Vinyl Cutter/Plotter Experience?

I need to place the vinyl lettering on some new service trucks. Most quotes have been around $600 total. I've seen some of the desktop
cutters that sold new on Ebay for just over $300. They come with the software and starter supplies. Every price from there to 15 grand.
Further research revealed a wide range of cutting speeds and down force. And material widths of 8" to 48". I need maybe 12".
I don't want to get in the sign business. Even if I broke even the first time, I would save a bunch the next time.
Recommendations? Experience? Caveats?
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It takes more than just the machine, you need the right software too. And what is your time worth? Are you willing and able to devote time to learn the software, and the machine? What about the cost of flubs in vinyl material? Even after it is cut you have to weed it and then apply to your truck. An experienced shop will know all the ins and outs of every step, with you it will be a learning curve with room for errors and guaranteed to be more expense than you first figured.
Lane
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Hi Andy
The smaller and less expensive the cutter, the slower it cuts and can only cut thin materials. We have gone through three cutters in the last 12 years. Consider it another fun device for your shop.
For example our 30" cutter will cut 115 inches per second compared to the small Stika units whose maximum speed is 2" - 4" per second. Although we seldom cut over 60 ips.
The other item you will need is transfer tape. A supplier we have good luck with is http://www.signweb.com/richardsdist/ .
Have fun
Rod Grantham www.granthams.com
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On Wed, 28 Jan 2004 02:18:54 GMT, andy asberry

Vinyl sign prices are assinine, aren't they?

One of my earlier clients (ca. '93) was a signmaker and I set up a 60" system (for race cars/semis/hydro boats) for about $23k with all hardware and software. He immediately moved to Idaho so I didn't get to go play with it. <sniffle>
The Vitek plotter had a nice articulated cutting head and was a top-of-the-line model at $12k. Prices have come down _considerably_ since then for all hardware.
Hmmm, checking out the plotter/cutters on *b*y now... Roland Stika 12 with some software/vinyl/tools for $595+s/h? Not bad, but it's $512+ at http://www.onlysigns.com/stika_content.html#sx12 is $512+
The small size cutter packages were about $2,500 the last time I looked ($8k for Gerber), just a few years ago. Scanvec's CasMate Pro was $3,500 just for 1pc of software.
Faced with those options, I'd buy the kit, do a couple small jobs for others to pay for it, and keep it around for more work for myself.
G'luck!
---------------------------------------------- CAUTION: Driver Legally B l o n d (e) http://www.diversify.com Web Database Development ======================================================
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andy asberry writes:

I have used various small (24", not quite the low end) machines for over 10 years, lately a Roland CAMM-1/24.
Producing and applying vinyl signs like truck lettering with good results involves quite a bit more craft than just having the expensive cutter machine. It will take you some time, probably more than you thought, and likely a few wasted do-overs before you get the first job done right. It will take a few jobs before you are truly ahead of the make-or-buy breakpoint.
But I don't regret doing it myself. Besides all the business applications, my 6-year-old girl loves Hello Kitty, and she got to ride around in the world's only Hello Kitty decorated van, which I put on temporarily (to the dismay of her teenage male siblings). It really is throwaway cheap once you get the hang of it.
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On Wed, 28 Jan 2004 02:18:54 GMT, andy asberry

Thanks for everyone's comments.
Even the posts and e-mails expressing concern for the tedious work of weeding. I'm a tenacious SOB.
And for those who asked what my time is worth. While half the country's population wastes 4 hours of their life on Superbowl Sunday, I could make $600 worth of signs.
I did find a guy who will cut them and supply the material for $100. That is for 50% more signs than I need. So I can screw up a few and still have enough.
Thanks again.
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andy asberry wrote:

You dare to work on a national holiday????
<g>
-- Mark
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On Thu, 29 Jan 2004 00:55:34 GMT, "Mark Jerde"

Whats Superbowl Sunday?
Gunner

"This device is provided without warranty of any kind as to reliability, accuracy, existence or otherwise or fitness for any particular purpose and Bioalchemic Products specifically does not warrant, guarantee, imply or make any representations as to its merchantability for any particular purpose and furthermore shall have no liability for or responsibility to you or any other person, entity or deity with respect to any loss or damage whatsoever caused by this device or object or by any attempts to destroy it by hammering it against a wall or dropping it into a deep well or any other means whatsoever and moreover asserts that you indicate your acceptance of this agreement or any other agreement that may he substituted at any time by coming within five miles of the product or observing it through large telescopes or by any other means because you are such an easily cowed moron who will happily accept arrogant and unilateral conditions on a piece of highly priced garbage that you would not dream of accepting on a bag of dog biscuits and is used solely at your own risk.'
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wrote:

When they show a bunch of really good ads on TV surrounded by some sporting event or other. :o) Sue

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LOL!!!!
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On Thu, 29 Jan 2004 15:55:35 GMT, andy asberry

I just wish they wouldn't keep interupting those great commercials with those men crashing into each other. :o) Sue
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It's a women's golf or curling event isn't it.
Lane
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A man after my own heart. I always read the sports section starting from the back because the sports I'm interested in never make the front page...
Peter
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What is "the sports section"? :^)
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Have any of you had the same experience as I have, that the more a person is into mechanical things, that the less they are into sports? I know a LOT of people with workshops in their back yards, and none of them give a rat's ass about sports other than maybe NASCAR, I guess due to the cars.
RJ

from
page...
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is
of
ass
I don't think so. My brother is a machinist and is the same as me, doesn't care one bit. However there are several where he works who think he is the weird one. (Well, that's besides the point.)
Lane
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