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  1. #1
    Preppie
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    New to Printing!!

    Hey guys just want to say thank you for providing so much info and being so helpful!!! Been reading and lurking on the site for a while now. So little info been running my hobby shop of decals for about 2 years now and thinking about getting a printer!! Have had more and more requests for stickers, I have been subing them out to a friend who runs a full sign shop but he is now getting away from doing stickers or small runs of stuff. He is focusing more on large scale stuff and wraps. He wants me to get a printer and he will send all his print work to me and reverse the rolls. My only fear with stepping it up to a printer is the lack of knowledge of AI or coral, currently running LXI on my GX 24" and know its very basic compared to the other ones. What advise or tips would you give to help learn to use these programs or am I stepping in over my head?

  2. #2
    Master of Arts VanderJ's Avatar
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    Although it's not my favorite design software, Flexi might be a good option for you. LXI is Flexi essentially so there would be a lower learning curve then illustrator or Corel Draw. If you are just doing stickers, you could get a Mutoh VJ628 (24" solvent printer) which will be cheaper than most options, a perfect size to match your cutter, and it comes with Flexi.

    If you want to go for the gusto, get Illustrator and start learning. YouTube has tons of tutorials. There are tons more written tutorials online, just Google it. Illustrator is the most used design software in the world and is superior to Corel Draw in my honest opinion. It's much more polished and has much more support. Learn to use the pen tool early and build the rest of your knowledge off of that. A good used sticker printer would be a Roland SP300V. A good new one is the Mimaki CJV150. Look into both of those and you will find a lot of info.

    If you want to save money, you can go with Corel Draw. Their main Pro is that you can still buy a permanent license instead of subscription only. The main con is that there is much less support than Illustrator. In Corel Draw's defense, it does do almost everything Illustrator does so you won't be going wrong with it. It's just much more clunky and poorly designed compared to Illustrator. But you can buy it outright which is appealing to a lot of people.

    The best way to learn the software, printers and techniques is to actually make the signs from start to finish day in and day out. There is a lot of support and tips on signs101.com but at the end of the day, the users with the best tips almost always learned the hard way. You would be doing yourself a disservice to always come here first. Try to figure things out yourself and only ask for help when you are completely stuck.

  3. #3
    Preppie
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    Thank you very much for the response VanderJ.

    I knew nothing about design/flexi when I first got my plotter 2+ years ago. Learned everything myself with watching videos online so I think and hope I will be able to do the same with Illustrator. I have been eye balling a Roland BN-20 but my local supplier has talked me out of it and advised I go with the SP300V like you mentioned. I can get a fully refurbished one for about $5k from them and will be able to print/cut on same machine. I was leaning towards a more print/cut machine instead of print only then use my gx24 to cut them.

    I am trying to turn this into a full time gig and trying to get myself to where I can leave my day job and work for myself and I honestly think a printer will help me. My plotter normally runs all the time Im home not at my day job but still not enough.

  4. #4
    PhD GAC05's Avatar
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    I agree with everything Vander said.
    Could quibble a little with Illustrator being superior to CorelDraw but if you are going to take files from others Illustrator is the correct program to learn first.
    Once you are up to speed and want to expand your toolset to increase productivity you could look into Corel. It is a bargain cost wise & has a toolset a little more focused on sign work.

    wayne k
    guam usa

  5. #5
    College Freshman printhog's Avatar
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    if youre going to get a large format decal printer you'll need to learn a lot more than just Corel or Adobe to produce for other shops. Corel and Adobe are the design platforms, for the art creation. Printing is a whole different thing..

    the actual printing function is done through a program called a RIP - Raster Image Processor. Large format printers wont work well as a direct printer from within Corel or Adobe through Windows. You'll need the RIP to process the files into the printer's native format.. your buddy likely has this if he's doing wraps..

    You can get RIP's like Onyx and FLEXI on monthly SaaS (Software as a Service) terms, Wasatch RIP is a one time purchase, and VinylMaster sells on a monthly payment terms. Many entry level printers have a dedicated RIP they ship as part of the new equipment purchase - Roland Versaworks is a proprietary example - many of thse are limited in function. They are all plenty fine for a transition from hobby to serious. They also offer lots of options - you can start simple and add on, or go all in. Features like contour cut and color management are optional.

    If youre lucky you'll find a supplier that will sell you a turn key system, with Printer, RIP, and support. Commercial US sign suppliers like Beacon, Signwarehouse, US Cutter, Denco, Advantage and Fellers are all well suited to help you in this. If your tempted to buy used on ebay and try to make it work on the cheap, be ware that you'll likely not have the knowledge to make your purchase work in any way whatsoever.

  6. #6
    Premium Subscriber Gino's Avatar
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    Would you open a pancake house if you didn't have the right machines, recipes or personnel to run the show, since you don't know anything about it ?? You don't jump in the diving well, to learn how to swim.

    Just because some guy tells you he'll send you all his business sounds a little odd to me. No one sends good business away...... no one.

    Tell him, you'll work for him, learn his machines and do all of this extra work on his stuff, he teaches you the ropes and you eventually get the business he doesn't want anymore.. See if he goes for that.


    Everybody should believe in something.... I believe I'll have another drink


    Merchant Member to the Trade



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