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View Full Version : Vinyl Cutting/Plotting software other than Corel?




mulletman13
Jun 27, 2006, 05:07 PM
Hey all,

My dad recently got into the vinyl sign business (well at least, he wants to really badly, allready purchased the equipment), and I'm a little curious as to some things.

Currently he is using CorelDraw 11 to Cut the signs, which I am not familiar with at *all*, and I was wondering if one of the Adobe CS apps are able to perform this action instead. I am familiar with the entire CS Suite, so it would be much easier for me to teach him how to do things, etc. but right now we are both struggling with Corel.

Also if Corel is the only option here, anybody have any tutorial reccommendations, maybe video CDs online, or other things?

Thanks in advance,

Ken



redeye be
Jun 27, 2006, 06:05 PM
What filetypes can the cutting software handle?

eRondeau
Jun 27, 2006, 09:50 PM
Just wanted to say that I'll also be watching this thread closely. I've had a home-based "hobby" computer-cut vinyl signmaking business for nearly 15 years. Believe it or not, it was run off a 1991 Amiga 2000 with an aftermarket 68030 board running at a blazing 25MHz. Seriously, it cost like $6000 when it was new! Anyways, my Amiga's hard drive finally gave up the ghost last Christmas, taking tens of MEGAbytes of my hard work with it. (Yes I mean MEGAbytes... the 80 Meg HD was 95% full!) So now I'm left with a complete sign shop, tons of vinyl and substrates, and nothing to make it all work. I'm looking at selling everything, but it will be sad to see it go after all these years. I'd be curious to see if there are any shareware Mac-based vinyl-cutting programs out there, just to see how they would drive my old Roland CAMM-1.

BTW, the "standard" language for such things is HPGL which my SignEngine Amiga software fully supported, now updated to HPGL-2. My cutter also speaks DMPL but I'm not sure it was ever as popular as HPGL. Note that's the serial/parallel communication language that the computer uses to talk to the cutter, it is not a file format. I'm honestly not sure what today's "standard" 2-D plotting file format might be... on my Amiga it was called DR2D (Draw2D).

GrannySmith_G5
Jun 27, 2006, 10:08 PM
At work we use an illustrator plug-in called cutting master for our graphtec
plotter. Maybe try a google for that.

Philippe JACQUE
Jun 29, 2006, 06:46 AM
I was wondering if one of the Adobe CS apps are able to perform this action instead.
Ken


NCS MagiSign plug-in (http://www.magisign.com) drives more than 350 models of cutting plotters directly from Adobe Illustrator 10, CS and CS 2 running on Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) or 10.4 (Tiger). It includes recent as older models from Roland, Graphtec, Summa, Mutoh, Ioline, Anagraph, Zund, Aristo, GCC, etc.

NCS MagiSign runs on any G3, G4 or G5 PowerMac as runs over MacIntel through Rosetta without known problems (note : Adobe Illustrator CS2 is not universal so you need more RAM memory in this case).

Older versions of our products were compatible with older Mac and older versions of Adobe Illustrator (from 1996).

NCS MagiSign includes its own USB drivers to drive as fine as possible cutters like Summa or Graphtec over Mac OS X versions described above.

NCS MagiSign allows to drive many brand of old cutters build with only serial port through Keyspan Serial adapter and the appropriate serial cable for the cutting plotter.

I keep myself at your disposal for any further info
Best regards

Philippe JACQUES

SignGuy
Jul 6, 2006, 11:44 PM
I have an orginal iMac (2 usb ports) I also have a Mac Mini. I am trying to find a new software so I can start using OS X. Biggest problem is currently the plotter hooks to a much older Macintosh with ADP dongle and the plotter connects to apples DIN8 (serial printer port) I have the Graphtec FC3100-60 and its now almost impossible for me to use... Need to get it working on the newer Macs! Thanks in advanced for anyones help.

Matthew

CanadaRAM
Jul 6, 2006, 11:59 PM
I have an orginal iMac (2 usb ports) I also have a Mac Mini. I am trying to find a new software so I can start using OS X. Biggest problem is currently the plotter hooks to a much older Macintosh with ADP dongle and the plotter connects to apples DIN8 (serial printer port) I have the Graphtec FC3100-60 and its now almost impossible for me to use... Need to get it working on the newer Macs! Thanks in advanced for anyones help.

Matthew
Keyspan, IIRC, has both USB-ADB and USB-RS422 convertors that are compatible with a broad range of devices, but YMMV

As far as Corel vs. Illustrator goes -- it all comes down to what the cutter's software expects to see as import files. If it only takes a CDR file, or ony includes a driver that is compatible with Corel, then you have to use Corel, or find third party sofware that translate you .AI file or act as a substitute driver. Depending on the quality of that software, there may be file translation or driver issues that consume a lot of time to troubleshoot, or it may be easy.

Your first stop is the cutter manufacturer to find out for certain what they support natively.

SignGuy
Jul 7, 2006, 02:19 AM
I would like to stay as far away from Corel as possible, I am very familure with Freehand (wonder what will happen with it vs illustrator now that adobe owns both) I been using Freehand before MacroMedia owned it. So I would like to stick with it or illustrator for my designing

CASMate (the software i have for pre X) used EPS files. Since I posted I contacted Graphtec (I have a Graphtec FC3100-60) I also contacted a few sign shop supply outfits online and several macintosh sign software companies to see what they suggest doing. I would really love to be able to just design in the same app (such as freehand or illustrator) and plot it out with out switching back and forth and trying to translate. Maybe Graphtec can tell me they make a replacement that replaces all those ports with a nice USB 2.0 port (doubt it be a 2.0 if they did have usb) It just appears to look like those two ports can be removed and replaced like a PCI card would in a desktop...

I should have my mail box full of answers in the morning if not Monday morning.

Matthew

Philippe JACQUE
Jul 8, 2006, 08:17 AM
>I would really love to be able to just design in the same app (such as freehand or illustrator) and plot it out with out switching back and forth and trying to translate


This is exactly what does NCS MagiSign (http://www.magisign.com) from Adobe Illustrator (but no more from FreeHand). Our pug-ins is a palette that appears as any Adobe Illustrator ones.

