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Just starting out

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by LuckyGirl, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. LuckyGirl

    LuckyGirl New Member

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    I am just getting started in the sign business after years as a designer. Am looking at 30" Roland Versacamm, Daige Quikmount4 38" and a 59" rotary trimmer. Do I need to buy all three to get started? Or can I do without the laminator right now? Does anyone have any other manuf recommendations? Also, how dust/particle free does the equipment area need to be? We've got kitties.
     
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  2. Replicator

    Replicator Major Contributor

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    If your buying a solvent printer, you'll need to laminate . . .

    If you think you can do that by hand, then you can hold off on the laminator.

    Rotary trimmer ? ? ?

    Welcome !
     
  3. LuckyGirl

    LuckyGirl New Member

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    Oct 26, 2008
    As in rotary trimmer / large cutter.. ? Do I even need that? Any advice on the brands? Is the smaller size printer enough to start with?
     
  4. weaselboogie

    weaselboogie Very Active Member

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    You may want to consider outsourcing your digital printing until you feel you have enough work to justify a 54" wide setup. There's a lot of wholesalers in the merchant member directory. Cut vinyl is still very popular for your meat and potatoe jobs. You CAN cut vinyl on a versacamm, but if you think you may be doing a lot of cutting you would probably want a designated cutter.
     
  5. Replicator

    Replicator Major Contributor

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    Rolands good . . . If you can afford it, get a 54" now !

    Roland or Graphtec Plotter . . . I use a 30" Plotter.
     
  6. LuckyGirl

    LuckyGirl New Member

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    I am outsourcing now and want to branch off into another source of income. What is the resale on these machines should I decide upgrade in a year and sell the 30"? A friend does cut vinyl but I think with my clients i need to be a bit more versatile -- trade show stuff, etc.
     
  7. RobGF

    RobGF Member

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    If the trade show business is really your intended market, I suggest that you don't limit yourself to an eco-solvent printer. The better trade show products are typically made using aqueous ink jet printers. Right now, the HP Z6100 really seems to be popular (but it's not a sign plotter).

    If you're looking at a nice compromise machine then by all means look at eco-solvent which will keep you in the sign game and trade show game. But if you want the best possible trade show product eco-solvent isn't it. Sorry.

    In the trade show market, a laminator is a must. My preference is a heated unit as it allows me to apply psa (pressure) films and if need be, hot films. Of course this will add quite a bit to your budget.

    The last thing is, if trade show graphics matter, rather than a rotary cutter, look at a 100" or so KeenKut Javelin. They're really nicest item you can have around for accurate trimming of pop-up panels.
     
  8. LuckyGirl

    LuckyGirl New Member

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    Well now I am feeling a little overwhelmed. Am I going to be in over my head?
     
  9. technowolf

    technowolf Member

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    welcome
    good luck
    read and research...
     
  10. LuckyGirl

    LuckyGirl New Member

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    Thank you. Any suggestions on sources? I am confident I can do this and am excited about it. I do a lot of design work and have worked with many sign shops. I am technically savvy and know I can "get it". The more I look/ask the more I feel overwhelmed and am having some trouble keeping the equipment/info straight. My sales rep is not helping much. Any sources/info is much appreciated.
     
  11. Ken

    Ken Major Contributor

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    Digitalprinting.net is "almost" as good as this site..
    Welcome from BC.
    Ken
     
  12. bob

    bob Major Contributor

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    If you want to print, you'll need a printer. If you want to cut vinyl, you'll need a plotter. Laminator? Rotary cutter? There are other ways. Spend the money you would have blown on a laminator and a rotary cutter on
    a couple couple of large tables [4x8 ok, 5x10 better, 6x12 best], cutting mats, a 4, 6, and 8 foot straight edge, 4 or 6 architect's paper weights, and maybe a Big Squeegee. You'll do just as well and be money ahead, A lot of money ahead.

    I'm sure you think you're technically savvy and messing with design and dealing with sign shops might count for something, bog knows what, but large format digital printing will humble you. It's not a desktop printer on steroids. Figure on about six months to a year of burning up ink and media until you even catch a glimpse of "get it". If then. Some never do. The only thing that prepares you for dealing with these machines are these machines.

    Drown the cats.
     
