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somewhat of a newbie - advice/suggestions welcome


New Member
Hello everyone, I just wanted to take the time and introduce myself and tell you all what my background is. I have been on this site constantly since I found it a few days ago (btw this is the greatest most resourceful site I've seen in a long time). A little history about myself: I've been an artist of some sort or another since childhood, worked with many types of media ranging from stained glass, paint, clay, metal, sound (yes I am also a musician) and skin (I was a body piercer/tattoo artist for 5 years). I have had many years of formal art training and attended the Art Institute in Philadelphia for industrial design (dreams of being a special effects artist) with a minor in graphic design. It was there when I realized I didn't want to make molds and car part castings all day long and that infact all of the horror movie makeup I dreamed of doing was either really low budget or being replaced by cgi. I was building and fixing computers for all my friends and writing programs in Visual Basic to suite my own needs, which brought me to becoming a computer programmer and a web developer. I got all my certifications (Java, VB and the like) and it was during this time that I discovered Photoshop and fell in love with doing computer graphics and web development. I was looking straight ahead at a career which ended rather quickly due to the "crash" in the computer field after September 11th. So I decided to start an online business doing web sites and selling custom stickers I was manufacturing out of my home . I was manufacturing these stickers on a poly based/adhesive backed laser printer paper with my many Alps printers and doing cold sheet lamination with a squeegee. I had always been fascinated by plotters/cutters/combos and decided to buy a lower cost Roland Stika, (which has more than paid for itself) to learn about vinyl. That was 3 years ago and doing online stuff is no longer keeping my interest or paying the bills well enough to carry forth doing this alone. I have done several jobs for local businesses and friends with the vinyl. I also forgot to mention I use a heat press and make mousepads and t-shirts (I know I am all over the place here). Due to the types of items I produce, and because I am on an extremely tight budget I purchased a Roland Colorcamm PC12, which I have read several thousand complaints about, but I really needed to be able to use heat transfer materials that would work on dark fabrics, and a few custom trucks signs with a full spectrum of color that cannot be achieved by layering vinyl. OK - now that I've rambled on and you know my life story, is anyone currently using the Roland PC12? If so any recommendations of materials/techniques would be appreciated. I try to get as much out of previous posts as possible but direct contact with a human answering specific questions is always appreciated. I am currently a "Master" (in my mind) in Photoshop but I know cutting from Photoshop is not really a possibilty. I have been using Photoshop to create graphics converting to bitmap, and importing into Dr.Stika, then cutting. What software would you recommend for the PC12 to print and cut? I have Illustrator but find it cumbersome, and I also have Corel Draw 12. Would either of these programs be "ideal" for printing/cutting? Is there any third party software that would be better suited for this machine? I am going to sell the stika soon and I am looking at a Panther or a Lynx to replace it. I am also looking at sandblasting. I'd really just love to hear what everyone has to say and sincerely appreciate any advice I get. I am still working out of my home but am moving into my 3 bay garage soon and really want to kick all my business up a few serious knotches. Well Thanks in advance, and I look foward to many years of correspondence with you all... Working in rural north Jersey,
oh BTW don't think my ego is out of hand with the whole "genius" thing, my friends have called me genius in some form or another since I was a kid, so it's geniuscreations - get it? :help:


New Member

Starting out, the easiest way to provide your customers with a wide array of products is to outsource. For full-color "stickers" or "decals" consider a subcontractor with the Gerber Edge system.

You'll also want to look into www.stouse.com for a manufacturer of many custom products.

www.vistaprint.com for some print options

www.carpretty.com for vehicle graphics, mouldings etc.

Once you find a niche market, you'll be able to settle on some equipment and start saving, learning and practicing to make it your forte'. Until you find your niche, don't spend money . . . practice, read and learn.

Best wishes!

Fred Weiss

Merchant Member
Welcome to our boards.

I mean no rudeness in saying this: You will get considerably more replies, help, and in general have your posts read, if you will post in smaller paragraphs. My old eyes couldn't get past the sixth line.


New Member
I too started out with a Stika SX-12 sold it on ebay to someone in Switzerland for around $500. I upgraded to a Panther Pro setup and absolutely love the machine. At the time I received tons of free rolls of vinyl, supplies, and coupons for $30 off every month for one year. Now I do not believe they offer that bundle. I too use Illustrator and FlexiSign Pro. Since you have a Stika you can still use your cut driver for it with Illustrator and it should work your Panther. (Its been a long time since I have done this.) Or you can purchase CoCut pro which is a bridge program for Illustrator/Corel to cut direct from that software. Only it offers a lot more user control then the plug in Roland supplied you with.

The one problem I see with the Panther is simply Signwarehouse. The machine itself has never let me down and it tracks very long lenghts. If you value customer service, you will not find that at Signwarehouse. Also I called once for tech info on the Panther, it ended up losing a lot of info/vector art which I did not need to lose. The tech said Sorry I didn't know it would do that, you learn something new every day. Hmmmmmm, in any event if you have extra money go with a Graphtec FC series plotter, with this you can go anywhere or call anyone as they all sell Graphtec. Signwarehouse is the only place to buy Panthers, parts, etc. I needed the media rollers as the ones I had wore out, they told me it would take 2 weeks to get them as they come from China.

BTW :Welcome: 2 :signs101:


New Member
Thanks Fred, I agree it's bit hard to read, I was just going off on a tangent and didn't give the readability any thought. Love the forums! And thanks for that link!