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Summa vs Graphtec vs Roland

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Plotters' started by Reaction GFX, Aug 31, 2020.

  1. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    Yes, I've searched, but I was hoping for some updated opinions before making such a major purchase. I also feel like if I search enough, I'll find folks who love and folks who hate each of these plotters for various reasons.

    In my 20+ years in the business, I've only ever used Gerber and Graphtec plotters. My FC7000-130 which was purchased new back in 2007 is on it's last legs. The USB port just recently crapped out, but I was able to build the custom serial cable (that Graphtec no longer sells) and get it working via the serial port, so I'm no longer in an immediate rush to replace it, but I know I should replace it sooner than later because I really don't want it to die when I'm actually busy. Board was already replaced once with a used one about 5 years ago. I was almost ready to pull the trigger on a Summa S2 T-140, but had a few folks tell me how much they hate theirs and how overpriced they are, so now I'm on the fence. I'm not a high-volume shop, but my plotter is probably the most used machine in my shop and I do cut a fair amount of reflective and small text (usually 220 vinyl), and a fair amount of print/cut stuff. My biggest concern is reliability and expense down the road. I hear blades and parts for the Summa are quite expensive. Here's the three plotters I'm considering. Any input anyone has on these would be much appreciated. I do plan to make a decision in the next week or two.

    •Summa S2 T-140 - I was offered a deal on this for $5995 including shipping, install and training. I think this is a smokin' deal that is pretty hard to pass up (MSRP is $8790, not including delivery/install/training). The tangential blade intrigues me as I cut a fair amount of small text, but I've heard it's not really worth the extra cost. I always thought these were top of the line plotters, but I guess that was mostly based on their high prices. Some say just because it's the most expensive doesn't really mean its a superior plotter.

    •Graphtec FC9000-140 - I can get this plotter for $5795 with free delivery, but no install or training. I'm assuming it's pretty similar to my FC7000, so I'm sure I can handle install and learning curve should be pretty low since I'm already familiar with Graphtec and Cutting Master 4 software.

    •Roland CAMM-1 GR540 - I was quoted $5500 + $500 for delivery/install/training, but rep told me he could talk to his guys and probably get me a slightly better deal. I have zero experience with Roland, but I know they've been around forever.

    I'm just trying to get as much info and opinions as possible before I pull the trigger on one of these. This is a major purchase for my small shop. Your input is appreciated!! Thanks!!
     
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  2. ProColorGraphics

    ProColorGraphics Very Active Member

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    I love my Summa!! I am still running my S-140T that is pushing 10 years old, still runs like new.
     
  3. strypguy

    strypguy Active Member

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    SUMMA here too! John
     
  4. JBurton

    JBurton Signtologist

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    Graphtec fan boy here. My maintenance experience is limited to making sure the pinch wheels are up when not in use. Otherwise it does it's thing, I do mine, and on occasion I force it to do something it's not supposed to.
    I'll point out that I had a graphtec fc8600-130 when I first got a 5' printer. Man was I disappointed to find out that while I could feed 5' material through the plotter all day, it would never contour cut it. We replaced it with a fc8600-160 after a bit of smoke damage, but I would have done it regardless as soon as I could afford to. I'd consider the larger model if it's within your budget, never know when someone is going to come knocking on your door for 56" circles... (looks like they at least modified their models to cut 54" prints at this level)
     
  5. victor bogdanov

    victor bogdanov Member

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    I posted the in your other thread but quick summary after owning all 3 plotters you are considering, graphtec is by far the best.

    They'll all get the job done but the graphtec is the least picky when it comes to blade set up, summa t series you will dread putting a new blade in

    I don't see the need for installation or training on either of the machines, it takes an hour to be up and cutting.

    I have 8 cutters running all day long, wish they were all graphtec. 5 are graphtec
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    I think I get what you mean...you have to account for the registration marks and necessary extra media for the pinch rollers. I pretty much only keep 54" media in stock, and I just limit my contour cuts to about 50" max for the FC7000-130. If it's bigger than that, it's going to be two pieces, unfortunately, but that hasn't happened very often.

    Thanks for the opinions/suggestions/info everyone...keep 'em coming!! I can already tell it's going to be a hard decision between the Summa and the Graphtec. No one has chimed in for Roland yet, so....
     
  7. imprezwrapz

    imprezwrapz New Member

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    I have the Summa S2 T-160 and love it. Definitely Summa. Got mine really Cheap amid Covid19
     
  8. greysquirrel

    greysquirrel Active Member

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    not sure if yo are printing or have a rip like Onyx Wasatch etc...but if so, Roland really does not play well with any rip other than Roland's for printing and cutting. If you are just cutting and that would be all then yo can go with any...Summa for long run accuracy, Graptec for perf cut, Roland if you are already in that eco system...in that order too
     
  9. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    I do a fair amount of contour cutting. I used to use Onyx with my old Epson GS6000 printer, but ever since I got my S40600 two years ago I've just been using the free Onyx GamaPrint RIP (a stripped-down version of Onyx 18) that came with the printer, and it suits my needs just fine. Didn't really see any reason to pay the $2k+ to upgrade the full version of Onyx to work with the S40. I set up my files in Illustrator (print layer and a cut layer), add registration marks using the Cut Master 4 plug-in, and then just print those files through GamaPrint. Then I just send my cut layer directly out of Illustrator to CM4, so I'm not using my RIP for cutting because GamaPrint doesn't come with Cut Server. I honestly have never even tried perf cutting, but I'd definitely like to so I can offer that as an additional service (upsell!). Stickers sure do look cooler when they are cut to a shape versus just a boring rectangle. I should note, a plug-in that works with the newest versions of Illustrator is a necessity. Pretty sure all three plotters I mentioned fit that requirement.
     