It computes the selected paths on the fly so you just have to click on "send" to see your cutter moving. An intermediary dialog allows you to setup the cutter (speed, force etc).

More than 350 models compatible with MagiSign. By default, Summa devices appears in the plotter menu of the demo version. Not a problem : select the right plotter group from the menu at the top right corner of our palette (behind the arrow) and all the FC3100 range will replace Summa models. This choice will than be saved in preferences so you will not need to change it late.

NCS MagiSign drives all the Graphtec, from the first one to the most recent ones. Your FC3100-60 is really a familiar model for me. We drives it both in HPGL or GPGL (the native language from Graphtec).

To drive this model from NCS MagiSign installed on an iMac mini, you have to buy a Keyspan Twin serial adapter (http://www.keyspan.com). This device is provided with the required drivers to emulate 2 serial ports recognised by NCS MagiSign over Mac OS X (10.3 or 10.4, from G3 to MacIntel).

I keep myself at your disposal for further info

Best regards

Philippe JACQUES (infos@magisign.com)








I would like to stay as far away from Corel as possible, I am very familure with Freehand (wonder what will happen with it vs illustrator now that adobe owns both) I been using Freehand before MacroMedia owned it. So I would like to stick with it or illustrator for my designing

CASMate (the software i have for pre X) used EPS files. Since I posted I contacted Graphtec (I have a Graphtec FC3100-60) I also contacted a few sign shop supply outfits online and several macintosh sign software companies to see what they suggest doing. I would really love to be able to just design in the same app (such as freehand or illustrator) and plot it out with out switching back and forth and trying to translate. Maybe Graphtec can tell me they make a replacement that replaces all those ports with a nice USB 2.0 port (doubt it be a 2.0 if they did have usb) It just appears to look like those two ports can be removed and replaced like a PCI card would in a desktop...

I should have my mail box full of answers in the morning if not Monday morning.

Matthew

SignGuy
Jul 8, 2006, 01:00 PM
Does this plugin require any hardware, like a usb dongle? If so I am going to have to order my a nice USB hub... Maybe that one that looks like a Mac Mini that allows you to install another hard drive into, $399(software)$79(keyspan adapter)$79(usb hub)8%(Sales tax)+Shipping=$600.00+ To get plotter working with newer computer

wmmk
Jul 9, 2006, 10:43 PM
Sorry for the dumb question, but what is vinyl cutting/plotting and what are vinyl signs?

Philippe JACQUE
Jul 10, 2006, 02:11 AM
Vinyl cutter is used by sign makers and graphic designes to produce signs. Go in any street and open your eyes : you will see hundred of letterhead that are not print-out, not screen printed, but cut-and-paste in vinyl with a cutting plotter. Just examine all the letters on cars, road signs, glass, banner, etc...

This kind of device traces vectors over a thin adhesive sheet (commonly called vinyle) and cut them with a cutter (or pen) moving over it. Once cut, the material must be peel (to remove the negative parts of design) and transfer to the final surface with care.

The design related thus not on dots like common printers, but on vectors connverted in a plotter language (commonly HPGL, sometimes GPGL, DMPL...). This is the job of the sign software drivers. Some are dedicated, I mean developped only for signmaking. Commonly expensive solutions. Some, like NCS MagiSign, rely on common design software (like Illustrator) for the creation and manage the conversion and transmission of the result to the cutter.

The color of the result is related to the color of the material : you have to cut and assemble various sheet to obtain a multicolor project. This is one the reason the vinyl is nowaday in competition with large ink plotter that produce large output in a way similar to a desktop printer. Meanwhile vinyl are more time resistant that large format printing.

Major brand in this domain are Summa, Graphtec, Roland,...
Expensive flatbed models also exists from Aristo and Zund.

Philippe JACQUE
Jul 10, 2006, 02:35 AM
Yes, sorry, it includes a USB dongle : market is so small we can't leave free copies on the market ! But we care to keep competitive updates. There are advantages too : ShareIt guarantee you a 30 day trial period after which you would receive your money back if you are not satisfied by the product and send us back the protection key. Concrete trial would cost you the shipping duties in this case.

Our USB dongle is valid to run our solutions for Adobe Illustrator 10, Adobe Illustrator CS and Adobe Illustrator CS2. Any minor updates are free to download and will be so until release 2.0 (in the loop of 2007). So in 10 years, our customer have only paid for updates for moving from Mac68000 to PowerPC and from MacOS 9 to MacOS X.



About price : any macrumors readers would use the below special coupon to obtain an holiday discount at order :

GYE98ASM

This one is valid until end of july 2006 and is to enter in the appropriate field in the order process from this link :

http://www.shareit.com/product.html?productid=300048494



I keep myself at your disposal for any further info

Philippe JACQUES

Baron58
Jul 10, 2006, 08:35 AM
http://www.beacongraphics.com/flexisign.html


http://www.signwizard.co.uk/signcut.htm

Philippe JACQUE
Jul 10, 2006, 08:54 AM
NCS MagiSign is dedicated to Mac only. We concentrate to keep it as close as possible of Apple evolution days after days.

Both app you mentionned :
- are based on Windows applications "opportunely" ported on Mac by their developpers, not dedicated Mac solutions.

- are not true plug-ins (they export datas from Adobe Illustrator to a standalone app, thus a bridge).

beatsme
Jul 10, 2006, 09:04 AM
NCS MagiSign is dedicated to Mac only. We concentrate to keep it as close as possible of Apple evolution days after days.

Both app you mentionned :
- are based on Windows applications "opportunely" ported on Mac by their developpers, not dedicated Mac solutions.

- are not true plug-ins (they export datas from Adobe Illustrator to a standalone app, thus a bridge).

when I worked for a sign company, they had some kind of package (I don't remember what) that drove the plotter...and yea it was PC. I just did everything in Illustrator on my Mac, saved it as an .eps, and imported it into that program. It worked fine, and I would imagine you could do the same. Just work in Illustrator and import your finished product into Corel. Why don't you try it and see how it works?

