Here is a simple guide on how to cut vinyl with the use of a vinyl cutter for beginners. If you are new to cutting vinyl and you have a vinyl cutter like a Cricut or a Silhouette then this guide with many step-by-step tutorial videos is for you. Let’s start cutting now!
1. Create Artwork for Vinyl Cutting
All keyboard fonts are considered vinyl cutter ready vector art (VCRVA or VCVA). All text on all the Windows or Mac fonts can be typed directly into a vinyl cutting program. You can also draw shapes and prepare vector art for vinyl cutting machine using various programs like InkScape, Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator. The simpler the design, the better.
How to Create Artwork for Vinyl Cutting – Adobe Illustrator Edition
2. Purchase Fonts or Artwork Online
Aside from fonts already in the Windows or Mac operating system, you can purchase additional Vinyl Cutter Ready Vector Art such as the Mega Vector Art Collection. Software called Vector Magic can perform auto-vectorizing and cleanup to get a good image ready for vinyl cutting.
Vector Magic Desktop Edition Review | Bitmap to Vector Conversion Software
3. Using a Vinyl Cutting Program or App
Once you have created artwork in a program such as Illustrator, Corel Draw or InkScape, you will have to import into a vinyl cutter program. The most commonly used is Flexi Starter 10 and SignCut. These will help you lay out the artwork on your vinyl, create weeding lines, create a weeding frame or box, let you make copies in rows and columns, scale and rotate and more. When you are satisfied with the results, you can send your image to the vinyl cutter.
CT cutter & Flexi 10 Print & Cut
4. Connecting Your Vinyl Cutter
Different vinyl cutters will have various methods to connect to your computer. Most vinyl cutters are compatible with PC’s and not Macs. So if you are a Mac user then there may be limited options for you. Make sure that your cutter is in the online mode to start loading your file.
Setup and Installation of the MH Series Vinyl Cutter
5. Load the Material Into Your Vinyl Cutter
Load the vinyl material into a vinyl cutter. Feed the vinyl under the pinch rollers and on top of the roller bar. Release the rollers to hold the vinyl in place.
Load Vinyl Cutter with Material
6. Setting Up Your Blade & Pen Carriage
Choose and set up set up your blade. Blades have an angle of 20° to 60° or so and the larger the blade angle, the sharper the blade, however, the faster the blade will dull. As a rule, 45° blades are durable and sharp and 60° blades are sharper and are widely used.
There are two parameters that need to be set to for good cutting: blade depth relative to the carriage and the other is a pressure which is set by the cutter. Set blade tip height by peeling off the vinyl and exposing the backing. Place the blade holder in the down position. Fasten the blade position making the tip of the blade slightly penetrating the top surface of the vinyl backing. After this, set the pressure. Adjust by trial and error using a sample text you can send to the cutter. The correct pressure setting is when you are penetrating the vinyl backing but not going through it.
Setting Up Your Blade & Pen Carriage
7. Weed the Text for Vinyl Cutter
Weed all the text you have cut. Since every vinyl has its own optimized setting, the one that weeds the best and only leaves a slight impression on the vinyl backing is the optimized setting for the vinyl.
Vinyl cutting – Weeding a Very Small Detailed Design
8. Remove Your Cut Vinyl
Release the rollers and pull your vinyl forward. Use rolling scissors to remove your vinyl from the base roll.
9. Weed Your Vinyl
Weeding is removing material that you don’t want in your graphics. Use a weeding pick to carefully pull up and remove the portions of vinyl that you don’t want. This is a time consuming and delicate process so y you must not hurry.
10. Apply Transfer Tape
Transfer tape is similar to masking tape. Use a semi-transparent transfer tape to apply your graphics. Transfer tape comes in many widths. You can lay multiple strips to cover your image completely. Use a tool like a squeegee with a felt sleeve to rub the transfer tape on the vinyl to make sure that it completely adheres to the surface.
11. Prepare Your Target Surface
The surface where the vinyl is to be applied should be prepared by cleaning with rubbing alcohol to remove grease, oil, and dirt.
12. Apply Your Graphics
Peel the transfer tape. Use a squeegee to transfer tape to the decal. Take this and apply to the target surface. Use your squeegee to smooth out your decal on your target surface to remove all air bubbles.
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