Selecting a plotter-cutter can pose a dilemma, particularly for a first-time buyer. We all instinctively know not to expect all equipment brands and options to be created equal and to therefore expect them to have different features and capabilities. And therein lies the dilemma . . . which plotter-cutter to choose?

The first step is to resolve to not be tempted to buy the first and cheapest one you see. The second step is to decide which features and capabilities you are going to need, not just now but down the road a bit too. A common mistake is to buy equipment for your current demand or scope and then when demand or scope increases you’re stuck with a machine than can’t cope. And turning away work because you made a hasty or short-sighted plotter-cutter purchase, will become very frustrating.

Research online and talking to plotter-cutter owners or operators are great ways to help you address the second step I mentioned above—deciding on the features and capabilities you might need. By the way, it’s also a great way to develop products and business ideas.

Whatever you find during the course of your research, there are a few “musts” on which you should not compromise. Go for a plotter-cutter with a servo drive for its superior tracking (keeping long lengths of vinyl on a straight path) and better precision when cutting smaller characters. Other “musts” include: tangential emulation; the ability to turn printed pages into contour-cut decals; the ability to cut and perforate; built-in media sensors; and the ability to automatically advance a pre-set amount of media.

You may decide that you don’t need some of the “musts” but it’s much better to consider and reject them at the time of purchase than to not consider them at all and regret it later.

And don’t forget to talk to Rob or Graham at Stanley’s about your Roland options.