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Vinyl Cutter Question

Discussion in 'Vinyl' started by rfsign, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. rfsign

    rfsign Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    I currently do installations, maintenance and repair of electrical signs and do sub work for local sign shops hanging the signs they design and manufacture. My clients often ask me about vinyl window lettering and logos and I have been referring them to shops I do sub work for. I have applied vinyl in the past when refacing a sign and in a few other instances and I believe it is something I could become more efficient at as I get more jobs under my belt. I am thinking about expanding my business and buying a vinyl cutter. I have some jobs vinyl jobs lined up where I could buy a "value" cutter (28" USCutter MH-series Vinyl Cutter) that comes with software and pay for it with the jobs. Is this a worthwhile investment to see how it goes without making a big investment? Will I be able to use a cutter like this for awhile and then buy a nice cutter when I feel confident this is a good direction to go in? Or am I just throwing my money away?
  2. aandrews19

    aandrews19 Member

    Jun 14, 2011
    I've just gotten started with a vinyl cutter about 2 months ago. I got the 24" US Cutter Laserpoint (contour cut) I figured the extra 50 bucks to be able to contour cut would be worth it in the end.

    I have almost paid it off completely already, just by doing a few small jobs here and there. Banners, Lawn signs, etc. Quick and easy stuff. Well worth it.
  3. splizaat

    splizaat Very Active Member

    Sep 19, 2007
    Pac NW
    You get what you pay for. Spend $2500 and get a GOOD plotter and you'll never have problems....and if you're charging right, you should be able to pay the $2500 plotter off after a few store front lettering jobs.
  4. James Burke

    James Burke Being a grandpa is more fun than working

    Jan 2, 2010
    Mitten State
    In all honesty, you might want to consider a couple of prerequisites to the cutter:

    1) Design experience
    2) A solid business plan

    I started my business with just some used equipment and a lot of big dreams.

    Take it from me...dreams fade fast when reality sets in, and there's no substitute for a little business savvy to help you through those rough times.

  5. royster13

    royster13 Very Active Member

    Apr 3, 2009
    Montrose BC
    There are bad cheap plotters and there are good cheap plotters.....I can not comment on US Cutter because I have never seen/used them......But I have done about 10,000.00 worth of work with my GCC Expert 24 (about 450.00) and it works like a charm......
  6. ChicagoGraphics

    ChicagoGraphics Major Contributor

    Feb 27, 2007
    Just buy a Cricut from wallmart for 139 bucks...
  7. andy

    andy Active Member

    Aug 19, 2004
    Forget cheap... start thinking about quality.

    You want to be poking around looking for the best QUALITY machine you can find. Forget buying a brand new Chinese $hit pile.... start looking for a used machine from a decent manufacturer; Summa, Roland, Graphtec etc.

    I've used all sorts of kit over the years... the first Roland CAMM1's... Houston DMP60's, Supersprints and my personal preference Vytek's. I've also owned a pair of brand new Chinese machines... without doubt the WORST vinyl cutting machines I've had the misfortune to own. Both Chinese junkers got booted into our skip despite the fact they still worked as "well" as the day we un crated them. These have now been replaced with the afore mentioned Vyteks.

    To give you an idea of costs & specs;

    The last Vytek I bought is a 36" wide machine which has unlimited pinch roll adjustment AND a fully adjustable sprocket feed mechanism so you can use plain or sprocket punched vinyl (THE best way to cut long graphics is using sprocket drive). El Cheapo Chinese machines use a very basic drag blade cutting technique... the Vyteks all have the vastly superior tangential heads. When you come to a sharp change of direction in file geometry a tangential machine physically lifts the blade holder and swivels it so it faces the right way. These machines run rings around the low fi drag blade cr@p on the Chinese machines and are superb for small text or super fine graphics.

    All this is wrapped up within a 100% steel framework... no "ticky" plastic in sight. It's built to a industrial standard reflected in the fact that these machines were manufactured way back when computerised vinyl cutting machinery was seriously expensive... the machines I use cost over 10 grand a pop when they were new.

