I have never owned any other type of vinyl plotter. This is my first unit, I chose big because that's where the money is. I run a small media business, this unit allows us to take a first step into a physical material for advertising and such since we have established a digital footprint of sales now. As a full time gig, I work in CAD/Production at a large format carton/packaging manufacturing company. I have operated many many different kinds and sizes of cutters and printers and this is my first vinyl unit, the printing industry and diecutting work for the past decade have helped me understand greatly the principles of what I need to do so I have an edge over a normal "newbie" when I looked at all the various levels of plotters available.
My thoughts on this are: Compared to any other unit near its price, its almost silly to buy anything else. If youre willing to put up $400 already, It would be most wise to save up a bit more and get this unit if youre looking to really start work or expand your current status. I find it really hard to argue this unit if youre serious enough to need 24" or more width and want to cut nearly any vinyl materials, this is the one to get. Its not a roland, but it has many of the major features you want. Its not as quiet as a graphtec, but youre probably not going to run this unit 6-12 hours a day. The ARMS option alone is worth the weight. Features vs price vs the "what do you really need to do with the cutter".. NO BRAINER. I would bet many pros would review this and say it is a great starter plotter. I got mine through the USCUTTER ebay store for slightly less than the websites price, but most important was the free shipping. Saved 50-60 bucks through ebay and it was fast.
I took the time to go to a local sign shop and see the high end units and the operators work their stuff. There is a clear difference in quality of the units parts between the LP3 and a Graphtec or Roland. Around a 40 pound weight difference will tell you that there is a metal frame and metal mounts for the internal parts, and not plastic injection molded brackets that hold the main driving components. All of this saves money for everyone who doesnt need a unit that will run 8 hours a day though... but it reduces how long the unit will last. For a small business running a couple jobs a day, it is perfect
It almost seems as if some parts are used with other cutters or models, the bottom has a 80-120mm fan mount but no fan. There is a ruler on the front and back of the unit which is nice for ensuring straight tracking for long jobs. With this plotter I would only use 2 rollers for any roll you put in it. Cutting anything anytime involves registration and without the even tension on the nip/pinch rollers and the media, it will not cut correct, the rollers are perfect out of the box and try to keep them 1" from the edges of the media.
I did double check these wheels and tensions myself by undoing them. A method used to adjust the wheels for printing presses and die cutters is to keep the pressure off the wheels and slowly lower the wheel (raise pressure} until they only start spinning when the paper/media is inbetween them, then fine tune the tracking from there with 1/16ths turns of the tension wheels. Similar to blade height theory of only sticking out enough to cut the vinyl and not the backing.. The wheel should only spin if the media is underneath it to reduce wear on the bearings and wheels, especially since these have grit rollers and not smooth rollers or belts. No reason to be jamming these wheels down. Should last nearly a life time if they are always on top of vinyl or something and not touching bare grit. By using this technique I still retain straight tracking and have greatly reduced the grit roller marks. Not worth adjusting these per vinyls like HTV or Decals unless really needed..
The blade holder this thing came with was honestly subpar with the unit. I bought a cheap roland knockoff, with no locknut, on ebay for several dollars and it works WAY BETTER. The mount of the unit for the blade holder is quite rigid for a plastic design. From what ive seen this is probably one of the better designs for this, dont see it snapping anytime soon. Setting proper blade height is a must for any cutting of anything. I do not recommend using any type of oil anywhere on this machine, not even any bit holder. Oil like wd40 attracts a lot of dust and is highly frowned upon when using around expensive equipment. Vinyl makes dust and that turns into a grime. Okay for the garage stuff, but i would stick to dry lubes like graphite, teflon or silicone. I dont own any WD40. Your parts can last forever if you do the right maintenance. I can ensure you your blade holder will work better and last longer with a teflon or silicone vs wd40/oil. These kind of bearings are sealed so we are only lubing up everything else for smooth works and non sticks. Spray parts with lube, then blow them off.
The unit cuts a diamond (rotated square] inside a square for its test cut.
Speed is from 100-800, increments are in 100s. Its more like 1-8.
Pressure,force,wedge.... is 1-500 for a total of 800g of downforce. I nearly destroyed the cutting strip right away, put a small dent in it on far right side. Got away with lifting up the strip and rotated it so the bad side is on the far left instead of far right since I cant cut down there anyways. You can hear it slam down at 400.
The pen tool is needed to calibrate the laser. It works great and needs only around 50g of force to use. I bought a cheap sharpie attachment on ebay for couple bucks and its nice to use for kids school projects. The ARMS system worked flawless my first try. I do not use it at the moment but will eventually incorporate printed materials to cut once we get better with the plotting and different materials.
I cut 50 3"x4" logos on 24" matte white oracal 751 all at once. Newbie mistake only because I was unprepared on how to handle the media afterwards. The LP3 cut all 50 at once on the lowest speed of 100, i did not time the job but it took quite a while. The cutter was hot and could smell the unit working its butt off, but it is fine of course. I would consider this a high detail graphic because there are around 60 pieces of each decal left after weeding.
It isnt quiet, but its not loud, like a regular printer.
The top has a nice tray to hold tools and stuff. I use an xacto knife for weeding and whatever and leave that up there and so far not many scratches in the paint.
The stand is good enough for the unit. It is thin metal, rollers are cheap but it all works and is thick enough to keep it sturdy and not shake a lot. Wheel locks were a nice touch. Media basket is what I use to cover the unit with when not using it, It is nothing special and says USCUTTER on it in white.
Comes with an extra long USB cable and power cord for you. I have opted for wireless using bluetooth dongles so unit is not tethered to a PC. You could run it into a router like any other printer as well.
Vinylmaster Cut v4 is good enough to work with. It will vectorize the image pretty good for you and give you room to make adjustments. Lots of limits but I prefer to do all the art and work in AI or Esko Artios. I use Esko at my main job. Its very similar to Adobe AI but it is more indepth in that I can send the files to my laser, waterjet, cnc tables, printing plate makers and Epsons. Since the drivers are already available and the unit is newer, the connection is has with most new software is plug and play, like a regular printer. Mac or PC doesnt matter. Using a virtual machine you can run whatever software you want on whatever operating system.
Any questions ill try to answer. If you want pics I can take those quick.
Advice for those looking to purchase: Read the manual. Learn to adjust blade.