• I want to thank all the members that have upgraded your accounts. I truly appreciate your support of the site monetarily. Supporting the site keeps this site up and running as a lot of work daily goes on behind the scenes. Click to Support Signs101 ...

Interested in a starter system


New Member
Ok, I am looking to start a small business making stickers and signs to help pay my way through college. I've been looking at a Stika SX-15 or the Bobcat combo from signwarehouse.com. What other cutter options are available, and what kind of local support will I need for parts? I pick things up pretty fast and am really good with computers, so I am not afraid to get a mid level cutter if that is a better choice cost wise. Any thoughts or ideas are welcome and appreciated.



New Member
Stika -15 is a good starter one that will last you 2 year with good care, i know the bobcat is a bit better then the stika. on thing to look at is the speed of the machines and over all size you will be able to cut , the stika is limited to 13" x 39" and is like 16 ips, it is good for a starter , i dont know about the bobcat.
i just upgraded from my stika-15 to a master 32" it is more then double the speed and can handle 32" materal and unlimited lenth ,after 2 years my stika need more repairs then i planed on spending on it , it was easyer to buy a new one for a little more , so if you can afford it now look into diffent types ,last i check on ebay stika where $849(+ s/h) combo inculdes enoght to get started to buy more material


New Member
Let me start off by saying that there is more to it than just buying some equipment and being good with a computer. You also need some artistic ability and an eye for colors and composition. Granted, these things can be learned as I've personally found, but don't expect to produce high-quality designs right out of the gate.

Let me also go on to say that I am somewhat offended by the fact that the only reason you want to do this is to make some money for school. If you have no desire to do this as a career, or very serious "hobby" [dare I say], please leave it to those trying to pay loans, mortgages and make a decent living w/o having to scramble for a few bucks because the market is so diluted. I imagine you mean well and all, but it's the "anyone can do this" mentality that has diminished the value of good signage. Although I am currently a part-timer, I am very serious at this and this is very likely to be my last year in "corporate america" (maybe sooner) as a degreed mechanical engineer. Before I even got equipment, I did many many many hours of research and learning, as well as practicing a lot with Corel. I may sound nuts for even wanting to leave a good career with benefits, but THIS is my passion, and hopefully I can make a living at it too.

Anyway, that's my little soapbox speech, which I normally don't do here.


New Member
Hate to say it but I have to agree with Chris on this one. Sure being a student is not easy and cash is gonna be tight but doing signs part time will have an impact on someone in your local area who is as Chris says trying to support a family.

One of THE biggest problems is cheap equipment- yeah you can buy a Stika if you want- from what I've seen it's more of a toy anyway. If you wanna go dirt cheap try a cheapo Chinese plotter but you won't get much support and I should imagine life expectancy is pretty short.

I do hope I don't sound mean spirited here but there is an issue of professionalism here. The sign industry might appear to be a peice of cake and not a serious trade but most people who specialise in it and don't have another career or college course to attend don't like the way the industry has been devalued lately. When I started making signs there was no internet or sites like this to ask advice from- I had to learn the old fashioned way and it costs a lot of time and money. You would'nt seriously go to a Electricians forum and ask what equipment you needed to operate a sideline to your main occupation- you can't really expect to get detailed advice from us- after all with ever cheaper machinery it's the knowledge that makes the difference between success and failure.

I never know how to strike a balance between being helpful and trying to protect what I regard as a professional trade. Sorry to sound rude but that's the way it is.


New Member
If it was a requirement to be artistic, then 1/2 the sign shops would be out of business. That's not to say good design can't be learned...
Best bet is to avoid frustration. Go with a Japanese made name brand rather than a Chinese generic. Roland CX-24 or Graphtec CE3000-60 for example, the investment is worth it unless you actually enjoy being aggevated by equipment.


New Member
GraphiXtreme: And while I do appreciate the need for quality sign makers, I really don't see myself competing with those who make this a career. I mostly want to cater to the small custom stickers for local clubs who already have a logo, and the occasional one off. If I ran into anything that was out of my league, then by all means I would recommend them to someone who can meet their needs (anyone in San Diego?) As someone with an entrepreneurial mindset, I don't think for one second that you are nuts for leaving your corporate job. After all, that is what the American spirit is all about. And who knows, I may just enjoy making sings enough to open a store front once I’m out of college.

