Computerized mat cutters

HB

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Joined
Mar 26, 2003
Posts
1,784
Location
Alberta CANADA
Business
The Framing Nook
I am really having a hard time getting an employee - so much so that I am seriously thinking of getting a CMC to cut down on time cutting mattes. i don't do a lot of volume but don't have enough time to do everything!

Can anyone recomend a brand (esp to go with Frame Ready & hopefully visual software)
What are the disadvantages
what does one still need a manual cutter for
How much faster are they for simple matte cutting?
Or can you steer me to an article.

Greatly appreciated

(In a bit of a panic!)
 
CMC is less expensive than hiring an employee - no benefits, not taxes, no disability insurance, no complaints, and the list goes on. I would highly recommend getting a CMC before hiring an employee.

I have a Wizard, and love it. Still have my Fletcher 2100 for trimming, cutting foamboard bevels, etc.

Haven't found a disadvantage yet.

my 2 cents

Love my CMC
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Go for a CMC! It never asks to leave early, arrives late to work or belly-aches at ya!

The Wizard is good. Their tech support is VERY good.

I would buy again from them.
 
Kinda like a computer...once you have one, you wonder how you got along without it.
We have an Eclipe. The cutter is bulletproof, but the software is pretty basic. Since Eclipse was bought by Wizard, we're about to have Wizard software running our Eclipse cutter...the best of both worlds!
If you cut as many reverse bevels as we do, a CMC is to die for even just cutting regular window mats.
I've not done the math, but new employee vs CMC is a no-brainer for me. CMC hands down!
 
Get a CMC. I have a Wizard. The rental program at the time drove my decision. Since then I have bought it. I recently saw that the Eclipse can be rented (a Wizard improvement no doubt.)

Once upon a time I would have said try the software and let that drive your decision. But, my guess is that if you can post to the G you can learn to operate any of the machines.

The new Fletcher has an interesting price point and cuts VERY FINE DETAIL (ask John Ranes abotu the 2" opening with the Kobe (I think) corners he was doing at the WCAF show.) I have seen it do clean 1/8" circles. The "cost" of it doing that is that the bevel is much steeper and thus more narrow. I like the wider bevel of the Wizard.

If I were cutting a lot of small opening or small letters I would really be longing for the Fletcher though.

The Wizard has also come way down in price from when I bought mine ... sighh.

Get to a couple of shops and SEE them. Try them. But don't wait! Do it now!
 
Have you ever heard from a CMC owner that they wish they hadn't rented or bought?

We got our Wizard before we needed it or thought we could afford it. Talked to the Wizard staff on Saturday at a NY show, didn't sleep at all that night trying to decide what to do, signed the contract on Sunday and haven't looked back.

The Wizard (any CMC would do the same) helped us to grow. There was no longer any hesitation at the front counter for selling a complicated design. Turn around was faster. Less mistakes, etc., etc.

Given the choice between that first hire or a CMC, the CMC would win hands down.
 
Actually, I've never seen your Wizard but I'll bet it's just like mine! ;)
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Originally posted by stshof:
Actually, I've never seen your Wizard but I'll bet it's just like mine! ;)
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Me too! ;)
 
Mine is a Fletcher F-6100, and it does everything we expected it to do, and more. I bought it in 2002, about 6 months before Fletcher stopped production. There was only one time that I had to buy a replacement part, and it arrived the next morning.

If I were in the market for a CMC today, I would suggest looking at Wizard, Eclipse, and Gunnar, but I would compare them all to the Valiani MatPro 150. It sells for about $13,000 and does wonderful things. For example, it will cut perfect circles as small as 1/4" diameter, which looks something like a round v-groove.
 
Originally posted by Maryann:
Have you ever heard from a CMC owner that they wish they hadn't rented or bought?
I probably come as close as anyone, since I bought a CMC from a company that was already involved in bankruptcy proceedings when they delivered it.

Still, while I wish I had bought the Wizard as I first planned, I have never regretted buying a CMC.

