Happy New Year 2020!
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A vinyl cutter is a machine that uses a blade to accurately cut designs out of sheets of vinyl.
This method is an alternative to ink-based printing. Their use in the market is varied. They are a staple for sign printers but can also be convenient for clothing, specifically for t-shirts, and other design work.
The usually-high price of these machines may be a limiting factor and the idea of buying one that does not live up to expectations may be a deterrent to most people.
That is the purpose of this article. To tell you everything you need to know about vinyl cutters and how to choose the best one.
What is Vinyl Cutter?
Vinyl cutters are machines used for cutting vinyl and other materials into many designs, letters, fonts and, shapes. These machines are not large. They are, roughly, about the size of a regular ink-based printer that you can use with your computer.
In this way, they are similar since you could use a vinyl cutter alongside a computer. The computer controls the blade movement on the vinyl cutter thus, enhancing accuracy and ensuring proper movement.
These blades, in turn, cut out the designs, letters, and shapes from the vinyl material used in the process. These designs, like their source material, are adhesive in nature and can, therefore, be stuck on any surface you want.
The blade movement occurs along the X to Y-axis while cutting the designs because of the computer’s control over its movement.
Why Buy a Vinyl Cutter?
A vinyl cutter is your best bet for making adhesive designs that you can stick to different surfaces. Vinyl cutting machines let you cut out different shapes and symbols for personal or commercial use.
The compatibility of vinyl cutters with design-based software programs such as Corel Draw and Adobe Photoshop is also a plus. This is because you can create the designs within the software and execute the design on the vinyl cutter through a computer command.
Upon execution of the command, the cutter will follow the path of the design in order to accurately cut out the shape. Capacity is not an issue since vinyl are made in rolls. This means that a vinyl cutting machine can cut out long designs such as banners and billboards.
Since vinyl cutters can only cut out shapes or letters on strongly colored material, this may be a shortcoming of using them. For a project that uses materials of different colors, the vinyl cutter would need to cut each color independently then stack them before bonding them to the substrate.
However, even this limitation does not overshadow the usefulness of the Vinyl cutter. These machines still produce durable designs that do not fade easily.
Which Cricut is Best For Cutting Vinyl?
The Circuit Maker, with its expansible suite of tools and innovative rotary and knife blades, is a strong contender for this position. It cuts a large variety of materials, ranging from fabric to paper and leather, and gives a top-level performance.
It also comes with the possibility of numerous features such as Knife Blade for cutting jobs up to 2.4 mm, Washable Fabric Pen and, Scoring Wheel for creating razor-sharp creases.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint would also be a strong contender if it didn’t share a lot of features with the Maker. It’s Smart Set Dial, embedded Bluetooth, and premium blade gives it strong advantages but the versatility of the Cricut Maker makes the Maker the better choice.
Which Vinyl Cutter Should I Buy?
Buying a high-quality vinyl cutter can make a big difference in your artwork and business. However, with so many options on the market, choosing the right machine can be hard. That is why I decided to put the focus on some of the hottest picks for this year. However, before you order, check out their cons as well.
- Best Vinyl Cutter Overall:Cricut Explore Air 2
“The easiest vinyl cutter, great customer service, best selling cricut machine, design for free.”
- Best Beginners: Cricut Maker
“A large-format Cricut works with countless materials, great customer service, top-level performance.”
- Best Cheap Vinyl Cutter: Silhouette Cameo 4
“The newest machine, tool type detection, accurate and fast cuts, 3 times faster and 20 times more powerful, user-friendly.”
- Best Portale Vinyl Cutter: Silhouette Portrait 2
“Easy-to-use software, Bluetooth enabled, adjustable auto-blade, no internet required, portable.”
- Best for Professionals: USCutter 34 in Vinyl Cutter
“For Big projects, affordable, spool function, dual ball-bearing media roller system, great cutting force.”
- Best for Teachers: Silhouette Cameo Vinyl Starter
“Auto-blade and dual carriage, deeper cuts and Bluetooth enabled, updated Silhouette Studio 2, cheap.”
- Best Vinyl Cutter Printer: Brother CM350
“No computer required, 300 DPI scanner included, 4.85-inch touchscreen LCD display, over 600 designs.”
- Best for T-Shirts: Roland GS-24 Vinyl Cutter
“It can store up to eight blade settings, super versatile, serial and USB interface connection, affordable.”
- Best with Servo Motor: GRAPHTEC CE6000-120 Vinyl Cutter
“Sturdy, portable, intuitive cutting mechanism, offers large-sized cutting, affordable, high-quality unit.”
