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Everything posted by Wildgoose

  1. Wildgoose

    Screen Printing ?

    I use F&M exclusively at this point. They have various products and their website will walk you though most of your questions. Order a sample kit and it will give you samples of all the stuff they do. I was originally concerned with product lifespan but I used them on some of my construction guys tee's and paid attention to how they wear and they held up really well. Probably not quite as lang as HTV but it's a close second and the price saving for clients is really impressive. On any kind of volume I actually do less work and make more per shirt so I basically doubled my output in the same amount of time. You already have a press so you're good to go. HTV will always have it's place and things like specific numbers or any kind of custom work or higher quality work like on nice jackets or polo's is probably better with HTV. I'm a small mom an pop shop and work from my living room so being efficient is key for me. I do my designs in AI but they will accept PS or Corel Draw as well. Basically you pick your product (I mostly use the Athletic formula because it resists dye migration the best). Pick your color count and size of transfer sheet. If single color you basically get two choices for the cheap deal. Can't gang two images on the $0.15 program but it's so cheap it doesn't matter anyway. If you are doing 2,3 or full color then you have to decide if it's priced best to go with a certain size sheet or gang a bunch up on a larger sheet. I build an AI file with the different sizes offered and decide by crunching numbers which one makes the most sense bearing in mind gang sheets with ,utile logo's you will have to cut apart yourself. Leave enough room that you can cut several at once with a paper cutter board and it goes pretty good. Sometimes a lot of little ones are cheaper than a few large sheets (min order on gang sheets is 8 I think) Most of the time it's cheaper to use the XL sheet and stack a bunch on there when doing 2 or 3 colors. I have done some full color work and it turns out great too.
  2. Wildgoose

    Screen Printing ?

    Cut vinyl definitely rules the custom one off market. The only issues I ever have are when someone wants a gradient or distressed flag or something that's just too intricate to be buildable. I have done a few that I shouldn't have. One distressed job took a half hour on the cutter and an hour to weed. Those are work the cost of a screen set up even for just a couple.
  3. Wildgoose

    Screen Printing ?

    I am like Dakota. I have grown to need high quantities often and use plastisol transfers. There are several outfits that sell them and they make it affordable to compete with the screen print shops. You can't quite get the same hand that true screen print will (which I find sort of rough) but I have had good luck with them and utilizing my now heat press.
  4. Wildgoose

    Hi from Kate in Florida

    Welcome from Idaho. I lived in FL for a couple years. I don't miss the heat though. Or the bugs. I'm a fellow Illustrator user. The Graphtec is pretty much the fan favorite if you have the funds. They have a free plug-in for Illustrator that lets you just cut right from the program. I think there is also a free offering of Graphtec Pro Studio with some machines.
  5. Wildgoose

    Advice regarding software and maybe hardware

    If it's single color stuff and I have the time to wait for the transfers I do it as low as 20 or 25. Especially if there is a lot of coverage area that would burn up a lot of vinyl. I have tried a few out and have settled in on F&M Expressions. The have taken good care of me even when they had issues.
  6. Just a couple thoughts. Double check that your carriage has not partially slipped off the rail. And that your drive rollers are not loose. There are small screws that secure the drive shaft that have been known to come loose especially if you moved and it got knocked around. Also you said you had to buy new software to be compatible with your mac and the cutter. I believe the MH is one of the cutters that does not allow you to set the blade offset directly on the machine but is dependent on the software to make this adjustment. There is possibly some issue between the two. Double check that the increments for your blade offset are in mm. 0.30mm is an appropriate amount of offset but 0.33 inches would not be. I would adjust your blade offset both directions by a large margin and see if it actually changes. t's possible you have some issues with the program telling your cutter what to do. If you need a second option try the SignCut free trial and you will have something to compare with.
  7. Wildgoose

    Intro for you all

    Hello and welcome from Idaho. (Jeep country)
  8. Wildgoose

    cutter issues

    If you only spent $60 your not out much anyway. Most software is at least $400 for anything worth using. Graphtec is really smart to market some options that you can run with their product that help ease the pain of buying the top shelf cutter. They also run a totally different cutter command language so that their free stuff is only useful to their own clientele. Gotta appreciate clever market control. Best thing is they really ARE great cutters so they are providing a great machine on top of the other promotional benefits.
  9. Wildgoose

