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Honest Opinions For Cold Feet!!

Discussion in 'Roland' started by PLECKO, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. PLECKO

    PLECKO Member

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    Apr 4, 2005
    I've been trying to get all info I can about Versacamms, I'm looking into the SP540, I want to make sure end users are satisfied with their purchases. Also looking in to a Royal Sovereign laminator. Any thoughts would be appreciated!
     
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  2. kermi

    kermi New Member

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    I am VERY happy with my VersaCamm. Mine is a 30" but would love to have the 54" if I had the room. We have a SC-540 at work and I I think the Versa has better results, only because the SC-540 has not been upgraded to use Eco-sol inks yet.:signs101:
     
  3. Scott Reynolds

    Scott Reynolds Active Member

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    Go for it and NEVER look back! Go big or go home!
     
  4. Ken Beyer

    Ken Beyer New Member

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    Hi.

    I've only had my SP 300 a few weeks and I'm new to wide format sign printing.
    I'm seeing how the 540 would be benficial for doing 4 x 8 signs instead of tiling it together. You just need to decide how many one piece 4 foot signs you expect to make. I am having some difficulty with my machine in getting it to track straight much beyond 8 feet. I'm using Metamark MD5 and am impressed with the results. One thing though is that when I print right to the edge of the cut path the vinyl curls up and away from the backing..annoying in that respect.
    Its worse when the printed area at the edge of the sheet is black. The black ink seems to be layed down thicker than other colors and I suspect that as it dries and shrinks it causes the curl up of the vinyl.
    Don't get me wrong, this is an amazing machine! Of course, I got my feet wet cutting vinyl but could never do the small text. The other day I made up 500 business card sized stickers and was in awe as it printed and then contour cut them all flawlessly. When printing is finished I find it necessary to pause the process to allow drying time otherwise it sucks the media back thru the machine and if it is a long piece the ink will smudge on whatever it touches. I've turned the heaters up to 50 and 45 and that helps but I still have to be carefull especially with black ink.
    Learning as I go but the Versa-Camm has greatly expanded my sign making capabilities.
    Good luck!
    Ken:Canada 2:
     
  5. Steve C.

    Steve C. Very Active Member

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    I don't want to change your mind if you have you heart set on a VersiCam. That’s what I was after at first too, but the information I was able to obtain here at Signs 101 changed my mind and I got a Mutoh Falcon Outdoor. I have no experience with the VersiCam so all that I know is what I have heard. Two things convinced me to get the Mutoh, It's faster, and it is considered better to have a separate cutting machine rather than an All-in-one. Also from what I have heard since I got my printer, is that Roland seems to be better about Tech support, depending on who you buy from, but it has not been a problem for me.
    Ken is right, if you can get something that prints 48" you will be glad in the long run. I understand that finances can be a huge factor though. Many suppliers will give demos, so make an appointment to go see one in action. Be very careful of salespeople who what to sell you what they want to sell you instead of what is best for you.

    Ken, I have also had problems with black laying down too thick with some vinyls, but not with the curling. Maybe try changing the profile or another brand of vinyl.
     
  6. ChiknNutz

    ChiknNutz Major Contributor

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    I am in the same boat here. For one, the Mutoh Outdoor 48"/Graphtec FC5100-75 combo appears to be the best bang for the buck at around $15k. But, the VersaCAMM 540V also appears to be a good machine, albeit more expensive at $20k. I think I've resigned myself to getting a 48" or bigger machine. Just seems to make good sense to get something that will do a "full sheet" w/o tiling. That being said, I am also concerned with tech support, even though many say that this hasn't been an issue. The guy I get my printing from (MasterSignWizard) is geographically quite close to me and did have a load of trouble with his 30" VersaCAMM - so support is important to me. On a similar note, he's offered to help me (even though I'd now be doing my own printing and not using him for much) and has the Roland 545EX. Having someone close willing to help you with a similar machine could be very beneficial, so that leads me to maybe want the 540V (can't justify any more expense) but it is another $5k more than the Mutoh combo. How clean does your room need to be to successfully operate this equipment? Can it be in a 'slightly' dirty environment, or would you just be asking for trouble?