20 Best Vinyl Cutters 2020
Now that you know something more about vinyl cutters, let’s review the best vinyl cutters out there in detail. Make sure to check their crucial advantages and disadvantages before you make your purchase.
|Cricut Explore Air 2||24 x 9.5 x 9.5||14 pounds||Upload your own images for free or choose from Cricut's vast library of pre-made designs and projects||1-year limited warranty|
|Silhouette Cameo 4||7.9 x 22.4 x 6.7||13.96 pounds||Rotary, punch, kraft and auto blade, a built-in roll feeder, tool type detection, a powerful software||1-year limited warranty|
|Cricut Maker||22.6 x 7.1 x 6.2||15.02 pounds||You can always upload and use your own images and fonts for free, in a variety of standard file formats||1-year limited warranty|
|USCutter MH 34in Vinyl Cutter||42.6 x 16.3 x 13.2||51 pounds||Roland compatible blade holder gives you access to the most economical blades available||1-year limited warranty|
|Silhouette Portrait 2||18 x 8 x 9||3.35 pounds||Mac and PC compatible software included||1-year limited warranty|
|Roland GS-24 Vinyl Cutter||33.9 x 12.6 x 19.2||51 pounds||Achieves a maximum cutting speed of 20" per second||1-year limited warranty|
|Brother SDX125E||9.1 x 9.1 x 9.1||17.55 pounds||Blade sensor technology cuts up to 3mm thickness, on-screen editing, 682 built-in designs, 100 quilting patterns, 9 letter fonts, wireless network-ready||2-year limited warranty|
|Brother CM350E||9.1 x 9.1 x 9.1||1 pound||Blade sensor technology, up to 600 DPI built-in scanner, cuts up to 3mm thickness, whisper-quiet, includes over $70 in added value||1-year limited warranty|
|Silhouette Cameo Vinyl Starter Kit Bundle||21 x 7 x 5||13.4 pounds||The CAMEO includes silhouette studio, an easy to use but powerful program which allows you to create your own designs using your own fonts and images with your CAMEO||1-year limited warranty|
|Brother CM350||10.1 x 22.8 x 10.6||10.36 pounds||The Brother ScanNCut2 also features 631 built-in designs, including 100 quilt patterns and 7 lettering fonts||1-year limited warranty|
|Silhouette America Curio||15 x 15 x 7||9 pounds||Software and power cord, one month to the silhouette design store worth $25 in downloads, 50 exclusive downloadable designs||1-year limited warranty|
|USCutter 28-inch Vinyl Cutter||38 ×12 ×16||46.1 pounds||Two fully adjustable pinch-rollers allow you to use a flexible range of materials||1-year limited warranty|
|Silhouette Cameo 3 Starter Vinyl Bundle||24.1 x 11.5 x 9||15.35 pounds||No Internet Connection Required, No Need to Buy Designs or Fonts, This Bundle lets you Create Your Own Designs Without Spending More Money||1-year limited warranty|
|Cricut Expression Electronic||9.2 x 11 x 22.9||17.25 pounds||Six modes and four functions offer greater customization of cuts||1-year limited warranty|
|GCC 52 Inch Vinyl Cutter||Not specified||Not specified||This machine is faster than a Cricut Air or Silhouette Cameo, cutting up to 400 mm a Second with up to 350 grams of downforce||1-year limited warranty|
|GRAPHTEC CE6000-120 Vinyl Cutter||60.7 x 29 x 49.2||100 pounds||Graphtec’s CE6000 feature faster cut time, precision cutting and a fast and accurate digital servo motor||1-year limited warranty|
|USCutter 15-inch Vinyl Cutter||28 x 17 x 12||26 pounds||Large LCD display & control panel for adjusting speed and cutting force||2-year warranty|
|Graphtec Fc8600-160 64-Inch||Not specified||100 pounds||It includes new drive technology, enabling users to obtain up to 50 feet guaranteed tracking||2-year warranty|
|Gemini by Crafter's||14 x 8 x 6.5||20.5 pounds||The Gemini machine is faster, lighter and quieter than other die-cutting machines and has a sleep, low-profile design||Not specified|
|Sizzix 660425 Big Shot||16 x 10.7 x 8||7.5 pounds||This die-cutting and embossing machine is the perfect tool for a range of creative pursuits for everyone from the beginner to expert||1-year limited warranty|
Best Vinyl Cutting Machines Reviews 2020
In order to help you choose the best vinyl cutter, I have reviewed the 20 best vinyl cutters. Compare their performance, pros, cons, and price and pick the one that meets your requirements within your budget.
Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine
The Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine bundle is the ultimate Do-It-Yourself vinyl cutter. It lets you upload designs or take your pick from a vast gallery of uploaded designs.
Its access to Cricut’s cloud-based design software, Design Space, lets you create anywhere, at home or on the go. This is because the software links to your tablet or phone using the Cricut Design App for Android or iOS operating systems.
This Cricut’s Smart Set Dial ensures that you get the right depth of cut each time on over 100 types of material including faux leather and adhesive foil.
This vinyl cutter also has embedded Bluetooth for wireless cutting and a premium German carbide blade. Shop now at Cricut.com too!
