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Need Help Next Step: Printing

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by Toast., Oct 10, 2017.

  1. Toast.

    Toast. n00b

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    Oct 10, 2017
    Idaho
    Hello!
    I have been making and selling die-cut decals for nearly two years now with decent success. I am looking to add printed/contour cut graphics to my lineup. I have been researching for the past week or so, and have a few questions I'd like to ask to those who know what they're talking about.

    For one, my decals primarily go on cars. Typically on the outside. I've been looking at refurbished Roland printer/cutters (namely the SP300). The plan is to make batches for 20-50 designs at a time, as well as offer custom work locally like I already do with die-cuts. My question is, with eco-solvent inks, is lamination required? How do you go about laminating and keeping smooth lines along the contour cuts? Would thermal printing be a better option for me if the intent is to avoid lamination?

    I'm sure similar questions have been asked many time, but this would be the biggest investment in my business I have made to date, so I just want to make sure I've got all my ducks in a row. I'd like to have a platform to ask further questions based on responses without reviving dead threads.

    Thank you in advance!
     
  2. RJPW

    RJPW Major Contributor

    10,121
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    Oct 24, 2007
    Canada
    Welcome to Signs 101 and congratulations on taking the next step.

    Lamination absolutely is necessary, unless you're making temporary labels or throw away decals. In order to do this properly you would need a laminator (cold laminator should do the trick) or a Big Squeegee which a lot of members have had success with. The owner (Dale) is a merchant member here.

    Regarding thermal printing, this is definitely an option using a Gerber Edge, but keep in mind you will be limited to 15" rolls of material and a max printing height of 11.8". You will also need to pair this with a Gerber 15" sprocket plotter to cut the decals. This set up is great for certain jobs (mainly spot color or specialty color jobs) but having a solvent printer/cutter and laminator will allow you to do just about any job that comes your way. There is also the option of a Summa DC thermal printer which is basically a larger version of the Gerber Edge, but also doubles as a plotter.

    One other piece of advice, would be to consider getting a 54" unit rather than limit yourself to 30".

    Good luck with your search.
     
  3. Toast.

    Toast. n00b

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    Oct 10, 2017
    Idaho
    I had been looking at a used Summa DC4, but I think you're right. Solvent is probably the way to go. My confusion begins when it comes to laminating graphics that have been contour cut. How do you go about doing it and keeping the contour lines smooth after laminating? I'm not THAT talented with scissors ;)
     
  4. RJPW

    RJPW Major Contributor

    10,121
    92
    48
    Oct 24, 2007
    Canada
    I think you might be mixing up the workflow...

    You print, laminate, then shape cut on the plotter. The only lining up you need to be concerned about is with registration marks on the plotter. Otherwise everything else is automated.
     
  5. Toast.

    Toast. n00b

    3
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    1
    Oct 10, 2017
    Idaho
    Ahhh, I guess that makes it all add up, then. I assume the roland machines I'm looking at use registration marks for cutting, then. I had assumed it did the cutting via memory just as it would with printing.
     
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