    Advice regarding software and maybe hardware

    I don't think I have ever seen anyone who really loves the all in one press functionality. If you're going to go with a budget press I would just get the 15"x 15" swing press. Anything flat will fit on there. The people who do mugs generally seem to do better with Cactus wraps and the supposed cap attachment isn't going to be all that useful. If you want to do caps just get a good Hotronix cap press. Caps are good money BTW if you find yourself working into the HTV garment market caps are reasonably simple (with a good press) and turn high profits. You can pay for a nice press with one or two cases (144) of hats. When I say good press I speak of the Knight or the Maxx or the Auto Open Hotronix which is what I have. There are several other cap presses that may work ok too but the Maxx (made by Hotronix) and the Hotronix have several platen sizes to fit different hats. I actually use a really small kids hat platen on 98% of the work I do because it just fits inside better and doesn't cause as much deformity at the edges. Not that many people do hats so it's an easy niche if you can find the right client. My regular t-shirt clients often want hats and with HTV small quantities are no problem as well. I have a quote going on 700 hats right now. I charge them $7.50 per each and the hats cots me $3.50. With that kind of volume I order plastisol screen print transfers that in that volume will cost me under $0.50 each. You can press at least 24 hats an hour (often closer to 48) so that's over $80/hr up to $160/hr. I pull that hat press into the living room and watch tv while I work, it's great. If you are planning to do sublimation on your own cut work then you will be wanting to use a brush on sublimation product in order to get it to work. I have a little of that I bought from Dakota a couple years back but never tried it. Sublimation will work naturally with polyester but anything else has to be specially prepared. I could see doing something really cool with a laser cut product that is then sublimated.
  10. Wildgoose

    cutter issues

    Pineapple if you are good with Adobe Illustrator the Cutting Master plug-in will cut right from AI to your Graphtec.
  11. Wildgoose

    Advice regarding software and maybe hardware

    Hopefully you didn't miss the comments by several that a value cutter will still do surprisingly passable work if you stay in a certain size range. Nothing tiny and nothing over about 36 inches long. You can do larger but the tracking will cause issues. About the only one we try to steer people away from is the MH. It sounds like budget IS a concern and sometimes thats the way it is. You have and will continue to hear all our own personal advice and you have to go where YOU want to through the process. I would hold off on the Sublimation if I were you. To do a good sublimation job you really need a high quality press. Dye sub is very touchy about consistent and exact heat and it's high heat as well. You would need a swing style press to do anything like keychains or dog tags or other stiff objects. A good quality swing press is going to be a lot of $$$. I tried the sublimation market out and found that online sales tend to be a fight for sales with the lowest priced stuff coming out of China and the custom stuff that will bring higher prices really needs a walk in store environment to have any chance. I never had any luck at all getting any consistent sales that justified the process. Shirts worked good which fell in line with my shirt business but you have to sub onto white polyester and not that many people want white polyester shirts. They make some poly that feels like cotton nowadays but it's still a white shirt.
  12. Wildgoose

    CorelDraw 2019 (Mac?)

    I think AI re-wired my brain. I get frustrated with Inkscape as well. Bottom line is I'm good with AI and own it. If life ever slows to the point of boredom I will take on a couple of those programs just for fun. I have VM Pro as well and have been playing with it here and there so I can be a little help sometimes. It's actually at my day job so when I get a slow moment I have a project to explore. Full time job then the side business means 15-18 hour days most of the time.
  13. Wildgoose

    What would you charge?

    I think we all get to that point after a little experience. You know what it's going to take to build and what most are willing to pay. Off the cuff quote. I actually make a killing on vehicle graphics now that I don't want to do them anymore. My day job is just too busy to allow me to mess with things that have to be done during daylight. I mostly cut for self installers and charge enough that I am surprised they keep calling back.
  14. Wildgoose

    CorelDraw 2019 (Mac?)

    Sorry. If I knew my way around corel I would try it out but I suck with the program. (still would if you need) I tried it with my windows laptop and based on how well that went I doubt I would be helpful.
  15. Wildgoose

    Printing in order

    That drifting is called off-tracking and it is one of the primary benefits of the higher end machines over the budget cutters. There are ways to reduce the problem but ultimately the budget cutters are limited by this.
  16. Wildgoose

    Vinyl distributors

    I think most of us run and buy local when we need it bad. I just hate paying so much. It feels like I can buy an entire 10yd roll of 951 for what 3 yards of similar 3M/Gerber costs me locally. That may be exaggerated but if you figure the 20 minute drive both directions it's not. I just don't always have the time to wait even for the typical short 2 day shipping I get from USC.
  17. Wildgoose

    Advice regarding software and maybe hardware

    Those feelings of loss will lessen and you will cherish the good memories all the more. I don't believe this is the end, we will see them again.
  18. Wildgoose

    Vinyl distributors

    I think the prices between the two are negligible. Did you go ask around on their forum? <smirk> Oh that's right, they don't have that kind of thing. Ha ha! US Cutter has always done a great job for me personally. The occasional times there have been mistakes they have taken every effort to make it right. I am a mod on the forum but am an end user not an employee. This is volunteer time for all of us here on the forum. I was new several years back and the good folks here helped me get going. When I got my feet on the ground and some experience I stuck around to pay it forward like they did. Just look at MZ Skeeters post count and you begin to understand how many people she has helped out over the years. She runs a business too and still makes time to help others. That's the kind of folks that are on here. So take it from us the USC company is a solid supplier and makes the forum possible. They aren't perfect and struggle to keep up with demand and probably a whole cost of management woes but they continue to offer good products at great prices. Some point to the budget cutters as junk. Well they offer the top end too and let the customer decide how much he wants to spend. Same with heat presses and everything else. Full Spectrum.
  19. Wildgoose