(I've told this story at least three times before, so fast-forward if you've heard it.)

While I was nervously waiting for delivery of my CMC (and I would have been a whole lot more nervous had I known what was going on) I had a project that couldn't wait. I had to frame every page from a business magazine that devoted the entire issue to the anniversary of a local company.

They were all straight-line cuts, but I had to notch around the ads, so none of the 15-or-so windows were rectangular, and there was no margain for error. A little too big and you'd include something that didn't belong. A little too small and you'd be cutting out text.

It took me an entire day to lay it out and mark the backs of the boards. (It was a double mat.) It took another 1/2 day to actually cut it on my Fletcher 2100.

It turned out nearly perfect but, if it hadn't, I would have had to start over from the beginning.

After I got the CMC, I took the measurements and recreated the mat just to see how long it would take. It took about 90 minutes and most of that time was spent setting up the layout in the computer. It, too, turned out perfectly but, if it hadn't, I would have adjusted the dimensions in the computer and all I would have wasted would be the board and a few minutes of my time.

This was an exceptional project, but not all THAT exceptional. It made me a believer and I remain a believer.
 
Everything said by everyone so far is true and valid. The rest of the decision is basd on what you need from a potential employee. For example, the CMC will not cover the shop for you if you have to go to the dentist, on a sales call, or on a (dare I say) vacation. It also will not answer the phone, design any projects (although it may help YOU do so), assemble any frames, cut glass, fit, wrap, conduct transactions, or clean the bathroom.
Sure the CMC is cost-effective, efficient, and loyal at what it is designed to do. If that's what you need, you're all set.
:cool: Rick
 
It can reduce your need for an employee.

It can make up for slight tremors in the hand.

It doesn't care if you are right handed or in your right mind.

It thinks Midnight looks a whole lot like noon or 3.

It can learn new tricks with upgrades.

It can make you wonder why you waited so long.

It can make you waste whole hours "just cutting that new hole you found hiding in the software" .... instead of watching Perry Mason or playing Free Cell.

And when that 22x28.5 with 29 openings 25 horizontal and 4 vertical...
And then you spend the next day trying to figure out how to lay the stupid thing out in LESS THAN 20 minutes.....

When a triple opening mat (3 different sizes) with quad layers in a stock frame becomes a "Quick Fit"... then you know you have the power.
 
Ahh but Rick, it helps to give you more time to do all those lovely things! :D

I loved mine until 30 min ago, for some reason it hiccupped and screwed up the last mat I needed to cut today for a rush due out tomorrow :mad:
 
Originally posted by Rick Granick:
Everything said by everyone so far is true and valid. The rest of the decision is basd on what you need from a potential employee. For example, the CMC will not cover the shop for you if you have to go to the dentist, on a sales call, or on a (dare I say) vacation. It also will not answer the phone, design any projects (although it may help YOU do so), assemble any frames, cut glass, fit, wrap, conduct transactions, or clean the bathroom.
Sure the CMC is cost-effective, efficient, and loyal at what it is designed to do. If that's what you need, you're all set.
:cool: Rick
BINGO! You're right on, Rick!

HB, you might want to think this over very carefully. As you "don't do a lot of volume", you have to determine how much time you currently spend actually cutting mats, and how much of that time will actually be saved using a CMC.

"How much faster are they for simple matte cutting?" ...
Not much, for low volume, basic cutting. The CMC excels at volume mat cutting, multiple openings and fancy cuts. If you expect to only be doing the odd single or double rectangular mat, you're not going to find a tremendous time savings.

On the other hand, a CMC may open doors of opportunities for you which you otherwise may not have access (this is not to say that you won't need to hire someone sooner or later).

If you can justify the expense, you'll probably be quite happy with whatever machine you get. "Grumbling" about one's CMC (with one noteable exception) is fairly rare; (almost) everyone is happy with his/her machine.

Best of luck!
 
Will these CMCs size the mat for you or just cut openings? Starting from sized mats, it takes me 2 or 3 minutes to complete a medium sized double mat. An experienced framer probably can do faster. Prior to having measuring stops, it took me much longer as I had to draw lines on the mat and carefully start and stop the cut.

