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Hello from Alabama!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by signguy95, Dec 10, 2004.

  1. signguy95

    signguy95 Active Member

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    Hello everyone...My name is Jay and I am 24 yrs old and I have been in the sign business since I was 11. My Dad owned a shop that does automotive striping and accessories...so thirteen years ago we bought a computer and a plotter from JSI Sign System in Atlanta, Ga...We bought this to do decals, 4x4, ect. for our 400+ car dealers that we serviced...which quickly turned into a sign shop on the side. About 2 years after we made this purchase, our business went from 100% automotive to 75% automotive and 25% signs...but now the signs has grown to about 50/50 in our business...This really helps when the automotive business slows down. We don't do tremendous sign or anything complicated because of the automotive business keeps us tied to the shop, but we get by. We do alot of vehicle lettering at our shop and we are currently thinking of expanding our shop with a digital printer. So if anyone has a versacamm or a Summa DC3 and wants to share there thoughts and input on these I would appreciate it. I would like to know on average how much it cost you to print signs...(not specifics like .32 sq./ft, but like 4x4 sign usually cost me $ ? ). Stuff like that. Thanks, for getting to know me a little...maybe I can get to know ya'll a little, also! :peace!:
     
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  2. Dennis Raap

    Dennis Raap Active Member

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    Hi Jay can't help you much with the printers but I am sure some one here can.
     
  3. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    Hi Jay and welcome to Signs 101.

    If you haven't done so already, I would read the various threads in the digital printing forum. Lots of good info there.

    If you're aim is for vehicle graphics and not for banners, I think you will find the most appropriate printers to look at would be the VersaCamm, the Mutoh Jr. and the new small Mimaki. Whatever you decide on, even a Summa DC3, protect your reputation and also get a laminator. You will need it for your prints to last.
     
  4. mrugen

    mrugen Member

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    Hi Jay its Mark Rugen. Welcome. I live in Alabama and just got a VersaCAMM for evaluation from Roland. I'll set it up next week and let you kow what I think. Email me anytime.
     
  5. geb

    geb Very Active Member

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    Hello from NY State.

    George
     
  6. signguy95

    signguy95 Active Member

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    Mark, that would be great if you wouldn't mind! And Let me know how it prints on reflective or if it can? ! Thanks
     
  7. jimdes

    jimdes Active Member

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    Jay, I hope you're advertising at your dad's car washes too! Lots of cars ride through those things and those are the people that care about the appearance of their vehicles.
     
  8. signguy95

    signguy95 Active Member

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    Hey, How did you know that my dad owns a carwash? Do you know my dad or me somehow? Just come as a shocker to me when I read that! LOL :Big Laugh
     
  9. SteveB

    SteveB New Member

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    Hi Jay: I work for a sign supplies company here in New Zealand. I've seen several Versacamm's and the stuff they can do and would agree very strongly with what Fred says. They're easy to operate and create awesome graphics - or dreadful graphics, depending on whether you're colorblind or not :) but you will need to protect the print. You probably don't need to buy a laminator - just brush on some ClearStar Clearshield or similar liquid laminate and the graphics will be fine. I've heard almost nothing negative about the machine, however the support has come in for a bit of criticism here but I'm guessing that's because the guys selling them are selling truck-loads and haven't much time for hand-holding. It's a very flexible system and will allow you to explore markets previously the stomping ground of genuine craftsmen, air-brush artists, textile shops, sublimation printers, the list goes on. Let no-one tell you otherwise, this machine is changing the industry very quickly. What I would say to you is my guess is that there will be a lot of SP300's coming up on warranty expiry soon and people may decide to offload them and go wider anyway. The machines cost a lot of money and you'd better be sure you've got the volume X margin to justify jumping in. Who knows how long they'll last as this is still relatively untried technology. You might want to keep an eye on eBay, 4Edgetalk and on here for used Gerber Edges. They're a real bargain right now as some people abandon the technology. I think the Edge is still a great machine, no-lamination required and at $4-$5K used is a snip.
     
  10. signguy95

    signguy95 Active Member

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    thanks for the info maybe I can find a deal on a versacamm...But don't the Gerbers cost alot in terms of output?
     
  11. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    Sure the cost of output is higher but no so you can't get a great return. And there's lots of things you can do with it that the inkjuets can't touch.

    If I can get $14 to $15 a foot for vehicle work do I relly care if my cost goes from 60¢ a foot to $2,00? Not really when I can sell the client on why he shouldn't go for the inkjet job because my work will be full cut and have much higher durability.

    I regularly retail ready to apply 4 color work in the $20 to $25 a foot range while most of the inkjet guys are selling banners for $5 a foot.

    But the truth is that the Edge is for one kind of product range while the inkjet is for another. There's some crossover. Either one will make you a good return if you learn to use it professionally.

    The running cost difference is not what should concern you. How easy it is to generate a profitable return is what should.

    As you go through life my son,
    Whatever be your goal ...
    Keep your eye upon the doughnut,
    And not upon the hole.

    Mayflower Donut Shop, Washington D.C.
     
  12. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    Try this with a VersaCamm

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    or this

    [​IMG]

    Both these jobs cost under 15% material cost to produce.

