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Help needed on deciding between dc4sx and sp300i

Discussion in 'Digital Printing' started by timstudio, May 10, 2013.

  1. timstudio

    timstudio Member

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    I have read a lot about these two machines and understand the pre's and cons as far as possible by reading only. However I still do not know which one would be best for me.

    At this moment I only cut vinyl (which started a year ago as a hobby and became very fast my main source of income) and have to say no a couple times a week to customers who ask for decals that are too difficult to make with vinyl. Not enough at this moment to justify the new machine but after buying one I intend to expand on the decals we offer to create the demand myself. (We have a webshop which mainly focusses on car decals like stripes and interior/mural decals.)

    I have seen a couple of testprints from the sp300i and was a little dissapointed about the quality of the prints from real upclose. I wonder if it is possible to print for example real sharp bonnet stripes for a car.

    So what will I be mainly producing with the sp300i or dc4sx?
    - car decals like stripings, logo's, bonnet stripes, car decoration flowers etc
    - company logo stickers in larger numbers (500 etc.)
    - warning signs etc (spot color on white background)

    So what do I not intend to produce with the sp300i of dc4sx?
    - banners
    - canvas prints

    The stores I have been to that sell both advice me to stay away from the summa. The main reason is cost per print. They actually didn't even bother to tell me more or let me see examples of the summa. They did for the Roland.

    I do realize that i will need a laminator besides the Roland and the Summa.

    My guts tell me that despite the higher cost per decal the Summa does fit my needs more and will produce sharper prints for my purposes. I guess (I don't know) a two-tone bonnet stripe will be of better quality from the Summa than from the Roland. So will be 2 or 3 colored flowers to cheer up your car. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Though I kind of decided to buy the Roland I want to be really convinced that it the print quality will be good enough for my needs. As said above, I guess the fullcolour pictures etc will be only a very small part of what i will be printing. On the other hand...I never guessed after buying the cutting plotter (summa) that I would be handling over 25 meter of vinyl a day and that I was going to quit my (good) job to start a fulltime signing business within a year.

    Any wise thoughts?
     
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  2. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

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    if you need solid spot colors, fine fine small detail, etc, then the summa is the choice for you

    If you need to do gradations of color, or any continuous tone prints (read: photographs) then go with the sp300
     
  3. jayhawksigns

    jayhawksigns Very Active Member

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    They both have their purpose, and we have a DC4sx as well as an inkjet printer. There are a lot of jobs that we do run on the Summa, especially when they don't need lamination and will come out of the printer complete so that we don't tie up the inkjet and standalone cutter with small sticker jobs.

    Also remember, the Summa prints white.
     
  4. timstudio

    timstudio Member

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    What I'm really interested in is the sharpness of the prints made by the roland for non gradient or fullcolour images. For example two coloured bonnet stripes as seen on the mini coopers. Is the summa superior in this area, of is the Roland 'just as good'?

    From what i have seen so far the prints by the roland look very good at a distance but from real upclose a black line for example is kind of..well a non sharp black line. Again, this is from upclose. Seen at a distance it looks like a sharp black line. Also spot colors have from upclose a lot of 'spickels' in them. Also here from a distance no problem.

    I guess this has to do with the fact that its printed on vinyl? Or are the smaples provided to me just poor, though I asked for samples where the machine performs at it best.

    I really lean to the Roland because I can buy the Roland with a lamintor for the same price as the DC4sx without the laminoter. And the inkt is cheaper than the ribbons. Than again, if the Summa would swipe away the Roland for my needs than the choice is easy.

    Btw, I'm not going to buy second hand but new.
     

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    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  5. FrankW

    FrankW Very Active Member

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    The SP300i don't print with spot colors as the DC4 does. Setting up Spot Colors in the graphic software and map them in VersaWorks is not the same as print with a ribbon of that color itself.

    "Spickels" arise on every media as soon as colours are mixed with other than 100/100-relations. The printers do not create reduced color tones with creating a lighter coverage of inks, they create reduced color tones with dithering.

    This happens with the SP300i and with the DC4sx, and the "spickels" on the DC4 are much rougher than on the SP300i. The advantage of the DC4 is that hundreds of colours can be printed without "spickels", as solid colours, with using spot color ribbons and so-called DuoSpot-Colours, where 2 Spot Ribbons are overprinted.

    Except this, the prints are immediately dry, much more scratch-resistant than prints with the eco-solvent-inks, the prints can get an additional protection for more chemical and mechanical resistance during the printing process (Scratchguard), and maintenance costs are mostly lower than on the SP300. White printing - what a SP300i can't do - is in opposite to eco-solvent-white longer-therm-outdoor-usable too.

    The main disadvantages of the DC4 are that you can print on real flat media (mostly vinyl) only, that the printer is very slow as soon as multiple colours are used (they will not be printed all on the same time), and that - because of the ribbon width - the borders of the ribbons can be recognized in prints even if correctly calibrated.
     