SignGuy
Jul 10, 2006, 09:14 AM
They dont even make it for Mac OS X yet do they? Besides its way to much money compaired to other solutions. SignCut X2 PE is the best solution until MagiSign offered us that 35% discount. Sign Cut was about $30 cheaper, then MagiSign they want $60 for shipping. I need to buy my hub for the USB gear and the keyspan usb adapter, then save up some more and get the software. Probable be august until I can afford to do this.

wmmk
Jul 10, 2006, 12:43 PM
Vinyl cutter is used by sign makers and graphic designes to produce signs. Go in any street and open your eyes : you will see hundred of letterhead that are not print-out, not screen printed, but cut-and-paste in vinyl with a cutting plotter. Just examine all the letters on cars, road signs, glass, banner, etc...

This kind of device traces vectors over a thin adhesive sheet (commonly called vinyle) and cut them with a cutter (or pen) moving over it. Once cut, the material must be peel (to remove the negative parts of design) and transfer to the final surface with care.

The design related thus not on dots like common printers, but on vectors connverted in a plotter language (commonly HPGL, sometimes GPGL, DMPL...). This is the job of the sign software drivers. Some are dedicated, I mean developped only for signmaking. Commonly expensive solutions. Some, like NCS MagiSign, rely on common design software (like Illustrator) for the creation and manage the conversion and transmission of the result to the cutter.

The color of the result is related to the color of the material : you have to cut and assemble various sheet to obtain a multicolor project. This is one the reason the vinyl is nowaday in competition with large ink plotter that produce large output in a way similar to a desktop printer. Meanwhile vinyl are more time resistant that large format printing.

Major brand in this domain are Summa, Graphtec, Roland,...
Expensive flatbed models also exists from Aristo and Zund.
ah, thank you. this makes a lot of sense and is very interesting. is this how they'd make those white apple stickers that come with new macs and iPods?

SignGuy
Jul 10, 2006, 03:00 PM
No, those are just stickers on some sort of plastic. You know the Kalvin and Hobes character pissing on raiders or bin landed or x and replace x with anything you can think of, honda/ford/chevy/sportsteam/car maker etc


Those are what these machines do, look for signs that light up outside of a building, banners that have lettering, magnet signs on side of vechiles that pill off, usually all those have vinyel lettering on them. If i wasnt redoing my website i would show you some of my work.

mulletman13
Jul 17, 2006, 03:42 PM
Hey everybody, thanks for all the responses!

Sorry I've kindof neglected this thread :X

In any case, my dad is running it on a PC (bleh), while I am an avid Mac user. It seems he's learning the Corel software, but I'd like to swoon him over to Illustrator for editing the actual files. To cut and plot he uses Signtools 3, which seems decent, but their design and everything is pretty sad =\

I've also been trying to convince him to switch over to a Mac, and we've recently ran into a debacle that may be the nail in the coffin -- I had to format his computer because there were a couple huge underlying problems (a disaster and very frustrating time for me).

In any case thanks for all the suggestions and I hope to hear more from you guys, I love this community =)

Ken

Sweetfeld28
Jul 19, 2006, 11:09 AM
At work we just recently purchased a plotter to all of our cutting. As far as i know we have it running an a PC, couldn't tell you the software they use either, but i will try and get those for you later today.

However, i did use this machine the other day to create some Vinyl logos of the TRD emblems for my car. All i used was Illustrator, i didn't have to do anything special either. I just had to make sure my graphics were all in outlines, then output those outlines to the plotter, and away it went.

BTW, i think it was Illustrator CS i was using.

Sweetfeld28
Jul 19, 2006, 02:37 PM
hey guys,

i just asked my supervisor, and he told me that we are using a plug-in for Illustrator CS, didn't ask him what it was called, but the plotter that we are using is Graphtec Cutting Pro 7000 (http://www.graphtecusa.com/products.php?visit=img&cat_id=1&series_id=33).

*ours is the one on the top of that picture.

SignGuy
Jul 19, 2006, 02:45 PM
Kinda obvious its a plugin if your doing everything from within illustrator... Id think when you go to the spot to tell it to plot, it would tell you what its called

Sweetfeld28
Jul 19, 2006, 06:56 PM
Well since i rarely use the Cutter/Plotter, i couldn't remember the name of the plug-in, but i did happen to find out that it came with the plotter.

It is called Master Cutter.

SignGuy
Jul 19, 2006, 09:07 PM
Does it take a hardware dongle?

Sweetfeld28
Jul 19, 2006, 11:49 PM
That i do not know for sure. My boss told me today that this "plug-in" was supplied to us from the manufacturer when the company purchased the plotter a couple of months ago. So, as i don't know that much about it, except how to operate it, i will have to look at it again.

But i will look at it again for you tomorrow.

ryan

Philippe JACQUE
Jul 20, 2006, 11:51 AM
It is true that some plotter company deliver free plug-ins at purchase of a new device. It's your responsability to make or not confidence for your business into this kind of "free" software.

Probably it appears as a good solution to start, but is not just a "marketing" argument from the plotter company sellers ? Will it be updated at time for your next evolution ?

Support is a key when you are in production world with so expensive media than vinyle. Support has a cost and I can't believe a "free" product can compete seriously in this world when you have to keep in touch with the pressure of customer delays.

We, at NCS, develop our solution from more than 10 years now and believe that a good product must insure support, at short as at long term.


A good software is a software that you forget you are using. Years after years. It is mostly the case of many of our customers. We keep confident that our strength is not only in the fact to deliver a commercial product, but also in the fact we care to customer far after their first buy-out, ie by providing updates (commonly free) on regular basis, to optimise our solutions by-itself, to keep in touch with new computers (from Quadra to PowerPC, than G3, G4, G5 and now MacIntel), new operating systems (from 7.6 to latest release of OS X 10.4 Tiger for MacIntel at this stage), new versions of Adobe Illustrator (from 5.5 to current 11.0 ie "CS 2.0"), with new communication tools (serial, communication toolbox, USB,...), new plotters features (we includes not less than 350 drivers, with a dedicated interface for each of them). Our customers remind us at the time they change one piece of their environment : if your equipment evolves, NCS will be there to solve your upgrade problems at a time not enough market share for those evolution will lead your "free soft provider" to interest in update.

if you take care to take a look on our website on regular basis, you will benefit of new features. Just available there for free update for common customer of our products


Enjoy your live with signmaking !