- Easy to use and setup
- No software required
- It can use cartridges
- It is Bluetooth enabled
- Costly and uses slow online software
- Additional purchases need to be made
- You lose images if you unsubscribe
- It is difficult to create a custom design
- No instruction manual included
Silhouette Cameo 4
Silhouette Cameo 4 is the latest innovation by this popular brand. It is the newest cutting machine that was released not that long ago. It features a built-in roll feeder for quickly cutting vinyl and heat transfer material directly from a roll. On the back, you will see a built-in cross cutter for a clean straight edge cut.
The best part? It has a unique dual carriage that allows for tool-type detection. It also comes with a new dual-motor system which allows you to cut in 2 different ways. If you order this machine, you will get an amazing machine that can cut or sketch up to 3x faster than all the previous models by this brand. I have to point out that it also has a new rotary and kraft blade (sold) separately.
Now, let’s check out the cons.
- Tool type detection
- Supports Bluetooth connectivity
- 3 times faster and 20 times more powerful
- The touch interface is user-friendly and responsive
- The most powerful cutting machine invented by Silhouette
- The vinyl roll feeder is very convenient
- The cuts are fast and accurate
- The cutter’s design is a bit clunky
- The two cartridges only work with specific tools
- The software does not support SVG files
Cricut Maker Machine
(Best For Beginners)
The Circuit Maker, with its expansible suite of tools and innovative rotary and knife blades, is a strong contender for a position in the upper echelons of vinyl cutters. This vinyl cutter cuts a large variety of materials ranging from fabric to paper and leather.
This professional vinyl cutting machine gives a top-level performance in all regards. It is also well-matched with Knife Blade for cutting requirements up to 2.4 mm through the knife blade requires separate purchase.
The Cricut maker is also well-matched with Scoring Wheel for creating razor-sharp creases in materials. The matching products for this machine also include Washable Fabric Pen for creating designs on pieces. Shop now at Cricut.com too!
- Large format Cricut
- Works with over hundreds of materials
- Great customer service and community
- Slow software
USCutter 34in Vinyl Cutter Bundle
(Best For Professionals & Big Projects)
The USCutter MH 34IN pairs affordability with great general performance and functionality that easily offers contention to any other brand on the market.
This vinyl cutter’s software provides maximum efficiency and usefulness. It is a perfect vinyl cutter for business purposes. This vinyl cutter’s ease of use makes it perfect for beginners.
- Great for beginners
- Spool function
- Dual ball-bearing media roller system
- Great cutting force for the price
- Not for heavy-duty projects
- Assembly can be a bit difficult
Silhouette Portrait 2 Vinyl Cutter
This is a smaller, lightweight type of the Silhouette CAMEO series of vinyl cutting tools. It links to your computer thereby, letting you cut out your fonts or download designs from the Silhouette Online Store. You could also create your own designs.
This version of the Silhouette Portrait 2 vinyl cutter comes with the Autoblade and Bluetooth features and cuts a variety of materials such as vellum, magnet paper, paper, and cardboard. This vinyl cutting machine is also well-suited for Mac and PC compatibility.
Portrait 2 comes with 50 digital designs upon purchase.
- Bluetooth enabled
- Easy-to-use software
- Adjustable auto-blade
- Powerful vinyl cutter
- No internet required
- Limited cutting width and cutting force
- Additional costs for software upgrades
Roland GS-24 Vinyl Cutter
(Best Vinyl Cutter for T-Shirts)
The Roland GS-24 vinyl cutter couples ease of use with technological advancement in order to take care of your needs. It comes with an accurate blade groove on its apron to simplify manual cutting.
It also comes with a state of the art LCD panel for ease of use and a roller base to maintain the straightness of the material feed.
This top-shelf vinyl cutting machine features a fully restyled cutting carriage and blade holder that push it to a level beyond vinyl cutting.
A wide range of material can be cut using the GS-24 including heat transfer material, twill and sandblast material. It is the best vinyl cutter with a heat press and the best vinyl cutter for t-shirt printing.
- It can store up to eight blade settings
- It works with a lot of different materials
- Serial and USB interface connection
- Not the best choice for paper cutting
- Software is not compatible with MAC
(Best For Home Business)
Brother SDX125E Cutting Unit has a blade sensor technology that detects the thickness of the material. Meaning, no blade adjustment or material selection is required. It can cut up to 3mm thickness with the auto blade. However, it is suggested that you always perform a test in order to confirm a successful cut.
Editing designs with this machine is super fast and easy. It comes with a 5 inch LCD touchscreen display that will make cutting a breeze. But here is the kicker. This machine comes with 682 built-in designs, 100 quilt patterns, and 9 letter fonts. Meaning, it produces detailed work. Also, it is a wireless network ready.