  13. Checkers

    Checkers Very Active Member

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    I don't say anything about Bob's last comment :)
    If you intend to grow into the display industry, don't waste your money on anything 30" and keep outsourcing until you have about $100-$150k to spend.
    While you don't need a "clean room", cats won't be good for the business.

    Checkers
     
  14. hoppers

    hoppers Member

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    I bought my Versacamm used here on s101, look around and dont pull the trigger on just anything. I think I read s101 and anything I could get my hands on for about 6 months before buying my 30 inch Versacamm back in Jan 2008. I also went to about 5+ different vendors and resellers to see which machine was the best and to see them print in person. Granted you said you worked in sign shops before, but it can be confusing until you really see them up close and can compare.

    And as Bob stated, dont think you can just buy this thing and start making $$. It has taken me a good 6+ months of trial and error to really get to know the machine and all it can do.

    I have 2 cats as well....I keep my Versacamm in a closed room, but I can tell you when I do the weekly cleaning (yes you have to manually clean them a lot) - I still find a few stray cat hairs on the machine parts that I pluck away with tweezers. So it is tough, but do your research and read for a few more months and then buy a machine. For trade show stuff, 30 inch might be too small as others have stated - but for me it is perfect since I do more decals, magnets, posters and not full size banners or wraps etc. I outsource if I need that size...

    Good luck!
    -Matt
     
  15. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

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    Absolutely right...
     
  16. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Welcome from PA......................
     
  17. DOGraphics

    DOGraphics Very Active Member

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    :Welcome: 2 :signs101:
     
  18. WDP

    WDP Member

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    Not true, Sorry Replicator. There seems to be a misconception that lamination is a must and I must say it is so far from the truth. Does lamination improve your durability, NO QUESTION, but a must not really. Eco ink have proven themselves lately. If you want to save some money Frog juice whatever you can for the time being. It will work and you might find it to work fine.

    Sorry REP, hope no bad blood.
     
  19. Sign Up Graphics

    Sign Up Graphics Very Active Member

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    Sign Up Graphics

    Welcome from Skokie, IL :thumb:
     
  20. jiarby

    jiarby Major Contributor

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    <rant>
    cats? 30" Versacam? Daige?

    You can't be serious about building a production workflow... Sounds more like you want to get get away with spending the least amount of money possible (undercapitalized).

    No offense intended, but why do you want to use the cheapest possible tools to produce your designs?? Find the BEST possible tools, not the cheapest.

    The setup you recommend (30" VC, Daige, Rotary cutter (hehe), and CATS!) makes it sounds like you are working out of your living room and doing no volume. You also have no money. The rig you describe is perfect for this kind of business (low volume, home biz). But...these tools are not the best in their breed. I think the 64" Valuejet, Onyx RIP, Graphtec 7000 cutter, Seal/Royal Soverign laminator, Safety Speed Cut panel saw, and a Juki 1541 sewing machine to be a great start-up tool list. With these tools you are not compromised at all and can tackle 90% of the non-electrical sign work out there. The thing is that you need about 40k plus a shop to put it in. Then you need work tables, computers, supplies (ink, vinyl, substrates, etc). You need hole punchers, corner rounders, material storage solutions, etc... After all this a customer walks in and wants to buy 50 yardsigns for $99 like he saw on "cheapasssigns.com".

    Oy Vey! All this increase in costs but no guarantee in increased revenue.

    Production retail sign shops do not have cats. They have a print/vinyl room, a wood shop, paint room, They have 54-64" ecosol printers (or better). Aqueous ink jet printers are better for certain jobs. Many have flatbed printers to print directly on substrates. All laminate. Many have panel saws, cnc routers, table saws, laser cutters, welders, grinding tools. Many have a truck bay. etc.... and on and on.

    My advice is to seriously write a business and marketing plan. What is your cash flow? Identify who your customers are. How you are going to reach them. Who do they buy from now. What are you going to sell them. How will you manufacture & deliver the product. What are your competitive advantages over your competition... and disadvantages. What volume of business can you handle with current manufacturing capacity? If you expand manufacturing capacity, or add a mfg process, what level of business will you expect to add? Will that increase in business be profitable enough to offset the increased capital expense??

    There are a million more questions you need to be asking yourself. If you are spending $4-5K a month for wholesale printing THEN you should consider taking that process in house.
    </rant>
     
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