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Summa DC3, still a viable option?


New Member
As many of you know, I am researching a printer. I've been leaning towards the eco-solvent printers due to the versatility, but am also interested in the automatic durability of the thermal process. I've talked with Summa tech support to get a feel for the machine a little bit. Didn't learn anything earth-shattering, but just got some questions answered. I know they are more expensive PSF at around $2.50 - $3.00 or so, but you also get a more durable print w/o lamination. They also now have the abrasion guard, similar to the Gerber Edge, which seems it would further help. But, are they any good for vehicle graphics w/o lamination, which is my primary intent along with other outdoor signage (the vase majority of my work).

One question I have for anyone with the machine, have you had any success printing on any of the EZ apply mat'ls? What about for backlit apps, or is that an inkjet-only process (or regular cut vinyl).

I don't like the fact that you are limited to JUST the 40" Summa media, but they said that they are always looking for options, but nothing new right now. Granted, you know it is good stuff, but you are locked into the white or clear.

Any opinions or comments are appreciated, as long as they are HELPFUL!

Fred Weiss

Merchant Member
If you're willing to consider the DC3 then you should also consider the Edge. The only benefit you have with the Summa is size and paneling Edge prints isn't that big a deal.

With Summa you have a single source for supplies, parts and service. With an Edge There are numerous dealers for supplies and an active aftermarket for foils.

The Summa is primarily a CMYK printer for 2 and 4 mil vinyl with a few spot colors available. The Edge does CMYK and over 100 spot colors. Add in Spectratone (Duotone) and spot colors expand into the thousands. And with spot colors there's no color management involved. What you're going to get is already known. And the Edge will print on 99% of the films out there.

Support wise, no knock on Summa there's a great forum for Edge users at 4 Edge Talk Forum as well as here and other forums. You can get all your learning cut down to a manageable size due to the large user base of the Edge.

Right now, Gerber has just introduced their new Edge FX. It's a revamped Edge 2. You can pickup low mileage Edge 2's with Envision 375 plotters for $10 to $12M with starter supplies. Check the used market or with Denco or NW SIgn Supply. If you call Denco, get hold of Joe House and tell him I referred you.


New Member
Fred, I tried to get more info about that one that was advertised here a while back (near you as I recall). Never heard anything again. Might be a good thing afterall, maybe it was junk or something. Seems like it was an Edge 2 with plotter and Omega for like $8k. Too bad it didn't work out. I'm not sold on EITHER type just yet, I know that I anguish over stuff like this, but it's my nature. Just trying to find the best fit for the moment that is affordable. In time I could have one or more of each.

I need to find the best fit for what I plan to do with it: vehicle graphics and wraps, outdoor signage, maybe banners and maybe decal runs. I know a thermal is no good for banners, but I'm not so sure I want to do a lot of banners anyway. I price 'em on the high side just cuz I think they are more work for less money than a rigid substrate counterpart. Not saying you can't make good money doing them, but it's the perceived value of them that just doesn't let you charge as much for them.

The thing about the Edge, even though they are wildly popular, is they print so small that you have to tile almost everything. I know that you have one and use the crap out of it, do you wish it printed at 24" or better? Maybe I'm looking at it wrong, it just isn't intended for big stuff. I tend to do more big stuff than little stuff, so that is where my focus is. I would market the smaller stuff more if I had the capability in-house, cuz there is more money per sq. ft. in the smaller stuff.

Thanks much!


New Member
Quote: "I know that I anguish over stuff like this, but it's my nature. Just trying to find the best fit for the moment that is affordable."

I'm just the same Chris, it's a chunk o' dough and you want to be sure that you're making the right purchase. There's a good article in this April's edition of "SIGNS Canada" (pg. 52) about all of the different types of printers, media and laminators, all for specific applications, it makes your head spin! And after reading stuff like that, I really get the feeling that no matter what machine I buy, I'm still going to have jobs that it's not appropriate for. I don't know if a guy is foolish to wait until there's a machine that'll do it all - without lamination, or what.


Fred Weiss

Merchant Member
Size, in this case is less important than you think and, yes, the best money is in smaller decals. One setup and run 50 or 100 of something. typically at $20 to $30 a foot gross. Think of the Edge as a short run digital screen printing machine with about 10,000 spot color inks on your shelf or available through mixing that has a diecutting machine waiting for the output.

What you need to realize is that whatever you get used to seems the best. I started with a Gerber Signmaker III. 15" plotters are second nature to me. I have a 30" and use it for about 1% of what I do.

Most jobs I do are "hybrid" ... which is to say that there's some Edge prints in them and lots of plain cut vinyl. I probably get into paneling in less than 1% of what I do. Today I ran off a job for a member on Scotchlite reflective. I was quoting last week on a job on glow in the dark vinyl. Banging out a dozen full color printed mags, where I print on Oracal 651 and then overlay on mag sheet, is about a 2 hour job at a cost of less than $3 per foot including the mag sheet.

I can go on but as I've said in an earlier post ... there are only good choices. The Edge, IMHO, is one of the better ones.
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New Member

Okay, finally got some sample prints from Summa. Quality of prints is okay, really is about an arm's length type of print in my opinion. Registration was a touch off in some spots. You'd think these would be dead-nuts coming from the mfg.

Okay, tell me if this is unrealistic, but I then took some std. 70% IPA to one of 'em and to my surprise, the color did in fact come off. The black remained, but the red in this case came right off with just a bit of gentle rubbing with the IPA. I thought sure that it would resist a bit of alcohol. Am I wrong to assume this from a thermal printer - DC3, Gerber or otherwise? It was fine against Windex, but now I wonder WHAT will take it off with little effort. I'm sure gas or diesel would hammer it. So from my standpoint, I see NO advantage for thermal in my case if I still have to laminate any vehicle graphics.

Well, back to an inkjet I guess, plus I get a bigger print, more versatility, cheaper prints and higher resolution. Bummer, was hoping this would work cuz I'd really like an all-in-one solution - even if it costs more to run :-(

Jen Goodwin

New Member
I gotta agree with Fred here about the Edge. Yes, I would like to print larger...yes, I have been here and there wishing that I waited and got a Mutoh Jr. and then reality hits me and I go hug the Edge again. It is a great machine! No other machine gives you so much versatility. No laminating. Tiling is easy and it lines up to the dot. You can print on any color vinyl with solid spots, you can match the foils to actual vinyls so that when you have a customer with various types of signage, they will still all match. Theres tinting white foil & shadow cast foil...there's spectratone, like Fred mentioned, giving you an endless amount of solid spot colors; not to mention 4 color process. You can print reverse on clear and back it up with white for inside window decals. You can print on metallic vinyl or print on white with metallic foils. Not to mention the ablility to print on LexEdge, automag, heat transfer, floorminders, static cling, and my all time favorite...Edge Positive. (we use that for all our screenprinting negatives now)
I would love to have an ink jet printer in the future...but I am sooooooo happy I got an Edge. So much so, I'd consider a CNC router before getting an ink jet now.