- Wireless network ready
- Blade sensor technology
- 5 inch LCD touchscreen display
- 682 built-in designs, 100 quilt patterns, and 9 letter fonts
- No blade adjustment or material selection is required
- It can cut up to 3mm thickness with the auto blade
- Super fast and simple to use
- It produces detailed work
- No detailed manual
- Blade insertion is dangerous for beginners
- Sticky cutting mats
(Best For Crafts)
Brother CM350E ScanNCut2 is one of the most popular electronic cutting machine on the market. It is a standalone unit with a built-in scanner that gives crafters the freedom to create original creations with the push of a button. It also provides users with the flexibility of connecting wirelessly or directly to a PC.
The best part? It does not require cartridges, dyes, or monthly subscriptions. It includes different built-in features that simplify the work. If you purchase this cutting machine, you will get a ScanNCut2 activation card that will let you wirelessly transfer data from CanvasWorkspace to your unit via tablet or computer.
However, a wireless connection is required. Unlike other machines, this one allows you to scan virtually anything, starting from handmade creations to lovely family photos, home décor designs, and more. You will get 600 designs and a large 4.85’’ LCD touchscreen display. Now, let’s summarize the pros and cons.
- Electronic cutting machine
- A standalone unit with a built-in scanner
- Does not require cartridges, dyes or monthly subscriptions
- You will get a ScanNCut2 activation card
- 600 designs and a large 4.85’’ LCD
- A super-versatile machine
- Only 2 types of mats available
- The software can be difficult to use
- Mats not sticky enough and may slide around
- Not the best choice for beginners
- Mats are limited to 2mm thick
Silhouette Cameo Vinyl Starter Kit Bundle
(Best Vinyl Cutter for Teachers)
This starter kit bundle contains a CAMEO machine, vinyl starter kit, bonus pix scan mat, 12×12 inch cutting mat, cutting blade, vinyl trimmer and accompanying software for PC and Mac.
The silhouette CAMEO cuts a range of materials from vinyl to fabric up to 12 inches wide and 10 feet long. The Cameo’s software, Silhouette studio, allows you to create personalized designs using your own fonts and images.
The silhouette pix scan cutting mat allows you to turn hand-drawn sketches and lettering into cut jobs, digitize fabric patterns, etc. It is a vinyl cutter for mac and pc that provides a fun and exciting experience.
- Auto-blade and dual carriage
- Deeper cuts and Bluetooth enabled
- Updated Silhouette studio 4
- A weak cutter (210 g)
- Not the most accurate and fast cut
- Additional software upgrade costs
Brother CM350 Cutting Machine
(Best with Scanner)
ScanNCut2 gives you the autonomy to create your own independent designs. Of the ScanNCut2 line, however, the Brother CM350 is truly the best vinyl cutter.
This cutting machine has a large cutting area and allows you to link wirelessly or directly to a PC. With this feature, images can be scanned straight to the system.
With no requirements for cartridges, dyes or monthly subscriptions and, a first-class, in-built 300 DPI scanner, ScanNCut2 is among the best vinyl cutting machines.
This, coupled with the 4.85-inch touchscreen LCD display and over 600 designs foreshadows an amazing user experience when handling the Brother CM350.
- No computer required
- 300 DPI scanner included
- Can program allowances for seams in the fabric
- The software might be difficult to use for newbies
- Mats are not sticky enough and can slide around
- The mats are limited to two millimeters thick
Silhouette Curio Vinyl Kit Bundle
The Silhouette America Curio Crafting Machine comes with a vinyl starter kit. This vinyl cutter also comes with a fine embossing tool, a wide emboss tool, and a cutting blade.
With its dimensions being 8.5 inches by 6 inches at the base, including the four platforms, 8.5 inch by 6 inches on the cutting mat and, 8.5 inch by 6 inches on the embossing mat, the Silhouette America Curio Crafting Machine is easily one of the best vinyl cutting machines.
This vinyl cutter bundle comes with the software and power cord. It also comes with a one month period on the silhouette design store valued at $25 in downloads, 50 exclusive downloadable designs.
- Great starter kit for beginners
- Power cord and software included
- 50 exclusive downloadable designs
- No instruction manual included
- Some buyers received an incomplete product
USCutter 28-inch Vinyl Cutter
The 28-inch Vinyl Cutter Value Bundle is one of the best vinyl cutter bundles for beginners. With 2 fully adjustable pinch-rollers, letting you use a flexible range of materials, and a greater ball-bearing dual roller media roller system this vinyl cutter bundle easily competes with other bundles on the market.
Its Roland compatible blade holder gives you access to the most reasonably priced blades available. Additional features include vinyl rolls, tape rolls, magnetic blanks, a knife, a squeegee and lifetime phone support.
