Best Vinyl Cutter Reviews For 2019 – Buying Guide For Beginners
Last fall, our operations manager had a bouncing baby boy. Being hardcore DIYers, we decided as a team that instead of buying her gifts, we were going to buy materials and make her customized gifts. Some of the items we were going to gift her were mugs saying “You’re awesome, mommy!” and personalized t-shirts.
So, we bought blank t-shirts, mugs, different varieties of vinyl, and other supplies including two pairs of scissors. The idea was to cut the vinyl into various designs and imprint the cutouts onto the mugs and the t-shirts.
But one problem surfaced. Using scissors to cut the vinyl proved not only slow but also ineffective – we had a really hard time getting good cutouts.
We had earlier decided to use scissors to save money, but then we realized a specialized vinyl cutting machine was indispensable if our little project was going to have great results. So, we went on to research for the best vinyl cutter and got the Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint.
Since then, we’ve seen the profound benefits of having this machine and the value for the money. We have used the machine countless times since then, and we have to say it’s one of the best tools any designer could have.
Now, folks, allow us to tell you about vinyl cutting machines and guide you on making the correct selection.
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Things to Consider Before Buying a Vinyl Cutter
Before we jump into top 10 vinyl cutting machines, it’s only fair that we let you know how we picked the products. We don’t own most of the machines listed here, but we have friends and businesses that own them, and we made it a point to visit them and inspect the machines physically. Here are some of the factors we considered.
Do you know what most people don’t realize when buying a vinyl cutter? That the tool comes in two different categories – for home use and for business use.
If you need a vinyl cutting machine for home use, you want to get something lightweight, and that doesn’t consume much space. Such a machine should be easy to use and very importantly, it ought to run quietly so that it doesn’t bother other people or the neighbors.
A vinyl cutter for business use should be highly efficient and able to work around the clock without any problems. Such a machine is often large and can cut different sizes. Remember, you’ll have to dig deeper into your pockets if this is what you’re going to get.
Note: a professional-grade cutter should have a servo motor and not a stepper motor. We will discuss more about this in the part “types of vinyl cutters” below.
Ease of operation
Whether you’re going to buy a home vinyl sticker maker or a commercial unit, you ought to go for something that is easy to use. It should feature an ergonomic design with a control panel you can access effortlessly.
If you have never used a vinyl plotter before, then you surely want to get something that is easy to use.
What amount of space do you have for storing or operating the machine? If you’re getting the machine for business, space is probably not a problem, but if you’re getting it for home use, you might want to consider how much space you have.
Any experienced user will tell you that the printing size is a critical consideration. The aspect to consider here is the size of the vinyl you’ll be working with, keeping in mind that beginner-grade cutters can cut only a few inches.
The cutting surface of an average cutter is around 2 feet and 12 inches for the length and width respectively. A big, industrial-grade plotter can work with much bigger sizes, like a width of 2 feet or more.
Materials it can cut
This is yet another key factor to use when choosing a stencil cutter. So, what kind of materials can it cut? A simple machine will only handle vinyl, but a more advanced model will handle paper, plastics, and other materials.
As with most other commodities, you’re going to get what you pay for. However, there are brands that sell great-quality vinyl cutters at a low price, and in our vinyl cutter reviews below, we’ve made certain to include these.
Be prepared, however, to pay more if you want fancy features and exceptional performance.
Some of the special features you get to enjoy when you get a high-grade cutter are:
From our research, we can tell you with utmost certainty that an expensive but high-grade cutter is much better than an inexpensive model whose quality isn’t good.
We imagine that every manufacturer out there will say their machine is the best in the market, but we cannot just trust that. We have to look at what those who have used the machine say (in the reviews). And apart from that, we have to look at the warranty.
If the machine is truly all that great, the manufacturer should be able to back up the claim with a great warranty of one to three years. A longer warranty typically denotes better quality.
Without any further delay, let’s get to the juicy part of the article.
Our 10 Best vinyl cutting machine for t shirts and Small Business
1. USCutter 34-inch MH Vinyl Cutter Bundle
Today, the USCutter 34-inch MH is one of the most preferred vinyl cutters, because of its ability to cut different materials and the awesome quality overall.
The most important parts in a vinyl cutter are the blade, and the rollers as these are the parts doing all the work.
What makes this US Cutter machine so great is that its blades are sharp and also super strong and durable, going for almost a year without needed replacement.
One aspect we found most useful is that the machine is compatible with the standard aftermarket blades so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding replacement blades.
The cutting speed is 39 inches per second with a pressure of 360g. The maximum cutting width and length are 30.63 and 96 inches respectively. And with the robust nature of the three blades, you can cut a plethora of materials including paper, standard vinyl, HTV, paint musk, card stock, and more.
