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Vinyl Cutter for High Volume Stencil Production

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by RJB, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. RJB

    RJB New Member

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    Jan 12, 2013
    I'm seeking advice on the practicalities of using a vinyl cutter to make large quantities of stencils (20 - 50 per day) using paint mask film. The stencils are fairly small (6" x 12") and contain quite a lot of detail (100+ cutouts each). I currently outsource production of a range of standard designs, but I'm considering taking the production in-house so we can offer more flexible design options. I would like to know how well a vinyl cutter would cope with cutting these for several hours every day - would I be likely to get 5 or more years service from a machine such as the Graphtec FC8000-60? Also, how easy the paint mask material is to weed compared to normal vinyl. Any advice would be appreciated.
     
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  2. 401Graphics

    401Graphics Very Active Member

    Graphtec or Summa
     
  3. Drip Dry

    Drip Dry Very Active Member

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    I can't believe any kind of plotter could stand up very long by cutting that many stencils over and over again.

    I would consider a laser engraver.
     
  4. James Burke

    James Burke Being a grandpa is more fun than working

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    We've cut many thousands of 4" x 8" and 8" x 8" engraved brick stencils from Hartco 310 using a 20 year old Gerber GS15. It's been an absolutely awesome machine. It was only $600 on ebay five years ago and had hardly been used.

    Depending on the detail involved, you might want to consider thermal kiss cutting. It's basically a copper or magnesium plate that's heated and instantly cuts the film on contact...perhaps only a second or two. Since thermal kiss cut dies can be photo engraved, the cost is extremely economical for the amount of detail involved. Here's a link to the company that makes my hot stamp dies:

    http://www.owossographic.com

    They're awesome people to work with.

    JB
     
  5. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

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    the labor to weed those stencils with that much detail may override the convenience of doing it outsource.
     
  6. edgette

    edgette Member

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    I agree with techman. It all depends on how much you're paying now to outsource them. What you might want to do first is to send the designs to someone with the cutter you're looking at and see how long it takes you to weed them out. Get 25 or so and see the time it takes to do that many then figure out how long it would take to do the 100 that you expect per day. Do the math on labor and if there is a saving calculate that into how long it's going to pay for the cutter.
     
  7. Techman

    Techman Major Contributor

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    no way to do a hundred a day of there details is high.
    we used to do a hundred simple decals that would take about 10 per hour. so 100 high detail will be 10 hours.
     
  8. RJB

    RJB New Member

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    Jan 12, 2013
    Thanks for all replies. James Burke, your application sounds similar to what I want to do so I’ve been trying to find out more about the Gerber GS15 as it sounds like an excellent machine, but the new price is a lot more than the Graphtec machines I was looking at. It would be nice to know if a Graphtec would perform as well. Just to clarify, I aim to produce 20-50 stencils per day and each stencil has around 100 separate cutouts. I think I will take the advice to look into this and get some samples cut before going any further.
     
  9. Jillbeans

    Jillbeans Major Contributor

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    The Graphtec will be cheaper and cut faster but in the long run the Gerber will be more accurate and more reliable.
    Love....Jill
     
  10. Matt-Tastic

    Matt-Tastic Member

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    if oyu're looking for something in that small of a size, a sproket feed (like an hs/gs plotter from gerber) or even a smaller flatbed cutter (like graphtec's FC2250-60) may be better for you.

    The flatbed will give you higher accuracy over long periods of time, because the vinyl doesn't move. the sprocket feed will give you higher accuracy over long term by not using friction to move the media (think of a train rather than a car).

    While an FC8000-60 is an excellent plotter, it will take some maintenance and considerations to keep an accuracy over long runs and long periods of time. this should be taken into account for your cost of purchase.
     
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