Summa DC4 owners?

Designer Wraps

New Member
Any Summer DC4 owners out there care to share their thoughts (good / bad) on this machine?

I'm considering acquiring one (as a secondary machine) and would really like to get some feedback from those currently using one. Honestly, I'd just like to know the CONS, if any that you have with the machine.

I like the fact that it's thermal and no lam is required ...

My general production purpose would be for auto decals and stickers.



New Member
dont be fooled- you may still want to lam for automotive decals. they will not be solvent or strong cleaner resistant.


New Member
You still want to Lam every thing you do. I operated one in the past. The print scratches really easy, anything will take it right off the material. The print is suuuuuuuuuuuper slow. Sometimes when the ribbon would run out, it would snap the ribbon at the end making you start the print all over, which sucked when we were doing big prints. You definately have to keep it in a climate controlled room. The shift in temperature messed with the print pretty drastically. If you are ever doing panels that you want to butt up side by side, do not count on them matching at all. Anything with a gradient is suuuuuper hard to achieve. So many settings you have to play with to get it right. Here is a pic of one of the last things we did before I left there. You can see the left side pic was printed in the morning when it was cooler, then how faded it got when printing in the afternoon when the temp went up. The shift was between 5-10º. The banding is horrible. Nothing we ever did got it to go away. I hate to be so negative about a machine, but I am so happy I no longer have to work with this thing. Summa tech support was good. We had a few reps fly down and help us with the prints and their response the 2 times they came down was that... the print quality isn't all that good because its meant to print graphics that are going to be seen from a distance, not close up. We also needed a better climate controlled room....which we really couldn't do any better than we had. My boss had another AC unit installed which helped but we saw bad prints still. If you plan on cutting material, be very careful cutting on Summa's material that they sale. The "high performance" vinyl they have, because the backing is plastic it builds up static electricity on the machine causing it to feed weird or sometimes stick, or the plastic being slick the wheels wouldn't grab and we would have messed up cuts as well. Same thing happened on their clear vinyl too.

The one plus to the machine is that you can print the metallic and fluorescent ribbon now.


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Designer Wraps

New Member
Now that's what I was looking for ... really good feedback. You've both made my decision much easier ... that is to NOT purchase this machine.

Thanks fellas!


New Member
Love my DC4. I have not had the bad experience that P3 has had. Is it different than an ink jet? It sure is. I have no clogged heads to deal with:) You do have to understand how it prints and with what profiles (thermal settings) required on different materials. I have had my DC4 a little over 2 years now and have printed many decals that are still in service looking as good now as the day they were printed- without lamination (they are installed vertically).
I have never had a ribbon break when it was at the end of the roll, but I have ran out of ribbon while printing. The machine stops and the LCD panel states to replace ribbon and RI chip, which I do and it starts back up where it left off. As far as tracking goes, I have made decals about the size of a dime with contour cut, no bleed, as many as I could fit on a 26" x 26" layout- all contour cuts were dead on.
I would not recommend the DC4 for doing wraps and banners, just not cost effective. I think the DC4 really shines when it comes to decals and stickers. I really love the fact that it can lay down a really nice white which allows me to make nice color stickers on clear vinyl.
The one thing that took me a while to understand was every time you change media you need to have the DC4 run a line feed calibration test.
It does not print CYMK prints as nice as an ink jet, but then again, with proper settings, it does a very nice job. I do not think I have ever had a customer not satisfied with the process print.

pros- great spot colors, prints white, contour and flex cut, very durable, low maintenance.
cons- slow print when compared to inkjet, cost per sq ft is higher than inkjet.

Hope this helps.


New Member
I do agree, the maintenance is very easy on the machine. LOL dust it every now and then. As far as the ribbon breaking at the end, it didn't do it all the time, but just seemed like it did it on big prints lol. The white is nice. The print on clear is really good, probably the best I've seen. When you do process print it just looks really, really spotty. Same with gradients. Even when they are spot gradients. I never really liked the summa color control that much either. I dunno if it was just the computer it ran on it or what, but it sometimes would process colors weird and crash. We never did figure that out while I was there (wonder if they did when I left). I will say, the one plus was the clear vinyl and white print. Other than that, what would be the advantage to purchasing the DC4? If the cost is higher than an ink jet? Just because of the metallics and florescents? Without lam, I just saw a lot of scratching, really easy scratches. They sell the scotch guard but we didn't have much success with that.

When we went to the ISA show in Vegas, the Summa booth was the one with the least amount of people by it.

Designer Wraps

New Member
@2Piece - thanks for the feedback. So it's not ALL BAD ... that's good to know.

Now what about the materials that can be printed on ... should be able to printed on just about anything no? Using the proper profile ... I mean, you don't have to buy "Summa brand" materials, correct?