Part of the reason why we chose this product to be the first one on our list is that it comes with different items you’ll find most handy. If you’re a beginner and are looking for something to get you started immediately, or if you want to buy a complete package, so you don’t keep going back to the shop, you’ll find this product quite useful.
One of the items included in the bundle is 5 rolls of vinyl, each measuring 5 feet by 24 inches (length by width).
This vinyl, which is called Greenstar IPV, is one of the amazing, long-lasting products from this brand. The 5 rolls are offered in different colors and have a high-gloss finish.
Apart from the IPV, the bundle includes the following items:
2. Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint
The Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint is yet another very popular vinyl cutting machine. It is, in fact, the one we have in our office, and if there’s something we’d not hesitate to recommend to anyone looking for the best vinyl printer, it is this beast.
The thing with this machine is that it doesn’t just cut; it also writes.
So you have spiderwebs or snowflakes designs or any other form of complex artwork and want to be able to cut them with a high degree of precision? This machine will help you do that.
The appliance comes with pens that help you create beautiful handwritten projects. The software presents you with over 350 fonts to choose from, and if you don’t want this, then you can upload fonts from your PC.
If you’re into paper crafts, like creating cards, envelops, and gift boxes, you definitely know how useful a scoring board is.
Thus, you might agree with use that a machine that also has a scoring function would be very useful. Guess what? This Cricut machine has a scoring stylus which it uses to make fold lines for boxes, envelops, cards, and more.
The new Cricut machine is built with a fast mode feature for those who love speed. This feature helps you move twice as fast as the normal speed while cutting or writing.
If you’re planning to cut a wide range of materials, then consider getting the Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint. With it, you can work with more than a hundred materials, including leather, vellum, paper, vinyl, cardstock, etc.
3. Silhouette Cameo Starter Bundle
Are you in a hurry to find the best vinyl cutting machine for t shirts and cannot keep reading the article because of time? Go for the Silhouette Cameo Starter Bundle. We can tell you with utmost surety that this machine won’t let you down.
This kit comes with almost everything you need to get started with vinyl decoration. That includes the Silhouette Cameo II machine, the software, instructional guides, transfer paper, vinyl sheets of different colors, hook, scraper, and more.
From our research, we can assure you that there are very few machines out there that are as easy to use as the Silhouette Cameo II.
This machine features a touch screen control panel with LED to make certain that you’re able to configure the settings accurately.
Moreover, the included instructional booklet help you understand every aspect of the machine. There’s even a DVD for those who love video walkthroughs.
Oh, and if you’re a beginner and are still trying to figure out what sort of projects you should pursue, then you will find the idea booklet helpful.
You can connect the machine to your Mac or PC through a USB cable to have access to the designs on the software. Alternatively, you can save the designs in a USB and plug it to the machine.
What about the maximum cutting dimensions? The Silhouette Cameo II cuts materials that are up to 10 feet and 12 inches (length and width respectively).
The attractive part is that it’s able to cut a wide array of materials from tissue paper and craft foam to vinyl, lightweight fabric, and chipboard.
4. Brother CM350
In the event that your budget is tight, but you still want a high-quality vinyl cutter, the Brother CM350 will be a perfect pick. Can you believe that this machine is almost 100 bucks cheaper than models of the same quality? Allow us to show you why this is quality you can trust.
The touch screen display of this machine measures around 5 inches, making viewing a breeze and making it super easy and fun to control the device.
With this touchscreen panel, you don’t even need a computer. You can create your designs on it and can rotate, resize, and weld images effortlessly.
The background scanning feature allows you to scan designs and use them for your projects. In addition to that, there are over 600 pre-loaded free designs to select from.
The ScanNCut software allows you to link the machine to your devices wirelessly. All you got to do is upload your designs to the software and then download them directly to the machine.
Be advised, however, that the kit doesn’t include the ScanNCut Online activation card. You have to get this separately.
And what about the cutting capacity? Well, let’s start with the maximum cutting dimensions – the machine is designed for cutting over a huge area of up to 24 by 12 inches.
About the materials it can cut, we can say the machine is pretty versatile as it cuts several materials ranging from paper to vinyl and fabrics.
5. Silhouette America Curio
The Silhouette America Curio is a lot like the Cameo II, but what we loved about this particular model is the broad assortment of projects you can hande with it.
From etching metal, cutting custom designs out of different materials, and adding embossing textures to various materials to sketching complex multi-color designs, the number ways in which you can use this machine is countless.
