What is a Plotter / Cutter?
Without splitting hairs, a plotter is a fundamental part of essentially every sign company in the world today. This piece of equipment utilizes computer based vector (lines & curves) software to design and cut your custom text, graphics, shapes etc. out of pressure sensitive vinyl(s).
The size of the plotter you are considering will play a large part in the type of work you are able to do well. Take a look at this poll from Signs101 and notice that over 55% of respondents utilize 24” plotters in their sign companies. There are many reasons for this decision but let me give you the top 5 (in no particular order)…
- 24” wide pressure sensitive vinyl material is by far the most common and easily available from sign supply companies in wide variety of colors.
- Cost considerations of the 24” wide plotters are the best compromise between the 15” beginner plotter models ( barring Gerber’s offerings) and the high end and significantly more expensive 48” / 54” plotters.
- 24” wide sign plotters are easy to use and the media is easy to handle.
- 24” wide sign cutters are large enough to do 90% of most small sign company type projects with minimal paneling
- 24” wide sign cutters are typically friction feed with adjustable pinch wheels. This feature will allow you to also run 15” rolls of media and smaller scraps pieces should the need arise (very handy).
Low Budget Sign Equipment: For the Hobby Enthusiast
If you are a hobby enthusiast and plan on cutting stickers for your family and friends, making decals for your car club, creating scrapbook accents or making small novelty items then you will want to consider these setups.
24” Eduracut Sign Equipment – $700 Budget
15” Roland Stika setup – $1,500 Budget
Beginner Sign Equipment: For the sign business start up
These setups would be more for the beginner sign company who intends to start doing legitimate, quality sign / graphics work out of the basement, garage, home etc. Sign Business Location issues aside (hint: make sure you are legally able to conduct business out of your selected area) these basic setups are nice sized and able to fit into relatively small working conditions.
Roland GX 24 Sign Equipment – $1,700 Budget
Graphtec CE 5000 series (24” or 48”) – $1,500 – $3,000 Budget
Advanced Sign Equipment: For the growing sign business
These setups are for the dedicated sign professional who has an established sign company and is interested in continuing to grow, improving productivity and obtaining more advance control over their sign equipment. As a fair warning, these pieces of equipment are not for the faint of heart (or pocketbook) but, again, you get what you pay for.
Graphtec FC7000-75 Series (30” friction feed) – $4,000 Budget
Mimaki CG-75FX Series (30” friction feed) – $4,000 Budget
Gerber Envision 750 Series (30” sprocket feed) – $11,500 Budget
Graphtec FC7000-130 Series (54” friction feed) – $6,000 Budget
Mimaki CG-130FX Series (54” friction feed) – $6,500 Budget
Graphtec FC7000-160 Series (64” friction feed) – $7,000 Budget
Gerber Odyssey Series (50” friction feed) – $17,000 Budget