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  1. #1
    Preppie
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    Big time newbie starting business making magnetic signs

    Hello, I'd really appreciate advice on a number of topics. First, I just bought an HP 5000PS 60 inch plotter. It is a monster. Is this a good printer to print on vinyl for magnetic vehicle signs? I know it's overkill, but I bought it with the anticipation of branching out beyond magnetic signs one day. Also, it has Adobe Postscript 3 on it, and I see this software is not compatible with more modern windows operating systems. Is is best for me to use a dedicated laptop with Windows 2000, for example? And finally, I am a total rookie at all this. I am a fast learner, but tend to learn best by actually doing it, as opposed to reading a manual. Can anyone suggest an individual or a class I could take in a week or so to learn how to make magnetic signs? I would be okay with traveling anywhere within 500 miles of Raleigh NC, and getting a hotel and learning. Any one of you experts, perhaps? Perhaps I could be a fly on the wall and learn without slowing down your business. I'd really appreciate help. Thank you, Doug

  2. #2
    PhD SignManiac's Avatar
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    Mags are easy. Charge between $24.95 and $250.00 a pair. Warn the customer that they will destroy the paint on their vehicle if they don't take them off regularly and clean both the back of the mags and the vehicle. Contour cut with an exacto blade if need be.

  3. #3
    PhD
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    Once you figure it out it will be like printing free money.

  4. #4
    College Freshman Johnny Best's Avatar
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    This is what I purchased when starting out.Big time newbie starting business making magnetic signs-magdummies-jpg

  5. #5
    Bachelor of Arts WB's Avatar
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  6. #6
    Premium Subscriber HDvinyl's Avatar
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    Is Old Paint within 500 miles of you?
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    Read that comment.

  7. #7
    Merchant Member BigfishDM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apachedesert View Post
    Hello, I'd really appreciate advice on a number of topics. First, I just bought an HP 5000PS 60 inch plotter. It is a monster. Is this a good printer to print on vinyl for magnetic vehicle signs? I know it's overkill, but I bought it with the anticipation of branching out beyond magnetic signs one day. Also, it has Adobe Postscript 3 on it, and I see this software is not compatible with more modern windows operating systems. Is is best for me to use a dedicated laptop with Windows 2000, for example? And finally, I am a total rookie at all this. I am a fast learner, but tend to learn best by actually doing it, as opposed to reading a manual. Can anyone suggest an individual or a class I could take in a week or so to learn how to make magnetic signs? I would be okay with traveling anywhere within 500 miles of Raleigh NC, and getting a hotel and learning. Any one of you experts, perhaps? Perhaps I could be a fly on the wall and learn without slowing down your business. I'd really appreciate help. Thank you, Doug
    Doug, congrats on getting into the sign world! The machine you have is not a good machine for doing what you want to do, its a great machine for indoor work though. Does it have the pigmented UV inks or the dye based? You can get a few years outdoors with the Pigmented inks and some lamination no problem. Your going to need a cutter if your doing decals so that would be the next piece of equipment to look at after you get a laminator.
    Your #1 Material Source For: Window Perf Graphics, Wall Graphics, Tradeshow Graphics, Floor Graphics, Backlit Graphics, and Poster Graphics.
    We also offer a full line of UV Pressure Sensitive Laminates and Mounting Adhesives.
    Gans Ink & Supply is also distributing machines from: HP, Mimaki, Oki-Data, GFP Laminators, and Graphtec

    WWW.GANSDIGITAL.COM

  8. #8
    PhD OldPaint's Avatar
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    NO AND *****NO))))) i dont even do MAGNETICS....... any more)))) will not work for $5......profit....... amazes me that people sell these @ $25-40.00. dont care if you print or vinyl em......MATERIAL FOR 2 - 12" x 24" from fellers cost......$10.......layout time and print/cut vinyl 2 hours....if you charge mcdonald's wages per hours... that another $15-20.....so now you got $25-30 into em..........rather stupid to sell em for less the $60-75 a set)))))
    BUT......WHEN ALL YOU GOT......is to be the CHEAPEST............there ya go)))))

  9. #9
    PhD 2CT Media's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldPaint View Post
    NO AND *****NO))))) i dont even do MAGNETICS....... any more)))) will not work for $5......profit....... amazes me that people sell these @ $25-40.00. dont care if you print or vinyl em......MATERIAL FOR 2 - 12" x 24" from fellers cost......$10.......layout time and print/cut vinyl 2 hours....if you charge mcdonald's wages per hours... that another $15-20.....so now you got $25-30 into em..........rather stupid to sell em for less the $60-75 a set)))))
    BUT......WHEN ALL YOU GOT......is to be the CHEAPEST............there ya go)))))
    Your Math is flawed on material costs, and 2 hours to print and install (That is slow!).... for $50/set (4 12x24 or 3 18x24) we make over 40% margin.