You have to get additional parts for some of these projects, for example, a stippling tool for metal etching and sketch pens for the stippled ink projects. While that might seem a little inconvenient, you’ll be surprised to know getting these extra parts is worth it. Besides, they’re quite inexpensive.
Apart from that, there’s the fact that the machine is able to cut through different materials, including vellum, paper, fabric, cardstock, and more.
Therefore, we could argue that the Silhouette Curio is the ideal pick for a serious DIYer who likes engaging in different design undertakings.
This appliance comes with the Silhouette Studio software, allowing you to create designs with ease. All you have to do is hook the machine to your computer using a USB cable and then use the software.
We’ve seen cutters out there that are compatible with PCs only, but with this cutter, you have the freedom of using either PC or Mac.
The durability of the blades is something every designer should consider carefully. Curio’s blades are made of sintered tungsten alloy, which makes them last a long time and allows it to make deeper cuts.
6. Cricut Expression
One thing we have noted about the Cricut brand is that its customer support team is always ready to help and answer any question a customer has. So if you love buying from a brand that cares about its customers, Cricut will be a great option.
Let’s talk a about the Cricut Expression. Why this machine?
Well, first, the cutter is easy to operate. With that wide touchscreen LCD panel, you can easily configure your settings. The screen can be set to the landscape or portrait orientation, allowing the user to be as comfortable as possible.
We recommend watching the instruction guides in the DVD first, so you’re able to operate the machine efficiently.
The machine comes with three cutting cartridges, and with the touchscreen panel, these can cut without a connection to a computer. You just have to connect a USB stick containing your designs or select designs from the pre-loaded ones.
The cutting mat measures 12 by 12 inches, but you can cut a length of up to 23.5 inches.
If you’re a designer who travels a lot, you might be looking for a portable unit that you can take with you wherever you go. Unlike the conventional cutters, the Cricut Expression is compact and lightweight, measuring 25.8 by 9.5 by 12 inches and weighing in at just 20 pounds.
We’re sure you’ll love the bag that comes with this machine. And we’re not talking about a cheap dustcover. The bag is actually a high-quality canvas bag, and you’ll find it helpful for transporting the machine.
7. USCutter 28-inch MH Series
You want to be able to operate your vinyl cutting machine from a comfortable position, don’t you? Well, tell you what? The USCutter 28-inch Vinyl Plotter comes with a stand, so you don’t have to slouch when operating it.
This feature is especially useful if you don’t have an extra desk in your workspace.
The machine’s carriage is multi-functional in that you can connect either a blade or an ink pen. That means you can use the machine to draw designs or cut them out.
There are two pinch rollers, and as these are fully adjustable, they are able to hold and move a wide range of materials, including paper, cardstock, and vinyl.
The blades used here are three, and what we loved about them the most is that they’re sharp and high quality, going for many months without needing replacement.
What is even more amazing is that the blade holder is roland compatible, making it super easy and affordable to find a replacement blade.
Want to know what the fun part is? It’s the Sure Cuts a Lot software. This software is surely your perfect partner in design in that it is very easy to use. Moreover, it provides you with numerous free designs to get you started – these can be very handy if you’re a beginner.
The machine can be hooked to a computer through a USB cord, and by installing the software on the computer, one gets started pretty fast.
The only issue with this machine is that it’s not compatible with Mac. It works with PCs only.
8. Silhouette Portrait 2
From the autoblade feature to the numerous free designs, the number of reasons for getting this machine are endless. Let’s discuss them quickly.
The most amazing feature of this machine is the autoblade. What does that mean? Well, it just means that the blade is able to auto-adjust and cut the material loaded appropriately.
Thus, you don’t have to keep changing the settings every time you load a new material. That directly translates to incredible ease of use.
The other cool feature is the compatibility with both PC and Mac. The machine comes with software to ensure you’re able to operate the machine through your computer.
You could use a cable or connect your cutter to the computer wirelessly via Bluetooth. The wireless feature is something special, and we bet you’ll love it.
The Portrait 2 is Silhouette’s smallest, lightest vinyl cutter, measuring 18 by 8 by 9 inches and weighing in at just 3.53 pounds. Yep, 3.35 pounds! This is one of the lightest vinyl cutting machines in the market.
Now, we know you might wonder how this machine can be efficient with such a small size and little weight.
But guess what? When it comes to design, this is a little beast, creating masterpieces quickly and conveniently. Moreover, it works with over 100 materials ranging from leather and paper to vinyl and fabric.
If you have little workspace and are looking for something small to go with that, we’d encourage you to try the Portrait 2.