Also, what do the ribbons run $ ? And typically on a normal run month, how long would you say they last?

No, my plan was not using for wraps as we have an ink jet for that, but only decals and stickers and I like the fact that it can do chrome/foil.

Now what about the "scratching" ?


New Member
We've had our DC4sx for nearly a year, and print with it all day, every day. Number one plus: no nozzles to clog. It has great color reproduction, with a decent amount of spot colors to choose from. 95% of our output is spot color; either short run labels or reverse printed poly signs. Summa machines are well built, and precise. Customer support is excellent. Negatives include the cost of consumables, the rip software is less than user friendly, and it can be tricky avoiding banding on large prints. I would order the sample pack from Summa to get an idea of print quality.


Designer Wraps

New Member
Thanks guys. And garisimo tnx for the heads up on that sample pack.

Now, what about printing on reflective? Have any of you done that? And how was the result Specifically, are you able to still see the "reflectiveness" through the color that's printed?

One of you - could I send you a small sample piece of material to print on and send back to me so I can see the results?

To purchase - what vendor do you recommend?


New Member
could I send you a small sample piece of material to print on and send back to me so I can see the results

call Summa thy will print something for you, thy did for me. thy sent me a lot of samples to.

•Call 800.323.9766 (toll-free from US and Canada)
•Or ++01 206 527 0447 (internationally)
•Send e-mail to
•Use the convenient form on the left

ask for Drew, he is real good. ask if thy are having the free material sale still?



New Member
I have had mine almost 4 years and have done well with it. It does a great job for what it is good at. It is a good companion printer to an inkjet. I do a lot of smaller contour cut decals and the spot colors are a great way to offer something the inkjets can't do. I don't do big prints on mine, that is inkjet work and I just learned what it is good for and use it for that.

Designer Wraps

New Member
Thanks everyone. All of this feedback is very helpful in determining whether or not we will be purchasing one. I called Summa today and they are sending out some samples prints. So we'll start there.

Thanks again!

Designer Wraps

New Member
Well we decided to go ahead and get a DC4sx model. It's ordered and should be here next week. Looking forward to getting it setup and into production. I'm sure I'll have some questions when setup time comes ;-). Thanks again guys for your input. I'll keep you posted on how we're making out with it.


New Member
From my recent research, it seems that in order to cover all the bases, a sign shop should have both an inkjet and a thermal - if you have the space, budget and work load. If not, (like me with limited space, funds and demand), I came to the conclusion that an inkjet like the VersaCAMM is the best choice if I were to have one printing machine only. It prints and cuts, as does the Summa.


- The print quality of an inkjet can't be touched by the Summa.

- Some applications from the Summa will still require lam (vehicles/boats) although you could "get away" without it more than with an inkjet, but we're not in the business of trying to get away with things, but provide quality signage. Some prints from a VersaCAMM won't require lam either, depending on application.

- No unhealthy fumes from the Summa. Fumes from any inkjet need to be dealt with (ventilation) regardless of "claims" to the contrary.

- The Summa seems to be a much more finicky machine from what I've heard.

- Thermal prints can be put into service or shipped immediately. Inkjet prints need some drying time.

- Price per square foot appears to be more with thermal, but some claim that when all things are considered, the difference isn't that much, and this small difference only comes into play on larger prints/volumes. *shrug*

If you can afford to have both types of printers, but don't have the floor space, then an inkjet and a Gerber Edge might be a good combo. The Summa sx is big.

For me, it was the vastly superior print quality of the inkjet and the finickyness of the Summa that leaned me towards the inkjet. The fumes issue is one that really bothers me though, and I will put efforts towards mitigating that.

Let us know how it goes.

The Equipment Guy

New Member
I have sold a fair number of Summa printers. I consider it a good machine IF you already have an inkjet, the objections to price and speed are valid.

Where the Summa really shines is in Spot colour. Also remember that as you use fewer colours, your sq ft cost is lower, therefor single colour spot jobs are a real strong niche for this machine. I have printed samples to reflective (I think Summa sells a 3M specialty reflective) and the metallic film and white printing are very useful too.

My main dislike, which most feel is acceptable, is the overlapping panel line when you print something wider than the foil strip. This is why I actually have a slight preference for the Gerber Edge.


Designer Wraps

New Member
Thanks guys - like I said above, this IS a second machine for us. We have an ink jet already and love it for the purpose it serves (wraps, banners, etc). But we've found that having an additional machine to handle our growing DECAL business (local and national), the Summa will fit our needs perfectly (we hope) as it wont tie-up our ink jet for those jobs any longer.

Expecting the machine to arrive today or tomorrow. Looking forward to playing with it.