I’d never really paid much attention to printing or print materials till early this year, never had a need to print much out. Since starting out with the plotter I get some requests, a lot of which I have to turn down for labels and printed contour cut stickers, which is really annoying. The entry level for UV / solvent based printers is still rather high, a basic printer will set you back anything from £3k to around £5k depending if you just require a solvent printer or one with a contour cutting head. The latest and greatest roland cutter/printer could set you back as much as £24-28k. Maybe I’m understating what these machines are capable of ie. the above machine will print photo quality 6ft+ wide and has an incorporated cutting head for printing and cutting stickers options include take up rollers on the front of the machine etc. absolutely amazing machines but way out of my price range.
Saving my pennies till I can afford a decent solvent printer cutter combo. (Yes im aware there are some workarounds, but the longevity of inkjet printing and water proofing / UV protecting the stickers is rather and involved process something I could mitigate all together with a better printer, unfortunately the solvent inks are far to aggressive to attempt modifying an existing inkjet.)
I had a few old inkjet printers knocking about so thought I’d attempt restoring them to working order whilst having a play around with inks and refilling the old cartridges. Simple, obviously I just put more ink in the cartridges and place them back in the printer and continue to print putting some old hardware to good use.
Yup, I bought a cheap Chinese laser cutter, not a CO2 one but a diode based banggood/A3 clone (5.5 watts 50x60cm bed). It seemed like such a good idea at the time. I couldn’t sleep knowing I’d finally got my hands on something I could use to create physical objects from work on the computer. I could use the laser cutter to build a simple CNC machine and expand my range of products. We’ll that’s what I thought.
So you lot its been way too long, let me just bring you up to speed, in May this year I had a pretty big operation on one of my kidneys (a problem that I’ve had since I was sixteen). This put me completely out of action for at least twelve weeks. If there’s anything I learned from the whole experience it’s to stay the term in hospital until you’re one hundred percent recovered and avoid MMORPGs like the plague. I checked out two days after the operation and was not in the best of states and very uncomfortable. (Skipping out all the gross/disgusting/painful details.) I spent the twelve weeks recovering playing a stupid game on the internet that im not going to mention either. So all this in the first year I’m trying to start a business. Meh. I don’t feel guilty at all for sessioning on a computer game, there wasn’t much I could do apart from sit in the most (un)comfortable position I could muster and pass the time till I felt better. Gradually I recovered and managed to start getting back to business. I didn’t list any sales in May so basically missed a whole month of trading, this put me behind a little and also gave the motivation to start improving monthly on my production and sales, things still aren’t brilliant but month on month things are getting better.
So what’s this thing I’ve been doing? Since early this year I started a business making vinyl sticker, signs and fitting shop windows / car decals / graphics. Every project / sticker I’ve produced has been created from scratch, no auto-trace, manually drawn and produced as vector files (SVG format / DXF), the learning curve for the vinyl cutter I’d expected to be pretty simple as there’s not much to the machine but as I discovered there are a lot of variables and techniques when working with the materials to give the best results. Small settings that are sometimes overlooked and techniques and skills you can only learn from practice and understanding the material you’re working with, what it’s capable of and what it is not. What design considerations you must make prior to production based on material and size. Knowing your machine, when its functioning correctly and when it’s not. Over the last ten months or so, I’ve learnt a hell of a lot to do with signage and sign making.
Ill save the rest for another post b/c I think it deserves it and have a feeling the next topic is going to be some what revisited over the next twelve months.