9. MH-721 28-inch Vinyl Cutter by USCutter
If you’re seeking the perfect beginner bundle, look no further. We’re confident that the MH-721 28-inch Vinyl Cutter by USCutter will serve you well, allowing you to design a wide assortment of materials and doing so for a long time due to its sturdiness.
The first time we heard about the cost of this machine, we thought it must have been overpriced. We couldn’t picture how a vinyl cutter was supposed to cost more than 300 bucks. But then, we heard about all the items in the kit and immediately appreciated the product as low-cost.
Some of the items included are:
These are just some of the items you get as part of the kit, and so, as you can see, the price is justifiable.
Well, a bundle might include lots of stuff but then, if they’re no good, then it doesn’t benefit the user, does it? One of the reasons as to why we love this kit is that everything works perfectly.
The blades, which are the most important thing, are sharp and durable. Moreover, the blade holder is Roland compatible, making it easy to find a replacement for the blades once they’re worn.
There are two pincher rollers in the machine, and these are fully adjustable. This flexibility allows them to be able to handle a wide range of materials such as vinyl, paper, vellum, etc.
10. Silhouette Cameo-3-4T
If you ask someone that has been in the design business for a long time, they might tell you that Silhouette machines never disappoint.
The Silhouette Cameo-3-4T is the ultimate answer to your DIY needs. With its little but sharp and robust blade, it is able to cut through more than a hundred materials, including fabric, paper, and vinyl.
The problem with many digital cutters out there is that they cannot cut printed materials. This is one area where the Silhouette Cameo-3-4T comes across as exceptional – you can use it for registering and cutting printed designs. Apart from that, the machine is compatible with the PixScan technology.
If you’re using a regular vinyl cutter to cut different materials, you can get quite exhausted from having to change the settings every time.
The benefit of using this Silhouette appliance is that you don’t have to change the settings every time you load a different design. Why? The machine’s Autoblade feature adjusts the blades automatically.
The cutting mat measures 12 by 12 inches. But if you need to cut longer designs, you can just remove the mat. The matless cutting feature makes it possible to cut materials up to 10 feet long.
The blade used here is long lasting and when it’s finally worn, replacing isn’t a complex and frustrating process as the holder is Roland compatible. If you have a couple spare blades, you can just store them in the machines built-in storage unit.
The dual carriage is yet another awesome feature any professional or DIYer will love. This makes it possible to attach either a pen or a blade, therefore making it possible to use the machine for either drawing or cutting.
11. Graphtec PLUS CE6000
What if we told you that one investment of under 2K dollars will enable you to make signs, car decals, custom performance wear, personalized t-shirts, glitter heat transfers, rhinestone templates, unique home decors, airbrush templates, and more?
A manufacturer that has helped thousands of people, just like you, realize their dreams of starting a profitable small business with just a small initial investment?
When it comes to professional-grade vinyl cutters, the Graphtec PLUS CE6000 is a cut above the rest. Why?
This beast gives you the ability to cut more materials, in less time and with less waste.
There are factors that determine a vinyl machine’s efficiency and tell you what? This machine has them all covered.
First, the device’s cutting area is 24 inches wide, which is double the regular size of 12 inches. With this width, you can cut rolls and graphics up to 24” wide. So, large lettering for banners and vehicles will not be an issue.
This appliance has a downforce of 300g. That, coupled with the servo control, means you can cut items that are up to 10 mils thick. That includes rhinestone template materials, glitter vinyl, and more.
The advanced material handling system here also ensures you have no problem working with super thin materials like those for window tinting.
12. Roland Camm-1 GS-24
Roland is one of the most trusted brands in the market today, and their Camm-1 GS-24 is a true masterpiece. With this machine, creating the finest heat applied graphics for personalized t-shirts and other apparel, applying catchy rhinestone templates and more has never been easier.
Now, when you’re building your heat transfer business, you might agree that qualities such as precision cutting, ease of use, and versatility are crucial. And guess what? The Camm-1 GS-24 offers you all these qualities.
It has an innovative blade holder and cutting carriage with higher stability and more downforce. This gives you the precision cutting ability you’re looking for as well as the ability to cut thicker/denser materials.
The creatively-designed servo motor offers pin-point precision cutting of hologram, reflective vinyl, neon vinyl, and other heat transfer materials. This enables you to create intricate designs like little paper flowers and snowflakes.
The overlap cutting ability lets you cut and weed thick materials like rhinestone stencils with incredible ease.
The included roll and cut studio software is designed for optimal ease of use to make it possible for you to optimize the profitability and of course, the profits. Functionalities like positioning, resizing, mirroring, and rotating images are all incorporated in there.
The software has advanced abilities like cutting by line color and overlap cutting, and it is compatible with software like Adobe Illustrator and Coledraw to make the workflow a cinch for you.
