MichaelScott

Advice regarding software and maybe hardware

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2 hours ago, MichaelScott said:

 

VMTest-BTMascot.jpg

Ok, well that image is not going to auto trace well in any program. There are some guys on here that could probably do it pretty quickly, and there are several online services that will do it and usually do a pretty good job. But that image is going to have to be done manually to get a decent result. I think Inkscape would be better suited for this than autocad but it's been years since I've touched autocad. VM would work as well although I'm not as practice with VM and generally default to Inkscape for stuff like this. The thing I like about Inkscape for doing this, is you select the Bezier tool, draw some straight lines only really paying attention to where you put the nodes, then go back and grab the individual lines and drag/bend them to shape. If you can't get the shape you need, pick a point on the line, add another node and continue adjusting. At least that's how I do manual traces and for most stuff it works pretty well, can just be time consuming for large complicated images such as this one.

As an example, I've attached a zip file with a dragon image I pulled off of google. I then vectorized it with both Inkscape and VM default settings for both. There is a very slight difference between the two but not enough to be of notice. I put the two vectors in a single EPS file. I then opened that file in Inkscape and VM and saved it off as a DXF using the default settings in Inkscape. I have not tried to reopen the dxf file as don't have a cad program to open them and Inkscape or VM would just do a conversion back to something they can use. I did notice the dxf file created by inkscape was quite a bit larger in file size than VM.

For going from a raster graphic to a DXF

Dragons.zip

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5 hours ago, darcshadow said:

Ok, well that image is not going to auto trace well in any program. There are some guys on here that could probably do it pretty quickly, and there are several online services that will do it and usually do a pretty good job. But that image is going to have to be done manually to get a decent result. I think Inkscape would be better suited for this than autocad but it's been years since I've touched autocad. VM would work as well although I'm not as practice with VM and generally default to Inkscape for stuff like this. The thing I like about Inkscape for doing this, is you select the Bezier tool, draw some straight lines only really paying attention to where you put the nodes, then go back and grab the individual lines and drag/bend them to shape. If you can't get the shape you need, pick a point on the line, add another node and continue adjusting. At least that's how I do manual traces and for most stuff it works pretty well, can just be time consuming for large complicated images such as this one.

As an example, I've attached a zip file with a dragon image I pulled off of google. I then vectorized it with both Inkscape and VM default settings for both. There is a very slight difference between the two but not enough to be of notice. I put the two vectors in a single EPS file. I then opened that file in Inkscape and VM and saved it off as a DXF using the default settings in Inkscape. I have not tried to reopen the dxf file as don't have a cad program to open them and Inkscape or VM would just do a conversion back to something they can use. I did notice the dxf file created by inkscape was quite a bit larger in file size than VM.

For going from a raster graphic to a DXF

Dragons.zip

Wow, thank you! much more thorough than I'd hoped for!  I knew the band mascot wasn't going to go well, I just figured it was a good comparison to what I'm generally working with, and I'd already been tinkering with it in VM.  The sample you picked was great though.. long arcs, and then details at varying degrees of being obscured through anti-aliasing.

I hadn't considered a direct comparison against Inkscape, but that was a great idea! Thanks for taking the extra effort!

The ability to auto-vectorize and get to dxf, (through defaults at least), goes to inkscape.  Not by much at all, but it picked up nuances that were obscured by the anti-aliasing, (like the trailing leg against the body was treated as a bump by VM, but inkscape put in the notch for it)..  Without going through and fixing it up, I think I'll try and run each on the laser on Monday..  can't see why the filesize would be bigger, but that may be an issue.. It often is, when I use inkscape, but as a simple silhouette, I'm thinking it should be alright. Frustratingly enough, Radan doesn't tell you how much is too much, it just fails to load, eventually..  I've let a file load for 20 minutes, gave up, walked away, and it suddenly succeeds.. then go through all the processing, and find that the laser can't handle it, due to size, AFTER it starts cutting.. You'd think the load time would be an adequate warning, but there's very little correlation, works after 10 minutes load, fails for the same reasons after a 5 minute load... 

I any event, either would get me close enough to fix up in AutoCAD, VM gives me a bit closer to truer form, despite missing some finer details..  Like the neck spikes are curved bumps, but it would take seconds to adapt one side to an arc to get it into a curved spike shape.. the Inkscape just gave me a triangle on one of the spikes, which would require me to start-over on that spike entirely. So it terms of good for me, VM is the slight winner.

Thanks again!

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7 hours ago, Wildgoose said:

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. 

great numbers, and much appreciated!  I tend to overlook caps as I have an oversized melon myself, and would need a handmade version to stop it from getting stretch marks across the graphic, even with the back straps all the way open!   But yeah, I always have to stop thinking in terms of" Me me, would I want this?" or everything would have a skull on it, and I'd be my best customer.

I was considering that press because of the main press size itself being a good match for the Sawgrass800, the bundling with the printer, and the description saying special attention was paid to ensure even heating. The other plug-ins were just to sort of keep options open, rather than a desire to immediately hop into using all 5.. That being said.. Mugs and hats make a lot of sense.

My hope with the dye-sub is to focus on doing it onto stainless steel metal parts I cut.. so yeah, I've been looking at brush-on, and spray-on, clear and white, polyester coatings, and expect a lot of experimentation to get there. I can switch gears a bit, and focus more on aluminum, as it seems easier to sub, and the metal is closer to white, it just costs more (long term) to cut, and when I switch to plasma cutting, it may become an issue.

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On 3/15/2019 at 9:32 AM, Wildgoose said:

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.

Goose....at what quantity do you move to plastisol transfers?  Do you have a favorite provider for these?

:thumbsup: Thanks, Sue2

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2 hours ago, Sue2 said:

Goose....at what quantity do you move to plastisol transfers?  Do you have a favorite provider for these?

:thumbsup: Thanks, Sue2

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. 

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