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what to buy

Discussion in 'Newbie Forum' started by deadguy141, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. deadguy141

    deadguy141 New Member

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    I'm looking to get into the sign business. I have been hearing a lot of different things. What should I buy? A cutter and a separate printer or a printer/cutter. Some people say it is very hard to line up your work going back and forth from a printer to cutter. Also what brand? I am looking to make multi-color stickers and larger vinyl stickers for trailers. Any info would be helpful. Thank you
     
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  2. Ken

    Ken Major Contributor

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    Hi there, whatever your name is...
    Least expensive is a few paint brushes..and lots of talent...
    If you want to do small corporate decals then you need print/cut.
    You can do larger multi-color decals with a cutter only.
    But..you say you would like to get into the sign business..'ah hem..
    see my post to jcmeyer a few minutes ago.
    A versa-camm unit will likely do you well. Or the Gerber Edge system. Or a Summa, Or mimaki..there's a lot of research to do before you jump...
    Is there an open or saturated market for this work in your area?
    Kind regards...Ken
     
  3. deadguy141

    deadguy141 New Member

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    Ken,
    If I was to get a cutter now, then a printer later, how hard is it to go from machine to machine? I don't have 13,000.00 for a versa-camm.
    James
     
  4. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    James ... from your initial post I gather you have no experience at designing or producing vinyl graphics. I'll start by answering your first question:

    Having the cutter built into the printer enables you to make unlaminated print and cut products ... saves you floor space ... and ties up your machine performing one task at a time. You will find, however, that lamination of prints before cutting is a necessity on many jobs you will do. I was told straight out by a Roland guy at a sign expo that everyone at Roland thought having a dual purpose machine was a really bad idea but that it was easier to sell because it made sense to buyers.

    Additional comments:

    • If you don't have $13K then you should look at available financing and buying from a dealer that will provide some initial training and continuing support in return for your supply business.
    • If you can't or won't go the financed route, then you should consider farming out your design and production and focus on selling and installing rather than getting some half solution that looks attractive due to low price. Low price translates to low or no support, training and often unreliable equipment.
    • There is a tendency in our profession for new people to think it's about the equipment or the software. The fact is that it's really about talent, skill and experience. If you don't agree with that observation, I urge you to realize that your chances of genuine success are going to be very limited and that you will probably lose whatever you invest along with whatever time you also add to the mix.
    Good luck to you.
     
  5. chopper

    chopper Very Active Member

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    Hi, Deadguy welcome to signs 101, thay would be a good way to go start out with a plotter which is a small investment, you will also need software to run the plotter, also you will need to know how big of jobs you intend to do, there are many diffrent sized plotters, 24 inch being the most popular, also you need to watch out for what you buy some of the cheap stuff on e-bay is just that cheep stuff, the better plotters will cost you a little more but worth it in the end the cutting quality is much better so when you cut the letters and graphics come out clean and are easy to weed.
    the better machines are summa, allen datagraph, graphtec, roland, Ioline
    I have a summa but the others are just as good or some may say better..
    then you will need software, if you are just going to cut you can use programs like flexi, signlab, corel draw, etc. if you buy a new cutter, from a sign supply place you can usally get a bundel where you get the cutter and software together, if you looked on e-bay you have seen ads from sign warehouse, go to there web site signwarehouse.com and look at what they have...they sell a house brand and graphtec, (who makes there house brand) this will give you an idea what it costs to get started..
    also if you google sign supply you may find a dealer in your area that you can go to and get a demo they will show you how it works and what you need as far as the software you can look here at the form on software to get opinons on which is best, I belive that flexi, or corel draw is the most
    popular, but they are not the only choices, then if you want to get int printing later you may need to update your sofware but the versacamm is a good machine that is what I have it works great, ....I think that it would be best to find a supply company close to you so you can get the help and support to get stared in the right direction...just my opnion , good luck chopper....PS. in answer to the machine to machine question it is not dificult to switch from one to the other as long as you have the right software..I belive that flexi is easy to switch back and forth, I have sign lab and it allows me to be printing on one machine and cutting on the other at the same time, I belive that flexi will also do this..
     
  6. chopper

    chopper Very Active Member

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    fred is right on the money if you dont have the talent to do this then ther is no amount of machinery to make up for that, but on the other hand you will never know if you do not try, maybe it would be a good idea to find a sign shop in your area and befreind the owner and learn from him/her then you can see what it is all about and have a investment of only your time.. good luck
     
  7. Ken

    Ken Major Contributor

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    HI James.
    There is a LOT of sign work that you can do with a plotter only. Multi-colored logos and graphics, lettering, flames, etc. The print capability expands your design options quite a bit ( a lot)..but for starting out, a plotter will serve you well.
    Most of the hot-shots here started with a plotter..( however, many started with paintbrushes and real artistic talent..the veterans)
    If you find a printed sign fits your customers needs, you can strike a deal with someone nearby to provide you with that print-out..install it yourself...no need to plunk down 13K right now. Have fun on the design end!
    After a few years at this I'm finding that the fabrication side of the job is an anti-climax. BUT>>>I still take great satisfaction in seeing my work standing tall and proud in my community..on a street corner..or a storefont..or a custom vehicle lettering job drivng by...makes me smile!!!
    Have fun with this...
    Ken
     
  8. deadguy141

    deadguy141 New Member

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    I thank you all for the info and think I will research alittle more, before just jumping right into the business.
    James
     
  9. Ken

    Ken Major Contributor

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    OK Man, don't let the highbrows here get to you. You're right..dig some more before jumping into the hole...
    Ken
     
