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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, sorry to post ANOTHER Harry Plotter thread. But I've been lurking/reading up for a few days now and have some specific to me questions. Please bare with me...Thanks!

Background
I screen print for some money on the side and I also freelance design which sometimes involves me subbing out work for vinyl applications. I've always been interested in plotting and think its time to spend a little to make a little.

Budget
So my start up budget is $400-500 range total. I intend on plotting window signs, decals, banners, decals for my clothing line, etc. and slowly build up supplies. I'm talking a few hours a week plotting...Then, if the plotter pays for itself get a heatpress and do some clothing cuts.

Now heres where the advice is needed!
I was offered an old 24" Graphtec with Flexi 7.5 and some vinyl for around the same price as a US Cutter. I see it as buying a 15 year old Nissan vs. a brand new Kia. Sure the Nissan is better built and reputated, but a new Kia will have newer technologies and be more economical until I am ready for a new Infiniti. Right? I am leaning toward the Kia... :)

Graphtec
My main concern with the Graphtec is upkeep, drivers and parts...Plus there is no warranty with it. And there doesn't seem to be a lot of info on it, be it online support or other users (thanks to Kelly on here for her help). Is Flexi 7.5 even worth a toot?

US Cutter
Looks like I'd need to buy software with it??? Which would still be in my budget (but take away from my supplies money), if I go with a cheaper program (I use Corel 12 BTW). Reading around seems like a lot of people with my same situation are happy with the US Cutter. Is one US Cutter model really that much better than the other? I know the LP has a contour laser, but I don't have full color print capabilities...And if I did, wouldn't mind giving the DIY contour a shot...

So, what would you do in my situation??? Would I be a fool to pass on the Graphtec? Because right now I am leaning towards trying to get lucky on a Laserpoint or Pcut bid and worst case going with a Refine.

Thanks for reading!
 

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I would buy the Graphtec(no disrespect to UScutter), I think the graphtec will get you started and as your income increases(from sales), you can upgrade the cutter. The flexi software is a great program and will sere you well for a long time. I say buy the Nissan and make the trip. When you arrive to your destination you can buy your KIA or maybe a cadillac. ..... JB
 

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I use Flexi along with other programs. Nothing is faster for a basic design. Ask if they have other programs or vector images to throw in for the same money. You might be shocked at what they have to give you.


I would follow JB's advise. Just my .02
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks guys...Actually I am a little upset at you...I've probably have gone back and forth 6 times on which to get and now you guys are gonna make it a 7th :)

Don't you think it would be easier to sell the newer US Cutter when I upgrade? VS. the old Graphtec? Secondly, I am considering going up to a 36" US Cutter. How often do you guys utilize 36" vs. 24" ?

What questions should I ask this guy about the older machine?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Anyone else have any opinions??? IDK how long the Graphtec will be available!

Secondly, again, if I went US Cutter would it be worth it to step up to a 36"? How often do you 24" guys kick yourself for not having 36" :rolleyes:
 

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I would totally go with the Graphtec. They make nice machines and Flexi is way better software then you are going to get with a $400-500 US plotter. Also for your use Flexi 8.5 hasn't changed much from 7.5. I can tell you now Flexi can run you nearly $5000
 

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Does the flexi come with a license or is it boot leg. It is copied alot. If it is a legal copy and you are getting the dongle, then it is the better deal. You can always upgrade to the newer versions.

I use a 24" cutter and have never wished for a larger unit. I keep my jobs to smaller things with vinyl. Meaning signs, banners and trucks and the largest letter size I've ever used is 18". If I did larger signs like 45" trailers then I would want a larger cutter. If the lettering is curved then a larger cutter is needed also.

This is just my opinion. We do not do as much sign work today and have become more specialized in other areas, so the smaller cutter works for us.

Once again ask about other software, if the cutter is coming from a sign shop they have plenty they can copy for you.
 
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As far as reselling it the Graphtec would win hands down. On the older machine the depreciation has already happened and you are getting an expensive machine for a lot less money. On the US Cutter you are getting a less expensive machine for full price, nowhere to go but down from there.

As for the questions to ask about Flexi my first would be what version is it? Flexi has several versions from the basic lettering and simple graphics to the Pro where you can layout billboards. The Pro version runs well over $4000, but can be bought at a large discount with new equipment. As someone else mentioned, is it a legal copy with the dongle included? Without that you can't get the discount price if you want to upgrade. Since you are using Corel you can do the layout in Corel and simply copy and paste into Flexi which in my experience cuts faster, but that could just be with my setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the input guys! It is Flexi 7.6, don't know yet about the dongle and bootleg...My other concern is that the Graphtecs highest OS is Windows 2000. So that means I'd have to set up another PC just to run it (its the 2100).

