getting one, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

    I think it's way more expensive than the summa - We paid $10400 for the 160, $300 for the extra arm, then $3500 to add the take up option.. So it came to $14200 CAD. I believe the summa was about $4000 cheaper, although I don't know the take up reel price... so maybe it's equivalent.

    One thing to note - Onyx doesn't support it right now, which I found surprising. I cant use onyx for print and cut, there are no drivers available - Not even for non-barcode operation. Everything has to be done in cutting master... which I generally prefer anyways, however being able to load a bunch of different files and have them auto nest in onyx is great sometimes - not an option... And when they do have it, it likely wont be included unless you upgrade to a new onyx.... so I don't see that happening anytime. It being a completely new system, I'd be surprised if any rips support it - Sai makes flexi and cutting master, so maybe flexi does... but I haven't checked. So if print and cutting via onyx is something you need, it might be best to hold off.
     
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  2. bannertime

    bannertime Very Active Member

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    This is good info. I was pretty excited when I saw it. Hoping to pick one up this year.
     
  3. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    Oh, one thing I forgot.

    If you're used to a graphtec, you'll want to punch whoever engineered this one....

    As you're aware there is a fast button on the graphtec so you can move the head fast... well, that button is now the slow button on the FC9000, with fast being on by default. My muscle memory causes me to constantly press it to go faster, only to make it go at a crawling speed.... Then when I go to use my FC8000... I press it to go slow since I've been running the 9000 all day... and it goes fast. I don't know why they'd reverse the button to make it fast instead of slow... but it's a complete mind**** :mad: I do like the fast by default, less wear and tear on their cheap buttons that always seem to break... I just wish I wasn't used to it being the other way, and that I didnt have two different machines to use to constantly confuse me!
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
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  4. SignMeUpGraphics

    SignMeUpGraphics Moderator

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    Excellent review.
    Hah, I was just thinking yesterday about the fast button, and how it should have been fast by default and slow as the option.
    Our FC8600 is only 2.5 years old, so it'll be a very long time until we update it but good to hear about the improvements.
     
  5. pjfmeister

    pjfmeister Member

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    We recently upgraded one of our cutters to an FC9000 as well and are using it mainly for long run cut vinyl decals. Haven't used it much for print and cut yet as we still have an 8600 dedicated to that.... We have run close to 10 rolls of vinyl through the machine and it is amazing. The network cutting is terrific. Agree with the above post on every aspect including wanting to punch somebody on the SLOW button. This literally is changing our workflow including being able to get rid of an entire unnecessary workstation/desk etc devoted just to cutting gaining us additional workspace....
    Wish I would have paid the extra $300 for the additional arm....I went back and forth on this option and the techs at Graphtec talked me out of it....The tracking is incredible but the extra arm just would have added more versatility that I didn't think about when ordering.
     
  6. icedhot

    icedhot New Member

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    what do you mean by an extra "arm"?
     
  7. pjfmeister

    pjfmeister Member

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    additional pinch roller....we purchased the 30" cutter and it comes standard with 2 .... can add a 3rd....
    Larger units come with 3 and I believe you can add a fourth
     
  8. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    Buy one from your supplier. All you have to do is unscrew the bar holding the arms in and add it... They say you need a tech because you have to unscrew something, but it's user installable for sure.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. pjfmeister

    pjfmeister Member

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    thanks Ikarsu....I put in a call to my vendor Friday as I suspected this may be the case...thanks for verifying.
     
  10. jimmmi

    jimmmi Member

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    Still i don't understand why they just make it with little bigger gap between blade holders, so it can get two blade holders simultaneously, one for kiss cut one for perf and it would be the best. This read-kiss cut-change blade position-read-perf cut is i think nonsense.
     
  11. bannertime

    bannertime Very Active Member

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    I do think an upgraded model with dual self articulating blade holders would be a cool idea. I'd go for that. The swapping is annoying, but not a deal breaker for me though.
     
  12. jimmmi

    jimmmi Member

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    I Agree. Just this is much easier. Some mm design change on holder and cut strip, and a software change and voila.
     
  13. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    I don't mind doing all kiss cuts then switching to perf. What I wish they'd do is instead of a screw... Have a clamping system where you can just swing an arm out to clamp it in or remove it and put a new one in.

    The fc9000 screw is smaller than normal. Normally I untwist and slide the perf blade in... So far 9/10 times I have to untwist so much so it'll fit that the screw comes out...

    My new highest priority on my to do list is to design a clamping mechanism and 3D print it. Probably procrastinate for months... But I think it'd work better and be much more convenient Than the dumb screwing system.


    But again... Not really a deal breaker. I kiss cut a whole roll, swap it to the back and then perf cut. I find sometimes perf cutting will throw the alignment off, so I prefer to do it seperately anyways. It'd be nice to have an automatic tool changer though.... Kind of surprised they didn't make one considering Sunmas biggest thing is you can do it all in one go.


    Same with true tangential... Kind of surprised they don't have a tangential option either!
     
  14. bannertime

    bannertime Very Active Member

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    How do you handle the reversing of the cut paths for when you flip the roll around? The FC series does have tangential emulation that works well enough in my opinion.
     
  15. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    The FC9000 has a barcode reader. It doesnt matter which way you put the roll in, it'll auto read and cut in the right direction... one of the main reasons I love the 9000. And since it rolls itself up... all you have to do is switch the empty spindle with the full one, its pretty convenient.


    Onyx and Cutting master allows you to rotate the cut file on the 8000/8600, thats how I used to do it.
     
  16. bannertime

    bannertime Very Active Member

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    Well that's handy cause I've not really had any luck rotating the cut files in SAI Production Manager.
     
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