If I ever get a shop opened, I'm considering getting a CMC, but the business will have to earn it.
John
 
Hi there everyone. I have monitored the grumble for along time. (A little shy to post) Eveything I've seen says get a CMC. So we have! Just ordered a Wizard 8500. Hope it works out.

I have question for any other Canadian framers that may have gone down this road. Did you have any problems getting it shipped to you? I am hitting some snags!!!
 
Originally posted by JohnR:
Will these CMCs size the mat for you or just cut openings? ...
Yes, of course. Beyond that, if you need to cut multiple identical mats, the CMC will cut an array of any number of mats that will fit on the board you put on the machine. That is, put in the board and push the buttons, and the CMC will cut and size four, six, or whatever number of mats before it stops.
 
One really great feature in my Wizard, it shows you the outline of the mat to be cut, before you say "Engage!".

And you can play around with the reveal of the mats, and save certain settings (say, you cut the same triple mats with reverse bevel and certain reveal for the same customer quite often). You just load the saved file and you start cutting. Very nice.
 
Originally posted by stshof:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Steph:
I love my Wizard
Me too!
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</font>[/QUOTE]And me three!!! I had always cut mats with the 2100 when I had a partner. We split in January and he took his 2100 with him. I started out with the jr. rental Wizard which does the volume I need it to do for now.

You cannot imagine the time I have saved; it's easy to learn, you would probably have to train a new employee (more time). I'm still glad I know how to manually cut but don't see the need for one with Wizard's awesome tech. support.

Go for it!
 
We, as an industry, seem to have an inordinate amount of resistance making decisions, especially those involving spending money

May I make a suggestion? Never let spending money be an obstacle to making money

We seem to make bad decisions way too frequently all in the name of "it costs so much". I'm guessing most do not ever do a Cost/Benefit Analysis
 
Originally posted by Mr. T:
Eveything I've seen says get a CMC. So we have! Just ordered a Wizard 8500.
Me too. Just ordered the 8000 yesterday.

---
Mike
 
Originally posted by Sister:
I'm still glad I know how to manually cut but don't see the need for one with Wizard's awesome tech. support.

Go for it!
[/QUOTE]

Still the most important tool you have is the knowledge you gained on the manuel. You 'd have to pry my cold, dead boney fingers off to get my Wizard, but I always tell anyone who wants to learn how to frame....old school first, then technology.

Did I tell you I love my Wizard today!
 
Originally posted by JohnR:
Will these CMCs size the mat for you or just cut openings? Starting from sized mats, it takes me 2 or 3 minutes to complete a medium sized double mat. An experienced framer probably can do faster. Prior to having measuring stops, it took me much longer as I had to draw lines on the mat and carefully start and stop the cut.
JohnR, single opening, double mat with an equal sides/top/bottom.... is what I'm guessing you are doing in 2-3 minutes.... but I'd still like to see you do it.. especially if the outside is 28 3/8 x 21 1/4 . . .

But lets take a 11x14 outside, double mat with nine (9) opening in the top mat 8 which have curves in them, weighted bottom . . .

Lets walk through this on a Wizard:

Place matboard scrap in machine.
Change blade to fresh.
Open Design screen, choose double mat
type in all the dementions
Go to "Templets" and choose #412
Cut top mat (and size outside)
flip matboard to new mat area
cut bottom mat (and size outside)

cut one more sized blank board...

You're up to 5 minutes here.

roll glue on back of top mat and mount on bottom mat. Heat press for about 3 minutes. Have some coffee.

Put drop outs back in mat and ATG the bottom and top together... then place all the top mat drop outs back in and put tabs of ATG on them..

Carefully line up blank on top of mat sandwich and press down all over, bonding the little drop-outs to the blank.

Withdraw the blank with all the drop-outs on it. This is now your "Positive mould".

You're up to about 15 minutes now.

