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Shop Sign Cutting Plotters

Sign Cutting Plotter Machines

You are about to start or grow your sign business, so the hunt begins for your sign cutting plotter machine. What machine should you invest in? Are you looking for size? Or maybe something fast? Maybe even something that can print and cut?  These questions, along with many others, are the best way to start your journey. This article will dive into sign cutting plotter machines and helping you get all the information you need to decide.

What is a sign cutting plotter machine?

You want to make sure you are searching for the right equipment. A sign cutting plotter is a computerized machine designed to cut various materials in shape you designed. In other words, it's a knife connecting to a computer, so you don't have to cut sign materials by hand. That concept seems to foreign nowadays, but sign makers used to hand-cut and paint signs. Now we design something in a computer and send it to our sign cutting plotter machine. Something that used to take days to make, is completed in minutes.

Plotters versus Cutters

Something to mention is that people will use the different words, for the same machines. A sign cutting plotter machine could also be described as a vinyl cutter, a cutting plotter, a vinyl plotter and other combinations of these words. However, it's important to explain this with some defined semantics. A plotter is something that draws. It uses a pen to draw something based on computer commands. A cutting plotter is the same thing, except the pen is exchanged out with a knife. Therefore, its essentially the same machine, just with the tool swapped out.
You will also read things like vinyl cutter or vinyl plotter; these are just descriptions of what is most often being cut. This would be like calling an 11oz Sublimation Mug a "coffee mug." It's being described as what its most often used for, even though it could also hold water or soda. Vinyl cutters can also cut twill material and other transfer materials. So a sign cutting plotter machine could very well be the same thing as a vinyl cutter.

Sign Cutter Plotter Sizes

What are the most popular sizes for sign cutting plotters?

You will find cutters in varying sizes from 15 inch all the way up to 100+. Really it depends on your busines needs, your financial investment capabilities and your space. Moreover, most sign cutting plotters sold are going to be 15inch, 20inch or 24inch. These are popular for several reasons:

  • Space - Sign shops can become incredibly crowded. You have rolls of material, work areas, employees, computer stations and more. Making a large sign just takes up a lot of space, especially when you are cutting and weeding materials. Many shop owners invest in compact equipment because they can easily fit them into their workspace.
  • Common orders sizes – Most of the signs you will see made with a cutting plotter don't have pieces larger than a couple of feet in length. Even when you consider very large signs, the letters aren't larger than 2 feet. This means a compact cutter is capable of creating huge signage.
  • Cost – Cutters 24inches and under have a very affordable cost. Many of these can be financed for under $100 a month, making it very easy to justify the investment. Cutters of this size can pay themselves off in your first month of operation.
  • Logistics – Ordering, receiving and setting up large machines is a process. You may find yourself needing to cut out walls or rent a crane to move something into a second floor. A compact sized machine can fit through any doorway and easily moved by 2 people. Large rolls of material are the same, shipping and storing giant rolls is a lot of work.
  • Supplies – Supplies like rolled vinyl materials and transfer mask are more easily found in rolls under 20 inches. This makes it easier to get supplies for compact sized machines. Also shipping large rolls of 60 inches or more can be very expensive.
The most popular sizes for your sign cutting plotter machine would be a 15 inch, 20 inch or 24 inch machine. Other sizes are very important to some businesses, but not the most popular sized purchased.

What are the most popular brands of cutting plotter machines?