    I paid within $100 of the prices you find for brand new 24" Chinese tat.. a used £10,000 machine for less than one tenth of the original price. If you aren't hung up on buying brand new I believe the secondhand market is THE place to buy decent vinyl cutting machinery. The only problem is availability....I was VERY lucky to find a pair of Vyteks for sale. There is NO shortage of cheap, secondhand Chinese tat but decent vinyl cutting machinery tends to be hoarded.. if you've got a great machine you tend to hang onto it.
  8. ABHDesigns

    ABHDesigns New Member

    Jul 8, 2011
    Graphtec is the best!!....But I have used an Ioline and if your looking for inexpensive....I believe it is the way to go...easy to use...with no extras. Very Simple.
  9. Rodi

    Rodi Very Active Member

    Aug 3, 2007
    Get a Graphtec CE 5000, you won't regret it and it will pay itself off in no time, and it will last.
  10. Custom_Grafx

    Custom_Grafx Very Active Member

    Nov 23, 2008
    Why not ask for a sales commision on work you bring in for the sign business you are doing the installation for?
  11. Mosh

    Mosh Major Contributor

    Oct 19, 2009
    Go Roland, I still have one running I have had for 20+years....not many others can say that. BTW, takes more than having a cutter, like software and KNOWING how to lay stuff out.
  12. DRamm76

    DRamm76 Member

    May 17, 2007
    In a perfect world yes, but nowadays, people expect to pay $700-$1000 for a cutter and expect it to cut steel LOL
  13. marcsitkin

    marcsitkin Member

    May 6, 2010
    I picked up a 30" Mimaki from Craig's list for $400. We used it for a year on small jobs here and there, and it more than paid for itself. I recently purchase a new Summa D-140, which was put to the test on a really big project involving lots of contour cutting for a retail store. It was a modest investment, but because we had the experience from the Mimaki, ramping up to the Summa was no big deal. Starting small worked well for me in this case.
  14. dms505

    dms505 New Member

    Jul 29, 2011
    I have the US Cutter 28" your asking about. I've had it for about 2 months. It has disapointed me a couple times in which I had to rerun some small jobs but for the price it will get you through for a little while and make you enough money to upgrade to something better. I was happily surprised at how well it does cut. On anything longer than36-48 inches you'll need to carefully the machine to make sure it's friction feeding doesnt jump the rail. I would prefer a better quality friction feed or a pinfeed but for getting me started it works. Honestly at 250 bucks I can hold that much back and have a new one in a couple days it if breaks down. When and if it will break down is up in the air. But if your starting small with little startup it works. Just be very careful if your putting your eggs in that basket. Keep a friendly neighborhood sign shop on your happy side in case you made a commitment and your machine goes down.

    I had about 6 years experience in a medium sized sign shop before taking a prepress job in another town. I make more now that I could running my own sign shop in my area but I use the US Cutter 28" for plenty of side work and it gets the job done.
  15. wolf

    wolf Member

    Sep 26, 2010
    I use a Roland gx 24. I did Comparisons with software after purchase and in my opinion Nothing beats cut studio which Comes with the Roland and is the reason I did not move to another cutter. Software is really Easy to use and you can setup vinyl and cut in No time. Before you buy a cutter test its software.
  16. TyrantDesigner

    TyrantDesigner Art! Hot and fresh.

    Mar 9, 2011
    Amarillo, TX
    A good roland or graphtec plotter will do you better than a cheap plotter any day of the week ... we are talking about those small extras that save you headaches here. Now that is not to say that I don't also have a cheap chinese plotter for all my grunt work I don't want to send through my roland or stuff like plotter work on paper for ponce patterns or silly stuff. just find which works the best in your budget and expected life of your equipment and make money with it.
  17. Kottwitz-Graphics

    Kottwitz-Graphics Very Active Member

    Sep 25, 2006
    Ridgely, MD
    +1...One other thing to consider is customer service and tech support.

    Years ago, I worked at a national sign manufacturer, and they tasked me to purchase a plotter. I looked at them all, Ioline, Roland, Summa...more than I can remember... I chose the summa. We got the tagential 48", and it was one of the best plotters I ever used.

    When I started my business, and it came time to purchase one, I got another Summa, without thought. Great machine, and tech support is top notch. I bought mine in 2009, and if I have a problem (and it has never been the machine, just the software running it) I call them up, and get help that same day.

    I have used Roland, and I found it way to difficult to load material straight. My summa, I can load material, and cut... the longest plot that I have run on mine was 18' long. I have run paper plots out well over 30'.
  18. JKADesigns

    JKADesigns Member

    Jul 16, 2011
    Don't waste your money on a new one. Buy an old one. You will have to go back to using Windows XP to make it work, but all in all you will have a far better machine for your money. Try Search Tempest and search all of the craigslists in your area up to 3000 miles away, you will find some out there. I'm guessing you can find something nice for under $500. I paid $310 for a nice 40" cutter that will do sandblast material.
  19. MBGraphix

    MBGraphix New Member

    Feb 27, 2012
    I agree with the "inexpensive" GCC Expert 24 as it has been good to me also.

    I would love to purchase a nice Roland, but cannot justify that cost right now.

    All I do currently is Decals for Vehicles and am very happy with all the Designs I have cut thus far.

    I do however already own Adobe Illustrator and do all my graphic design there - and import into GreatCut.

    Just my opinion...

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