You could even set the downforce and the offset speed from the software!
We wish we could tell you more about this amazing vinyl cutter, but you’ll have to experience it yourself.
13. The KNK Zing Orbit
From the huge cutting force to the new and improved communication system for faster, precise cutting, everything about the Zing Orbit makes the machine a great pick for business use.
The blades are able to exert a downforce of 1000g, therefore giving the machine ability to cut deeper. This means the machine can cut a myriad of materials, both thin and thick, including HTV, vinyl, Mylar, chipboard, cardstock, etc.
Many machines out there rely on software to send little bits of data at a time. The Zing Orbit, on the other hand, uses RTS/CTS signals, which happens to send data more quickly and consistently.
Subsequently, the appliance is able to handle complicated projects without the problem of a buffer overrun. That’s what makes it such a good choice for huge orders.
The machine is available in two different sizes – 15 inches and 24 inches. These are the widths of the cutting mats, so you’ll want to get the model that suits your needs. The 24-inch machine is obviously more expensive, but it’s worth it, given that it helps you handle a wider range of material sizes.
You’d love to work with a cutter whose precision is high, wouldn’t you? Well, the Zing Orbit’s Automatic Registration Tracking system makes it easy to make very precise cuts faster.
The maximum cutting speed is 30 inches per second.
How would you love to operate the machine wirelessly from your computer? Yes, you can hook the cutter up with your PC over WiFi and make all the adjustments you need using a software that you install on the computer.
Alternatively, you can use a USB cord.
14. Janome Artistic Edge Digital Cutter
The joys of owning the Janome Artistic Edge Digital Cutter are endless. Below, we discuss a few reasons why we think this vinyl cutting machine could be just what you’re looking for.
First off, this appliance is wireless. Yes, you can hook it up to your laptop through your wireless connection, and if you like, you can just use the USB cable that comes with it.
One thing about this machine is that there are very few controls on it and there’s no screen. Why? Well, that’s because you do everything on your computer.
The machine comes with the SimpleCut software in a DVD to be installed on the computer, and through it, you’re able to run the machine and even configure it as you like.
One particular feature we found useful is that you can choose the material you’re going to use, so the blades are set to handle that particular material. And yes, the Janome Artistic Edge Digital Cutter works with a wide range of materials from cardstock and leather to vinyl, fabric, and thin metals.
The good thing with the SimpleCut software is that it is comprehensive, allowing you to do all kinds of amazing things. It is also very easy to use.
There’s something else we’re sure you’ll love about the software – it comes preloaded with thousands of designs.
If your looking for a great vinyl cutter for home use; one that you can use at night without waking people up, then this is the cutter to use. It’s actually one of the quietest cutters we’ve come across.
Inside the machine are LEDs, and these help illuminate the loading and cutting area so you can see exactly what you’re doing.
15. ProCut Creation CR1300
Looking for a good vinyl cutter for business use? The ProCut Creation CR1300 would be a great selection. This machine comes with everything that makes a business-class vinyl cutter such as the ability to cut different materials as well as handle huge orders daily.
One of the strengths of this machine is that when it comes to thin or delicate materials, such as window tint, heat transfer material, and sign vinyl, its performance is unmatched.
We have to mention though, that we weren’t very impressed with its handling of thick materials, so we recommend the machine for thin materials only. For the current price, we believe it’s a good investment.
The bigger LCD screen is something you might find very useful. With this, you can configure the machine effortlessly, without the need to use a computer every time.
Have you worked with a noisy vinyl cutting machine before? You know how annoying such an appliance can be, especially if you run your business from home. So, one huge benefit of the CR1300 is that it runs and cuts pretty quietly.
The new USB 2.0 port makes the connection with a computer very easy. And by installing the VinylMaster software on the computer, you’re able to control the cutter optimally to produce your designs with high precision.
The machine is designed with ducted channels and an exceptionally robust fan. These come in handy for holding the materials being cut. And because of their input, the need for multiple pinch rollers is eliminated, thereby reducing the chances of marring the material.
How to Use It?
Vinyl cutters use a small blade to cut the outline of a shape or picture into the vinyl, cardstock or whatever material you have loaded into the machine.
While the pinch rollers in the machine hold and move the material suitably, the blade moves side to side, cutting the material as needed.
Once the cut is complete, the user weeds the material or rather removes the excess parts to be left with a clean cut out.
If you’re only getting started, you will want to start with simple designs, like a simple word or name before moving onto the complex designs.
Here are the steps to follow:
I: Find a design
Depending on the specific vinyl cutter you’re using, you may or may not have design templates. If you have these, just download one and open it with your preferred design software like Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator to make adjustments.
