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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Attached are two pics I watched print at SGIA '08 on Oct 16th from a Summa DC4sx. This unit is a thermal-based, cutter and printer-in-one using ribbons to transfer the colors onto the substrate. The cost is $12,995 and is 30" wide. Summa, as many other manufacturers, offered great deals on these units at SGIA.

These designs came out nice for signage. The DC4sx and DC4 work well for a variety of other uses. However, these units are not geared for high end photography works. Also, there is only one company making a material for apparel use with these units, which is Siser's ColorPrint II. Hopefully there will be more heat applied apparel materials forthcoming for thermal printers.

It took approximately 5-10 minutes to print these on the 4sx which seemed slow. One reason is because the printer automatically grabs the ribbon colors as needed and apply the color, puts the ribbon back, then grabs the next color ribbon needed. During the first print, one of the ribbons ran out. The print of course was paused, the Summa rep showed me how he changed it out quickly and it picked up the rest of the print process as if it never stopped.

If you're familiar with a Gerber EDGE FX printer also thermal-based, you may understand the concept better of these Summas. With the Gerber, you have to manually insert each color ribbon that you need to use in a design which can be more time consuming, whereas the DC4 and DC4sx does the ribbon switching automatically. The Summa DC4 is $19,995 and 54" wide.

Once the design has been transferred to the substrate, it's dry and ready to use. No lamination is needed, there are no odors with the ribbons, no wet inks to deal with. It's a completely dry printing process. It is suggested however for outdoor signage to be laminated. As well, no constant running of this machine is needed as suggested with a VersaCAMM inkjet based printer/cutter. Therefore, if you have to leave it for 8 weeks due to a trip, that's not a problem.

Thanks for looking!
 

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Prints look fantastic but huge draw back is that.... it's slow as hell :( and cost like alot to print full color
and love how they said needs "lamination" for outdoor signage because they always advertise you don't

basically its like opening the trash can lid and throwing away time,money, and common sense ....
Versacamms ect... has automatic cleaning : ) so don't matter realli if they printer is loafing around

nice samples though but I guess in sign business there are to kinda people:

Thermal lovers and solvent haters
vice versa ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for chiming in Sean.

When looking at a VersaCAMM VP-300 and the DC4sx (somewhat comparable in specs but not exactly), the cutting speed of the DC4sx is over twice as fast and the printing speeds of the DC4sx is much faster for some settings than both the VP-300 and VP-540. Also, the VP-300 (30") cost $2,000 more than the 30" DC4sx. Interesting...

I do not know all of the details of the DC4sx from the expo (i.e., resolution of image and unit settings) to have more to go on but I can find out if needed. It's quite possible that a VP-300 would take the same amount of time to print the same images I've attached.

Also, here's what the Summa site says in reference to not needing to laminate:

"Warranted for 5 years - Durability may be less under extreme weather or road and handling conditions."

I have not ruled out a DC4sx down the road for me as of yet, as both thermal and solvent inkjet printers come with their own pros & cons. It's just a matter of learning which works best for the individual/company.
 

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Faster printing hmm
I always thought thermal is slower, perhaps when it does full color.
Thermal does have pro's if doing alot of sticker and simple graphics I suppose... :)

I don't think you can do banners or poster printing at a practical cost perspective

Was nice to see full color images from machine and hey when I first was gonna get a printer, I was interested in Summa but figured I wanted to focus on banners more than decals...

Hope you make right chose
 

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ok I need help please....I have read sooo much on these printer cutters..I have a graphtec ce3000 Cutter right now, but I think I want to do stickers and banners as well along w/ cutting...any advice, I really would like the cost of a used one...thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
ok I need help please....I have read sooo much on these printer cutters..I have a graphtec ce3000 Cutter right now, but I think I want to do stickers and banners as well along w/ cutting...any advice, I really would like the cost of a used one...thanks
Are you looking specifically at a Summa cutter (or Summa printer/cutter in one)?

The Summa printer/cutter in one is over $10,000, even the small one. If that's over budget, then you may want to consider other options to print your banners and stickers, and keep your Graphtec to cut them after printing.
 

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Thought I might chime in here, although a bit late.....

I must say we LOVE our Summa DC4. When we first started, we bought a used Gerber Maxx2 (remember those?:p) along with the Gerber Odyssey plotter. So we started on a good foot as we found out later. Things started happening on the Maxx so purchased another, anyway, both are kaput now, so we bought a Mutoh VJ 1204. We IMMEDIATELY saw this is NO comparison to a thermal printer. Then came the DC4. Have barely used it yet, but is the way to go for all the reasons mentioned. Spot color, no need to run constantly/flush, no fumes, printer/plotter built together (HUGE advantage!), etc. And it is FAST. My guess is it's 3+ times faster than the Mutoh.

Only drawback to the thermal is, as was mentioned, the initial cost (but no need for a laminator -- thermal prints without a protective foil generally last longer outdoor than a laminated inkjet print!), the foil cost, and possibly the running cost. But for us it is worth it.;)

Just my humble input.....
 

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I failed (and forgot) to mention another bigger drawback is the obvious inability to print super-high resolution photos etc. Any small bitmaps that require process colors (not spot) will only print but so fine, unlike an inkjet which can do SUPER fine images. Might be a consideration if you're thinking down the smaller decal/sticker line. I'm sure you could request printed samples from Summa if you didn't see them at SGIA. We received several sample sheets with ours-- reflective, clear, metallic foils (nice!), various spot color samples, etc.
Wished we could have gone this year to SGIA (New Orleans) to actually see the printer first, but lo didn't quite work out....
 

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It all depends on how big you are going . I have an auto tint shop and bought a used DC3+ and am learning the business as a side business doing decal and small truck lettering. . I have $4000 invested and it might not be the most up to date printer it doing a pretty good job. I didnt want to invest $20K and find out i cant make money with it . If i get my volume up i will invest the 20K with little risk . Its hard out there to make money. People want alot and they dont want to pay.
 
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