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Mask Cutter Recommendation

Discussion in 'Dimensional Signs' started by Bob Thomasson, May 9, 2020.

  1. Bob Thomasson

    Bob Thomasson New Member

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    I belong to a non-profit historical society and one of our activities is placing sandblasted granite commemorative plaques at sites of historical interest. We'd like to start making our own plaques and would like a sandblast mask cutting machine recommendation. We already have the ability to sandblast. Our plaques are generally about 20" by 30" and are sandblasted on polished granite. The machine will only be used several times per month and we'd like to go with a flagship model but we can't justify it based on the relatively small amount of use it will get. I would appreciate any suggestions for appropriate machines.

    Also, it seems like an internet law that first time forum posters pick the wrong forum section to post in. If I'm in the wrong place, please let me know. Thank you, Bob
     
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  2. Bob Thomasson

    Bob Thomasson New Member

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    Should I belly up to the bar and join the paid forums group?
     
  3. kheebl

    kheebl Member

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    I'm probably going to get crap for saying this but with that small amount of use a US Cutter plotter would probably work just fine for you, I mean they are no summa or graphtec but should work for your application.
     
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  4. Bob Thomasson

    Bob Thomasson New Member

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    kheebl, Thanks for your reply. I think your advice is appropriate. I know this is a forum for serious professionals but sometimes it’s appreciated when you lower the bar for newbies. USCutter actually recommended their P28 PrismCut last week. The sales guy said it would cut just as well as a Graphtec but wasn’t as well made, which would not be an issue with light usage. But I’m not so sure and don’t have any personal experience with servo vs stepper motors and how well a stepper device that is designed for thin vinyl cutting would work with relatively thick sandblast mask material.
     
  5. kheebl

    kheebl Member

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    Check this blog out it will explain the difference between stepper and servo.
    https://blog.signwarehouse.com/basic-guide-vinyl-cutters/
     
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  6. Bob Thomasson

    Bob Thomasson New Member

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    That blog is very useful. Thanks!
     
  7. James Burke

    James Burke Being a grandpa is more fun than working

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    Depending on your plaque layouts, you might be able to get away with a Gerber GS15Plus (15") if you can tiile your artwork, that's what I do. There have been several on eBay lately, but be carerul, there's a lot of junk out there also.

    PM me for specifics if you have questions on how to layout larger stones using the GS15+ and Omega or SignLab. I would rather buy a good used Gerber than a new cutter that can't cut much more than vinyl.

    But with tight finances, and for no more than you're planning to using the plotter, you might be better off outsourcing your stencil cutting and blast it yourself. The quality of Gerber cut monument stencil really does make a difference, especially on the smaller text where tangential cutting is critical. A Gerber will give you razor sharp corners on your letters, and extremely easy weeding.


    JB
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2020
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  8. Bob Thomasson

    Bob Thomasson New Member

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    JB, thanks for your reply. I’ve looked at the Gerber GS15 Plus but thought I needed more than the 15” width. I didn’t consider tiling and maybe that works around the width limitation. I am confused about the stepper motor drive system. Thought it was less precise and mostly for low budget machines but maybe the perforated sprocket media drive system and tangential cutting make up for the stepper motor shortcomings?

    Appreciate your Gerber GS15 Plus suggestion, I wouldn’t have considered it otherwise.

    Bob
     
  9. James Burke

    James Burke Being a grandpa is more fun than working

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    The quality of cut from a Gerber GS or HS plotter is extremely good. I'm running a machine that is nearly 25 years old and it does a wonderful job. I'd hazard a guess that the majority of the monument industry operates Gerber systems. But with that said, newer options such as laser cutters and flatbed cutters have made significant inroads lately. One thing I like about the Gerbers is how the mechanical components are very user friendly when it comes time to repair or replace...which doesn't happen all that often.

    The fact that most of them you see for sale on eBay are 20+ years old and still very functional is testament to Gerber definitely doing something right.

    You don't mention if you're just etching (skin cutting) or v-sinking (deep cutting) your granite plaques, but you may be able to use something lighter than monument stencil to do the job.


    JB
     
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  10. Bob Thomasson

    Bob Thomasson New Member

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    May 6, 2020
    Reno, Nevada
    JB,
    About outsourcing the stencil cutting, it’s a possibility but not something we’re considering.
    Definitely plan on v-cutting. Not sure how thick the mask material needs to be but I’ve read around 30 mils?
     
  11. Bob Thomasson

    Bob Thomasson New Member

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    May 6, 2020
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    Bob Thomasson, post: 1477034, member: 82386"]JB,
    About outsourcing the stencil cutting, it’s a possibility but not something we’re considering.
    Definitely plan on v-cutting. Not sure how thick the mask material needs to be but I’ve read around 30 mils?
    Thanks,

    Bob
     
  12. James Burke

    James Burke Being a grandpa is more fun than working

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    You're correct, 30 mils would be perfect, and we like Anchor 116. But that means you'll need a plotter with tangential cutting capabilities...the knife picks up at the end of each cut, rotates, and is then lowered back into the stencil for the next cut. A drag knife will not work for monument stencil.

    JB
     
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  13. Bob Thomasson

    Bob Thomasson New Member

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    May 6, 2020
    Reno, Nevada
    I’m assuming that the ‘simulated” tangential cutting feature on some cutters isn’t good enough and we need actual tangential cutting? This is really helping to narrow down the list of potential cutters.

    Thanks,

    Bob
     
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