Philippe JACQUES, http://www.magisign.com

SignGuy
Jul 20, 2006, 12:41 PM
Well he did say the plotter was connected to a PC, MagiSign doesnt work on a PC?

My plotter came with CASmate. Ive been using that software for years to drive my plotter. I just hate designing on that old macintosh and everything on it is slowly going out, I use to burn a CD and just pop it in and plot from CD, now the SCSI cdrom doesnt work, I dont own any floppy drives on my new systems and the files wouldnt fit anyways but I do have Zip disk and drives. So then the scsi port on the back of the macintosh has gone out, one of the serial ports no longer works, and the keyboards ADP you have to wiggle to get the keyboard to work and you have to punch the keys a few times then try to delete if you typed Logoo so it may take hitting the key 5 times and the 4th time deleted the o and the 5th time the other o so now your trying to type o slowly so only one pops up... and the mouse is crap, Ive torn it completly apart and have cleaned it, sometimes the mouse doesnt want to click... not to easy to find ADP mice anymore. I really dont want to invest anymore money into a ten year old computer. Id rather just try to save and get the plotter working on a newer system which means replacing the software and buying a hub so I have more USB ports and then the keyspan usb to serial adapter. I emailed graphtec and they havent even bothered responding to me. Its been like what 3 weeks now? I'm half tempted to just buy a new plotter, I see they sell for $1250 and come with some free software, Sure Id be doubling my price but at the same time... Id have a plotter with newer interface and the software could drive both plotters once I buy the adapters. I could keep the big plotter here and put the small one into a bread/delivory van and have a mobile sign shop. Get a few extra batteries install an RV switch (it charges the extra batteries and keeps the main battery seperate that way you dont drain the batteries and cant start the RV) Install one of those, Put a big DC/AC adapter in and run a decent sized UPS, Make a USB to remote starter system so that when the UPS tells the computer the power goes out (batteries are dead so the power inverter isnt working) It kicks on the engine to recharge everything back up... Could even run a USB device that sensors the tempature of the van and when it gets to warm it starts the engine for the a/c unless I just put in a a/c thats 110 or a camper a/c on the roof I do own a cutting tourch and I know how to weld and soilder and wire things up. Install a CB and hit up race tracks on the weekends and truck stops and go to flea markets and swap meets and any other community event, use the outside large blank areas of the van as advertisement space for the business and put all sorts of samples. Its something Ive been thinking about doing for awhile, I know where I can get a van for $3500 thats like 30' long and 10' tall and has a decent white paint job. Could always look into what fedex does with there old big vans, I heard UPS just drops a new drive train into them unless they are wreaked then they just scrap them out for parts to repair other vans.

http://files.turbosquid.com/Preview/Content_on_2_19_2004_23_19_27/Fedex%20Van%20Preview00.jpgc25c3cd5-6371-4065-8b29-ea641bdc2166Large.jpg

That kind of van would be good too because I can stand up and walk around (I'm 6'6") I can also keep paint (i hand paint signs too) MDF (wood for signs) and a few colors of cloraplast, I can also rig up the roof to carry ladders and be a platform for working on tall sigs if i can get the van near it (i like the vans like this that half the cab is missing because of the bucket and boom, trying to find one for sale isnt easy) and I can put a big rack to hold all the different colors of vinyl i have. The only thing I dont see room for is my 3D foam sign supplies. Guess I could always put a tow package later and add a trailer

Philippe JACQUE
Jul 20, 2006, 12:55 PM
>I emailed graphtec and they havent even bothered responding to me. Its been like what 3 weeks now? I'm half tempted to just buy a new plotter...

Just imagine the result of those 3 weeks if any bugs appears related to the interface between your computer and your plotter !

About van : wowwww, I dream to receive photos of you and your truck on the roads ! This old dream of the 66 !!!!!

SignGuy
Jul 20, 2006, 01:05 PM
I was just wanting to see if they have any upgrades for the plotter, the two ports seem to be like a PCI card, I was wanting to know if they had something that you could pop them out, place USB/FireWire interface card in and do a firmware upgrade. Id be willing to spend a lot more money on something like that vs buying a $69 keyspan adapter... I mean what happens if my 10 year old cable brakes now i got everything going and no DIN8 to serial port on plotter cable if my USB cable brakes out on the road (i got dozens of them brand new, the type printers use) I can carry spairs or stop at almost any computer shop, bestbuy, frys, circuit city and pay $30 for a brand new one, Go onto ebay and I can buy more for $4 each shipped to my door, I have hundreds of these from when I was a Cable Internet Installer. Cable modem to usb. If they had ethernet (most did) I kept the USB cable in plans on ebaying them... Then I found out these cables sell for $30 at bestbuy and $0.01 on ebay with $3-6 shipping... not much money to be made and a lot of wasted time. With van. I can even get http://www.clearwire.com/(wireless internet so when I am anyware in town i have internet access) When Business is slow park that big van on a busy street so people see the signs and I can play online with my websites I own or post in forums while advertising my business to all the vechiles driving past me

SignGuy
Jul 20, 2006, 01:37 PM
http://www.thenextbyte.com/matthew/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=4137&g2_serialNumber=1
I was bored so I made my digital Van. I need to find a better orginal picture to really play with, Maybe write up a business plan and see show to the small business development center, Maybe they could get me a grant to buy it all.
If anyone wants to see some of my sign work it can be located at Sign Work (http://www.thenextbyte.com/matthew/main.php?g2_itemId=880&g2_page=1) I should add more. I have hundreds of more pictures.