    Another question/concern from a similar thread is media. From the looks of it, there isn't a lot of 48" material and 54" is much more common - any advice or experience on that? Do you print on all kinds of media, or do you only use what is included with the profiles? Similarly, sounds like the media profile is one of the most important things to have right. But, I still get varying degrees of info depending on who I talk to. Some say the profile has to be near perfect or the prints just won't come out. Others say that you can use the same profile for lots of materials with very little color shift. What has been your EXPERIENCE with media profiling?

    What about software? What are most of you using that have what I would consider "entry-level" printers? Are you using Corel and the included RIP or did you spring and buy Flexi or Signlab? The problem I'm having is getting consistent advice/answers on so many levels - everyone has a widely different opinion. I've talked to a few vendors and users and am currently more confused than informed. Some say you have to get better RIP and software, others say the included RIP is fine and others are somewhere in-between. I am just trying to get as much GOOD information as possible so I can make an intelligent decision. Being an Engineer, I guess I am WAY to concerned with details than maybe I need to be.

    I know that to some of you, $15k or $20k is no big deal, but it sure is to me and I can't afford a $15k boat anchor. Sounds like any of the machines mentioned here are actually quite good, but I also need to know what ALL is required here.

    I am still not sure of lamination requirements. I know that any vehicle stuff requires it, but am not sure if liquid is okay or if film is necessary. I get varying info. Seems that majority is FOR film lamination and NOT liquid - any EXPERIENCE on this?

    Based on my research, here's how I see it:
    Printer: $12k - $20k
    Cutter (if req'd): $3k - $5k
    Laminator: $1k - $15k (depending on liquid or film and quality of unit)
    Software: $0 - $3k
    Photo Spectomoter: ~$3k (to create profiles)

    Total: $16k - $46k - what is the reality here?

    Part of me wonders if I can even justify such an expense at all to do this right and not just get what I can get to get by, you know?!

    WOW! This is a long-winded reply, I hope someone is kind enough to answer a thing or two and not just blow by it :)
     
  7. CW Graphix

    CW Graphix Member

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    Chris
    I think you will be happy with the 54 inch Versa Camm I have the 30 inch model as you know from talking to me before. love the Machine. Lamintor is a must. Having a clean shop is a must. dust floats settles and lands on prints. I looked at alot of machines and the Roland was the best deal for me. I have had excellent support. I had a huge electrical surge and wasnt hooked to a surge protector and roland replaced the whole circut board in no time and I was printing in no time. As for the Software I use the rip provided by Roland. Love the rip! Flexis rip I have also and doesnt print as nice as Rolands. plus there alot of companys providing profiles for the Versa Camm since it has been so popular. IF you want to ask any questions email me your # I'll call you !

    Good luck on what ever you do! Mine paid its self off in 6 months!

    Chris
     
  8. Scott Reynolds

    Scott Reynolds Active Member

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    If you buy the Mutoh 48" outdoor, you will get PhotoPrint with it. You can use the dongle from PhotoPrint and buy an upgrade to Flexi 7.6.
     
  9. Greg

    Greg Member

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    I have the Versacamm SP-300 and use CorelDraw and the ColorRip 2.x software. It's very close with colors although I wouldn't want someone running around holding Pantone swatches up next to my prints.

    I've never used any of the other rips. Seems like an expensive experiment to me. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
     
  10. Barry

    Barry Active Member

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    This is a problem with all Eco-sol or Solvent inkjet printers. There are 2 ways around this problem.

    1. Leave a white outline around the decal. (It can be very small, just dont cut on the ink).

    2. Laminate the decals and then cut them. The laminate will stop the vinyl from curling on full bleed decals.

    Also ink load has a lot to do with how fast your decals will dry. The factory profiles have the ink load set at 300-400 depending on the profile. I find that 135-150 will work better on most vinyls. For Metamark MD5 I use a ink load of 135.

    I dont know why having a seprate cutter is better? I find it much more appealing to have an all in one machine. Just hit print and come back in 30 minutes and all your decals are done. You do not have the hassle of removing your prints and transfering them to another machine to cut.

    The cleaner the better, but you can operate in a dusty inviroment. I know because I do. I just wipe the vinyl down with an electrostatic cloth before printing. Works really well and takes almost no time.

    I can only speak for the versacamm. Most medias are printable with very little effort. Colors do not shift much. The generic profiles will print on most medias with out any tweeking... You will probably find that your going to stick with 1-2 different medias anyways.

