As my name suggests I am new to the industry. I have an opportunity to print race car vinyl wrap that will be short lived as my primary objective. I want to also be able to print perforated vinyl for automotive window displays and stickers/decals. I am looking for budget minded, ease of use vinyl printer suggestions, pros and cons please… Thank in advance for your assistance.
for race car vinyl you need a solvent or latex printer
Not a water base.
And you want an air release vinyl for ease of application.
Neither of these is 'budget-minded"
You also need a die cut vinyl plotter, unless you plan to just make your stuff rectangles and do all your cutting by hand.
You also need a laminator and a system-matched film overlam for your graphics. Even short lived race car graphics require an overlam, just to make it through a race or two (protect from road grit)
If you don’t mind slow, check out Roland print-cut machines (slow as in: when you’re cutting, you ain’t printing.) That’s about as low end/decent quality as I would go. Summa makes some options and I think Mimaki does too. These also come with rudimentary rips. If you want small, maybe you could make a Gerber Edge work for you, but consumables…yikes.
But I think you are gonna find your ROI in just doing race car decals is not gonna happen. If you have no print experience, the learning curve is…rather large.
Any chance at all you’d be more interested in designing the decals/wraps and outsourcing the print / production to those with the equipment and experience to keep your costs down? If I wanted to learn that kind of thing as an objective that would be where I’d start. You might even consider seeking employment at such an establishment to learn all the in’s and out’s before trying it on your own.
I’ve found this “sticker” niche to be very “gig economy” or “side hussle” type of stuff.
The ones that do it right make some money at it. Not a lot for what they put into it, IMO. The ones that go low-end, they tend to get a reputation real fast among the car decal crowd, and beyond, that their stuff sucks and are to be avoided.
If I were doing this, I’d make a deal with a local print vendor.
I know that there are companies offering services for the smaller guys to outsource their printing/production with the stated goal of making it as seamless and “easy” for them as possible.
A sort of “you upload it, make it” system, but with more customer support and custom options than a VistaPrint sort of model. Kind of intended to give the “home wrap shop” or very small business folks more production capacity.
We have such a system/program here where I work but for ethical and “I want to keep my job” reasons I will not give out a name.
That is precisely why I am looking for a printer to do the wraps. The racers are all hard pressed to find someone to get them in a timely fashion. They have all been told 1-4 months out. I know they use callendered Oracal vinyl with No laminate as these are dirt track sprint cars and likely wont last more than a few weeks before replacing the panel , again & again… I believe I could run a printer nearly full time just for the car wraps
I don’t know who these races are talking to, but that’s nuts.
I cannot speak for any other companies, but our turnaround for the ‘you send it, we make it’ service is typically days, at most. It’s not usually used by anyone ordering large quantities, mostly one-offs or regular repeat small-run stuff. The more complex/custom or more product actually required, the longer it takes to make. But still, nothing like months, unless it’s a very very very large order.
We don’t do very much calendered vinyl though, but what little we do produce (as far as I know) is certainly intended to be temporary, not long-lived.
You might find utility in something like a HP latex 300 or 500 series, but they’re pretty spendy, and that’s on top of RIP software and color profiling equipment.
Just from basic research I know the latest Latex machines are way out of my bounds. Solvent or eco-solvent is the direction for me to begin with, most likely HP or Cannon. Roland, Mimaki, Mutoh are all way out of my price range… Most of my customers would provide their own files for me to load and print with only the occasional change for a sponsorship. Rarely if ever would I be doing a scratch project.
Still going to have to factor in cutting the various pieces of each wrap, whether by hand (time cost) or in some automated method (equipment cost) unless you plan to deliver sheets for your clients to cut/apply themselves. Depends on what they’re used to I suppose, and whether they’re used to supplying properly created production ready files. In my experience, most customers are not used to supplying such even when the specifications are very clear.
I’m not seeing an HP print/cut solution for anything less than $12k, about the cost of a Roland.
I’m not even sure HP offers solvent or eco-sol any more.
With Canon, be sure the inks are NOT aqueous.
You still need that lam and cut solution.
As for taking in files from anybody and just hitting print, good luck with that… even designers with years of experience can’t follow clear specs. You will get photoshop-alicious art that is too low rez to print. Guaranteed.
My question and your answer probably won’t help your cause materially, but I’m curious; where is this hotbed of sprint car livery demand? Is it a regional or track affiliation, or a touring series, or what? I’m a long-time sprint car fanatic who has been a crew member, and back in some day or other worked on a few tee shirt and other merch designs.
TY. Most already have production files that they had created for the purpose of being able to outsource printing to their chosen suppliers. All of the panels are flat and temporary which is why they use calendered vinyl. Some of the numbers are contour cut and I am strongly considering the Titan 3 by US Cutter for that purpose. With that said I am seeking input for a 30-44" printer.
It’s National. Mini sprints.
Through my research I’ve determined that separate units for print and cut will be most desirable as they have much different expectations of longevity. For signage and stickers I am looking at a Roland Bn20 /20a… The car wraps will require a unit 30-44 in and honestly does not have to be the best of print quality as they are very short lived products and will be done on calendered vinyl since all panels are flat.
Oh, cool. 1000cc?
So for those here whose understanding of the application might benefit from a visual aid, (assuming they are winged mini sprints):
I didn’t even think to ad a visual reference. TY… They run 600cc,750cc & 1000cc With and without wing classes. The builder/racer that is sponsoring my startup is Dyno Action out of Jacksonville, FL. He currently has 5 cars including one 360 class:man_facepalming:…
As a sprint car follower then you understand that lamination and high grade vinyl are a waste… If I can get this up and running I can see one printer dedicated to just panel wrap output and a second one for contour printed items as well as a contour cutter… Looking at the Roland Bn 20/20a and possibly the US Cutter Titan 3. But I still need suggestions on a good 30-44" solvent /eco-solvent based printer for the panel wrap.