Post By Barry Weeks
In house sign making - vinyl cutting, magnet cutting
Does anyone here have experience with sign making equipment? Either doing it in house, as 5S or safety related, or perhaps as a business?
I want to purchase a swivel knife plotter, software, etc, to do this in house. My 2 chief uses would be cutting magnetic place holders for shadow boards, and magnetic paint masks. My tertiary use would be sign or label making for the safety side of things.
I've looked at a couple different packages, mostly marketed towards vinyl cutting for 5s or Safety signs, and they all claim the ability to cut magnet material, but don't recommend doing it because their knife will wear out quickly. These all appear to me to be nearly consumer grade items, with more marketing than ability.
So I'm looking for suggestions on a plotter capable to do magnet backed material as a primary function.
I have a vinyl cutter machine...but found the software such a PITA to learn that by the time I figured it out I forgot what I figured out the next time I needed it ! Actually pretty easy if you can use the standard fonts and such...it's when you get to scanning special logos when the PITA starts. Be easy if you did it every day...but once every two months I forget stuff...should have wrote myself a manual.
Hi - I'm Barry Weeks wife, Kathy,and I've been a signmaker for 25 years. I would not recommend a vinyl plotter/cutter for the magnetic material you want to use - they are produced/engineered expressly for the vinyl material products. Magnetic materials - even the thin stuff is just dense enough to create such a drag on this type of machine it may burn out the motor.
Depending on how much of your magnetic product you are planning on producing - I would recommend looking into cnc routing machines. There are a variety of machines and prices. These machines are expressly made/engineered for the thicker materials. If you're not planning on producing large quantities of your magnetic product, then use an exacto knife or scissors and cut them out by hand - magnetic material cuts very easily - I've worked with .030 magnetic sheeting for vehicle magnets, and I hand cut the corners with a scissors.
As for vinyl decals/stickers for labeling - I would not recommend a vinyl plotter/cutter for producing a lot of small lettering - it is VERY labor intensive. The smallest lettering I've cut on my Roland plotter is 3/8", but I seldom do this as it is a very slow process and difficult to "weed" away the excess vinyl and keep those tiny letters from popping off the film backer. If you need to produce small lettering/labels either in large quantity or small quantity - I would recommend looking into printed or printable products. For some jobs I've used a paper decal product that I buy at our local Staples store, put it through my desk top printer and make labels. If I need to keep the paper safe from exposure to elements (indoor - not outdoor), I will put a sheet of clear vinyl over it. There are also waterslide decal products available online. If you have to print multiples of a sticker - you could look into Stouse.com - they only make stickers and do it well.
Please do a little more research, which is what you're doing here, before you purchase an expensive machine and software and find out it won't work for your project. I hope this info. helps!
My 2 cents.
I know nothing of cutting vinyl and all that. I do know that we have a place here in the "big" city that will make all the vinyl crap, stickers and
all that stuff for almost free, and you can usually pick it up the next day.
I guess what I'm saying is... Have you checked around to see about having somebody who already has the toys make your stuff up?
A new toy is always fun, but sometimes its just not worth it.
All valid points. The vinyl cutting sign making is not the chief use of this. Simply something the plotters can do, that we would utilize occasionally.
The chief intended use of the machine would be for cutting magnetic material for shadow boards and paint masks. We currently cut our paint masks on our lasers, which is a waste of resources in my opinion, requires the use of extremely heavy magnet material to prevent it from curling/burning on the laser, etc. We're a large shop, compared to most posters here, from what I can tell. When we create a work area, say for a new machine, we buy all the hand tools, air tools, tables, peg boards, everything we need for that area. We lay it out and make the pegboard into a shadowboard, and hand cut the magnetic material with scissors like Kathy suggested we do. That's fairly labor intensive. There's a lot of commonality between the tools in one area or another.
I'm looking at it like this: I could draw a .dxf for a 1/2" Impact wrench, save it, and plot it on the magnet material for every location we use an impact in, in the shop. Now put that across all of the air wrenches, grinders, dynafiles, wrenches, sockets, setup tools, etc we use between 16 machining centers, 40 weld bays, lasers and plasma areas, and that's a lot of scissors time.
Probably not enough to justify a router. Easy to justify a plotter.
Dammit this has made me realize how low I've fallen. I'm thinking like a manager and not a tool maker. Why don't I just build a swivel knife to put in one of our VMCs and cut magnet with that?
Sort of like this?
Cut Sign Vinyl - Drag Knife Bit for CNC Router End Mill | eBay
I saw this a while ago and have toyed with the idea since then.
You may want to look around this site.
Originally Posted by kuraki556
How would you hold a flat sheet of vinyl on your mill table?
Originally Posted by Mud
It looks like a cool trick...
I bought a US Cutter, 30", I think, it would not do what my daughter wanted, so I bought her another machine, thou bucks, BUT that one one would follow a .dxf or whatever file.
My oldest asked me if she could have it, and it has sat, untouched, for about 5 years. I have no use for it, but neither has she. I am about ready to go take it back, but I really don't NEED more stuff in my house. I am not offering it for sale, just commenting.
I think the machine my youngest has would be a better plotter. I don't think the US Cutter, unless they have upgraded, can follow a print with a pen/stylus. Perhaps so, but I haven't been to their site for a while.
Do as you wish.
Oh, Carbide blades are 15 bucks each, they will cut a couple hundred pages of 80# card stock, then you change it out. I don't know how many cuts om magnetic backing you will get. When my daughter got large jobs, more than 100, she had a die made, rule knife or whatever you call it, get them stamped out on a press. Cost of the die was absorbed. WAY cheaper, and less time consuming than cutting them all on her machine.
Dies are relatively cheap, if you search, you always got them.