Now back on topic: I am leaning towards the Bobcat as far as a complete package is concerned, since it comes with a lot of the basic software and supplies. A google search left me empty handed on the Master 32” cutter. Does anyone have a link to some spec’s and pricing info? What about other available models?

Fred Weiss

Merchant Member
I don't have a problem with you jumping in. What I wonder though is why you feel you need to buy the production equipment.

Instead, consider buying some decent design software like Adobe Illustrator or Coreldraw, which you can get at great rates as a student, and cultivating a wholesale relationship with an independent sign company in your area. You do the setups and send them to someone to produce for you.

You'll get a much better selection of materials, great quality by comparison to what you will be able to do yourself, and maybe even some guidance and hands on exposure.

All on an investment of less than $200. The middleman's profit you will pay the sign company is more than offset by not having to produce the graphics, invest in the equipment or materials, and in having a wider range of products you can offer such as print-n-cut work to go with the more common cut only graphics.


New Member
Good enough. I don't mean to sound rude, just some concerns. A co-worker of mine just picked up a starter package from the dreaded SIGNWAREHOUSE. He got a Graphtec CE3000-60 and spent about $2500 from them, plus a bit more from SSK and Beacon for some more supplies. Seems pretty happy with it, heck, he's on here and can chime in on his own if he wants.

I personally recommend quality equipment and would say to stick with a Summa, Graphtec or Roland (not Stika) - in that order for entry level stuff. If you go to the pro level, I'd say it's a toss-up between the Summa D750/T750 and Graphtec FC-series.


New Member
These forums are suppose to be helpful to new users are they not? So why is it that lately any newbie who is looking for information gets ripped apart? It also seems to be the senior members of these forums doing the ripping. Don't be afraid of competition, if your designs are unique and creative you should have nothing to worry about.

As for equipment, companies would not label their packages as "Starter Packages" if they were not aiming at that market. We all started somewhere and information is meant to be learned either by hands on or theory. Unless you try something, you won't know if it is what peaks your interest.

Finally, have fun with Sign/Decal making. It can be a rewarding job as well as a hobby.


New Member
my grandfather always said buy the best you can afford any less will be a waste of time and money . i would try the 3rd party selling thing to see how you deal with peaple, if you can't be a salesman your just wasting your time.its not always easy to complete a sale theres more to buisiness than the equipment. scan your local area for opourtunities . before you make the investment.


New Member
Chris, for a minute there I thought you were not going to recommend the D60 to sdgenxr. I'd have to agree that after doing much reading about cutters, and features, and the possibility of making more than a hobby out of it all, and resale value should you decide to quit, the Summa D60 is my recommendation to you sdgenxr. And not to spoil anyones bidding I hope, but there is a barely used D60 on eBay right now.

On another note.
I find it quite interesting, that when spell check tried to correct the word "sdgenxr", it suggests "signers". Wow, maybe that's a "sign" ! ?

High Octane

New Member
I suggest the Roland CX-24 for a starter machine...resonable price...good quality and you will probably run into instances where you will have to cut something larger than the stika will allow...over 13"....I use several Roland products and have no problems with them...quality machines...great support..affordable..just my 2 cents...good luck either way you go.


New Member
This place has to be taken with a grain of salt. Let me relate an analogy that might make sense. You can buy a lawn mower at Wal-Mart. It certainly can cut grass. Now if you have 1/4 acre and cut just your own, this proably will be fine the 21" $120 Wal-Mart special.
Now let's say you want to get paid for cutting grass... Certainly a 32" Scag costs more. Can cut faster and better. Doesn't clog up when you push it hard. Will last years instead of months. Can find a dealer to service it, not ship it off to some far away company.
Buy local. Buy a name brand. If it says "Made in China" and you think it's a good plotter, you are quite wrong. You think how could someone sell such junk? They do. The guy on eBay makes all his sales private auctions so you can't contact his buyers... ever wonder why?
Yes, you are possibly my competition. In the respect my advice is to get the cheapest plotter on the market. They are all the same. Actually all plotters are made by the same people, it's just some game... just get the cheapest. WinPC Sign now there's a program! Amazing they give it away for FREE with these plotters. Yep, if you buy an expensive plotter you're wasting your money. Is that what you want to hear?


New Member
If it was a requirement to be artistic, then 1/2 the sign shops would be out of business
THIS MIGHT BE A GOOD THING.....less people who dont know what they are doin....would be a nice improvment...
but we cant live in OZ.....
to many here who cant see with there minds eye....or even draw a stick figure and they is a sign artist...if the can afford a plotter and computer...how many barbers would you go to...that just went out and bought a pair of clippers and and a pair of sissors and put a chair on their porch with a sign CHEAP HAIR CUTS... this is whats goin on here...everybody want to make the easy money.....dont need any skills....

