Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Buying a Thermofax Machine

There is one machine you have to be careful about purchasing among all the old reliable thermofax transparency makers - Model no. 45EGA. After its manufacture it became apparent that is was a fire hazard if left “as is”. Many models were retrofitted with an adaptor, by the various 3M maintenance guys across the country, so some of them work fine. One of my students bought one on line and it began smoking as soon as she began processing her screen. She contacted Welsh Products (a great resource for machines and supplies) and they explained that they couldn't repair it since even after being repaired it was still a known fire hazard. The seller in Texas refused return or refund until contacted by Welsh. They explained the situation, and then the seller agreed to a return.

I met someone who bought a machine on Ebay and the seller sent it with newspaper as packing material. It was smashed to smithereens on the inside by the time it reached her. Be sure to establish that the packing will be thorough allowing no room for shifting en route to you.

Some sellers on Ebay claim that machines made later - the 4500 series - have a wider imaging area. This is false. The bulb on the inside is the same size, but the feed slot is wider to allow for occasional lopsided feeding or larger documents. In the older machines with a narrow slot, papers and film that are fed in askew will sometimes get stuck, causing the carrier or film or paper to burn, and requiring the replacement of the belt.

Don't forget to check local schools, hospitals, and other places that might have old audio/visual closets. You may be able to find one that's more affordable than those on Ebay

from Maggie Weiss

43 comments:

  1. Where would one find the series number?

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  2. The series number can be on plate or sticker on the back of the machine, or it can be found on the interior of the machine. To find it, unplug the machine and open the lid. Most lids are hinged at the back and the top of the case will tilt back so you can look inside. On the 45 CG, the model number is found on a metal plate looking straight down at the insides of the machine, underneath the clear belt. On others, it is necessary to flip the red security latches and then tilt the interior mechanism up in order to view the serial number. It's possible to see a photo of this on ebay, where many of the machines for sale have several pictures displayed as in this sample: http://cgi.ebay.com/3M-ThermoFax-Transparency-Maker-Tattoo-Screenprinters_W0QQitemZ260464945793QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item3ca4ebaa81&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14#ht_618wt_1167.

    Another approach to use if you're unable to find it yourself is to call Mr. Cronus as GC Service in Brooklyn or Mr. Messaris at Duplicators and Visuals in Chicago, and it's likely they will be able to walk you through the process.

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  3. Hi, all. Great site!Thank you!
    We are wondering though about the sidebar ref that "Thermofax machines are still in production".
    As far as I understand things, the only one in production is the Panenka thermal imager(which we sell, BTW). Guenther Panenka put it into development once 3M stopped production. Are there other thermofax machines still being made elsewhere?

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  4. So glad I found your site! I have a couple of questions I hope you can help with:
    I own a 45FGA and I am having a problem with it not shutting down. I read that this sometimes happens when the "trigger switch" needs to be oiled. True? and where is the trigger switch?
    Also:
    I have an older laser printer, HP2550, that uses carbon based toner. It should work, but my screens are not burning....

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    Replies
    1. call me.
      george/gcservice
      718-951-8293

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  5. http://www.bulldogsandbirds.com/thermofax.htm
    Thermofax Machines, lamps/bulbs and carrier belts.

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  6. I own a studio in Oak Park, Illinois. Do you know of anyone in the Chicago area that can repair my thermofax?

    Shonnan
    RockStar Ink
    708-655-7717

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    Replies
    1. Try calling a guy named John at Duplicators and Visuals...he will even come to you on occasion!

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    2. 1500 S Western Ave # 4 Chicago, IL 60608
      (312) 226-1331

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  7. I purchased a machine on eBay, a 3M 051 copier, that was advertised as a thermofax but I cannot figure out how it works. It has a slot with rollers in front where paper can feed through & comes out a lower slot also in front; this is separated from the light/exposure part of the machine used for the copy functions. It has a numbered dial and the center is a button that you push to expose. Does anyone know anything about this model? I have tried sending a carbon based design & mesh through on various settings, but no success making an image.

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  8. Susan, sorry to say the 051 is NOT a thermofax. eBay should really crack down on sellers selling the 051 and 149 -- these are entry level copiers made by 3m in the 70's, and use a completely different process than the thermofax. Sellers (usually just in their ignorance) constantly misrepresent these as thermofax machines but they are NOT compatible.

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  9. I own a 3M 051 copier as well and I still have to figure out how to use it and for what?!! Help anyone!!!?? Thanks

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  10. I have an original owners guide for a 3M 051 which I have just put up for auction on Ebay if either of you are interested....