When it comes to investing in a sign cutting plotter machine there are two brands that stand out, Graphtec and Roland. You can find other larger machines and brands that specialize in unique equipment, but when it comes to cutters, these two brands stand out.
Roland and Graphtec are the 'Coke and Pepsi' of cutting plotters. Everyone has an opinion on which is best, and really, they both have their own features that highlight them. We can look at what each of them have to say next.
Roland describes their GS-24 with the following highlights:

  • Perfect for cutting vinyl, paint mask, reflective vinyl, twill, heat transfers, sandblast material and more
  • Stand included with purchase that holds roll media and offers smooth set up
  • Overlap cutting (up to 10x), for cutting thicker media like magnetic materials and card stock
  • Efficiently cuts up to 20-inches-per-second, providing maximum productivity
  • Three-Year Trouble-Free Warranty

Graphtec America describes the CE7000-40 with the following highlights:

  • Separate tool positions for contour and die cutting
  • Advanced registration mark sensing system for accurate cutting
  • USB offline cutting and network integration available
  • 69.6 inches per second cutting speed

At the time of this article being published both Roland and Graphtec have cutters available for under $2000, or financed for under $100 a month. Both of these brands offer speed, power and reliability.

Graphtec Logo

Roland Logo
Sign Cutter Knockoffs

Watch out for knock-off cutting machines

The world today has a great number of cheaper options when it comes to all sign making machines and supplies. Some of these cheaper items are just fine to use, like a cheaper worktable or measuring devices. Your cutting plotter machine should not be something you seek a cheap alternative. Here are some reasons to watch out for cheaper knock offs:

  • Quality Parts – Brands like Graphtec and Roland understand that quality parts are essential for your business. If your machine isn't cutting, you aren't making money.
  • Support - Many cheaper brands will offer no customer service and support. This means if you get an error on your machine, you are left hunting the internet for how to fix it.
  • Less availability of help – If you are having to hunt for answers or parts, you might be left with none. Especially if the machine you purchased isn't commonly sold in the US.
  • Patent violations – Why does this matter to you? If the manufacturer of a machine violating patents gets shut down, so do the production of all the repair parts.
  • Tons of users – In the sign business you will come across new challenges every day. Having a community of people with the same machine as you means answers are just clicks away.

Investing in a sign cutting plotter machine means you are investing in your business. If you plan to make tens of thousands of dollars with your cutter, why is it worth the risk to save a few hundred dollars on a machine?

What are the popular models of cutting plotter machines for your sign business

Graphtec CE7000-40 – This is a very popular model and at the time of publishing this article it is less than $1300 or financed starting around $35 a month.

  • Cuts up to 15 inches wide
  • Desktop model
  • 1000 mm per second speed
  • 450 grams of force
  • Optical sensor for registration mark location
  • 2 year warranty

Learn More

Graphtec CE7000-40 15

Roland GS-24 – This is another popular model that is under $2000 at the time of publication. This can be financed for starting around $55 a month.

  • Cuts up to 22.9 inches wide
  • Desktop model, with a stand optional
  • 20" per second speed
  • 350g of force
  • Optical sensor for registration mark location
  • 3 year warranty

Learn More

Roland GS-24 Vinyl Cutter

Graphtec CE7000-60 – Size and speed are a huge win for this model. Still under the $2000 retail mark and financing available starting around $52 a month at the time of publication.

  • Cuts up to 23.7 inches wide
  • Desktop model, with a stand optional
  • 1000mm per second speed
  • 450 grams of force
  • Optical sensor for registration mark location
  • 2 year warranty  

Learn More

Graphtec CE7000-60 PLUS 24

Roland Versastudio BN-20 – Print and cut in an all-in-one machine with the Versastudio. This is a unique investment as you can print in full color, then cut out your designs. At the time of publication this machine is under $6000 and finances starting around $155 a month.

  • Print and cut in one machine
  • Print and cut up to 18.9 inches wide
  • Cut speed of  150mm per second
  • Print resolution of 1440 dpi
  • 1 year warranty

Learn More


Investing in a sign cutting plotter machine is a tried-and-true method of growing businesses. Sign shops all over the country rely on their cutting machines to produce reliable and quality products to sell to their customers. The key to success is picking the right machine for your business and using it to its best abilities. Once you have picked the right machine, be sure to work with a company that will have your back for service and support.

To learn more about sign cutting plotter machines talk to a pro at ColDesi – 877-793-3278

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