A computer-controlled vinyl cutter and plotter helps businesses save money by printing their signs, decals and other promotional items. The CE6000 series of vinyl cutters and plotters from Graphtec offers users an easy to use software package and LCD display for precise design and cutting.
A computer-controlled vinyl cutter lets you produce a high volume of stickers, decals or signs in your home, place of business or anywhere. Most vinyl cutters are portable and also double as plotters, which print graphics.
Cutters come with software to help you design graphics for your signs or decals, and your computer sends instructions to the cutter, which then “draws” the design on the material.
One popular vinyl cutter/plotter is the CE6000 from Graphtec. The CE6000 is a roll feed cutter, which means the material hangs off the back of the cutter on a roller bar. You use the cutter by feeding vinyl or another media under pinch rollers and on top of the bar. Once you load the material on the machine, you release the bar to hold it in place.
This Graphtec CE6000 review will tell you all you need to know about this commercial vinyl plotter, including how to use it and details about its special features.
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The 24" Graphtec CE6000-60 portable vinyl plotter includes updated features from one of the leaders in cutter manufacturing.
There are two other CE6000 models, the CE6000-40, a 15-inch desktop cutter, and the CE6000-120, a 48-inch cutter. All versions have the same basic features, except the desktop model has a maximum 40-inch cutting size, and the larger model has a maximum 120-inch cutting size.
We will focus on the CE6000-60 for this review.
The 24-inch plotter has a total cutting area of 23.7 inches wide by 164 feet long, and the media you cut can have a maximum thickness of 0.25mm or 10 mils. The cutting speed for vinyl is 900mm or 35 inches per second when the material is arranged in a 45-degree direction. The width range for media is two to 28 inches or 50mm up to 712mm.
The downforce range starts at 20 gf with a maximum gf of 300 in 31 steps. The CE6000 provides a 450 gf (4.41 speed) of 1000 mm/s. If you need to cut may different media fast, this plotter will give you the productivity you need.
The machine measures 900mm by 593mm by 1046mm, or 35.4 inches by 23.3 inches by 41.2 inches. It weighs 66 pounds, with a stand included.
The graphics interface is compatible with PCs and Macs. It uses a USB 2.0, and the cutter has a backlit, easy-to-read LCD display. If you can use a copy machine or computer, you can use this interactive panel.
The machine contains a pen carriage with a blade and a plotting pen simultaneously. The pen engraves patterns with text, seams, or etches grain in various directions.
There are four instruction parameters in the software and recall the one you need. You can transition from cutting to plotting without shutting off the machine and changing from blade to pen.
The machine has a rear media roller brake for easier loading of heavy vinyl rolls and other media. The CE6000 comes with a two-year standard warranty and a 90 inch and 120-inch floor stand.
The knives in the plotter machine cut into the vinyl, which is placed on the device’s flat surface. You create a design on a special graphics program, which is connected to the Graphtec CE6000.
You need to create a design on the cutter’s computer drawing program before using the device. You can cut vinyl, laminate, paint mask, etching, heat transfer, laminate, card stock, self-adhesive sheets, rhinestone template, unlined paper, or low-intensity reflective material on this machine. You can also contour pre-printed stickers and other graphics or cut sandblast resist stencils.
The software program sends the design and dimensions to the plotter and instructs the knife on the proper plotting/cutting procedure. Test the cutter before creating and feeding a big job through the rollers. Create a small line of text and send it to the machine using a low-pressure level. The setting will probably be too low to cut through the vinyl.
Continue to test the machine by increasing the pressure until the blade penetrates the vinyl but doesn't go completely through it. Now you can weed the cut text. The test pressing that leaves a light impression on the backing is the best setting for the material you've chosen.
You may have to repeat this test each time work with different materials, thicknesses and patterns. The required pressure for each roll of vinyl or other material changes from roll to roll.
Use the design software to send artwork to the cutter. Most signs and decals will be ready in a few seconds or minutes unless you're producing a huge batch. Remove the vinyl by using the control panel, and cut the vinyl off the machine with rolling scissors.
Turn on the plotter with USB cord plugged in, and install the software and plotter driver. Choose English from the display menu, and a message will appear saying "Device driver installing."
You will need to install Graphtec Studio software, Cutting Master3 (which you can use with CorelDraw X4-X6 and Adobe Illustrator). Please note all software must be properly installed, or the cutter won't give you the desired designs and cutting length.
One of the best commercial vinyl plotters, the CE6000-60 (and its desktop and large versions, the CE6000-40 and CE6000-120 are the environmentally-superior successors to Graphtec's CE5000 model cutter. The product’s digital servo motors give you more precise cutting, and there’s a built-in mechanism to monitor blade sharpness.
The machine incorporates Automatic Registration Mark Sensor (ARMS), a unique Graphtec feature, uses sensors to adjust contour cutting information electronically. The registration mark alerts the machine’s axis alignment to place the cutting line with the printed image.