  10. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    i bought every one of my plotters from ....THOSE WHO JUMPED and had no talent......no kidding.
    PNC-1000 1992. got it from a guy who went to one of them
    START YOU OWN BUSINESS expos. he went in there with $4-5000....came home with a PNC-1000, LETTER ART 5.0 softwear, 486 computer.....and HE DROVE A TOW TRUCK for a living. i bought the plotter and he wanted to sell me the softwear, told him i didnt need it...i cut from corel.
    short version.....i got plotter/softwear/vinyl for $1600.
    my computer was better then his.
    PNC-1100 i bid on it on ebay....only to find out the guy sellin was a HOOTER CUP race car driver, which i knew and did some work on his car at the race track here in pcola for one of the SNOWBALL DERBYS. his story was some nephew/cousin of on of the race car crew.....said he knew how to make stickers....the team purchased the PNC-1100.
    kid did 1-2 race cars...decided to go do something else...and i wound up buyin it......
    if you think you would like to do this...find out :
    1. if you have an talent
    2. if you want to work at this
    3. get a part time job at a sign shop
    4. dont quit your day job!!!!!!
     
  11. Jillbeans

    Jillbeans Major Contributor

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    First thing you need to buy is the book "Mastering Layout" by Mike Stevens.
    Then buy a 2007 Signwriter's Pricing guide.
    Then subscribe to SignCraft, as well as visit sign forums like this for advice.
    Then go to a shrink and get your head examined for as to why you'd want to make signs! hahaha
    If you do all this, and still want to jump in, then buy a plotter.
    But brushes and 1-Shot are far cheaper.
    Love....Jill
     
  12. Replicator

    Replicator Major Contributor

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    I agree with Fred, OP and JBeans

    I hope your talent can carry you far . . .

    Good Luck !
     
  13. Just Another Sign Guy

    Just Another Sign Guy Very Active Member

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    that is the best advice i think i have EVER read
     
  14. Pro Signs & Graphix

    Pro Signs & Graphix Very Active Member

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    There are some very people in the sign business that do not own even one piece of equipment. What they have are things that many people put absolutely no thought into - such as:

    - They are not afraid to talk and sell
    - They look for every opportunity possible to sell their services
    - They have an eye for design (usually gained from observation and lots of reading)
    - They develop good relations with vendors of finished products

    All of these points are requirements of being in the signs business, even if a person has equipment. This business only gets harder with every one that is missing. If none of the above are present then all is futile.

    Before you become one of the many that have tried before you, check of you assets/talents, reda, read, read. The reading is especially important to give you an understanding of how the process works - including getting paid.

    Dan and Jill make an excellent point because the stress and frustration levels are very high, in the sign business.
     
  15. Just Another Sign Guy

    Just Another Sign Guy Very Active Member

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    Pro you nailed it I know some amazing sign people, amazing designers, but you have to be able to sell your products and services regardless of what business you are in and this should not be overlooked in researching the feasability of your venture.

    another option to explore would be to be a broker, go out find the jobs, sell them and build relationships with businesses that can provide you with a quality product while you are learning.
     
  16. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    They have an eye for design (usually gained from observation and lots of reading)
    these are called EXCEUTIVES....and most of us(talented,capable of producing)dont have much use for...
    also some BROKERS are of this ilk....
    in my 20 yrs at this full time..ive had my share of EXCECUTIVES/BROKERS/ART DIRECTORS/MANAGERS....to know an AH is an AH no matter what their title be!!!!!!
    ive had a couple BROKER types and i WILL NEVER do anything for one of them again.
    the ones i met have ZERO TALENT for design, and think they are...and they quote prices.....that they have no concept of how to do a job. then come to me and try to beat me into the box they created....so they can make 50-60% of the profit while they only want to pay me 10-15% to produce the work........
     
  17. geedub

    geedub Member

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    r u saying you can't print then laminate then contour cut with one machine? well, minus the laminating?
     
  18. geedub

    geedub Member

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    print, then laminate on a different machine, then contour cut on the print/cut? that's what I'm sayin haha.
     
  19. Just Another Sign Guy

    Just Another Sign Guy Very Active Member

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    OP i have met good brokers and i have met completely unprofessional wannabe brokers. A professional broker is a broker because they can sell I would agree that they have little to no design ability and in my opinion they dont need it, that is what we are for...the design and fabrication professionals. I am certain in your career you have seen many in this industry who can not sell to save their life all i am saying is that there is other options than running out and purchasing equipment that you have no knowledge of how to operate coupled with the lack of knowledge of product selection and useage is a recipe for one heck of a struggle in opening a new business at the very least.

    those other brokers that you refer to...you should have the ability to spot them and the discipline to run your business as you see fit...if they quote a erroneous price that is their responsibility not yours, so what if they are making 50-60-550% profit, you should be making the profit you need to make working for them or not be doing the work. if they can get it more power to them.
     
  20. OldPaint

    OldPaint Major Contributor

    "if they quote a erroneous price that is their responsibility not yours, so what if they are making 50-60-550% profit, you should be making the profit you need to make working for them or not"
    i agree with you here....i dont care what they make....BUT DONT COME HERE TELLIN ME.... WHAT THEY EXPECT TO PAY ME.......for doing the PRODUCTION WORK...when all they do is sell, and install......that is where i make the point..i should be making 50-75% of the PRICE THEY QUOTED... and they should get the 40% or less.........but these types are of the belife they did most of the work.....
    one here i met in a paint store and he tried to convience me that i need to do work for him since he was good at sales......i flat out told him HE COULDNT AFFORD ME!!!!
    As for selling work....i worked 15 years as an outside saleman for NAPA. i sold parts, tools, equipment, paint, paint materials....AND I KNEW HOW TO USE WHAT I SOLD!!! thats the differance.........why i dont have any employees.......hard to find help as good as me......hahahahahahahaahahahahahahaahaha
     
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