For perfect results, consider using a black and white image.
You could also make an image from scratch using your design program.
II: Use the software
Once you’re done designing the image, open your vinyl cutter’s software on your computer. In this example, we will use the CutStudio software, which the Camm 1 cutter uses.
So, export the design from your design program to the software. Once the design is on the software, it should appear as a grayed-out image. Right-click the design and select the option Trace Outline.
The dialog box that comes up allows the adjustment of the cuts’ accuracy through the values’ adjustment.
Your picture’s outline should be showed laying on the image.
Hit the Move tab (at the top) and move the outline aside, then delete the picture. Remember, the outline is the one you’re interested in because that’s what the cutter is going to work with.
Now, right-click the design (the outline) and select Properties. This will show various options, including the size and rotation fields.
Select your preferred size, keeping in mind that the cutter will measure the size in millimeters. The rotation field allows you to rotate the image to your desired orientation.
III: Load the material
Use the instructions on your manual to load the material into the cutter. Most digital cutters have LEDs that illuminate the loading space and sense the presence of the material.
Align the material so that it covers the material sensors and align the rollers over the material to ensure they can handle it.
To ensure that the machine functions efficiently, position the rollers on the white lines running on the panel above.
When positioning the material, ensure that it is as straight as possible to prevent it from slipping or jamming the machine.
To press down the rollers, turn the pressure lever. Make certain the material being cut is held between the pressure bar and the pinch rollers.
IV: Configure the machine
Some machines are able to detect the material loaded and auto-adjust the settings; others will not and will require the user to make the necessary adjustments manually.
If applicable, use the buttons on your machine to choose the kind of material you have loaded, and tell the machine whether it’s a small sheet or a roll.
Select any other settings that are applicable to your machine, using the user manual as your guide.
Press Cut. The rollers should move the material back and forth, and the blade should move side to side making the cut appropriately.
Once the process is finished, press the appropriate button on your machine to eject the material.
The final step, after removing the cut material, is to weed it. Weeding simply means removing the excess parts, like the inside of an O, a D or a P.
Some machines come with a free weeding tool, but if yours didn’t come with that, you could just buy one from Amazon. A weeding tool will definitely be handy for removing the excess parts without damaging the design.
Once you’re done weeding the image, you can go ahead and apply it to the surface you’re looking to decorate.
With that aside, it’s time to look at some of the benefits of using a decal maker.
Benefits of Using Vinyl Cutter at Home Or Commercial Use
Buying signage is expensive especially if you need these on a regular basis. If you’re a DIYer or are just looking to save some cash, getting your own vinyl printer will prove to be a cost-effective step.
Here are some of the reasons why we believe you should get your own vinyl cutter.
Speed and quality
Speed without compromising the quality is obviously the number one reason why a digital vinyl cutter is a worthwhile investment. If you don’t have a vinyl cutting machine, you’re left with the option of using knives and scissors but how efficient can you be doing it that way?
Not to mention how tiring that traditional decal making process can make you.
Modern cutters use super sharp blades, LED sensors, computer programs, and other technologies to make high-speed cutting possible without compromising the quality.
Connection with a computer
Most digital cutters can be connected with a computer, either through a USB or wirelessly via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi (or both through USB and wireless network). This allows you to design your images with a high degree of accuracy to be just as you want them to appear on the surface you want to decorate.
With a vinyl cutter system, you can cut a wide assortment of materials from vinyl, leather, and HTV to cardstock, paper, and vellum. Some machines can work without over a hundred different materials!
In addition to that, the top vinyl cutters are able to work with varying material widths and thicknesses. Some even come with differently-sized cutting mats for that purpose.
Saves (or makes) money
Vinyl lettering and decals cost anywhere between 5 and 100 dollars, and some luxurious designs are much more expensive. If you only need decals once, you can go ahead and purchase them, but if you need them on a regular basis, it’d be a lot better to buy your own machine and the supplies so you can make them. That way, you’ll save lots of money in the long run.
If you’re looking for a profitable small business to start, you might want to consider a vinyl cutting business.
What Are The Top Rated Vinyl Cutting Machine Brands On The Market?
Each industry has a list of brand names that one mentioned, customers immediately relate that to great quality. The vinyl cutting industry is no different – it has a few brands that offer nothing short of amazing quality, for instance, Cricut and Silhouette. Below, we discuss some of top-rated vinyl cutter brands.
Almost every designer out there who cuts materials like vinyl and cardstock has experienced or at least heard of the name Cricut. This brand happens to be one of the popular providers of die cutting systems and having experienced it ourselves, we can tell you without a doubt that it’s a fantastic supplier.