Scott Reynolds

New Member
Starter Package? Mimaki 64" JV3-SP w/bulk ink, and a 61" Mimaki cutter for $31,000 from abetterink.com Now there's a starter package! Go Big or Go Home!


New Member
I have the SX-15, bought it used off ebay, downloaded the FREE Dr. Sticka Program to run the cutter, bought a few rolls of vinyl off ebay to work and play with so I can learn the cutter. I am no artist..period. Right now the items I sell do not require me to be an Artist. I am learning and will get better with time and effort.

We all started somewhere. Many of the people on the board still hold full times jobs and do this part time becuase they need the full time jobs for various reasons. But again, they all didnt buy top notch equip to do this and didnt know it all starting out. Alot of people start small, learn, grow and expand into bigger and better or decide this is not their true feild of choice.

For what your wanting to try, start small, pick up some extra change to help out, get your schooling, you may even decide to take some graphic classes.
After school is over, what if there are no job openings for your feild? Now you have to get some type of job for income right?
If many of the current "part timers" lost their full time jobs due to down sizing, plant closeings etc, would have this business to fall back on to keep income rolling in. Why should you not have that same option available to you? You should.
Every part time person that holds a full time job and does this is taking business & money away from someone. Money from another sign person and money away from some one who could use their full time job. Dont let a few people ruffle your feathers. Your not a threat to anyone at this point because you will be spending alot of time and money just learning, wasteing vinyl to learn just as well all have at one point and time.
From one NEWBIE to another Welcome aboard, no matter what you decide!


New Member
I'm the afore mentioned co-worker, and did indeed pick up a Graphtec package from the 'dreaded' SignWarehouse. (With a certain amount of trepidation I might add, I'll also add that so far, so good, and I have nothing to complain about yet. Of course I haven't had to get any additioinal service from them yet either!)

I kept running into the same recomendations you are seeing for cutters. I first decided on a Roland, but with some advice and recommendations from Chris went to the Graphtec. I decided that I wanted as complete a bundle of software and 'goodies' as I could get. I augmented the package with 'starter sets' of materials (figuring I'll be spending a lot of time looking like a cartoon character wrapped in flypaper) and a package of basic tools.

I did some heavy thinking before I made the investment. I am not looking to set up shop here, but rather to retire in 2 - 3 years, and have a means of income to make that early retirement possible. I did some research in the area I am planning to retire to, and found that there is one sign shop in each of two of the three towns in the area. None in the small town I'll be moving to. It's also a very 'artsy-crafty' area with a lot of festivals, street fair events and it seems to me to be room for things like 'etched' glass panels, decorative mirrors and the like. Touristy stuff.

I have the luxury to be able to spend some serious time with the equipment to learn it, and to hone my own skills on layout/design and application so when I am ready to hang out my own sign I'll really be ready. My artistic talents are minimal (I am in absolute awe of the talents of many of you), my layout/design skills are fledgling but with practice will improve. I hope I have the required amout of what seems to me to be the number one requirement for a good sign maker - imagination. In the meantime I'll be sticking foo-foo filigree to every glass panel and table in my house, inundating my friends and family with tacky mirrors, and maybe even doing my part to beautify my neighborhood by getting rid of some of the magic-marker cardboard boxes littering the street corners advertising yard sales.. (Hmmm yard sale sign rentals ?¿?)

I'll be spending more time lurking here than posting because I learn more by reading than I do typing. My thanks to all of you that share your knowledge, experience, and philosphy. And an extra public thanks to your resident cat-herder.. I'm fortunate to have that resource so available.

Bob P.


New Member
WOW! If I had known this thread would turn out like this, I probably would have thought twice about posting here. But I'm glad to see that it is moving in a positive direction now. It looks like I will try and pick up that D60 from Ebay or purchase the aforementioned Graphtec kit from signwarehouse.com. Does anyone know someplace else I can pick up a D60, new?


New Member
sweet package

LvDecals said:
Starter Package? Mimaki 64" JV3-SP w/bulk ink, and a 61" Mimaki cutter for $31,000 from abetterink.com Now there's a starter package! Go Big or Go Home!

LOL!! this would be nice. all you have to do is ebay a kidney and maybe a lung.