For some time now we’ve been dissatisfied with the high prices and low control provided by the print-on-demand bumper sticker service CafePress. We’d much rather make and sell the bumper stickers ourselves. We do sell some stickers that we’ve had a third-party union shop make, but the upfront cost of that is relatively high. We could run a silkscreen press out of our homes, but we already have thousands of designs we’d like to be able to offer and that means making thousands of screens. Finally, we could purchase a machine to print directly on vinyl, but these tend to run for about $10,000, which again is a high upfront cost. Although we may eventually go with one of these options, we’ve continued to rely on CafePress as we search for a solution that better fits our needs.
I was intrigued when I came upon a website claiming to offer a bumper sticker printer costing a little less than $600 with supplies. After a couple of weeks of effort, I’m less intrigued and frankly more suspicious.
If you decide to pursue the purchase of a Bumper Magic bumper sticker printer, I encourage you to pay attention to the phone number, the address, and the names of the individuals and/or corporations manufacturing and selling this printer. You can’t find one. When a whois search revealed the domain registrant to be an Oregon printing company, I called that company only to be told that the Bumper Magic bumper sticker printer was an effort independent of it and that the names and contact information for the Bumper Magic company were secret. This was to avoid, I was told, annoying phone calls from “Star Trek watching geeks living in their Moms’ basements.”
The only way to contact the anonymous makers of the Bumper Magic bumper sticker printer is an online contact form. The makers promise to “get back to you via phone or email as soon as we get your request… we will get in touch with you ASAP.” Unfortunately, the speed with which these anonymous people return contact has been, in my experience, in inverse proportion to the presence of actual questions on my part. My first contact attempt with Bumper Magic, which contained questions about the printer, gained no response. My second contact attempt, in which I simply asked for a price quote, resulted in the following response:
The printer is $399.00. With an auto cutter, you’d add another $200.00. The vinyl rolls are all 150′ long. The standard bumper sticker is either 2″ or 3″ x 11″. Assuming you’d make them 11″ long, you’d get approximately 163 stickers per roll. Of course you are not limited to just making 11″ bumper stickers. You can make stickers of any length from 1″ up to 39″ long.
You will need 3 items for this to operate; the printer which comes with software, vinyl rolls and ribbon. The ribbon is the color that prints on your vinyl.
Printer – $399.00
Auto cutter – $200.00
2″ x 150′ vinyl, your choice of color – $49.95/roll
3″ x 150′ vinyl, your choice of color – $59.95/roll
4″ x 150′ vinyl, your choice of color – $79.95/roll
Ribbon – Black or white, 984′ long – $69.95/roll (will last through 6+ rolls of vinyl)
If you do the math, a 2″ x 11″ sticker would cost .36 cents. A 3″ x 11″ sticker would cost .42 cents. That’s including ribbon.
Let us know if you have any further questions.
Since the Bumper Magic website provides very few specifications for the printer, I did have further questions, and so I sent them on via the e-mail address provided at the top of that message. I received no reply. After a few days, thinking that perhaps my e-mail was stuck in a spam filter, I returned to the website and sent another message from there with my questions again attached. Again, I received no reply.
There could be a reasonable explanation for this pattern in which I only receive responses when I don’t ask questions and simply want to place an order. Unfortunately, I can’t determine what the explanation would be, since the company and/or individuals selling the Bumper Magic bumper sticker printer are not communicative.
My best recommendation is that if and when you try to contact the purveyors of bumpermagic.com, you ask these questions:
1. What is the warranty, if any, offered with the sale of the printer and with printer supplies?
2. What is the print resolution of the printer, in dpi?
3. What is the effective printing border of the printer (does the printer make borderless prints, and if not, what is the print area?)
4. Does the nature of this particular thermal printing process result in the creation of chemical fumes? If so, what are they? What ventilation is required?
5. What is the nature of UV resistance and waterproofing, if any, for these bumper stickers?
6. Are there any high resolution graphics of sample printed stickers that I might be able to review online?
If you manage to receive answers to these basic questions, please let me know. Until I get those answers, I have no intention of sending on nearly $600 to this mysterious and anonymous entity.