Cricut, which is based in the US, offers a wide range of machines for cutting vinyl, felt, paper, and other products. When it comes to the ease of use, versatility, and efficiency, their vinyl cutters are truly unmatched. Besides that, their machines are affordable.
USCutter, which is based in Seattle, Washington, was founded back in 2005, and in just over one decade, it’s taken its place in the world as a top die cutting machine supplier.
When the brand first came into existence, it provided a low cost but high-quality decal maker. Over the years, the firm produced more machines for decal making, but one thing stayed the same – the awesome price efficiency.
Today, USCutter offers both professionals and DIY enthusiasts a wide array of high-grade die cutters at affordable prices.
The US-based Roland brand is a branch of Japan’s Roland DG Corporation. The parent organization is a recognized world leader in the fine arts and decal making.
Roland DG was started in 1981 as a provider of inkjet printers and quickly expanded, venturing into new products and even starting overseas branches. The brand has even ventured into the music industry and is credited with the development of the MIDI technology.
If you’re looking for a creatively-crafted decal maker that offers you excellent quality, don’t hesitate to buy from Roland.
Graphtec has been around for over 65 years, and during this time, it has provided groundbreaking die cutters and other great products to warrant being recognized as a leading brand in the design industry.
This brand happens to be a pioneer maker of die cutting technologies, and thus its products are well-known in various parts of the world, and especially in the US. Some of the benefits of Graphtec cutters are durability, efficiency, and ease of use.
Silhouette, which was founded around 10 years ago, is another brand that almost every design DIYer out there is familiar with. It is a subsidiary of the Ai Holdings Corporation, a Japanese company.
The Silhouette brand, which is US-based, makes cutting-edge electronic cutters for arts and crafts purposes, especially targeting DIYers and small businesses.
One of the nice features of their cutters is the PixScan technology, which lets the user cut printed images with a high degree of precision.
Different Types of Vinyl Machine
Selecting the right decal maker can be quite daunting when you don’t know what types there are. Now, vinyl cutters can be categorized based on two factors:
Types by The Motor Used
The part that drives the machine is called the drive motor. This little part of the machine moves the little blade across the vinyl to make the cuts. It also serves the function of moving the material being cut.
There two types of cutters based on the motor used:
1. Stepper motor cutters
Physical gears are used to make little steps (also called increments). The upsides of a machine that has this kind of motor is that it is affordable. Actually, many of the machines going for less than 300 USD use a stepper motor.
The downside is mainly mechanical – the noise. Also, if you’re making intricate little cuts, the precision is not usually very good. Machines with this type of motor have trouble cutting characters that are less than a 1/2 inch, so we recommend them only for cutting large characters/images.
2. Servo motor cutters
With servo motors, advanced technology is used to send feedback between the motor and the built-in computer systems to ensure the cut is made with a high degree of accuracy. Consequently, the cutting head moves smoothly, making beautiful cuts, when very little and precise cuts are required.
As there are no mechanical gears at play here, the machine operates quietly.
Another awesome benefit is that there is superior tracking. That basically means that the machine is able to maintain a straight path when cutting.
Types by Cutting Sizes
The cutting size we’re referring to here is the width of the material. We have come across two main sizes – 15 and 24 inches.
15 inch cutters are great for home use because often, at home, many people don’t have huge graphics they want to print for personal use. 24-inch cutters are great for business use because you might get orders where large designs like banners are needed.
Tips to Take Care of Your Vinyl Cutting Machine
Through our experience with vinyl cutters as well as what we gathered from other users, we have noted various issues with these machines. The most frequent problem is failing, but luckily, this is a preventable problem. In this section, we will look at how to maintain the vinyl plotter so that it lasts long, working efficiently.
It’s obvious that the blades are the most important part of the vinyl machines. So, if there’s something you’ve got to be careful about, it’s the wellbeing of the blades.
The most important thing is the sharpness, so check the blades on a regular basis, ensuring you sharpen them or hone them as needed.
Oh, and the blades are very tiny, so you might need a magnifying glass for efficient observation.
The most often you use the machine, the more often the blades grow dull, and subsequently need honing or sharpening.
Regular sharpening will definitely eat up the substance of the blades, and at some point, the blades will need to be replaced. Most people replace their vinyl plotter blades once per year.
The protection strip
Do you know how the blades are able to execute a smooth and clean cut without jagged edges? It’s true that the sharpness of the blades is the main factor, but there’s something else at play – the protection strip.
A major sign that the protection strip has been damaged and that it needs replacing is when you begin seeing the blade make incomplete or bumpy cuts even though it’s sharp.