    Rolands ColorRip is a great application. All you need to print with a versacamm is ColorRip & Corel.

    75% of the stuff I put out are small decals and people are not willing to pay extra for the laminate. The decals hold up well unlaminated unless they are abused with chemicals or abrasion.

    For lamination I feel you really need to go with film. There are 2 many issues to deal with on the liquid laminate. I also feel liquid does not give the same protection as film.

    Personally here is how I see it:
    Versacamm SP-540v $19,999
    Cutter - $0
    Seal Laminator - $5000
    Software - $0
    Photo Spectomoter - $0 (Not needed since profiles are provided)
     
  11. Colin

    Colin Major Contributor

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    Graphixtreme: We're in similar boats. To a big shop, this kind of expense might be painless, but for a one-man-show, you really gotta look at the numbers hard and resist that feeling of buying a new toy. I have to fight off that emotion. Yes, it would be FUN to get one of these machines and start printing stuff, but when you really look at the reality of your own unique situation and the numbers, it could be easy to join those who have made this move only to have it not work out. If you are currently farming out LOTS of digital printing on a regular basis - and I mean lots, then it might be a good move. But if not, then you'll have to spend the time, energy & money creating that market & demand to get the machine operating regularly to justify such a huge expense. When it's not running, it's not making you a cent. Frankly, I still find that most work can be handled with vinyl, and a new printer will not help you with sandblasted cedar, dimensional letters, and other various things we all do that don't come under the umbrella of printing. These machines are also physically HUGE, so do you have the space for it and a laminator? Also, the learning curve in operating these puppies (incl. color management) can also be quite vertical too. Then you'll need to stock various (expensive) materials that you will be printing on. If you do some farming out now for digital printing, just think of all the headaches you are saving yourself - like when the machine runs out of ink part way through a big print, technical problems, etc etc. Peace of mind has some real value.
    Know too that whatever you buy will be a dinasaur in short order as better technology will always be right around the corner.

    The real question ultimately is: how busy are you and how long will it take for you to get your money back on the purchases of all of the various components you've (wisely) listed? I think if I had 20 - 50 K kickin' around, I'd rather through it on the mortgage and just keep on plunkin' away. It seems too that there are loads of places (not just sign shops) with these machines and the particular market for this stuff has already become very competitive with price slashers.

    I dunno, I'd love to have one, but I doesn't quite make $en$e yet.

    I'd like to hear your (& others) thoughts on my comments, 'cause I'm in a similar situation.
     
  12. Steve C.

    Steve C. Very Active Member

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    You will also get Onix Rip & Print with the Mutoh.

    I have not needed to use Profiling, I get good prints on every thing I have tried except 751 Oracal and I manage to do OK most of the time with it. Strangely enough, 751 Oracal is the prifile I use for everything with a few adjustments to heat and color saturation.

    My shop has a mostly dirt parking lot and my office and print area is joined to the shop where we do sawing sandiing and has alot of dust. I haven't seen much of a problem with dust except on glossy vinyl, and then its not that bad.

    We are applying vinyl laminate by hand to some pretty large prints. If you are concernde with dust the liquid laminates are definitely out.

    One of the reasons I bought from Signwarehouse is they thru in Flexi Pro 7.5.5
    for $1500. I dont like it as a design tool, I use Corel 8 and export or cut and paste. Some versions of Corel, I have heard, don't work as well.

    I can't see the need for Me to have a 52" machine, unless you are over printing on a 48" panel. The 48" machines have an actual print width of 46.5".

    You may want to think about a wider cutter too. The FC5100-75 is 30" I think. I had the Jaguar 30" and in the short time I had it we had 3 jobs that I ended up cutting by hand because they were to big. Thats why when I returned the Jaguar I went for the larger FC5100-100 42" cutter.

    You can also call me Chris, you have my number.
     
  13. Steve C.

    Steve C. Very Active Member

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    "I dont know why having a seprate cutter is better? I find it much more appealing to have an all in one machine. Just hit print and come back in 30 minutes and all your decals are done. You do not have the hassle of removing your prints and transfering them to another machine to cut."

    Barry, I have been searching for the thread where Fred explains this, but can't find it. Maybe he will point us in the right direction. Basicly your cutter is tied up printing and you lose the use of your cutter untile it is finished if you do not have a seperate machine. Also for laminated jobs you must remove it form the printer anyway. I guess space is a consideration and it depends on each individuals needs. Help me Fred.
     