  6. DizzyMarkus

    DizzyMarkus Active Member

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    Part of what your missing also are color profiles for media you are using. If you just "ran" a print on the 300i---- what was the print setting on? normal? Did you select the right profile for what ya were printing on? IE-- (printing vinyl not banner). Theres more to it than what you describe. I have a 300v and if these things arn't choosen properly the prints are seriously different coming out. Spend some time reading around this vast place of knowlege, asking questions and you'll be amazed at how much there is to learn on the printing side of things.

    Markus
     
  7. timstudio

    timstudio Member

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    I know little to non about the printing side of the business right now. Though I learn fast :)

    The prints were not made by me but by the company selling the machines (a respected company.) The time I was there to gather information about the machines they made some prints for me, but this was done fast just to show me the machine (Roland) in working order. Since I had serious doubts about spending a lot of money whit the examples provided I asked them to send me better (the best possible) examples. They did, an some were on both fast mode and quality mode to compare results. This let me to my starter post because I was and am still a bit disapointed about the print quality.

    What I don't understand is that I never read negative comments about the print quality of these machines. Are my expecations to high? The photo I posted a few post earlier is done in quality mode. I understand that if the original file is not of to high quality, the print will be also.

    Whenever I look at a car decal on a parkinglot etc that is done in fullcolour (or multiple colors) it looks sharp..real sharp. What I have seen of the Roland looks (again unclose) not sharp and grainy.
     
  8. DizzyMarkus

    DizzyMarkus Active Member

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    I jumped in as you and quicly learned there was years of learning ahead for me lol -- I get by and still learning even little things daily. I am unsure of the 300I and 300v differences, I can say I can do high end photos with mine and the prints turn out awsome. I just listed some of the first problems I had at the beginning. Good luck and nice to have ya here.

    Markus
     
  9. FrankW

    FrankW Very Active Member

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    Perhaps you have seen cutted graphics out of coloured vinyl.
     
  10. Custom_Grafx

    Custom_Grafx Very Active Member

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    That sample you've been given is rubbish. Rolands can do much better. However, given your needs, summa or gerber sound better, IMO. Wait for a few gerber/summa owners to chime in and see what they say.
     
  11. timstudio

    timstudio Member

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    Yup, waiting for the summa guys.....:popcorn:
     
  12. garisimo

    garisimo Member

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    Summa DC4

    Hi -- we have a DC4sx, and love it. That being said, I love my five-year old son, but sometimes he does stuff that makes me scratch my head. Here are some details (pros/cons) about the DC4:

    - often uses a separate ribbon for OptiTrac marks (some colors cannot be read by the sensor); can be mitigated by user settings to save ribbon
    - great (really great) spot color printing; colors better than any cmyk mixing can achieve (orange, bright blue, hot green, metallics).
    - others have struggled with the 'lines between passes' issue; be sure to visit this site -- there are long conversations regarding the topic and other important information
    - consumable cost is high, but the free (really good) tech support is supported this way
    - machine is a tank; no nozzles to clog, media stays on target
    - gradients can be frustrating (see the site above)
    - color mixing impressive; can produce black with just cmy (cmyk needed for backlight applications)
    - slow print speeds; each color requires a pass with the corresponding ribbon cassette
    - RIP somewhat crude; not able to preview EPS before sending to printer (I still don't get this)

    We print a lot of labels and signs, usually spot colors (avoiding much of the gradient/banding issues). I'm not sure, in your case, what to suggest (DC4 or inkjet) -- the best evaluation, probably, would be to print the same file on both machines and see what kind of quality you can get.

    Good luck!

    -g-
     
  13. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    I would venture to say, if you printed the same files side by side on both printers, you could make one look as good as on the other. Other than garbage in.... garbage out, they both do quality work. The real test is you and what you send to it. None of these machines will produce miracles.


    • For the most part the Roland will need laminate.
    • So should the Summa, but not as necessary.
    • The Roland is far less expensive to run.
    • The Roland is much faster than the Summa.
    • The Roland is more versatile.
    • The Roland can print to a wider array or medias.

    Although the Summa sounds better now, you will be expanding your abilities instantly regardless of the machine you purchase and you'll not believe the many doors having a digital printer in-house will open for you. Only you can make the final decision, so don't rely on emotional decisions/reasons others have made. Think of what you can do in the next 6 months to year and which machine will yield you the best income.
     
  14. FrankW

    FrankW Very Active Member

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    Yes, Color Control is a really simple software. But there are other RIP's which supporting the DC4sx, for example Signlab or FlexiSIGN-PRO (better no version before 10).

    Depending on how much colours you use. A customer (I'm working at a dealer) prints mostly just white text on olive green vinyl (swiss army), or black letters on yellow vinyl. I'm shure its faster than the SP300i (which is really not a racer).
     
  15. timstudio

    timstudio Member

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    I think ,though the Summa would be perfect for my needs now, in the future the Roland would be the better choice for me because its diversity. Hopefully i will be in the position soon enough to buy a Summa to go along with it!
     
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