- Precise cuts, sturdy and durable
- Compatible with different image files
- Software is relatively easy to use
- Too deep cuts
- Hard to connect to PC
- Difficult to assemble
Silhouette Cameo 3 Starter Vinyl Bundle
(Best with Bluetooth)
This kit lets you craft many projects from scratch. The Silhouette CAMEO 3 ranks highly among vinyl cutters on digital cutter reviews. This vinyl cutter connects directly to your PC or Mac through a USB cable or using a Bluetooth connection.
It utilizes a small blade to cut numerous materials such as paper, cardstock, vinyl, fabric, and others. These materials can be cut up to 12 inches wide and 10 feet long. The detachable blade can be replaced with a pen thus, allowing the Silhouette Cameo 3 to sketch rather than trim.
This machine can be used from a computer and can save your art to a USB.
- Bluetooth enabled
- It uses Silhouette Studio
- Works with over 100 materials
- Auto-blade and dual carriage
- Touchscreen and storage
- Cutting force not upgraded
Cricut Expression Electronic Machine
The new Cricut 20-01310 Expression Pink machine allows you to break past all limitations to your creativity. With this machine, you can shapes, letters, and other designs accurately.
It comes with a 12 inch by 12-inch cutting mat, six modes and four functions that offer greater customization of cuts with images being cut from 0.25 inches to 11.5 inches.
It also comes with a power cord, an instruction book, and a detailed instructional DVD. You can get straight to creating with the other features such as the added, “Plantin’ Schoolbook,” Accent Essentials shape cartridge and Pink Journey Cartridges.
- Greater customization of cuts
- It comes with a lot of accessories
- It works with different materials
- It is not compatible with MAC
- Possible PC connection issues
GCC 52 Inch Vinyl Cutter
With cutting speeds faster than the Cricut Air or Silhouette Cameo, easily pegging in at up to 400 mm per second with 350 grams of downforce, the GCC 52 Inch Professional Expert is truly a masterpiece of vinyl cutting technology.
It is ideal for cutting vinyl and heat transfer materials and its wide cutting area mean saving on vinyl rolls. It comes with numerous features such as a cutting blade holder.
This version also comes with software plugins for CorelDraw and Adobe Illustrator CS. It is well-suited for use with Windows operating systems from XP onwards.
- Precise cutting ability
- Accommodates full vinyl rolls
- Easy to use and assemble
- Beginners have trouble putting it together
GRAPHTEC CE6000-120 Vinyl Cutter
(Best with Servo Motor)
This version offers up accurate cutting at faster speeds with digital servo control. It also comes with Graphtec’s new Studio Software pre-installed which simplifying the creation and cutting of designs.
This software also promotes the vinyl cutter’s ease of use and diversifies the range of graphics that can be created using the machine. These range from banners to signs, apparel decoration and, print and cut decals. The Graphtec CE6000-120 series also comes with a plug-in for Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw.
- Sturdy and portable
- Intuitive cutting mechanism
- Offers large-sized cutting
- Hard to use
USCutter 15-inch Vinyl Cutter
(Best For Small Business)
Table TITAN is made specifically for table or desk-top vinyl cutting. It is one of the best vinyl cutters for small businesses, professionals or hobbyists.
Like its larger counterparts in the TITAN series, the Table TITAN features adjustable speed and cutting force which makes it ideal for cutting a wide range of materials such as window film as well as vinyl.
The Table Titan lets you craft at home. It is perfect for scrapbooking, glass etching stencils and much more.
- It has a large display and control panel
- It provides design and image editing tools
- It has adjustable speed and force features
- It runs in sharp and clean vinyl decals
- Compatible with RS-232 connection and USB
- Possible software issues
- Not compatible with Adobe Illustrator
Graphtec Fc8600-160 64-Inch Plotter
With its new drive technology, operators can obtain up to 50 feet assured tracking on the Fc8600-160. This, combined with a 58.5 ips maximum cutting speed, advanced 4-point automatic registration mark sensing and programmable user settings, make the Fc8600-160 a strong to satisfy your cutting needs.
This vinyl cutters also comes with plug-ins for Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw, regular floor stands and, a dual media catch basket. Its maximum media width is 72 inches.
- Large LCD control panel
- Programmable user settings
- Advanced drive technology
- No wireless connectivity to PC
- Some users find the LCD too small
Gemini by Crafter’s Companion Machine
The Gemini’s speed, sleek unassuming design and low levels of noise are some of its best features. This vinyl cutter allows the creation of edge-to-edge cuttings of the US letter ADN A4 materials.
The Gemini cuts up to dimensions of 8.5 inches by 11 inches in size and is well-suited for use with most dies and embossing folders. The user interface on the Gemini is also easy to use since it consists of a pause, resume and reverse button.
- It can cut multiple dies at once
- Reliable, durable and convenient
- Compatible with other embossing folders and dies
- Some customers complain about wrapping plates
Sizzix 660425 Big Shot Machine
The Sizzix 660425 Big Shot Machine has looks suited to its name. Its smooth grey and white color give it an air of respectability and the Sizzix logo on the handle gives it plenty of sophisticated appeals.
