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If you are in the sign industry long enough you will be asked to hang a sign in a situation that doesn’t allow for standard mounting solutions. 3M VHB tape is often a good alternative in situations where nails, screws and bolts cannot be used. Checkout this video from 3M describing the different VHB tape for different applications:


Fotoba XL TJOL Automatic Cutter

fotoba-xl-automatic-cutterHokey Smokes Bullwinkle! I just ran across the dream team in the printing business. For those of you with HP Scitex TJ 8300/8500 Printers, the Fotoba XL TJOL Automatic Cutter will cut down your labor in a big way. Ramp up your production and the Colex TJOL will make your horizontal and vertical cuts for you as fast as you print, putting them in a nice stack, ready for packaging.

The Colex XL TJOL Automatic Cutter will cut down on labor and reprints. Check it out here: http://www.colex.com/xl-tjol-digital-cutter.html


Flatbed Cutter Media Reference List

colexWhile perusing the Colex website looking at their flatbed cutters, we came across a great reference guide for flatbed cutter tools and the various media you can cut with them. Want to cut leather? Use an oscillating knife. Want to cut banner material? Use a fixed knife. Take a look: http://www.colex.com/sharp-flatbed-cutter-media.html


Ezy Taper Laminator

ezy-taperToday on SignTrader.com, I ran across a manual laminator that I hadn’t seen before, the Ezy Taper. The Ezy Taper is a manual laminator that you crank by hand. The optional takeup roll is also done manually. The Ezy Taper is a beautifully crafted machine, and it’s speeds are only limited by the strength and vigor of the operator. It’s rollers are made from a specially formulated compound which allows uneven surfaces, like banner grommets, to pass through without hindering operation and quality. The machine also has several adjustments for accuracy and larger substrates.

On the other hand, this product boasts an $8000 price tag, which is a couple thousand more than my brand new Royal Sovereign laminator with heat assist and takeup roll. For that price, I’d rather have something with automation.

Here is the official Ezy Taper product video. The black background is kind of annoying, but it will give you an idea of how smooth the machine is to operate.

Let’s here from our listeners. Does anyone have an Ezy Taper? What has your experience been? Do you use it differently than you would use an electric standard laminator like a Royal Sovereign or a Seal Laminator?

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If you are researching decal making, the most important thing to help you on your journey is to learn Adobe Illustrator or Corel. These are vector based design softwares that, if you learn well, will simplify your ability to make decals when you actually buy a machine.

In decal making, you will do all of your design in Adobe Illustrator and Corel, and even define your cut lines in most cases with these softwares. So, if you are looking to purchase a decal making machine, the most helpful thing you can do to prepare yourself is to learn one of these softwares.

So, Illustrator or Corel, which one is best? The industry standard is Adobe Illustrator. The t-shirt printing industry seems to prefer Corel. And also Summa technicians seem to prefer Corel. We recommend Illustrator.


Last week we had a decal order come in that required very complicated and delicate weeding. For every 6 messed up decals we had 1 good one. And this was using high quality 3M vinyl with a synthetic backer, the kind of vinyl that normally makes detailed weeding jobs a breeze. All of the cut out elements kept grabbing each other no matter what we did.

After sheets of getting nowhere, and playing with our cutter’s various pressure and speed settings, I finally came across a setting that was a total winner: Overcut. The Overcut setting tells your cutter how far past the end of a cut line to cut. By default, the Summa S2 for instance, has a a 0.1mm overcut. This makes the cut’s nice and clean, but it also leaves too much room for error when it comes to little vinyl pieces sticking to each other. For this job, we bumped the overcut up to 0.3mm. This made the corners and ends of cut lines not quite as precise and clean, but not by a noticeable amount. It made the rest of the weeding a breeze. You could pull a chunk of vinyl and not have all the little letters come up with it. So glorious.

If by chance you have a Summa S2 cutter, here are the steps you would take to increase the Overcut:

Click on Advanced Cutting


Click on Overcut


Bump it up to your desired amount. 0.2mm would probably be a noticeable improvement but see what works best.

Click Accept


rainbowThere is a fairly simple way that you can help extend the life of your Printheads in your HP L26500 or your L25500. If you are like me, you often have prints that only focus on a few colors. For instance, we print a lot of black and white decals. However, this is hard on the other printheads that are getting very hot, but never get to fire any ink. This reduces the life and quality of the printhead. A solution to this is to have your RIP print a color rainbow, preferably to the left, of your longer, not so multi-colored prints. This assures that while your printheads are hot, they are all getting a chance to fire.