I appreciate all the advice! Really, I do!
 

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You have to find out what version of flexi 7.6 it is. The top is Pro which is a great program. They have others, which are not the best.
 

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If you can't get the needed updates from graphtec for a reasonable price.I would walk away from this deal and get a neww UScutter. I agree the Grahptec is a great brand, but there is something to be said for a brand new product. ..... JB
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I agree with yous...But my whole thinking is that:

1) I need a unit to learn on, more so than a solid unit...So a new US Cutter is probably more user friendly with better support and instruction than an out of date unit. If I knew my way around a cutter and the ins and outs, then the older unit would probably be better for me...But that is not the case!

2) The older unit I'd have to clutter up my work area w/ an older PC w/ Windows 2000...The old PC would be a headache and add another footprint of work area. I know having a slave PC is ideal for a cutter, but honestly, I don't see me cutting for more than a few hours a week if I am lucky at startup. So, it won't be a big deal to run the new cutter on my work PC and idle for a few minutes.

3) I think I can have the new cutter (or old) pay for itself pretty quickly! So I can always upgrade or keep an eye out for a newer, used machine (the Graphtec is 18 years old) with no sweat off my back. That is when I'll look for a 36"+ machine...

4) I have no problem dishing out a little more for a reasonable RIP program...It won't lose it's value and I can use it with any machine I get!



I value you guys/girls opinions! You are the experts. I just try to use any logic that applies to me. I am sure most of you use thousand dollar Rolands or Graphtecs and could never see yourself using anything else. I just have a lust for plotting and want to expand my options for my freelancing and hobbies (I screen print/design on the side and started a clothing line), I still have a 9-5 as a flexographic printing art director. So I am not quitting to start up for myself...Just looking to get my feet wet!!!

I am very indecisive, I pretty much was going to go with a US Cutter (on a gut feeling), but want to see if there are any variables that I as a noob didn't know of. It is a tough choice, but I think I'll go with my gut feeling. The Flexi point almost changed my mind (again), but being that it's a bootleg, ehh...But please let me know if there are any other variables I am missing! Thanks!
 

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I was in favor of the graphtec until you posted the software was bootleg....that means no support and in the real world that is almost like helping someone rip off someone else... so having said that, I would not touch the Graphtec with a ten foot pole!

so in this case the US cutter would be m choice between the two deals
 

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I Say go with the newer machine. As far as the size, If you have the space I would go with the bigger unit. The price difference is usually not much and if you ever do like a 3 x 6 banner with text and a large graphic on one end or the other, you won't have to split the large graphic in half to cut it. I have a 36" pcut and I have never had any problems with it. Mine came with flexi-starter and a dongle included in the price. I have never needed to upgrade to the full program. If I need some of the features not included in the flexi-starter I just do it in corel than save file as a plt. and cut out of flexi. I have used the full flexi, signlab, and Gerbers Omega software programs. Unless you are doing some complex signs you will never need those added features. I say go with the newer technology. It makes no sense to speed up the time you will have to replace obsolete equipment. In some cases older plotters only have serial ports so might have to get a usb to serial cable and a driver.
 

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Running Flexi 7.X on XP is no problem so I don't understand why the Graphtec wouldn't run from it, Flexi should have the drivers needed to run the cutter. If you are running Vista 7.X probably will not work without an upgrade which you can't get without a legit ID#. The age of the unit wouldn't worry me because they were known to be solid units and they are like the Energizer Bunny, they just keep on going and going. The problem here is the bootleg copy part. If the price was right for the machine alone you could get other software.
 

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Go with your gut now. That bootleg program works, but is basically worthless money wise. Without the program, the older package is overpriced.

Buy the newer cutter, get the biggest and best one you can afford. Do not overbuy vinyl and other supplies.

What part of PA are you from? Depending on what part, I have some good suppliers. I can try to help. Let me know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Terry, the price is going to be around a Pcut or a Laserpoint-if I get lucky with a bid...$300 range...The Graph has no stand and I'd need blades and I'd have to dig out the fossil of a PC I have with 2K on it and get it up and running (I was told by the seller 2K or lower is all that will work).

Bob, I'm in southeastern PA...PM me about your supplier (or I'll PM you). And what do you mean by don't overbuy supplies???
 

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Apparently your seller doesn't understand computers. XP has a compatability mode for running older programs, the only way you would need to dig out the old one would be running Vista on your new system. If you are then you need to make sure any program you buy will work with it. I have XP Pro and use Flexisign 6.5 with no problems. If you haven't seen the machine run and are bidding on Ebay or other auction I would be carefull of anyone saying it will only work with 2K or older and saying that it is a bootleg copy of Flexi. They may not know what they have.
 
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