This plotter/cutter works with any vinyl or material thickness. You can cut and print signs for most storefronts with this machine.
Here are other features that make the CE6000 a big value for commercial printers and sign makers:
The CE6000 has an updated ARMS 5 system. This new cutting area that goes outside the section cordoned off by the registration mark. (The ARMS 4 system cut material up to the registration mark, not outside of it.) The expanded cutting area prevents waste and ensures that all media is utilized correctly.
Registration mark sensitivity is set automatically when the system measures the reflective level of the marks on the vinyl or other media. The sensitivity adjust feature detects the color of the mark when the mark has a notable contrast against the background.
Some examples - a black or blue mark is detected easily on white media, while a white mark is detected by the system on a blue, red or black background.
The machine performs a four-point axis alignment for every segment. The sensor reads the mark in the center of the feed direction for the graphics and then cuts the full graphic.
This alignment lends more precision to longer Print and Cut requests. Configure the plotter to perform this function with Graphtec software.
The media holder or sensor hood holds vinyl or other media to the panel and prevents the material from lifting up, which causes glitches and mistakes. The media holder stops ambient light from ruining the final cut.
The CE6000 has a 3.7 inch LCD control panel and lets you configure settings using icons, and choose from ten languages.
All CE6000 models have two setting modes – Simple and Normal. In Normal mode, the person operating the cutter has access to all settings and functions. In Simple mode, an administrator sets conditions for every application, and operators can begin cutting without configuring designs/settings.
The navigation system has eight settings for instant recall of pre-set jobs. All CE6000 models have parallel, serial and USB (Tri-port) connectivity to work with any computer.
The CE6000-60 is one of the best commercial vinyl plotters available, and the price reflects it. Amazon.com lists it for $1,795 and free shipping. Other sites offer it for the same price, down from the regular price of $1,997.45, and most retail stores offer the model at the $1,795 price. One seller offers a refurbished model for $1499.99.
A look at eBay shows that the cutter is often more expensive on the auction site than Amazon, and sells out fast despite an average $2,000 price tag.
The CE6000-40 costs $1195 on Amazon, and the CE6000-120 is $3495.
There are a handful of CE-6000 reviews on Amazon.com, and they don’t offer much specific information. One reviewer likes the machine’s precise cutting and speed, and a few positive reviews praise the Graphtec software.
The negative reviews refer to the cutter as a "lemon" and say that it won't feed media straight. Users commented that the people having problems didn't know how to operate the cutter and that the cutter works fine when used according to directions.
There are a few complaints about poor customer service and warranty issues. Replies to these complaints (from other customers), state that the company has excellent customer service replaced parts on a ten-year-old machine, and has a two-year warranty on the product.
The CE6000 is a professional vinyl cutter, aimed at commercial operations. Most vinyl cutters are made for home or small business use, so there aren’t a lot of machines vying for the same marketplace as this cutter.
This advanced plotter is a step up from Graphtec’s CE5000, and the company manufactured it so the hardware would cause less damage to the environment during the life of the product.
Top commercial plotters from other brands include the 15-inch, 35-pound Klic-N-Kut MAXX Air 15 inch Die Cut Machine, which is available from a few sellers on Amazon.com. It has built-in connectivity for Bluetooth, but works with PCs only. You can use the Bluetooth from 30 feet away, and the machine provides expert precision cutting.
At about $1200 from most sellers, it’s cheaper than the CE6000.
The USCutter TITAN 2 28-inch Vinyl Cutter/Plotter has a large LCD display and is compatible with Macs and PCs. It’s the least expensive of the bunch and has all the features of the other cutters, but, like the CE6000, it has “love it or hate it” reviews.
The Roland GS-24 Vinyl Cutter is portable, unlike the CE6000, but it is the most expensive of all the cutters we reviewed at $1972. It has lots of features and fast cutting power but isn't compatible with Macs.
The Graphtec CE6000 is an excellent plotter if you cut vinyl or other material in your workshop, but you can take it on the road. The CE6000 is a great option if you have a medium to large-sized business and want control over printing and distributing your signs.
If you spend a lot on ordering signs from a vendor, investing in a cutter/plotter and cutting out the middleman will save you money you can put back into your business.
Any graphic designer who wants to add printing signs, decals and stickers to his or her resume in addition to artwork creation may find this plotter/cutter to be a good investment. If you have an existing sign printing shop, the CE6000 is an excellent addition to your arsenal.
We recommend the CE6000-60 if you have the budget for it, but if you want something less expensive and don’t need to print large signs, the CE6000-40 will do. If you have lots of large signs to print, you might want to try the CE6000-120.
All CE6000 models are easy to use, and anyone in your office who can use a graphics program will have no problem designing and cutting stickers/decals/signs on the full CE6000-60 or affiliated models.
We couldn’t find any current deals or coupons on this plotter, but online sellers and retailers specializing in signs and vinyl cutters occasionally offer sales on the CE-6000. The Graphtec website occasionally provides rebates for cutters and other products.