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    1. hi ! do you still have that guide?! I have a 051 as well and it's driving me crazy!
      write back at tattoogirl68@hotmail.com
      thanks!

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    2. contact me for manual for "051" copier.3M

      Gus

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  11. Hi, I recently purchased a Secretary 45 EGA Thermofax for my wife from Ebay. While searching for information on it, I came across your blog informing me that the machine I bought might be a Fire Hazard. You mention that an adapter was available to make this machine safe to use.
    Can anyone please tell me what and where I should look to determine if this adapter was ever installed on this machine? This is something I really need to know! Thank you, I will be grateful for any information

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    Replies
    1. the adapters are not available,and if it were,you would need a technician to install it.call me and I can tell you if the adapter is already in your machine.
      george/gc service
      718-951-8293

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  12. I have a 3M Transparency Maker model 4550 in excellent condition. I have the manual also. Not used for 20 years and even then for about 50 pages total. I'll sell for $50 plus shipping to clear it out of the house. I'm in St. Paul, MN. 651-644-2805.

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    Replies
    1. I'll take it Wayne if your looking to still get rid of it. I know its a longshot since this was posted up a month ago. My email is lilsprite_21@yahoo.com ill try to contact u a bit later in the day by phone to see if u still have it.

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    2. hi! is it still available? please email at amberjol@gmail.com and i'll buy it!

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  13. Hi
    I am so glad to have come across your site. I am looking into thermofax machines and am confused by what is called a thermal imaging machine, mainly pitched to the tattoo artist. These machines are substantially less expensive than the ones offered by 3M - but I am guessing by all the above posts that these machines will not work?

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  14. Welsh Products sells both refurbished 3M machines and the newer Panenka models. Please talk to us before you purchase the wrong thing on the internet - you don't have to buy from us but we're happy to talk to you about the process and the correct models to buy.

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  15. I have a large format dry mount press. Could I use this to process the thermal screens? At what temperature do the thermofax machines work?

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    Replies
    1. were you able to figure out if the dry mount press would create a screen. I would appreciate knowing if so and would change my search to something like a dry mount press. you can email me at gbmcneill@sasktel.net

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  16. Hello. I am trying to decide between a five eighty five model and a 45DG. Can anyone give me some idea as to the difference between these machines? Is one easier to maintain than the other? Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. both are very reliable machines,but the 45dg is more of a heavy duty machine.
      george/gc service.
      a thermofax dealer in ny
      any questions,call me at 718-951-8293
      be glad to help you.

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    2. Can anyone help me find a machine at a reasonable price? Maybe $400-500 range. Well, maybe this is a miracle but can anyone help in my miracle search?

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    3. Hi Bonita: You may be able to purchase a Thermofax machine on ebay for this amount. It might be an older model and be heavier. I've heard of other sellers selling the older machines for less than the 45FGA One of the sellers, who goes by the name Rouben, seems to have a number of machines. Here is his email: rouben@ektalc.com if you would like to inquire if he has any such thing available. Make sure it's not a 45 EGA model unless he can guarantee that it's been retrofitted and is no longer a fire hazard. See other page on blog with purchasing information.

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    4. Thanks. I will contact him and give it a try.

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    5. Hi Ms. Weiss: I did contact Rouben but he didn't have anything near my price range.

      I am still looking for that miracle, so if anyone should have and additional leads please post them. Thanks

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    6. I have found a machine in my price range. Now the fun begins.

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  17. Thanks so very much for this informative blog ! I JUST ALMOST bought a 149 on eBay this very minute - whewwwwwwww

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  18. I came across a old thermofax in a house. I looked it up and I believe its from the '60s. can anyone help me to find out if its worth anything. k.sgraham@yahoo.com

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    Replies
    1. If you send model # I can advise you. I'm in Mass. Jerry grhi@comcast.net

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  19. Is the Secretary a good machine ?

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  20. Secretary thermofax 22 BA ? Is this a good machine for tattoo stencils ?

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  21. Hi there, I have a question if anyone can help me. I have a 3m 45dg secretary thermofax that is unevenly heating my stencils. The edges are coming out overheated, where the centre is not heating enough, is there a fix for this?

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  22. Can a 3M MODEL-149 BG THERMO COPIER work for tattoo stencils?

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  23. I have a 3M Thermo-fax "The Secretary" model type 45AG and i can't find anything about it i mean anything help please

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  24. This is nice thing in your blog. Its good to given an information to me about things.Thank

    you for posting.
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  25. Also considering the Secretary 45AG. Any comments would be appreciated!

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