Carefully roll your Frank's Fabric Adhesive paying attention to covering in an even coat with no puddles. [A wad of waste cloth can be pressed onto the little areas that seem to collect excess glue that will bleed through]

Carefully lay fabric so that grain is perfectly aligned horizontally and vertically.

Start with your fingers in the opening, establishing the window bevel, then the fillet, then on up and into the multi opening.

Everything needs to be smooth and basically in place.

Place and position "possitive mould" back on and press into place hard. Remove and check all...

If everything is good, replace mould and place in press for about 5 minutes.

[Note: if you're in my class where we don't have a press, this is where I place it on the floor and use the 270lb press..... I walk on it.]

Remove mold and finish wrap as usual.

You're now up to about 20 minutes, and have a $120 killer fabric mat, made from scrap mat and fabric.

MtHood01E.jpg


Class dismissed. Good job everyone.
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Originally posted by Bob Carter:
I'm guessing most do not ever do a Cost/Benefit Analysis
Bob, I agree, and that's why I asked:
Originally posted by HB:
How much faster are they for simple matte cutting?
[/QB]
How long does it take to design, process & actually cut a single opening double matte? I am guessing about 3 minutes - but I would like that confirmed. There is no CMC anywhere near here that I know of to actually watch it.
 
Whew - you beat me Baer! Thanks
 
Nice work Baer!
Yes, 2-3 minutes on a 16x20 single opening double mat with equal sides. (I normally weight the bottom so it does take longer). Since the cmc can size the mat, it can't be beat.
John
 
I'm also thinking of getting, no - I AM getting a CMC - after stuffing up SIX sheets of jumbo matboard on a multiple aperture job that eventually, with re-ordering sheets of board, took me 8 days! Even after that I could only call the end result "acceptable"

I was looking at Gunnar or Wizard, but now a framer over here has said Valiani are better and has even offered a day at his place to see it in action.

Is Valiani a make you have experience of in the USA?
 
Valiani are re-sold here by the Fletcher company, and seem very capable. They started doing so about a year ago.

We have a Wizard 8000 in our shop and the software is top notch. The service plan and phone support have been great for the times we have needed parts replaced.

Here's a basic comparison of models in the US market, with contact info: http://www.getthepictureframing.com/gfaq/

Mike

[ 03-26-2006, 09:50 AM: Message edited by: Mike Labbe @ GTP ]
 
Gee-Baer must have walked into my shop at noon one day! I listen to Perry Mason AND play Free Cell while eating my lunch. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but I can always count on Perry, Paul, and Della to make things right.

I love my Wizard too. We started with the Jr. Rental plan, trembling fingers-and LOTS of frantic phone calls to the Tech Support people whenever we screwed something up.They are SO patient and act like they've NEVER, EVER talked to anyone with the same exact problem just five minutes before!

When you're starting out-it takes a little while to come up with the design-put the grid feature on to make sure you're properly aligned. Make sure you have a good supply of flawboard around to practice on before you use the good stuff. Every machine has it's own little personality flukes-it takes a bit to learn them. And then-don't be surprised if you're back at the keyboard-tweaking one design after another---right through Perry Mason AND lunch!
 
Originally posted by Mr. T:
Eveything I've seen says get a CMC.
Devil's Advocate:

I don't doubt that a CMC is a great addition to many people's shop. But I came across what I thought was a strange situation the other day. Visiting a customer in New York (50 employees, 25000 SF work area plus showroom in the city and very well respected by any other framer I've talked to) I asked him what CMC they were using. He said they don't have one and have no intentions of getting one. When I asked why he gave me two reasons. One, they do a lot of 12-ply (he said - I don't know - that CMCs can't handle that); and two, since almost all his jobs are one-offs, and the people that cut his mats are so skilled that he wouldn't save any time.

I can't say he's a technophobe, since he just spent more money than all but a very few frame shop owners make in a year on new custom written software. Also, he seemed very interested in the visualization software when I mentioned it. So, is there any merit to the claim or is he just stuck in a rut and doesn't know any better?
 