HughJ
Jul 20, 2006, 02:09 PM
Ive been working in the vehicle graphics industry for the last 5yrs for the UK's largest sign company.

i work in the HQ on technical support, the software we use is one the most commonly used vinyl software's

Its called Composer by Gerber, the software is typically "PC" and i personally dont like it, simply because ive been using Illustrator for almost 15yrs BUT from a vinly cutting point of view there is little that will touch it.

Not only can you cut vinly but also run an Edge printer.

aside form this there is another software called SignLab, again superb for cutting vinyl's and running the Edge (at least i think it will run one...never used it..although my boss had extensively).

there are a number of companies around the UK and im sure across the wold that will also tell you that signlab can be used as a Software RIP for large format Printers, this is crap...its a vinyl cutting software and should be used as such

Using Corel (ewww) and Illustrator is ok for cutting, but its better to create your artworks in these apps and then import the files into your cutting software .

Composer uses .plt (plot files..although eps', tif(f)s and jpgs can be imported and Signlab uses eps's and the like

HughJ

SignGuy
Jul 20, 2006, 02:28 PM
Um I thought Flexi Sign Pro was the best one for PC. I cant even fine Composer when googleing for "Composer vinyl plotter Gerber" Now google for FlexiSign Pro and look at all them results. Wow look first link $3095 for the software. List Price $4,295 and thats USD.

Philippe JACQUE
Jul 21, 2006, 08:52 AM
>I was just wanting to see if they have any upgrades for the plotter, the two ports seem to be like a PCI card, I was wanting to know if they had something that you could pop them out, place USB/FireWire interface card in and do a firmware upgrade.


No, this product does not exist. It is absolutely not in the way to proceed of Graphtec to provide upgrades for an older model. Just consider the already "low" rate of turnaround from old to newer models in the sign industry and the price decrease of new models during those 10 last years : there exist no reason for producers to introduce upgrades of older devices on the market and the market is clearly to low in terms of quantites for a third party companies to produce the kind of interfaces yo are draming about at the time you have universal and low cost "USB-to-serial" adapters on the market.

A technical reason explains it also : USB is faster than serial communications. Older plotters processors would have some difficulties to manage the flow of bits from a true USB - USB communication between the computer and the plotter. Meaning the conceptor would have to decrease the flow speed on its card, and thus... would have to produce something similar to the currently available "USB-Serial adapters" !

HughJ
Jul 21, 2006, 03:51 PM
Um I thought Flexi Sign Pro was the best one for PC. I cant even fine Composer when googleing for "Composer vinyl plotter Gerber" Now google for FlexiSign Pro and look at all them results. Wow look first link $3095 for the software. List Price $4,295 and thats USD.

In the UK its called Composer, its actual name is Omega by Gerber

http://www.gspinc.com/products/software/omega.html

Vektor
Jul 26, 2007, 03:44 AM
hey guys, i am new to this post, but have been in the Sign game for ages. Recently i discovered AutoCAD Inventor and Solid Edge. When you have the time, check them out. with Inventor i can draw a fully 3d object and even send the profiles to our routers for mould cutting, so the time it takes to design the sign is all there is, no need to re-trace anything after the design, simply send it to the vinyl cutter and/or router and you're sorted. Inventor is not freeware though :(

oh, and as for smoothing of lines and stuff, i find that corel is the easiest for Pc users, you can customize your shortcuts where most other programs don't allow you to. As for cutting straight from corel, try the demo version http://www.winline.com it works perfectly, have to buy a license to remove the irritating watermark though. it runs off standard HPGL drivers and all you need to do after the design is complete is click print, wooooo! :eek:

bluetooth
Jul 26, 2007, 02:43 PM
I used FlexiSign PRO on the mac for over 5 years. FlexiSign PRO 5.9v3 for mac was the absolute best version of Flexi (imo).

Several years ago I ordered the upgrade for OS X functionality and ended up waiting over two years for the company to actually deliver it.

Our department was stuck in OS 9 for two years waiting for them to play catch-up. Excuses are just excuses. Nobody else was taking two years to upgrade to OS X. But it is upgraded and there is a Version 7 available for Mac OSX.

Hands down, Flexi is the superior app in terms of user-friendliness and added features, (panelling, welding etc,.) however, you can acheive the same results in AI with the plug-in at about half the cost. The full version of Flexi will run you a couple thousand, but well worth it, if you have the budget for it.