  14. Barry

    Barry Active Member

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    I think you would be supprised to see how cheap digital media (vinyl is). Its generally no more expensive then the sign vinyl counter part. Generally you just get larger quanities.

    When ink runs out you just take out the old cart and put in a new one, printing picks up where it left off, this is a non issue. You will also find that in general these machines are quite dependable (The eco-sol ones at least).

    Just because a machine is old and something better exists does not mean it can no longer make money. Look how long the gerber edge has been around, look how many people are still making money off of them.


    Most everyone here already has a cutter, I know I do. I have kept my cutter because honestly the versacamm just doesnt make that good of a stand alone cutter as its not extremely fast. Having a cutter and a printer/cutter combo allows me to print and cut on one machine while Im cutting on my other (Summa D60). This allows me to do double the work as I can operate them both at the same time. Big advantage in my book.

    The majority of my print & cut work is for small decals and go unlaminated (Infact Im running off 1000 2x2 decals as I type this. I find that smaller decals tend to bring in more money than the larger prints (dollar per sq foot). Dont get me wrong I do big stuff as well, I just get more small decal jobs.

    Its also pretty nice to be able to queue up a job of 100 decals, kick it off and go to lunch. When you get back you have 100 decals printed, cut and ready to go.
     
  15. geb

    geb Very Active Member

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    I want to address Colin's comments, because I also have thought about a smaller version, rolands desktop printer-plotter, mainly because of the price and not having a big market.

    The future in this biz looks like you definately need to have a printer, and a larger one. I guess I'm 50-50 on a printer right now, mainly because of price and small market and not full time. I guess I need to try to get better at airbrush, hand painting, and dimensional signage to keep up.

    George
     
  16. Barry

    Barry Active Member

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    Preferred method of obtaining a printer is via Lease (Since its 100% tax deductible). My lease payment on my 30 inch versacamm is about $350 a month. This means that it only takes 1-2 small jobs a month to make my payment. Add a laminator and maybe it takes 3-4 jobs a month to cover the cost of equipment. I mean this is a no brainer to me.

    Ink and vinyl costs are minimal at around $1 a sq foot. These machines can bring in from $7-$20 a sq foot or more.
     
  17. Colin

    Colin Major Contributor

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    I guess one thing I forgot to say was, if you're located in an area with a good population with a good economic pulse and not a sign shop on every street corner, then I probably wouldn't hesitate. I just have it quite tough in my area.

    On the economics though: Let's say you spend $30,000 on a set-up. Well, you're not making a dime until the thing has finished paying for itself in profits, not just gross sales. Factor in all of the interest that you'll be paying as well.

    This is akin to how so many sign shops don't charge enough for what they produce. They seem to charge as though they got all of their equipment for free, and just charge a low hourly rate plus materials. Granted, these are often the ones with design capabilities so poor that their pricing might even be viewed as too high for what the customer gets, but that's another topic.

    (There have been some good articles in the past in Signcraft about factoring your overhead).
     
  18. Barry

    Barry Active Member

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    I guess we are looking at it in 2 different ways...

    I look at it like this:

    Say the equipment cost me $500 a month to have, materials for that month cost me $200 and It brought in $2000. I just made $1300... Now these are made up numbers (Mine are higher than these), but this is how I see it work. You can make profit before the equipment is paid off.

    The printer gives you another avenue to make money. I can tell you it is a lot easier to print 500 full color decals than it is to cut vinyl (1 color) for the same quanity.

    BTW, Im a few miles outside of Houston and there are tons of sign shops around here. I also work out of my house in a 11x11 room so overhead is low.
     
  19. Colin

    Colin Major Contributor

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    You could be completly correct Barry, I am certainly no expert in economics. I guess I just tend to be very careful on such expenditures - (although I did see the value in purchasing better, expensive, industry-specific software, and a good plotter), but I think that given the way things are in my area, if I were to take the plunge, I'd find it to be an added overhead pressure every month (there are those slow months). But I could be quite wrong and am missing a green colored boat.

    Hey GraphiXtreme, where are you?

    :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2005
  20. Barry

    Barry Active Member

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    Colin, you have every right to be conserned about a purchase this large. Your spending a lot of your hard earned money. Im just trying to show you the other side...
     
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