Yeah, he's correct in that the current crop of CMC's (including Wizard) max out at 8ply... though I'm not sure about the Zund - if any CMC would cut 12ply the Zund would, but I'll have to double check that.

But I think if he does multiple opening designs, or ovals, or fillets (the opposite sides are always the same so you only have to fit two sizes instead of all four), the time he would save is enormous... even if he had to continue cutting 12ply by hand. And the quailty would be consistant from operator to operator.
 
Originally posted by David N Waldmann:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Mr. T:
Eveything I've seen says get a CMC.
Devil's Advocate:

...He said they don't have one and have no intentions of getting one... One, they do a lot of 12-ply... and two, since almost all his jobs are one-offs, and the people that cut his mats are so skilled that he wouldn't save any time...
</font>[/QUOTE]What is "a lot" of 12-plys? 25% of production? 50%? Even if half of his mats are 12-ply, he would probably save enough on the rest of production to pay off a CMC in a matter of months - maybe weeks.

If this guy has calculated that his matcutting people cost less than matcutting machines, then I would suspect his payroll cost is extraordinarily low. I wonder what language his matcutters speak, and whether they are in the USA legally?
 
Jim wrote:
I wonder what language his matcutters speak, and whether they are in the USA legally?


Jim,

While I often appreciate your candor and to-the-point insight, I fail to see how this is more than a sarcastic insult.
 
I have been in business 2 years. I have never hand cut a mat and probably never will. I have much better things to do with my time and so do my employees. I Don't even know how.

Cheers
 
I have been in business 2 years. I have never hand cut a mat and probably never will. I have much better things to do with my time and so do my employees. I Don't even know how.
I totally agree with you Mark.. the shop I work at on Saturdays has had their Wizard now for over 10 years. The new owner has never cut a mat by hand either. I cut mats by hand for 6 years before the old shop I worked at got a Wizard, so I could probably crank one out if I had to.. but I'd be rusty as heck since its been 11 years since I cut one.

The only downside to that I see is the CPF test still has questions on it that pertain to hand cutting. Kinda gives the advantage to the "old schoolers"...
 
I'd love to get a CMC, but I keep weighing the cost/benefit ratio...

Currently I use an old wooden Keeton Cutter (preferred) and a 60" Fletcher 2000 for in-house cut mats and farm out to either a local jobber or LJ for most mats more complex than rectangular double mats or title block mats.

I know only I can do the cost/benefit analysis, but my questions is...are the cutters like all high tech stuff...getting cheaper and gaining capabilities? Will I gain much by waiting?
The main problem I have farming out more complex mats is that I often don't get the turn around time I'd like. I know that only I can answer whether that makes enough difference to warrant buying my own.

I got burned by being on the "bleeding edge" in computer output equipment doing service bureau work and still have a bad taste in my mouth from that experience. As soon as you bought equipment it was outdated...the newer model was cheaper and more functional. It's the nature of the beast...once the R&D is paid for costs drop. Are CMC's similar? Can I expect a newer model next month with greater "Wizardy Capabilites" at less cost or the same?

Also, if I do rent/purchase a CMC, what new markets will it open up for me? How realistic is it to expect that there would be additional markets I'm not currently serving? Do people with CMC's find they are doing more complex matting for current customers...are they willing to pay for it? Is the main advantage the ability to do more "creative" matting...or is it in the ability to do more production work?...or all of the above?

The surveys show a less expensive price for matting by CMC users. I can understand why it's easier to cut a mat with a CMC, but do most lower their pricing when a CMC is installed?

shrug.gif

Dave Makielski
 
A CMC will save you time, and a lot of it. The question is, do you have anything to do with that time that will give you a return that is equal to or greater than the $250 a month rental fee?

As far as waiting for upgrades, I dont see a huge value in that. The software is pretty stable and easy to use, and in most cases you get free upgrades. They use to have trouble cutting 8-ply but that is mostly fixed. About the only thing I would like added is the ability to cut 12 Ply.
 
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