    Gas Grill sold for $1100 .... Mary's Orchids sold for $700
     
  13. signguy95

    signguy95 Active Member

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    I would like to be able to produce most types of signs, BUT I already have found out from listening to you guys that it is not possible to do it all with one machine...I mostly do vehicle lettering, banners, permant signs, fleet trucks, and police vehicles...with that said I will be looking for something durable and with vibrant prints. I know laminating will help with durability...and the cost of output isn't much of a factor considering what I could charge for the difference (which isn't much), but I would like to know what people prefer for producing prints for my type of work...I would like to expand my options for my customers...(printing a fade on police decals, ect.) I think that the time gained from printing two and three color jobs would make up the difference in ouput versus the labor I spend layering vinyl now! Also I would like note that the time from printing to actual installation is a major factor in my line of work as I *usually* don't have time to wait hours for it to dry. Let me know everyones opinion!
     
  14. jimdes

    jimdes Active Member

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    I used to live in Alabama in a prior life. Used to do gun shows down there. The name of the biz sounded familiar. Got in touch with an old buddy down there and he said yer ol' man is the mayor now too.

    Oh yeah, I think I'm gonna do the VersaCAMM when I move . . . said I'd probably never go digital but I'm gonna have to in the market I'm moving to. Lots of upscale stuff so it's either that or a router.

    For the time being, I'm making stencils and painting or blasting.
     
  15. signguy95

    signguy95 Active Member

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    Hey JimDes, Who is it that you know from Alabama that I know? That's some crazy stuff! Lol
     
  16. jimdes

    jimdes Active Member

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    Don't think you really know him, David Neese. Does business in your area, but from Auburn. Has a wholesale sports clothing business. I think he has a place on weiss or wise lake.
     
  17. SteveB

    SteveB New Member

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    I think you've decided

    Hi Jay: I think that you may have made your own decision on this one. The great thing about the Edge over the Versacamm is that for vehicles, with the versacamm you will require liquid lamination - there's just no way around it. If a police car gets washed once a week then Versacamm prints will not last long without lamination. Dry lamination is quicker but the conformity of the vinyl will be significantly reduced. With Edge prints - a final pass with abrasion guard - basically a clear final layer of resin is recommended. I don't know about the US but here in NZ the police cars have a lot of reflective on them. Gerber have an 'Edge Ready' range of reflectives and also offer transparent foils for use on them - I think there's a cruiser that someone's done with an Edge in the gallery on 4Edgetalk.
    Something you will never be able to do on a versacamm is print 'Chrome' on dark coloured vinyl - I know guys here do lots of wheel centre's using this technique which they finish with doming gel. Looks great. You can also print white with an Edge - not possible on a Versacamm. There's other stuff you can do with the Edge - Fridge magnets, Lexan overlays, static cling and don't forget that T-shirts are easy peasy. You just print with normal foils onto resin-receptive heat transfer media, weed it, lay it up, cover with a teflon sheet and hit it with a heat press and you've got instant textile-shop capabilities, great for a dozen T's or so.
    So what are the drawbacks. Well - There are several for the Edge that you should be aware of. Width is a bit of a problem with some people. The media that the machine handles is 381mm wide punched. Of this, only 299mm is usable - anything wider needs to be tiled, which I've seen done and the joins are almost invisible when done well. Another problem is the software. This is my opinion but it looks pretty clunky and seems to require a lot more time invested than for Example Corel or Illustrator or any of the sign making packages. Most people do any bitmap editing outside Omega and import to separate which is pretty easy it seems. You'll need to find out locally about support for the machine - it's handy to have a helpful distributor, they normally are when you're buying their foils. In saying that, the system is bulletproof and has been around for almost a decade now so is tried and trusted. You need to look at all the options. The Edge is not the answer to all your wishes & desires. It requires a bit more investment of time and effort to learn properly - it's not as high-tech as the Versacamm. I suppose the nice thing about the Edge is that if you don't get rich with it this year, maybe next or the year after - or maybe you might start really making hay in 2009, cos it'll probably be still plugging away then. :peace!:
     
  18. signguy95

    signguy95 Active Member

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    thanks for the help I am definetly starting to look in to the Edge...but what about the Summa DC3 plus is it not the same style printing as the Edge? I think it uses foils? Well I'm really not sure I just know it's a thermal printer that maybe totally different thought! Thanks for the help though! :thumb:
     
  19. SteveB

    SteveB New Member

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    Sorry Jay: I've no experience of the Summa thermal offering whatsoever. They make pretty good cutters though - Gerber re-badge them and call them as P2C's - funny old world eh?. Steve.
     
  20. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    The DC3 has some advantages and some drawbacks.

    1. It prints and cuts using thermal resin like the Edge does and it does it on 36" material. The Edge uses 15" material, requires a separate sprocket fed plotter and has an 11.8" max image height before paneling is necessary.

    2. It has a single source supply channel, so you pay top dollar for materials. Gerber supplies come from a large network of dealers and there is a thriving third party aftermarket.

    3. It has very few outlets for supplies or for service and repairs.

    4. It has a very limited line of supplies. Films are limited to 2 mil and 4 mil. Spot colors are sparse and overprint UV/Abrasion guard, the last time I looked, was not an option. The Edge is excellent in the variety of films it will print on and the variety of spot and process colors with which you can print.

    5. Going by the experiences of one friend I know that has one, they require a very clean environment and seem to be very sensitive to static. An Edge, conversely, has wipers and static reducers built into it and will do good prints anywhere you put it.

    6. The DC3 features a foil changing carousel freeing you up when printing a job. The Edge requires you to manually change foils.

    7. The DC3 has not sold anywhere near the number of Edges and, as such, has nothing much in the way of owners sharing information at forums like ours and 4EdgeTalk.com.
     
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