garysigndesign
Sep 17, 2007, 04:49 PM
Back in 1995 I had a MacIICi and an Ioline 5000 with a tangential knife in place of the more common drag knife. Back then it seemed that there was an abundance of plotter software available for the Mac. I was using a program called "Sign Post" by Taylor Graphics it worked great but in 1997 I received a call from Taylor Graphics saying that due to health reasons Mr. Taylor was going to retire and that they were going to archive the program somewhere as freeware at the time I felt that with the set up I had I would not have to worry about upgrading but little did I know what the future had in-store for me. In 1997 I injured myself a slip and fall which left me messed up. I herniated two disks in my neck which turned my life upside down. I would never have thought that at age 32 flipping backwards that the momentum of my own weight could have caused such permanent damage that would eventually effect my entire life. To make a long story short as a result of this flipping backwards I ended up with a pinched nerve which has had me in a state of chronic pain. At the time I thought that the pain would go away if I took it easy for a while but weeks turned to months and months to years. Needless to say I was loosing everything including my computer equipment and plotter which was stolen by a close friend. So some ten years later I had been working part time for an old customer designing vinyl designs for sandblasting hand blown cameo glass vases. These are museum pieces and for the record I had two designs published in the Corning Glass Review 2001 and 2006 under Chuck Boux of St. Pete Florida which was nice and very prestigious but was not paying much anyway Chuck Boux at that time was using an old UMAC which was one of the only companies that were aloud to copy the Macintosh and run its operating system. So about a year ago he wanted to move all his files from his UMAX to his G4 which he purchased about two years prior to this more recent need to upgrade his graphic files and programs to the G4 and of course he also wanted his Graphtec plotter to connect to the newer USB port. On the old computer it was connected through the modem port which was easy enough to connect using a Keyspan converter but while doing this thing that he asked of me I pointed out that the current plotter program he was using, which was an old version of Flexi-Cut, was now selling for approx. $1,450.00 so if the conversion did not work, which it should have, as the old version was good up to OS 9.1 or 9.2 (Classic mode). So along with this up grade we were going to get the newer version of Illustrator CS2 because of some of its combined features so ideally we would be going back and forth from OS X to Classic when designing new graphics. Meanwhile, as I was bidding on ebay for aiCS2, I came across a plotter which I had briefly researched a couple of weeks earlier and was in direct contact with the Chinese distributor so I new at least what the prices were for the units. So my thinking now was that I could indirectly purchase one plotter instead of becoming a distributor in which I would have to commit to a minim of five to ten units. So now along with the aiCS2 software I pointed out to Chuck this plotter and that they said was Mac X compatible and the 24" version was selling for around $300.00-$400.00 dollars + $75.00 for shipping. I also downloaded the information and faxed it over to Chucks house so he could review what I had described. As part of my pitch to Chuck I explained the potential benefits of having a back up plotter as a form of insurance in case his Graphtec plotter, which even though it was still working fine but it was obsolete, were to go down as a result of a major mechanical problem that he would be out of a vital piece of equipment in his production process. Which could happen as the plotter was over 15 years old or more. Now,if this Chinese manufactured plotter was all that it claimed it was we would have a new solid back up plotter and cost wise if we got one job out of it that one job would have paid for the cost plotter. Chuck was sold on the whole idea and logic behind what I was saying so much so that when I mentioned that I wanted the 60 " version for having the capability of cutting out super large things and he argued. No! I do not have the space if you get one get the 24". Well after bidding for several days on the 24" Refine model MH-731 also known as the Joy Cut in China I won it for $300.00 +shipping. So now I had the aiCS2 software for $200.00 and the plotter for $375.00 thinking I had accomplished my goal I contacted Chuck and began to remind him that I was in the middle of upgrading his computer with the software and the new backup plotter and I needed to pay the people from ebay so they could deliver the items. Then as if we had never spoke about this project and the items I was gathering up to upgrade his computer he brings up the Keyspan adapter cord, which cost approx. $35.00, for the old plotter to connect to the USB port on the G4. I explained once more why I was calling him and he began to mumble that we had discussed doing this but all he wanted was the Keyspan cord for his plotter. At that point I new that he was either having a sugar imbalance and was blacking out or something else had happened since we last spoke and did not want to tell me he was short on money so after about twenty minutes of listening to his BS I hung the phone up. Well that was the last time I spoke to Chuck until a couple of day ago. I wanted to ask him if he made it in the Corning Glass Review this year on his own but from the tone in his voice I couldn't. So now I have owned this plotter since December of 2006 I have found out several things. First, there is a company out of Switzerland that has designed software for both Windows and Macintosh and they adapt plotters on either platform and give you a couple of options you can either purchase their software outright with a dougle key or you can pay by the month and connect via having an Internet connection but if you have an established plotter like Rolland , Graphtec, Ioline etc.. the process is relatively painless but if you are dealing with a foreign plotter like a no-name China made model its great because it entitles you to all of the upgrades as they develop and unfortunately mine seems to still be in development. The plotters manufactured in China are by far some of the finest drag knife plotters made unfortunately they are going through growing pains which sucks and if you would like to discuss this topic further please contact me at garysignsdesigns@yahoo.com
The software it called "SignCut" their contact information is as follows:
Their company is: Whisqu Graphic AB
Address: Varnhemsgatan 22
521 43 Skövde
Sweden
Company PH+46 (500) 435444
FAX: +46 (500) 488403
web site (http://www.sc-x2.com) P.S.let them know that Gary Karm referred you to them. Their software I think works great especially if you use IllustratorCS2 running OS 10.2.3.4.+Their is also another software company out of Australia their software for the Mac is being developed as I write this they also have a finished version running on Windows its called "SignBlazer" this is their company info: ColorChrome First Pty Ltd
10 Matthews Road
Bentleigh East
Melbourne Australia 3165
www.colorchromefirst.com
Tel. 61-(0)-3-9579 3255
Fax 61-(0)-3-9576 4222
Mobile 61-(0)-414 774 077
Skype JerryBonham ......... Also mention that Gary Karm referred you. Thank you and I hope that I have been of some assistance to my fellow Mac vinyl cutters. Gary Karm out...:mad:

ChrisA
Sep 17, 2007, 06:51 PM
Sorry for the dumb question, but what is vinyl cutting/plotting and what are vinyl signs?

They are using a plotter designed to draw on paper with an ink pen. The pen is replaced with a small pointed knife.

The material is a thin vinyl sheet that is on a stiff waxed paper backing. To make a sign you cut out the letters on the plotter then stick them into the sign, or car or boat.
The adhesive is very good. We've tested some of it by placing it on a coffee mug and then doing many cycles in a dishwasher.

You can also use a kind of "low tack" vinyl to make a stencil. You put the stencil on the sign and then paint the letters.

You need special sign cutting software. becasue the plotter draws a line by simply moving a pen. But a cutter must makes two cuts, one on either side of the line. The plug in software does the conversion.

asgtees
Mar 26, 2010, 05:37 PM
I have not seen any recent post on this subject. I have an old ANAExpress cutter which I haven't used in years. I now need software to make it work with my iMac (os 10.4.11) and Illistrator cs 2 or Freehand 10. I really only need something simple to cut out numbers and names to heat apply to ball uniforms, etc. What kind of driver (s) do I need and where to find them?
any help, suggestions welcome. thanks.

garysigndesign
Mar 28, 2010, 04:46 PM
NOTICE:
Anybody who is cutting vinyl from their Mac should check out signcutpro.com / The software is priced for a variety needs and depending on your plotters age they have adapted a wide variety to function with their "plotting software". Other than Sign Cut Pro I have not found any other plotting software that will work on the newer, with USB connectivity, Macintosh's computers. You do have to have a design program like Illustrator CS or various other design programs. Go to their web site and look around or contact them directly with any questions you might have regarding setting up your plotter on the Mac and what it would take to get you up and running they are very helpful. As far as your plotter you have to check and see if your plotter has been adapted to work with their software other than that always check the plotter's manufacture to see if they have a driver available for the newer Mac OS. If I can help in any other way feel free to contact me. garysigndesign@yahoo.com out...