The Sizzix comes with the adaptability of the other machines in the Sizzix product series. This diversity includes a range from the smallest to the big 6″ wide plastic-backed dies and embossing tools. It also cuts a wide range of materials and is portable. Use it to create cards, invitations, home décor, etc.
- Portable and versatile
- Compatible with many die-cutting and embossing tools
- Effective in embossing and cutting
- Dies and embossing folders are not included
Complete Buyer’s Guide
In order to help you choose the best vinyl cutter, I have prepared the ultimate buyer’s guide with crucial features you need to focus on when shopping for a vinyl cutter and compared the best models for 2020.
This is not a run-the-mill choice that you can make without taking the time to consider the different variables. These variables are:
Compatibility with a Computer
Compatibility with Macs and PCs varies among the different brands of vinyl cutters on the market. Most major brands, however, are suitable for use with both types of operating systems.
This variable influences your ease of use and added costs of using the vinyl cutter since you may need to buy Illustrator if your vinyl cutting machine is not suited for use with your Mac computer.
Type of Material
If you’re going for a roll-fed vinyl cutter, you’ll need a carrier to feed the heat transfer material through the cutter. The blade will cut the material but the carrier will not be cut. The type of motor chosen governs the vinyl cutter’s ability to cut vinyl or fabric type materials.
For cutting fabric while using a blade, a servo motor is best. This is because a stepper motor can’t handle thicker fabrics as well and will burn out faster.
As for laser cutters, their prospective uses are governed by the laser tube wattage. For most fabrics and heat transfer materials, a minimum of 20-30 watts is needed to make the cut. However, laser cutters work best on PVC-Free materials. They pose a risk to fabrics since they may sometimes cause singeing on the edges of lighter colors.
Whereas vinyl cutters are either roll-fed or flatbed, laser cutters cut on an even part of the machine. This gives advantages since the area is flat and motionless. For instance, you can cut stacked materials. This lets you stack different colors for offset cutting.
Also, while roll-fed cutters necessitate the need to feed materials through one at a time, flatbed cutting machines may necessitate the need to cut down rolls of materials into segments due to the limited nesting area.
All in all, however, faster production is achieved with roll-fed cutters since the material can constantly be fed through.
As a design enthusiast, you’ll have to work with raster art eventually. Vinyl cutters, on the other hand, work with vector art. Without a print/cut system, a vinyl cutting machine featuring an optical eye is your best bet for trying to get that digital transfer appearance at a fraction of the cost.
Inkjet transfer paper should be used to print and accurately contour cut around the design. Registration points are used in this process. They are printed on the transfer paper so that the optical eye knows where to contour around the raster image.
Your transfer paper could or could not be on a carrier so it is essential to have a transfer paper that can be roll-fed through the vinyl cutter. Flatbed cutters with optical eyes generally don’t require a paper with a carrier since most of them have tack sheets or suction to hold the paper in place.
What is the Best Vinyl Cutter for T-Shirts?
If you want to make custom t-shirts using a vinyl cutter, you will need a user-friendly, modern, feature-rich and simple vinyl cutting machine. This way, you can either create your custom designs or print out your favorite designs. Here is a shortlist of the best vinyl cutters for t-shirts that you can buy out there.
If you want to learn more about each of these machines, please click on their names. The links will lead you to my detailed reviews and comparison articles that will help you choose the right machine for you.
What Machine Do I Need to Make Vinyl Decals?
Vinyl decals can help you personalize, customize, advertise or label anything you want. No matter if you want to sell stickers and decals or just want to impress your loved ones with your crafting skills, you will need crafting tools including a computer, rolls of vinyl, a design program, vector art program, transfer of application, scissors, tweezers, X-Acto knife, and a putty-knife tool. Also, you will need a vinyl cutter.
- Cricut Explore Air 2
- Cricut Explore Air
- Silhouette Cameo 3
- Cricut Explore Electronic
- Cricut Expression
- Silhouette Portrait 2
You can choose some of the vinyl cutters for making vinyl decals that I have listed. However, if you are a beginner and need complete guidance on how to make them, please check out this step-by-step guide.
Do Vinyl Cutters Also Print?
Vinyl cutter come in different shapes and sizes. They can be used to make commercial-grade products. However, just a vinyl cutter will not be enough to design the images that you want to print. You will also need a computer and software. Usually, vinyl cutters do not print. They are designed for cutting designs.
However, you can search for a print and cut machine that will allow you to print your designs. Printing on vinyl requires a unit that uses solvent-based inks or epoxy ribbons, instead of standard desktop inkjet technology. If you want to learn how to use a print and cut machine, please watch this YouTube tutorial.
How Much Does a Vinyl Cutter Cost?
The investment for a vinyl cutter is around $1,700, including all the necessary tools you will need to cut your own designs. However, if you charge around $8 per shirt, you will be able to pay off the cutter by selling around 230 shirts. You can find a high-quality, versatile, and portable vinyl cutter for about $300.