  10. #10
    Premium Subscriber Gino's Avatar
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    Here we go..... another race to the bottom.

    Do any of you realize, this thread can be seen by anyone ??



    Anyway, we were selling them for $12.50 a pair [12" x 24"], until we came here and everyone said we could get $20.00 a pair, so we raised our prices. Now weez be doin' good. Um-um..................

    Must be doin' 25 pair a week these days. Yew-doggies.................


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  11. #11
    PhD 2CT Media's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gino View Post
    Here we go..... another race to the bottom.

    Do any of you realize, this thread can be seen by anyone ??



    Anyway, we were selling them for $12.50 a pair [12" x 24"], until we came here and everyone said we could get $20.00 a pair, so we raised our prices. Now weez be doin' good. Um-um..................

    Must be doin' 25 pair a week these days. Yew-doggies.................
    Who cares when anyone can go online and search for vehicle magnets and find a multitude of online dealers for Less than $10/ea magnet. For us its not about making a fortune on magnets but in any shop there are down times where these can fill a void.

  12. #12
    PhD Billct2's Avatar
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    yep, you sure stepped into here Magnets are not a big profit item for most shops since on line and hack merchants have killed the market. Plus you don't have the right machine. So if you want to do something with that machine, poster printing is your best bet. Otherwise you need a new machine.

  13. #13
    PhD Bigdawg's Avatar
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    Just out of curiosity... how did you end up buying an HP without knowing whether it would do the job you wanted? Not trying to hammer on you, but that seems a little backward. As mentioned, posters and temp interior signs are your best bet with that equipment. And how did you come to magnetics as your main business focus?

    I would suggest re-evaluating your business model for the equipment that you have. Maybe focus in on what the machine can do for you and figure out how to market it from there. I mean this as a sincere suggestion that you will be wasting your time trying to make money on magnetic signs, so choosing another focus that more closely aligns with your machine capabilities would be more profitable.

    We all started somewhere

  14. #14
    College Freshman mmblarg's Avatar
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    So this is an honest question directed at everyone else in this thread, not the OP: I'm a little confused as to why that printer would have trouble with the task. We print on vinyl, laminate, then adhere to magnetic material - sticking to simple shapes since we cut by hand. Even though the ink that printer uses may not be outdoor durable, the right laminate corrects that issue (minus fading due to sun exposure.) So why the definite "it can't be done" comments?

  15. #15
    Premium Subscriber Gino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmblarg View Post
    So this is an honest question directed at everyone else in this thread, not the OP: I'm a little confused as to why that printer would have trouble with the task. We print on vinyl, laminate, then adhere to magnetic material - sticking to simple shapes since we cut by hand. Even though the ink that printer uses may not be outdoor durable, the right laminate corrects that issue (minus fading due to sun exposure.) So why the definite "it can't be done" comments?
    First question, are you using a solvent, thermal or inkjet printer for your stuff ??
    Many years ago, we had an aqueous ink printer in our lineup. It was great for detail, indoor and other fine-art type fabrications. Using the dye-based inks, was a worthless attempt for any outdoor application. Regardless of what you do, even with laminate, it will begin fading within 6 months or less. With pigmented inks, you could get about 3 years with a laminate. However, according to where you are geographically, you were playing with fire. Using this solely with outdoor intentions is not good business, because you are basically giving your customers a 'Known' not good piece of production. So, while it can be done, it should never be used as a main source for outdoor signs. The OP most likely knows this also, as he/she thought enough to put it into the opening statement. However, he/she must be running into problems as the question then goes on..... is this a good printer for this application ?? Why would anyone buy a piece of machinery, not knowing what it can do or not ?? That is foolishness, hence the answers you are noticing.


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  16. #16
    Master of Arts VanderJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmblarg View Post
    So this is an honest question directed at everyone else in this thread, not the OP: I'm a little confused as to why that printer would have trouble with the task. We print on vinyl, laminate, then adhere to magnetic material - sticking to simple shapes since we cut by hand. Even though the ink that printer uses may not be outdoor durable, the right laminate corrects that issue (minus fading due to sun exposure.) So why the definite "it can't be done" comments?
    You are a customer looking for a magnet. You have 100's of options you could go with and 99% of them are done with inks that will last for 5 years and 1% of them do it with inks that will fade in 1 - 2 years max even with laminate. Which one would you choose?

