Choosing the Right Products for the Job
After a PSP decides to add or upgrade a vinyl cutter/plotter, it is wise to do some research before making any purchase. It is important to not limit oneself to comparing prices; the PSP must look at each feature carefully and be aware that the cutter/plotter will work with existing equipment while leaving room to grow.
Curtis says, “You should consider its compatibility with your operating system and design software. Also, the cutter should be easy to use, allowing you to be productive right out of the box. Look for a manufacturer that has support and education resources available to you, including training and product documentation. Make sure the manufacturer has a good reputation for product quality and service. The lowest priced cutter on the market usually doesn’t offer the performance and peace of mind professionals look for.”
Conrad adds, “Try to match productivity levels with performance expectations. Keep it simple, but don’t be outgrowing your cutter every six to 12 months either. Plan for your cutter to be a part of your business for the day you buy it and the near future to satisfy expectations you have for application and growth levels. Choosing a partner and a plotter that is reliable and will support you when you need it is also important. Ask yourself; “what will happen after the sale?” And be sure that the answer isn’t a mystery. Reputable vendors and dealers are important to helping you make proper purchase decisions up front and supporting you as you get started.”
Once a vinyl cutter/plotter is in place, it is vital that a PSP knows what products will best serve its needs. Perhaps the most important choice in this area relates to choosing the appropriate substrates for the job. The PSP must consider the use of the finished product, required longevity, etc. Curtis states, “The most common compatible substrates include pressure-sensitive, adhesive-backed PVC, polyurethanes, and polyesters. These substrates are the main media used for t-shirts, signage, décor, and automotive applications.”
Every savvy PSP has his finger on the pulse of the trends in the industry, especially if he wants to keep up with the competition. The experts give their take on current and future trends.
Conrad states, “Like the wide-format printer market, plotters follow the same path of bigger, better, faster. Look for plotters to go wider, cut faster and provide easier to learn and use interfaces for simpler operation. Cut path, registration, cut depths, software enhancements, and cutting head mechanics are also features that will continue to improve along with speed and accuracy measures to maintain the performance and productivity of these devices.”
Curtis says, “Some of the more traditional applications have included apparel, decals, labels, and window signs. But, now we’re seeing a huge increase in automotive and interior décor graphics. A lot of this popularity is due to the new materials that are available in the market. We have just introduced a new fabric media line that can be contour cut easily for interior decor applications such as custom wall graphics and murals. Some of the most original entries in last year’s Roland Creative Awards contest came from the output of our cutters. It is going to be interesting to see what the future brings as more and more unique media products are introduced.”