RTWright
Sep 27, 2010, 09:10 AM
Nice to see there are some who still post on this, I came here a few times looking for answer and MagiSign isn't it because it's not updated to work with CS5 that I can find and we'll not purchase anything we can't try out first because the fact that a large amount of these software programs are way over-priced for what they are ( ie: FlexiSIGN ) and usually are buggy and crash a lot.

I'll check out SignCut Pro, tried it a while back on PC with Corel, but wasn't fond of how it worked. Lets see if it's better or changed lately. The only thing I like really about Flexi is their production manager, that's the only thing they've done right in my opinion. The design portion of this program on the mac never gets updated like it should, crashes when you close a file window and sometimes even when you open files. That's one expensive program to be that buggy, to me if you're going to charge that much for a program it needs to be the best and not go out in such poor stability and lack of little support for the mac. So I advise to be very careful with Flexi.

kingtj
Sep 27, 2010, 04:28 PM
I wouldn't have even paid any attention to this thread, except years ago, I was doing some work for a guy who bought a vinyl sign cutter off eBay and planned on setting it up to cut his own vinyl signs for the side of his vans and so forth. (He not only had several rental properties he managed, but he also owned several daycare centers.)

He was a Mac guy, but had kind of a mish-mash of older hardware in his office. Initially, we attached his sign cutter to a Windows PC running XP Pro, simply because the sign cutter appeared to work best via a parallel printer port and included a basic "starter" type edition of FLEXISign software for Windows.

I recall having a relatively easy time getting it to cut out text that I typed up in any of the Windows truetype fonts on the screen, but graphics seemed to be a real pain. (I don't think the software had any capability of taking a standard piece of "clip art" like you'd find in a collection of GIF or JPG images and turning into a vector graphics type file like the software required to cut with.)

At some point, I threw out the idea of loading Corel on one of his Macs and getting the plotter connected with a Keyspan adapter and its serial port -- but I found another job by then and didn't really do anything further with it.

As inexpensive as some of the vinyl sign cutting machines seem to go for in online auctions though? The idea of getting my own occasionally comes to mind, but I'm far from a "graphic artist". I'd be interested mainly in software that lets me lay out what I want, with both graphics and text, without needing special vector graphic art files first. Is there anything that sophisticated on the market, for Windows OR Mac, at this point in time? (Essentially, I guess I want something that feels like a desktop publishing or word processing package, except with ability to cut to the sign cutter just like you'd print the document otherwise?)



Nice to see there are some who still post on this, I came here a few times looking for answer and MagiSign isn't it because it's not updated to work with CS5 that I can find and we'll not purchase anything we can't try out first because the fact that a large amount of these software programs are way over-priced for what they are ( ie: FlexiSIGN ) and usually are buggy and crash a lot.

I'll check out SignCut Pro, tried it a while back on PC with Corel, but wasn't fond of how it worked. Lets see if it's better or changed lately. The only thing I like really about Flexi is their production manager, that's the only thing they've done right in my opinion. The design portion of this program on the mac never gets updated like it should, crashes when you close a file window and sometimes even when you open files. That's one expensive program to be that buggy, to me if you're going to charge that much for a program it needs to be the best and not go out in such poor stability and lack of little support for the mac. So I advise to be very careful with Flexi.

RTWright
Sep 27, 2010, 04:29 PM
Ok, yeah SignCut Pro is not going to work out, it's below basic and or average in it's use. It's limited by not having enough of the older plotters ( As companies rarely want to spend another 3 or 5k on one ) and I can't get it to import in any of CS5 AI files ( Which I kind of expected ). I tried a while back to work with them at my previous employer to get them to come closer to what SAi's production manager does. If they'd only look at what that one does and model a lot of their functionality after it, they'd have a pretty strong cutting software.

The problem you face in this business is Adobe does not remove the Art Board limitation from Illustrator. You can only go so big and it stops. In the Sign business ( Or my case Sports Mat business ) you're dealing with Logos, Letters, Substrates and a good portion of them are far better than what Illustrator can handle. Where I work at we have text that has letters at the height of 3 to 5 feet. Text strings that go anywhere from 4 to 20 foot. Logos that are 11 foot wide and 8 foot tall. This is where Flexi has a us because it does not have a limit on the size of the Art Board. For that matter, neither does CorelDRAW and never has. It's a shame they stopped making that for the Mac, because that would be a sign makers dream to have it and the one program that turns DRAW into a full blown Plotter controller for Plotting, Cutting and Printing. Since we're on a Mac, it'd not be cost worthy to change over after spending so much on the computer and Flexi.

Problem with Flexi is that it's way too buggy on the Mac side, because SAi only focuses on the PC ( Which is why the PC version is on 10 now and Mac is still on 8.5v2. It crashes for so many different reasons on the iMac I use it's not funny. Usually just from me closing a file. So..... After all of this, I'm back to trying to find an alternate software that is on the Mac and can be used to run a GS132S Vinyl Express plotter ( Yeah I know, it's 10 years old ) and can read Illustrator CS files ( I can always save down a version or two ). But this on going battle with Flexi and the lack of any other options is driving me crazy. If you have any suggestions, I'm more than willing to read them and take them into consideration.

RTWright
Sep 27, 2010, 04:38 PM
Yeah that will be a little tough since Plotters don't look at images, they look at lines. So Vector is the only way to go, even EPS files are Vector in how they are read by the plotter. That's one thing I had to educate a few here where I started working now is that as far as what we need ours to do, no form of bitmap images can be used except to load them into Illustrator, outline them or trace them, then send them to Flexi to be resized to fit what we need them to fit and plot it out. There are smaller programs though that are not Flexi, that can offer you a low budget end on the PC, but I'm not finding much on the Mac side. Right now I'd give anything to have Windows installed on this iMac and run Corel X5 and buy the sign plugin software that turns that one into a sign making monster. Far cheaper than buying Flexi, that's for dang sure.