  17. #17
    College Freshman mmblarg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gino View Post
    First question, are you using a solvent, thermal or inkjet printer for your stuff ??
    Many years ago, we had an aqueous ink printer in our lineup. It was great for detail, indoor and other fine-art type fabrications. Using the dye-based inks, was a worthless attempt for any outdoor application. Regardless of what you do, even with laminate, it will begin fading within 6 months or less. With pigmented inks, you could get about 3 years with a laminate. However, according to where you are geographically, you were playing with fire. Using this solely with outdoor intentions is not good business, because you are basically giving your customers a 'Known' not good piece of production. So, while it can be done, it should never be used as a main source for outdoor signs. The OP most likely knows this also, as he/she thought enough to put it into the opening statement. However, he/she must be running into problems as the question then goes on..... is this a good printer for this application ?? Why would anyone buy a piece of machinery, not knowing what it can do or not ?? That is foolishness, hence the answers you are noticing.
    Ah, ok that makes sense (we use eco-solvent printers - Roland and Mutoh - those are the only ones I personally have had experience with, so wasn't sure how big of a difference the inks made.) Thank you for taking the time to break it down for me!

  18. #18
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    I dont see a huge deal with magnets that only last 1-2 years. I'd honestly be surprised if theyd stick on the side of a car long enough to get a full 2 years of sun exposure. They're really a temporary deal and as far as I know, never intended to be a permanent sign. Do you sell "high quality" coroplast signs with 10 yr lam and point fingers at the guys that undercut you? It makes no sense. Just be honest about what it is.

  19. #19
    PhD OldPaint's Avatar
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    2 HOURS TO LAYOUT/DESIGN/PRINT CUT......... whatever you have to do to complete the project....
    MATERIAL COST CAME OUTA FELLERS CATALOG.......2016..... 2 12" X 24" MAGNETIC BLANKS.......$9.95))))) yes at $50 you can make a couple bucks....... BUT most shops will sell em for $29-39.00)))))))

  20. #20
    PhD OldPaint's Avatar
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    MAGNETICS ARE SHORT TERM TEMPORARY SIGNAGE........never forget this............ 6- 12 MONTHS.......... NOT 5 YEARS)))))

  21. #21
    PhD 2CT Media's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldPaint View Post
    2 HOURS TO LAYOUT/DESIGN/PRINT CUT......... whatever you have to do to complete the project....
    MATERIAL COST CAME OUTA FELLERS CATALOG.......2016..... 2 12" X 24" MAGNETIC BLANKS.......$9.95))))) yes at $50 you can make a couple bucks....... BUT most shops will sell em for $29-39.00)))))))
    See we charge for art seperately from the final product... that's where alot of small shops go wrong (as we did, early on). Once we seperated the intangible design from the tangible product, profit margins go up.

  22. #22
    PhD Bly's Avatar
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    We used HP5000s for some signage before we got an eco sol.
    With the right media and lam the pigment inks can last nearly as long as eco solvent.
    Trouble is the inks, media and laminate are expensive so trying to compete in the magnet market will be pointless.
    They are good poster printers though as others have said.

  23. #23
    PhD
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    This thread is a sad reflection of the sign industry.

  24. #24
    PhD OldPaint's Avatar
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    I HATE TO SOUND LIKE THE GHOST OF "SIGNAGE PAST".........BUT what is called profit in todays market.....is hilarious.
    SIGN PRICES 1980'S:
    2 truck doors- simple $125- detailed $250....................now $35.00
    4 x 8 MDO SIGN $400 simple $5-600 detailed +INSTALLATION...
    set of 12 x 24 mags.......$75-150
    standard van lettered $450-800.
    BANNERS $8-10 sq ft...........
    now all of these above........PROFIT WAS 50-75% OF PRICE CHARGED...........now thats makin money)))
    NOW.......YOU SPEND $8-25,000.00 for a machine, that each replacment color ink cost $100 or better, material to print on at $2-500 a roll, set up a climate controlled room with ventilation, pay the electrical for the 220 hookup, pay the electric bill, rent of building......
    run the thing 24/7 so it can pay for itself......$1000 when it breaks..... and all this to sell MAGNETIC & CORO SIGNS for less then $25.00???????????????????????

