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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone,

I currently use heat transfers to print custom work for customers. I myself am not very talented at using Illustrator so most of the work I have to send out to a third party designer who puts customers artwork into the correct format for printing.

I was thinking of investing in a vinyl cutter because many of the customers we have often only require small quantities of shirt example 5-10. If and when I price customers for small amount most of the time the end cost to the customer is extremly high and I lose the sale.

Now, the real question(s) is are vinyl cutters and the software reasonabley easy to learn?

Do the price per print end up being more reasonable then printing one tranfer print?

How does the quality/durability of cut prints compared to screen prints and transfers?

Is there easy access to used cutters?

Any and all advice would be appreciated?
 

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I would consider a cutter for 1 or 2 shirt jobs, once you start doing 5-10, the cost is as much or more than if you burned a screen. Vinyl ain't cheap, averaging $2 or so for a front center design. And after spending the time weeding & pressing, you would have long been finished screen printing.
 

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It depends on what kind of job you have. A cutter is great for small jobs with just one or two color text or text plus vector graphic. I do a lot of them for small business.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi Joe,

I understand what you are saying about the cost the only problem I have is I am not a skilled screen printer. I have always just had my transfers made by another printer and merely transfered them onto a shirt. I also thought maybe I could use the vinyl cutter to make custom decals or even small signs.

Hi Chuck,

I was just hoping to not lose business of customers who want small orders, however I dont want to jump into something I know very little about. I usually just have transfers printer by a local printer and transfer them on.

Hi FatKat,

I outsource, usually use a local printer who makes heat transfers.
 

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5-10 piece jobs are perfect for a vinyl cutter. Whether to cut vinyl or screen print is typically determined by the size of the design, complexity for weeding and number of colors.

The break off point is typically at about 18-24 pieces for most shops.

If you are efficient with utilizing your material in your vinyl cutter you'll help your costs out a lot. Most folks waste about 40-50% of the roll.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi Josh,

Are the vinyl cutter fairly easy to learn and use are they complex? Also, are they available used?
 

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Hi Josh,

Are the vinyl cutter fairly easy to learn and use are they complex? Also, are they available used?
Thats a tough question...in the grand scheme of decorating apparel they are a very easy technology to learn. Some units are easier than others but overall you should be fine. You may want to find one that has a large user group and support videos online...this will help if you get stuck.

You should be able to find one used....check the classified section of this forum, craigslist or even some local sign shops.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Any suggestions? I have been looking around and have seen quite a few cutters and I am starting to get a little confused.
 

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As with anything new, there will be a learning curve involved. However, cutters really aren't that difficult to work with. Once you learn the basics of setting it up for your shop and the vinyl you decide to use, the rest is pretty easy. I'm new to this as well, but have worked with a Roland GX24 and feel pretty comfortable using it after only a short time.

From what I have read, doing short runs with a heat press and vinyl cutter is the way to go. Sure you have to factor in some design and weeding time, but for small runs of 24 pieces or so it can really work out well.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hi Joe,

Well its good to hear you found it fairly easy, if I do go down this direction hopefully I will be able to say the same :)
 

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I was hoping to be able to start in the 2000 range. Is that realistic?
$2000 is a nice budget for a cutter. I believe the easiest to use with the most support is the Roland GX-24.

I also like the GCC Jaguar IV & Graphtec CE5000, but the GX-24 is my top pick for ease of use.
 

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Hey Josh,

I just seen this Roland off a link on the forum Roland GX-24 CAMM-1 Vinyl Cutter + CutStudio Software

After I get the cutter is other parts I'll need other then the raw material? I just don't want to jump in an realize I made a big mistake.
Assuming you have the heat press and cover sheets.

You'll need weeding tools, a 45 degree blade and possibly an extra for cutting standard thickness films, a 60 degree blade if you want to cut flock or thicker materials, inventory of heat applied film (would recommend white, black, red, royal, navy, yellow and any local school colors).

You may want to have a design software in addition to the standard Cut Studio program - if you know CorelDRAW or Adobe Illustrator that will help....if not you may want to put that ont he list to learn, but the learning curve is steeper. You can operate with a template based program to start...

Some people also like to get the lettering remover right away, as your going to make a mistake at some point and wish you had it.

PS - don't forget to mirror your image for apparel graphics, that's your first tip:)
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks Josh,

Now I just have to decide where to buy it from, I am leaning towards brand new just because in the past I have had pretty bad luck with used equipment. If you have any suggestions on where to buy the unit from and supplies any suggestions are appreciated.

I am located in Toronto Ontario Canada, but would be willing to purchase out of the U.S. if its worth while.
 

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The vinyl cutter has been a great addition to my shop, which we also have a DTG printer and two 6 head embroidery machines. I use corel draw, which is easy to learn, lots of info on the web. I have a CCG cutter and it works great. Got it from DAS (Digitial Art Solutions). So go for it, I use our daily. Once people find out you can do it, they come.
Ray
 

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Yes, make sure that ur aware that cutters only cut/plot they don't print. 2000 is a nice budget. If you mostly work w/ 15in rolls the Graphtec Craft Robo Pro is a good fit
because of the size, of the machine and price which is around just under 1000. If you plan on doing bigger things
then the 24in CE5000-60 is perfect under 2000, w/ stand included. both of these can cut material up to 12mil
Graphtec America: Cutting Plotters, Vinyl Cutters, InkJet Printers, Wide Format Image Scanners, Data Loggers, Acquisition platforms, Electronic Testing Instruments, Craft Robo, Silhouette Craft Cutter
 
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