As you can see on the image to the left I have a .38″ rainbow being printed to the side of my decals. I’ve since reduced it’s size to .18″ since it only needs to be a very very small rainbow.

Hope this helps!


Summa Cut Vinyl with Caldera 140107

caldera-summaIf you have a Summa cutter and use Caldera for your RIP, you need to upgrade to the latest patch. Patch #140107 allows Summa cutters to cut WITHOUT registration marks. Have a simple cut vinyl job to do? No problem. You no longer have to print registration marks in order for your Summa cutter to read them and then cut.

Here’s the process:

  1. Setup your cut vinyl artwork with a CutContour stroke like you normally would for your print/cut jobs
  2. Load your file into Caldera like you normally would.
  3. Drag the file to the printer
  4. Adjust the quantity, size media in your printer (even though you wont be printing) and change the Action to RIP. (NOT RIP & Print)
  5. Click Print
  6. Caldera will now RIP your file and load the cut job into Visual Cut
  7. Set Positioning to NONE
  8. Click Cut
  9. All done!

If you are like me, you had plug your Summa cutter into a Windows computer and use Winplot to cut your cut vinyl jobs. Then you had to go through the process of resetting the cutter and Visual Cut in Caldera when you wanted to go back to your Caldera computer. No longer!

I hope this is as helpful to you as it was to me. There have been some frustrating little quirks with Caldera as they try to utilize more functionality with the Summa and with the new Summa S2, but this was certainly a welcome update.

Thanks Summa for making awesome hardware, and thank you Summa for your commitment to making awesome, mac based, RIP software!


Barcode System Coming to Summa F-Series

summa-f-seriesIf you have been able to experience the joy of barcode cutting with Summa’s S or S2 vinyl cutters, then you know what a time saver it is. For those of you that don’t know, if your RIP software has the capability, you can automatically print barcodes in front of every job. Then, when you take your roll of decals to your cutter, your OPOS sensor will read the barcode before reading the other registration marks and begin cutting. This does 2 things. The first thing it does is let your cutter know exactly which job is being cut. For instance, if you tell your cutter to cut job 4, but you are really cutting job 1, your cutter will recognize that you are actually cutting job 1, and switch to job 1′s cut file. The second thing it does is automatically go from one cut job to the next. As long as I have my roll of vinyl aligned well, and it’s a clean roll, I can start my cutter before I leave for the evening and the entire roll, with however many jobs on it, will be cut out and ready for me in the morning. It’s amazing.

Currently, Summa’s F-Series cutter does have a barcode system quite that robust. Meaning, it doesn’t currently cut from one job to the next automatically via a barcode system. You can scan a barcode to send it to the next job, but it’s something that must be done by a person, manually. But not for long! Summa is working hard to develop the firmware and software bring the automated barcode system to the F-Series Flatbed Cutter. Stay tuned!


zund-p1There are a number of things that a flatbed cutter can do, that a roll cutter cannot. Here is a short list:

  1. Cut substrates – Some of these things can be cut with a knife, but especially if you have the router attachment for your flatbed cutter, you can cut foam, cardboard, PVC board, acrylic and other hard surfaces that roll to roll cutters simply cannot touch.
  2. Cut Business Cards – Not especially what sign shops do best, however, a flatbed cutter would allow you to print on specialty materials, and cut out any shape of business card that you wanted. Specialty, but definitely awesome.
  3. Cut magnets – Print to vinyl, mount to magnet, and have your flatbed cutter cut out custom shaped magnets for your clients.
  4. Banners – In a medium production shop, banner trimming gets time consuming. In design phase, set your cut lines . Then, load your roll of banner on the flatbed cutter after print, and have your flatbed cutter do all the trimming out work! As they come off the bed, grab them and seal the edges. Makes quick work out of a normally annoying and long process.
  5. Posters – Cutting and trimming poster material on a flatbed cutter is a much simpler, reliable process. Plus, you can cut out custom shaped posters.

For most sign shops and for most signs, a roll-to-roll vinyl cutter will provide you with the cutting power you need. However, flatbed cutters certainly allow you to offer a wider range of services, cut things you would normally have to cut by hand and add custom cutting to normally mundane cuts.