Have you ever come across some beautiful artworks and wondered how they were made? Vinyl printing is part of the creation of these beautifully printed artworks which can be printed on t-shirts and can also be pasted on some surfaces.
Knowing how to cut vinyl prints isn’t rock science! It only takes a keen eye and an enthusiast attitude to understand. From the steps I will outline below it will be easy and simple and after practicing through you will be in a position to cut a vinyl using a Vinyl cutter.
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Design your artwork
- This is the first step and most importantly the determinant of your vinyl output on print. Therefore it is important you base your idea on originality and uniqueness on the kind of design you want to achieve. Artworks for vinyl cutting can be in form of text, images and any form of infographics. The artworks must be rasterized and vectorized in order to allow feeding into the vinyl cutting program which only allows vectored artworks. Computer design programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Inkscape can be used to design artworks for vinyl cutting.
Importing your artwork in a Vinyl cutting program
- Any design artwork done on such program as Adobe illustrator, Corel Draw and Inkscape are not just complete without importing them into a customized Vinyl cutting program.
- SignCut, Flexi Starter are among the vinyl cutting specific programs. Once you have imported your designed artworks from such programs as Adobe illustrator onto SignCut, these applications are uniquely designed to lay your artwork on a vinyl and create a weeding frame and weeding lines which enables you to scale and auto rotate your artwork to your desired measurement. Then after that, the specific commands will be channeled to the vinyl cutter to start cutting.
Vinyl cutter connection and Driver Installation
- A vinyl cutter cannot function without a connection from the cutter machine to the computer. Therefore check the cabling connection USB and link it from the cutter to the computer USB port. Once a connection is established through a blinking LED light when the cutter is on then it’s time to install the drivers.
- A vinyl cutter comes with its own specific driver software installation that will allow it to import artworks from such programs as Adobe illustrator, Corel Draw, and Inkscape. The drivers allow connections and proper communication between the software and the cutter.
Loading the Vinyl Material into the cutter
- The vinyl material is loaded as a roll on a vinyl cutting machine and hangs on rollers through the back of the machine. The vinyl cutting machine has LED’s which are infrared emitters that detect the vinyl once it’s loaded on the machine. The vinyl material is positioned to cover these LED emitters for it to run.
- The cutter has some white lines which the vinyl material must be positioned in line with them so as to run and to prevent sleeping off. A pressure lever is flipped allowing the rollers to press down thus holding the vinyl material on the rollers and the pressure lever.
Sending artwork to the Vinyl cutter
- Once you are done with the designing of your desired artwork and setting your measurement of the vinyl cutter then it’s time to press the “Enter” button to have your work in progress.
- Make sure the pressure on the cutter machine is set at a low level thereby in the process of cutting; you will be increasing accordingly until your level of cut is attained. Your vinyl cutter should penetrate the vinyl material but it shouldn’t go through it.
- Once the design artwork is cut, you can use the arrow keys on the machine to slowly remove and slide the vinyl out.
- Weeding involves removing unwanted material on the vinyl which should not appear on the final graphic. Therefore weeding will determine the final graphics on your surface. Thus if the final setup was done appropriately weeding should just be as easy as peeling it off in a minute.
- Extra tools such as a weeding pick can enhance this process whereby it is used carefully to softly pull the vinyl that you don’t want to appear on your transferable surface. Some graphics can be so much detailed and become a little difficult in weeding all the unwanted materials. This process requires all the patience that one can ever attain especially when dealing with smaller graphics.
Preparation of your target surface
- A target surface is the material for which you want to transfer your vinyl graphics after cutting and weeding it appropriately. The target surface can be on t-shirts, window pens, car surfaces and different other media.
- Thus a target surface just before pasting your vinyl decal should be cleaned with cleaners such as rubbing alcohol and methylated spirit to remove grease, oil, and dirt. After cleaning the material surface should be spread with an application liquid that allows a vinyl to stick and due to its flexibility, it allows you to reposition your decal to the desired position.
- Ensure no air is trapped on the inside of the target market once you have pasted the vinyl to ensure good quality jobs after drying.
Completing your Graphics
- Once you are done pasting the graphics, peel away the tape and the release liner will automatically come out leaving the desired graphics on your desired target. For target materials such as t-shirts, one can incorporate the use of a heat press machine which will heat the vinyl graphics with high temperatures and after peeling off the desired graphics will remain on the t-shirt.
- Always allow your target surface to dry off first if you used an application liquid.
If you are that person who hates reading through a comprehensive manual that comes with your purchased machine, then don’t despair! The above steps provide simple but summarized steps of how to Cut Vinyl Using a Vinyl Cutter. Feel free to consult other sources wherever you don’t understand. And if you encounter a technical hitch always contact the manufacturer of your vinyl cutter. Have fun as you produce and cut amazing and inspiring vinyl designs