  10. JBurton

    JBurton Signtologist

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    I print and cut the same way. Not the best but at least it can take a bunch of variables out of adding a new device to the mix. That being said, obviously graphtec CM4 will generate the reg marks, will the summa plugin do the same thing?
     
  11. stxrmxn

    stxrmxn Member

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    Stay away from the Summa.
    In my experience the worst of the major plotter brands, just because everybody says they are the best does not make it so in the real world.
    Graphtec if you are familiar with them, if not they can be a bit daunting.
    Roland are bullet proof and very easy to use.
     
  12. rse290

    rse290 New Member

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    Love our Summa ST-160. Can't say it's the best, but after 8 years can't really see what would be a complaint.
    Looks like you've got 3 options at basically the same price - imagine whichever you choose will become your favorite!
     
  13. Snydo

    Snydo Active Member

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    It would be foolish not going with the Summa at that price. Fellers sells blades for $30 each and they hold up quite well. I ran a pair of Graphtec FC-7000mk2 for many years and they were great machines but Summa cutters are on another level in my experience.
     
  14. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    Still leaning hard towards the Summa. Sure seems like for every two people that tell me to stay far away from them, ten people tell me it's the best plotter they've ever used. Maybe they just have slightly sub-par quality control and their lemon to good machine ratio is higher than other manufacturers, but the good ones they build are great? I dunno...like I said initially, I feel like it's a crap-shoot either way.

    Keep the opinions coming!! I'm still not sold quite yet!
     
  15. PHILJOHNSON

    PHILJOHNSON Sales Manager

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    Obviously I am biased being that I have sold Summa for over 10 years now(we used to operate as Summa for my first 7 years) but you can't beat the accuracy and overall reliability of the Summa cutters. Of course no piece of equipment will be perfect but of the options you are considering the Summa should be your best bet for contour cutting and working with the heavier/thicker materials like the reflective you mentioned. If you do end up opting for the Summa you might consider adding an additional pinch roller(referred to as a media select) to help keep the reflective material down flatter to the surface of the cutter to prevent the blade from scratching the material surface while it is still cutting your job.

    Please feel free to contact me if there's anything that I can do to help out.

    Best regards,

    Phil Johnson
    Airmark Corporation
    (800)527-7778, ext 112
    philj@airmark.com
     
  16. moreausignco

    moreausignco New Member

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    Summa Summa Summa. My S2 T160 has been a workhorse the 5 years I have owned it and it has never let me down. You couldn't give me another cutter. The tangential head is a must have. I have never done any maintenance and have only replaced the cutter strip once. I do a good bit of perf cut stickers and found that CoCut Professional will run the "flex cut" mode so much better than Winplot. Winplot sucks. That's the only downfall I can think of. You won't be disappointed. I just recently upgraded to Onyx and the barcode workflow is great. Push go and let it work. Feel free to ask me any questions. I feel I've put it through the paces in its time here. I just recently upgraded to a Summa F1612 as we do a TON of moto kits that are 21mil thick. The S2 did a great job with those cutting in a single pass, but I couldn't pass up the deal on the flatbed.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. stxrmxn

    stxrmxn Member

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    Our Summa T series is brand new we got it because the Graphtec was on its last legs like yours, eventually the graphtec Y motor siezed and we put the Summa into production. Two weeks and ALOT of wasted material later the Summa was taken off the shop floor and a new ex demo Graphtec was delivered. The Summa is still sitting there 3 weeks later, under warranty, i have to trouble shoot it myself apparently. I paid the same price as a reasonable small family car for this machine. Now if that car wasnt working i dont think the manufacturer woul ask me to take the wheels off and re align them myself, no it would be in the shop until it was fixed.
    Buy the Summa if you are excited about all the things it claims it can do but dont for a second think that it can cut anything other than standard vinyl because it cant.
    Need some extra pinch rollers? (and you will) Try $350 - $400 each and half a day downtime taking the machine apart and fitting them yourself.
    Just trying to save you from alot of headaches and wasted time / money / effort.
    You just have to look forums around the world and you start to see the bigger picture on these machines.
    I wish i had looked properly before i bought mine but i was sucked in with the "claims" about it being "the best"
    Nearly sent us under TBH
     
  18. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    UGH!! You guys sure aren't' making my decision any easier. It seems like those who like their Summa, LOVE it, and those who don't like theirs, absolutely DESPISE it. Why do some people say Summa's service/support is second to none and others say it is abysmal? I don't get it. Talk about extremes. Now I REALLY have no clue which one to choose. I guess since pretty much no one seems to have anything particularly bad to say about the Graphtec, maybe it's the safest bet. Come on, guys--someone tell me a story about your awful Graphtec and help make my decision even more difficult!!

    Can you direct me to some of these "forums around the world?" I've spent a few minutes Googling and I'm really only finding results from this forum. The only other sign forum I'm familiar with is the US Cutter forum, but it always seemed less professional (more consumer-oriented) than this forum.
     
  19. signage

    signage Major Contributor

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    You ask the question just like the guy at the car show......Which make to you like Chevy, Chrysler...

    You will get answers all over the place.

    Who seems to have the best service guy near you!
     
  20. Reaction GFX

    Reaction GFX Member

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    I know, I know...I guess I was just hoping for someone to really sway me one way or the other. As for service, I honestly don't know. My FC7000 has only had a tech look at it once in its 13+ year lifespan, but that was five years ago and we actually had to drive it two hours away to the only place that would even touch it because it was "so old." (Ended up needing the mainboard replaced.) Maybe that's saying something, however...I really have had very few problems with the Graphtec in all that time.
     
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