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Vinyl Cutter 101

Make your 2D vector designs a vinyl reality! Yes, you too can make your own custom window stickers, laptop stickers, didactic panel stickers, and more! In this orientation you will learn how to use the vinyl cutter to create your own stickers and decals. No prerequisites necessary, although we do recommend some experience with 2D vector design software.

Safety Considerations

  • SHARP BLADE - when handling the blade (eg. to adjust or change caps for different thickness) take care not to cut yourself

  • Changing the tool exposes the sharp blade. The blade is approx 2mm long with a sharp tip. This could cause the operator a minor stab wound or a cut if handled improperly.

  • The workpiece can move quickly in and out of the machine and could hit the operator. However, the workpiece is likely to be thin and flexible, so the risk is more of a paper cut than blunt force.

  • The tool carrier moves horizontally within the machine and could trap fingers. This is a similar action to an inkjet printer, but can exert more force.

Lesson Sequence/Teaching Guide

1. Design

  • Create your vinyl masterpiece in Inkscape

    • Convert all your objects to path

        • to avoid glitches combine all of your objects into one path
          Select all objects then Path -> Combine

    • Check with view outlines it's what you want (line thickness is ignored remember)

        • View -> Display Mode -> Outline

    • Save as SVG

  • Import into Sure Cuts A Lot (SCAL) on the vinyl cutter PC

    • Check scale (different programs will scale slightly differently)

    • Do not mirror for sticky vinyl

    • View as outline to check (sometimes this will show things that it otherwise hides)

    • Check tool offset is 0.30mm (Cutter -> Cutter Settings)

    • Set mat size and orientation in SCAL (portrait/landscape) - select nothing and right click the dark grey border

  • Set up Vinyl Cutter

    • Check correct tip installed (usually 45 degree standard cutter)

    • Insert vinyl

    • Please put money for the vinyl in the honesty box while you remember

    • Load up Vinyl Cutter with Sticky Backed Vinyl.

    • Test cut using the “Test” button on the vinyl cutter machine to cut a star. Check it cuts the vinyl but not the backing.

    • Adjust force accordingly
      *** Hot Tip: Make the speed very slow to minimize the blade from catching the material, the only downside with a slow speed is that it takes longer

    • Move cutting head to bottom right of sheet (material at back of printer), reset the cutter and re-enter the proper force and speed

    • In Sure Cuts A Lot:

      • Delete any colours you're not cutting (undo with ctrl-Z later, but don't under your mirroring!)

      • Menu: Cutter -> Cut With Vinyl Cutter.

      • "Cut" to start

      • Will start immediately. If there is a delay, you probably forgot Online mode and you should wait for it to download before pressing Online (probably - needs checking)

    • Setup Sticker

      • Remove the negative of the sticker

      • Place transfer paper over top and ensure there are no air bubbles

      • When ready to use, peel away sticky back and place sticker on final resting place, ensure there are no bubbles - you can push them out with a credit card, then remove transfer paper

Blade Offset

The distance between the tip of the blade and the centre of the head is offset.

What affects the blade offset:

  • Angle of the blade

  • How much of the blade is exposed

Optimal tools offset is 0.30 mm.

Using Transfer Paper

Transfer paper allows you to perfectly place the sticker on anything because of the sticky hierarchy.

Sticky Hierarchy

  1. Most Sticky     :    Vinyl Adhesive (between vinyl sticker and final surface)

  2. Medium Sticky:   Transfer Paper (between vinyl sticker and transfer paper)    

  3. Least Sticky     :    Vinyl Backing (between vinyl sticker and slick backing)