  25. #25
    Premium Subscriber Gino's Avatar
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    O
    Quote Originally Posted by OldPaint View Post
    I HATE TO SOUND LIKE THE GHOST OF "SIGNAGE PAST".........BUT what is called profit in todays market.....is hilarious.
    SIGN PRICES 1980'S:
    2 truck doors- simple $125- detailed $250....................now $35.00
    4 x 8 MDO SIGN $400 simple $5-600 detailed +INSTALLATION...
    set of 12 x 24 mags.......$75-150
    standard van lettered $450-800.
    BANNERS $8-10 sq ft...........
    now all of these above........PROFIT WAS 50-75% OF PRICE CHARGED...........now thats makin money)))
    NOW.......YOU SPEND $8-25,000.00 for a machine, that each replacment color ink cost $100 or better, material to print on at $2-500 a roll, set up a climate controlled room with ventilation, pay the electrical for the 220 hookup, pay the electric bill, rent of building......
    run the thing 24/7 so it can pay for itself......$1000 when it breaks..... and all this to sell MAGNETIC & CORO SIGNS for less then $25.00???????????????????????
    Haha, ya can't live in the past forever. I understand your reasoning, but it has one major flaw. The cost of the equipment and ink are quite INexpensive, when compared to other things you forgot. A decent employee, who gets sick, takes vacation, makes mistakes, can't mimic you, uses too many paper towels and has other costs ininvolvement, will cost you at least $45,000 a year. Take that times 5 or 6 years compared to the one-time outlay of a good machine and some casual maintenance, you can't do without the eqjipment. It's basically flawless, doesn't get pregnant, doesn't talk back, never takes vacation, never makes mistakes (unless you program it to) and when it gets sick, you need a doctor to fix it, usually within a day and a minimal cost for medicine. The machine generally takes the place of 5 or 6 very good mechanics in the shop and frees you up to be far more creative, then when doing it all by yourself.

    Once you have one, or you have several machines and they're humming along, you are making money and it's like having a 20 man crew, with nothing but the sound of making money, unless you are a doing something terribly wrong.


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  26. #26
    PhD 2CT Media's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldPaint View Post
    I HATE TO SOUND LIKE THE GHOST OF "SIGNAGE PAST".........BUT what is called profit in todays market.....is hilarious.
    SIGN PRICES 1980'S:
    2 truck doors- simple $125- detailed $250....................now $35.00
    4 x 8 MDO SIGN $400 simple $5-600 detailed +INSTALLATION...
    set of 12 x 24 mags.......$75-150
    standard van lettered $450-800.
    BANNERS $8-10 sq ft...........
    now all of these above........PROFIT WAS 50-75% OF PRICE CHARGED...........now thats makin money)))
    NOW.......YOU SPEND $8-25,000.00 for a machine, that each replacment color ink cost $100 or better, material to print on at $2-500 a roll, set up a climate controlled room with ventilation, pay the electrical for the 220 hookup, pay the electric bill, rent of building......
    run the thing 24/7 so it can pay for itself......$1000 when it breaks..... and all this to sell MAGNETIC & CORO SIGNS for less then $25.00???????????????????????
    Again... major fault with your thought process.

    In the 80s most of the technology we have today didn't exist and also 50% of the world's population was not here competing for the same slice of pie.

    So back then you would have to physically do 1 job at a time, while now those newfangled machines that cost $25,000 can do multitudes of jobs at a time with less mistakes. Those machines will also run 24/7 if you ask them too, will you never can or will. Those same machines truly multiply in scale, while you would be lucky to find an employee who can mimic you exactly.

    If you buy this equipment to make a living on coroplast and magnets, well you are missing the bigger picture.
    Last edited by 2CT Media; 12-28-2016 at 10:54 AM. Reason: Grammatical errors galore due to phone input

  27. #27
    PhD
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2CT Media View Post
    See we charge for art seperately from the final product... that's where alot of small shops go wrong (as we did, early on). Once we seperated the intangible design from the tangible product, profit margins go up.
    I like this. Lately we've had several jobs where they were quoted with "includes design/proofing" and they took a ridiculous amount of revisions before they were approved. Something that had 1 hour of design budgeted took 3, thanks to the customer's lack of decision making ability.

    Going forward I'm going to break it down with design with up to 2 revisions @ $xx then additional revisions billed @ $xx/hr.

    Thanks.

  28. #28
    PhD
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldPaint View Post
    I HATE TO SOUND LIKE THE GHOST OF "SIGNAGE PAST"

    .........says the ghost of signage past....

    Just kidding OP. Carry on.

  29. #29
    College Freshman Johnny Best's Avatar
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    My advice:
    Buy them off the web (Cheap Car Magnets | 25% OFF | BLACK FRIDAY WEEK!) for $4.95, flip them to your customer for $50, then sell that printer you have and the from the profit of selling magnets and buy a solvent or latex printer. Come back on here and ask what vinyl to buy and laminate, BigFish will tell you, and a big squeegee from Dale. Then, start asking questions on how to fix your printer and how to collect your money from customers, then you will be a real sign guy like OldPaint. Then you can post what you got for Christmas not sign related.

  30. #30
    PhD Billct2's Avatar
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    As much as people want to consider magnets "temporary" my customers who use them do not. I have some guys that have bought magnets every 5 years or so from me for 25 years. I always give the standard spiel about "no guarantee" etc and have a hand out for their use ...but I still make them to last, and charge accordingly

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