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I am thinking of buying a vinyl plotter and a heat press machine, but i don't even know where to start. The use of the machine will be to make t-shirts for a clothing company of mine that is still up-and-coming. I'm looking to do a run of about 20-50 shirts a month.

What are some good brands for heat presses and vinyl cutters that are good for beginners and that aren't way too pricey?

Also, I saw this vinyl machine on EBAY, called the Master Vinyl Cutter that is 24 inches for a BUY IT NOW price of $575.00 including shipping; brand new, never used. Is it Worth it?

What specs should I be looking at when buying a heat press or vinyl machine?

Also, I've been reading up a few posts on this forum and from what I understand, I have to use THERMOPLEX VINYL if I want to transfer my design onto a shirt. Is this true? Or can I use any type of vinyl sheets? What are some good sheets for production of t-shirts??

Also, I have multi-colored designs, how do i go about that??

And I have designed all my designs on Illustrator and some on Photoshop. Are there any programs that would turn my designs into OUTLINES easily so I can just print them??

Anymore advice, I would like to know. Thank you.
 

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modernART said:
......What are some good brands for heat presses and vinyl cutters that are good for beginners and that aren't way too pricey?
I would not waste my time buying "beginner" heat presses or vinyl cutters. You will be waisting your money, and not really saving that much in price anyway. Although you will not need the top of the line higher volume presses or cutters, you should stick with the "pro-sumer" level of offerings. A 15"x15" press from Hix, Stahls, Heat Master, and 24" vinyl cutters from Summa, Graphtec or Roland. TO save money, you can look into refurbished or used units. All of these will be great machine for present and future growth, and all have a good resale value.


Also, I saw this vinyl machine on EBAY, called the Master Vinyl Cutter that is 24 inches for a BUY IT NOW price of $575.00 including shipping; brand new, never used. Is it Worth it?
Personally, I'd stay away from it, but here are some threads that will help you decide. Some people have found it to be good enough for their needs.

MASTER Vinyl Cutter Plotter

Masters 24" - Any thoughts?

Master vinyl cutter/plotter


What specs should I be looking at when buying a heat press or vinyl machine?
Good Reputation, Customer Service, Parts availability.

For a press, look for good, even, accurate heat and pressure. Get a 15" x 15" or larger press for ease of alignment, and for XXL shirts.

For vinyl cutters (also called plotters) look for excellent tracking, cut speed, downforce (blade pressure). Do yourself a favor and get a 24" and nothing smaller.


Also, I've been reading up a few posts on this forum and from what I understand, I have to use THERMOPLEX VINYL if I want to transfer my design onto a shirt. Is this true? Or can I use any type of vinyl sheets? What are some good sheets for production of t-shirts??
Although ThermoFlex, and other types made by Specialty Materials are probably the most popular and recommended, there are other types (brands) out there that you can use. Here is a link to other types of heat transfer materials that can be cut on a vinyl cutter. Keep in mind that this is just one of many suppliers for these. You cannot use sign vinyl for heat transfers.


Also, I have multi-colored designs, how do i go about that??
Each color will be seperated and cut individually, and be applied one at a time to the garment. Some people layer the colors, others prefer to make sure that the colors do not overlap each other. You do this within your design program.


And I have designed all my designs on Illustrator and some on Photoshop. Are there any programs that would turn my designs into OUTLINES easily so I can just print them??.....
Keep in mind that you cannot get photo realistic type images using heat vinyl. Think solid color designs. Most logos, lettering, cartoons etc. are solid color designs. Photoshop will not do you much good with any of this, however Illustrator is an excellent program for designing vector graphics. I personnaly do not use Illustrator, but somewhere within that program you can create outlines for your designs. You will need a "bridge" program to go from Illustrator to the Vinyl Cutter. Just having an EPS or AI file is not enough, you have to have it cutter ready. There are many "bridge" programs available so do some homework on those. CO-Cut is one of them off the top of my head, but there are others too. Check out signs101.com, which is mainly a sign business forum, and you can find a lot of information that will help you with that part. I use Vinyl Master Pro for this stuff myself.
 
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