    Upgrade Question

    You do need to consider that there are different grades of everything including stepper and servo motors. Sort of like comparing an angle grinder sold at Harbor Freight to a Makita. They will rep the same/similar torque and all that but at the end of a year of abuse the Makita is ready for about 10 more years and the bearings gave out on the HF two months ago. I'm not knocking the Titan because it's a great compromise to allow servo motors at a more reasonable price. And cutters don't take the abuse that other tools might, heck look how long even the MH survives. But it's still a compromise none the less. If you are ok with a med level jump and an eventual step on up later then thats probably the best option. Resale and long term parts availability come into question as well. You ask will you see a difference in the cuts on the Titan? Yeah I think you will. Definitely going to be quieter and smoother. Should track a little better too. Would you see the difference in a jump to a Graphtec? Absolutely! The Graphtec is about $800 more than the Titan 2's non sale price. Not quite double but definitely more. If you are a hobbyist it may not be worth it.
  20. Wildgoose

    Advice regarding software and maybe hardware

    I think you should keep that as a great memory of your sis. Sorry for your loss. I have lost a couple siblings and it is definitely a hole in your life and heart that hurts.
  21. I don't run the CC version of Illustrator but when you go to "Save As" like MZ Skeeter mentioned it will show you what file type you are saving in (Illustrator) and then on the next page there is a drop menu that lets you choose an older format. Version 8 is typically the best legacy version that works with other software. Version 8 does not allow multiple art boards and a few other things that cause file transfer issues. If version 8 doesn't get it done you can also change the file type to eps in the previous page. I also agree with Skeeter that CM4 or any of the versions are supposed to be free to use for any Graphtec owner and I would be surprised if it wouldn't run your older cutter.
  22. Wildgoose

    Cost for vehicle lettering

    I think Dakota fat fingered the 751 but I totally agree with him. I don't sell 651 to people for vehicles. It's great vinyl but not built to handle the expansion and contraction. If you are just selling decals and not installing and you know your material costs all that's left is your operational cost including taxes and profit. Only you can decide how much your time and wear and tear on your equipment is worth. If you install there are more considerations but just break them down. Travel, Install time, Remove mess up, travel back , recut, reinstall etc...
  23. Wildgoose

    Advice regarding software and maybe hardware

    Sometimes the simplified look is more pleasing to the eye.
  24. Wildgoose

    Advice regarding software and maybe hardware

    Totally agree with Dakota. The cheaper presses are fine to get started and in conjunction with a cutter and some HTV (Heat Transfer Vinyl) you can almost instantly begin to generate a return on your investment. I used a swinger press for 2.5 years and then made the leap to a Fusion. That is pretty much the top level for a home office setup. The leap was expensive and I was worried about it at the time. I also bought a couple extra platens that were recommended by other users and were WELL with the extra expense. Funny thing is when I got it I was attempting to sublimate some shirts and was scorching them. I checked the temperature and it was over 40deg off too hot. So even a 2K press can be off. The Chinese press I had was so far off it didn't even make sense and I never figured out if there was a way to adjust the thing so I just wrote down what heat was what on a post it note and taped it to the side of the control box as a reference. There was a cool spot on one corner of the press that I avoided as well. It got the job done but the constant daily use wore out most of the connection and pivot point within that 2 year stint. The Geo Knight, Hotronix and Hix products are built works above.
  25. Wildgoose

    Quoting Prices

    Best part of that project is you will gain real world experience. Even if you make no money at all the knowledge gained has value. My first 6 months of owning a cutter I did every single job for free (all to friends and family). One was a whole 12ft enclosed trailer. Yeah I spend a few hundred on materials and dedicated many hours to those projects but I learned a LOT and had no repercussions for what I now understand were subpar cut/installs. The cuts weren't too bad but the installs were rough the first few. That's not an answer though. I have heard some say $0.07 or $0.08 or even $0.10 per sq inch depending on how tough the weed. That works ok for small stuff but on larger stuff I generally go $6 per SF for cast vinyl and sometimes drop to $5/SF for calendared ( per color). I measure that in actual used space like if the decal is actually only 5"x 6" it fits in a 1 ft box therefore $6. If it is 12" x 10" it's actually going to encroach not the second foot on the 12" side by the time it gets cut and has a weeding box etc so it would be 2 x $6 = $12. If the design is 22" tall by 4ft long it would be $48 for the first color. If the second color was only 8" tall by the 4 ft they would go for the single ft high price of $24 for a total of $72. It has always worked for me and seems to be about the expected rate for my area. Everywhere is a little different I think.