The damage of the protection strip is brought about by lacerations from the cutting blade, and what can you do to solve that? The right thing is to replace the strip.
The work of the pinch rollers is to hold the vinyl in place when the cutting is taking place. They also progress it back and forth for the cut to be done.
Fortunately, the rollers are typically very durable, and all that you have to worry about is the dirt they accumulate mostly in the form of dust and vinyl scrap.
So, the major maintenance that the rollers need is that of cleaning. Consider removing them once in a while and clean off the dirt with a dump towel. Make sure they’re totally dry before reinstalling them.
With time, the rollers get worn out and can no longer hold the material or move it back and forth properly. At this stage, the interesting thing to do is to replace the rollers.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions
One of the reasons why your vinyl cutting machine can get damaged is using it inappropriately. Perhaps you’re using the machine to cut materials that the machine shouldn’t cut or you’re doing something else that you shouldn’t be doing.
When you first get your machine, be sure to read the user guide. Most of all, make sure you’re cutting only the materials specified by the manufacturer.
The blade holder
The work of the blade holder is to keep the blades positioned properly while making the cut. As the holder is always moving, it wears with time, and the quality of the cut gets affected.
If you want to keep enjoying a good performance, you got to make a holder replacement at least once annually.
This is one of the simplest yet one of the most ignored maintenance tasks.
As you use the cutter, debris and dust collect especially on the motor and the blade and its holder, and unless you wipe off this dirt, it will accumulate and potentially ruin your machine finally.
One way of preventing dust accumulation is to ensure the workspace stays clean. Again, if you’re not planning to use the machine for some time, don’t just toss in a cupboard or a corner somewhere. Ensure the storage place is clean and not prone to dust and be sure to cover the cutter with a dustproof cover.
With that aside, let’s look at the problems you might encounter and explore various solutions.
Common Vinyl Cutter Troubleshooting
Once again, these are some of the issues we’ve experienced and learned about from other users:
The machine won’t cut
There are also two main causes for this:
Solutions to try:
The blade cuts in dashes or dotted lines rather than cutting properly
There are two main causes here:
- 1High friction between the material and the blade because too much blade is exposed
- 2The protection strip is damaged, resulting in bumpy cutting surface
Try these solutions for the first and second causes respectively:
- 1Reduce the blade depth
- 2Make a protection strip replacement
The machine doesn’t complete the corners and turns. It seems to skip them altogether
The most common cause of this issue is that the sharp areas of the blade are having a hard time turning and instead, they drag on the side. This problem could, in turn, be a result of the ball bearings accumulating dust and getting kicked out of position.
Thus, consider cleaning out the blade holder’s interiors.
If you face this problem, what you got to do is:
The cut is good at the beginning, but as the line progresses, it tapers
Reasons that might explain this:
The blade holder isn’t held tightly as it should.
The blade is dull.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How is a vinyl plotter different from a vinyl cutter?
The cutting element – while a vinyl plotter uses a pen to print patterns, a vinyl cutter uses a knife, allowing it to cut out designs instead of just printing patterns.
2. What materials can I cut with a vinyl cutting machine?
It depends on the specific model, and that’s why you should check the manufacturer’s guidelines. While some models cut only vinyl, there are models that can cut a plethora of items including:
3. How does a digital vinyl cutting machine work?
A digital vinyl cutter looks like a desktop printer and operates similarly, with a connection to a computer. Designs on the computer are fed to the machine, and the blade uses that information to cut the material.
4. When should I replace the blades of my vinyl cutter?
The recommended frequency is once per year. But, of course, you ought to check the blades from time to time and if there are signs of damage, then you know it’s time to replace the blades.
5. What software can help me make better designs?
Fortunately, if you get a modern digital cutter, you won’t have to worry about the editing software because you’ll already have some incorporated in there. But if your cutter does not come integrated with software, you could try any of these amazing options – CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator or AutoCAD.
6. Do vinyl plotters need care and maintenance?
Yes, vinyl cutting machines need regular maintenance to be able to perform well for a long time. Some of the ways of taking care of your machine include cleaning off the dust, vinyl scrap, and other dirt that accumulates on the machine. Additionally, you need to check the blades from time to time and replace them if they’re dull.
Your user manual should have other care and maintenance tips; be sure to have a look at them.
This is the end of our little expedition to finding the best vinyl cutting machine, and we hope you have found something that works for you.
We went through a rigorous exercise of choosing the machines to ensure you get fantastic quality. However, our reviews include machines that work for small businesses and personal needs at home, so ensure you scrutinize the features to get what works excellently for you.
If you buy any of the machines we’ve suggested, feel free to come back and share your experiences with us and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.