Best Software for Vinyl Cutting
Most vinyl cutters come with software included. However, some of them might be limited in terms of capabilities and features. Meaning, you will probably want to upgrade to better software. Luckily, you can choose between a few software out there but not all of them will meet your specific cutting needs.
The best software for cutting vinyl depends on the type of cutting unit you are using. Also, it depends on your experience with design programs, your budget and the performance of your unit. That being said, I have made a shortlist of vinyl cutting software in order to help you choose the right one for your needs.
No matter if you are a beginner or an expert, they will meet your cutting needs. They come with some dope features that will help you manipulate your vector images for cutting with ease. Also, they support SVG. Meaning, they will work with just any vinyl cutter. However, the best part is that they support both Mac and Windows operation system which makes them even more appealing to both newbies and pros.
What Format Do Vinyl Cutters Use?
Files for vinyl cutting must be vector/outline files (EPS or Adobe Illustrator format through CS6) with all text converted to outlines. Raster images/bitmap files (.bmp, .jpg, .gif, .tif, .psd) can be used directly for vinyl graphics. If you want to learn more about formats for vinyl cutters.
Vinyl Cutter vs Cricut
Vinyl cutters are basic machines used for sign making. They use vector files designed on a computer which are then cut straight onto the roll of vinyl. This roll is mounted and fed into the vinyl cutter. This is usually done using a USB or serial cable.
Vinyl cut letters can usually be seen on advertisements placed on cars or vans. These machines can also cut specialty and computer papers. This is as well as thicker items like thin sheets of magnets.
For clothing decoration, vinyl cutters are usually used together with commercial heat presses or hand irons at home. First, the vector design needs to be cut in mirror image, weeded then the commercial heat press or hand iron is applied to seal the design in place.
You could use your vinyl cutter for both purposes: to produce signs and decorated apparel. Also, vinyl cutters only need occasional maintenance and vinyl rolls can be purchased in large quantities at relatively cheap prices.
Cricut machines, though expensive, are worth the cost. They easily outstrip other vinyl cutters on the market because of their ability to cut a variety of materials and fabrics. They cut more accurately than other vinyl cutters and turn the design creation process into a breeze.
Cricuts also give you the option of choosing between large ranges of pre-prepared projects. You could also upload your own designs and patterns after creating an account. These vinyl cutters, which offer storage and software as part of the package, are generally viewed as the most useful and efficient cutting machines on the market.
Cricuts are, therefore, the best vinyl cutters for all types of people. They offer the durability and versatility sought after by professionals and the ease of use offered by beginners. These machines are easy to use and enjoy.
Vinyl Cutter vs Printer
Whereas vinyl cutters are basic machines used for sign making, printers are devices that convert graphic and text input from a computer into their identical representations on paper.
This is usually done on standard-sized sheets of paper. Printers vary in size, speed, sophistication, and cost. However, a general rule of thumb is that the higher the price, the higher the resolution of the image produced.
Printers create copies of the input provided by the user through a computer. With multi-function printers, the input or output could occur in a variety of forms ranging from print to fax to scans and copies.
Vinyl Cutter vs Transfer Paper
Transfer paper, as opposed to vinyl, is actually paper. Transfer paper negates the need for a printer with a variety of formats or high price. Why buy one of those when you could do just as much with an ordinary desktop printer like ink or laserjet?
Regardless of this, transfer paper carries a lot of benefits such as:
- Use of regular ink. No special inks are required when using transfer paper. Use your laser or inkjet printer and ordinary, everyday ink.
- Full-color designs with a single layer. Transfer paper lets you create designs with better finishes on one press rather than on the multiple layers required by vinyl cutters.
- Transfer paper sticks to a variety of materials such as polyester, cotton, and clothes with multiple thread blends.
- Designs on garments are unlikely to wash off if done using transfer paper. They generally survive 25-30 washes under proper care and if washing is done according to the instructions given. At the 25-wash point, you can begin to anticipate cracking or fading of the design.
- Low cost. Transfer paper is cheap when doing large amounts of designs. This is because its prices range from $1-2 per sheet based on the size of the sheet you are using.
Is The Silhouette Cameo Better Than Cricut?
The silhouette lets you create designs using its robust and powerful software. You can even download designs or purchase them from a large variety of pre-prepared designs. This database of designs is much more extensive than the database offered by Cricut.
With a Silhouette Cameo, a computer isn’t necessarily required for cutting to be done. A USB or other storage device can be used to create designs from previously saved ones. This can be done in conjunction with Cameo’s touch screen.
The Silhouette also cuts a larger quantity of materials than the Cricut. Whereas the Silhouette cuts 100 pieces, the Cricut only cuts 60. The lengths of the material being cut are also much more extensive with the Silhouette Cameo. 10 feet is an extraordinary cutting length for a non-commercial machine in Cameo’s price range.