I wouldn't have even paid any attention to this thread, except years ago, I was doing some work for a guy who bought a vinyl sign cutter off eBay and planned on setting it up to cut his own vinyl signs for the side of his vans and so forth. (He not only had several rental properties he managed, but he also owned several daycare centers.)

He was a Mac guy, but had kind of a mish-mash of older hardware in his office. Initially, we attached his sign cutter to a Windows PC running XP Pro, simply because the sign cutter appeared to work best via a parallel printer port and included a basic "starter" type edition of FLEXISign software for Windows.

I recall having a relatively easy time getting it to cut out text that I typed up in any of the Windows truetype fonts on the screen, but graphics seemed to be a real pain. (I don't think the software had any capability of taking a standard piece of "clip art" like you'd find in a collection of GIF or JPG images and turning into a vector graphics type file like the software required to cut with.)

At some point, I threw out the idea of loading Corel on one of his Macs and getting the plotter connected with a Keyspan adapter and its serial port -- but I found another job by then and didn't really do anything further with it.

As inexpensive as some of the vinyl sign cutting machines seem to go for in online auctions though? The idea of getting my own occasionally comes to mind, but I'm far from a "graphic artist". I'd be interested mainly in software that lets me lay out what I want, with both graphics and text, without needing special vector graphic art files first. Is there anything that sophisticated on the market, for Windows OR Mac, at this point in time? (Essentially, I guess I want something that feels like a desktop publishing or word processing package, except with ability to cut to the sign cutter just like you'd print the document otherwise?)

ICA SIGN
Nov 2, 2010, 04:21 PM
I'm just getting back in to the signmaking business again after 5yrs out of the game, I currently own an iMac 27" and would like to design/cut and edge print from it using only one program if I can get away with it, I previously used software called composer (now updated and called omega i think) i'm aware this gerber software does not run on macs but can anyone recommend what software I can use, to be honest I haven't bought a plotter just yet as i'm still unsure what to get but got my eye on a graphtec 5000-60 from mdpsupplies http://www.mdpsupplies.co.uk/ce5000packa.asp
all help and/or info would be gratefully appreciated thanks in advance.
also if anyone uses a mac to design/make sign i'd love to hear from you.

Dal123
Nov 2, 2010, 04:53 PM
http://www.thenextbyte.com/matthew/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=4137&g2_serialNumber=1
I was bored so I made my digital Van. my sign work it can be located at Sign Work (http://www.thenextbyte.com/matthew/main.php?g2_itemId=880&g2_page=1) I should add more. I have hundreds of more pictures.
Digital van? What do you mean by this signguy? I am interested, do you mean you fabricated a plasma to your van? Please tell me I'm on the right path as I'm thinking of doing this for my business.
That link is not currently working, would be nice to see some of your work.
I bought a Roland GX 24, which is very cool. I am only using Illustrator with a plug-inm but I am only a doodler for fun. I have seen tutorials on youtube with graphtec machines that create cutting leaving small dashes in the cut to nearly cleanly cut the whole vinyl as a seperate motion, if anyone can understand what I'm ambiguously trying to explain :o.

yukio
Nov 2, 2010, 05:58 PM
I'm just getting back in to the signmaking business again after 5yrs out of the game, I currently own an iMac 27" and would like to design/cut and edge print from it using only one program if I can get away with it, I previously used software called composer (now updated and called omega i think) i'm aware this gerber software does not run on macs but can anyone recommend what software I can use...

You're right, the Gerber software is Windows only.

One of my clients switched from Composer to Flexisign a few years ago. So far, it's been pretty good. It even has a "UI emulation mode" where it shows the Gerber tools grouped similarly. Not so great that I'd run it that way, but it's good for transitioning staff.

Flexi's US Support can be pretty hit or miss (more often miss, even with a support contract) - so make sure that you have solid support from your UK reseller should you go this way.

Again, I'm not connected with Flexi in any other manner than as a customer - their website is http://saintl.biz/

Stingray454
Mar 29, 2011, 04:15 AM
I'll try to wake up this old thread again :)

I've been looking for some cut cutter software for mac for a while now, without luck. I previously used Signcut X2 with VMWare, which worked ok, but I didn't really like having to use VMWare to use my cutter.

Then Signcut released their Signcut Pro, which also had a Mac version, so I upgraded. The Mac version was just horrible.. hardly worked at all, cut wrong, crashed and such. I moved back to using the new Pro version on VMWare, but even that one works far worse than the old Signcut X2 and often cuts stuff multiple times, misses the last lines in a cut, locks up and such. Also it turns out that after upgrading to the Pro version, there is no way to downgrade again. In conclusion - I need something better!

I would like some cutting software for Mac that _works_. I usually design in Adobe Illustrator, so any plugin or similar for that would be nice. Is there anyone that know of any decent software that works well on Mac, preferably for a decent price?

ChrisA
Mar 30, 2011, 12:15 AM
I'll try to wake up this old thread again :)

I've been looking for some cut cutter software for mac for a while now,

You could set up a Linux system and have it act as a print server for your vinyl cutter. The server would accept job in postscript and translate that to the cutter. Then on the Mac you don't deal with cutting, just send the job to the server.

You'd run this on the server
http://www.securetech-ns.ca/camm-linux.html

peeeeeteeeee
May 2, 2011, 01:07 AM
I am currently using a PC for Vinyl Cutting. I am using Vinyl Master Pro on a Graphtec CE 3000-60.
For everything else in life I use a Mac. (Easier to use with a lot less problems).
Does anyone know if there is good vinyl cutting software for a Mac, which installs and runs as smoothly as what I have on my PC?
I know this question has sort of been asked, but I did not see a definite answer anywhere.