Theoretically, the Cameo can cut up to 10 feet of material. Practically, however, this is rather difficult and leads to deviations in the levels of consistency across the cut. Therefore, it is not really feasible to try a cut of this size and maintain maximum levels of quality.
Compared to Cricut’s software, the Silhouette Cameo comes with software that is much harder to learn to use. It is also less precise on the smaller cuts since it meant for larger sizes of cutting material. However, this lack of accuracy does not mean anything substantial about the quality of the Cricut itself.
The Cricut’s blade has the potential to rotate with the direction of the cut, this leads to higher quality cuts.
The Cricut’s blade is more durable and less likely to go blunt because it is made of German carbide.
Cricut’s software simplifies the process of uploading designs. This ease of use is less prominent in the Silhouette. However, the Silhouette is perfect for users with more experience.
The Cricut uses cloud-based software, therefore, an internet connection is necessary in order to operate this software. Any fluctuations in the quality of the internet connection will stall your work.
While this feature of the Cricut could also act as a positive since it means that the Cricut’s software needs less upkeep and updating, the fact that a lack of internet may lead to production lapses is a big negative.
Also, Cricut’s image database is smaller than the Cameo. Therefore, you have less of a selection when looking for images to purchase.
In comparison to the Cameo, the Cricut can only cut up to 24 inches of material. This is much shorter than Cameo’s 10-foot potential.
So, Which One to Choose?
- The Cricut beats the Cameo when it comes to cutting technology, especially on smaller designs.
- The Silhouette has higher cutting specifications when it comes to cutting size.
- Both cutters work with a variety of materials. However, the Silhouette slightly outstrips the Explore when it comes to types.
- The Cricut has superior and more durable blades.
- For beginners, Cricut’s software has a shallower learning curve. It is easier for them to understand the ins and outs of working with it quickly.
- For practiced designers, the Silhouette’s software offers increased functionality at a cost to its ease of use.
- The Silhouette comes with a wider database of images to purchase.
- The Cricut’s need for a stable internet connection poses a risk to the production process since fluctuations in the machine’s connection to the net lead to fluctuations in the levels of production.
- Both cutters offer quality to their respective buyers. The only question is, “How well do they meet their needs?”
Why is My Vinyl Cutter Not Cutting?
The blade holder does exactly what its name suggests, it keeps the blade in position with springs and bearings to ensure that the blade is upright and perpendicular to the cutting surface. This gives you precise cuts. You may have a problem with the blade holder if your vinyl cutter makes incomplete cuts.
It would be wise to replace the bearings every year, or year and a half if your vinyl cutter is seeing consistent or large-scale use. This will ensure that everything is in working condition and that your vinyl cutter provides accurate service. You can, however, replace the bearings whenever you want based on how much you use the machine.
Sloppy cuts, weird arcs or failure to cut in corners of images are good signs that the blade holders requires replacement. Especially, if you haven’t changed the offset.
Because of the variety of vinyl cutters in existence, it’s not always easy to come up with a definitive answer for why the machine is cutting up to its full potential.
However, it is usually due to an issue with the blade holder. Issues like these create situations where the vinyl cutter leaves large gaps in the cut of the design.
Sometimes, though, it could be the blade or knife offset which needs to be attuned.
A drag knife system is a basis for desktop vinyl cutting machines. This system works on the principle of the knife being drawn along a track. It drags behind the centreline of the blade shaft.
The blade or knife offset is the distance from the center of the blade shank to the end of the cutting blade. The blade shank is the circular part that grips the blade. The blade offset is essential because it determines how the machine swivels the blade in order to cut sharp corners or tight cuts.
Whenever your vinyl cutting machine is making sloppy or incomplete cuts, it would be wise to check your blade offset settings. For most blades, the blade offset should be set to 0.3 mm.
Adjusting the blade offset requires you to keep in mind that the setting depends on the blade’s size and angle. You must, therefore, know the three most commonly used blade sizes. These are:
- Standard. The standard sized blade is usually the default on a cutter. It is very versatile and can be used to create the widest range of designs.
- Thick material.
You’ll just have to wing it with the setting until you find the right fit for your blade. Also, keep in mind that blade wear affects the blade offset and its setting.
Line That Begins to Fade
A dull blade could lead to unfinished cuts and lines that fade. Maintain or replace your blade for the best results and ensure that your blade holder is secure in the tool holder.
Finding a vinyl cutter that suits your production needs is an integral step in the creation of an effective and efficient production line.
However, choosing the right machine requires an in-depth understanding of your own needs and of the products in the market. This, in turn, requires extensive research.
The decision is personal, however, and no amount of advice can replace your own judgment. The aim of this review is to simplify the decision-making process for you rather than replace it so feel free to examine your needs and the product reviews in order to find the right fit for yourself.