First the Basics
Vinyl cutting is the act of using a machine called a vinyl cutter to cut out designs created with a software program into vinyl sheets. When the machine is done the cutting, there is a need to weed the sheets and remove any waste from the sheets before transferring the final design to where you want it.
These designs can either be labels, 3D objects, card wraps, signage, cards, origamis or decals which can be used on scrapbooks, cars, walls, laptops, signs or crafts.
These machines, which are computer-controlled, look like printers but instead of printing cartridges, they make use of blades that carry out the actual cutting. Their movements are controlled by the software used in making the design that is being cut.
These cutters can also be referred to as plotters or craft cutters as they can do more than just cut your vinyl designs. High-quality cutters can also make designs on paper, tissue paper, cardstock, and thermal transfer materials while some can emboss on wood and aluminum. Check here for more on this process.
It follows from the above that blades are one of the most important parts of your vinyl cutter. It is therefore important to give some attention to them.
Important Factors to Consider
Selecting the Right Blades
In this process, there are different materials with varying levels of thickness. Using the same blade for all these materials will dull it quickly. For thicker materials like flock especially, use a separate one. You should have a different set for materials of different thickness levels and also have something to differentiate each of them.
Be Sure of Compatibility
The brand you purchase is important as they are not universally compatible. Both the blade and the holder must fit snugly together, therefore, you should ensure that you get one that will fit with the brand of cutter you are using.
As the tip of the blade is tiny and sharp, it is not very easy to know when it is broken. If it is, it severely affects your work as the cut lines might taper off towards the end of a job or the design won’t cut at all. The sure way to make sure they are sharp is to take care of them and change them regularly.
Get the Right Cutting Depth and Exposure
Another important thing is to get the right blade depth for whichever material you are cutting. The most popular depths are 300, 450 and 600. The one you will use will be dependent on the material you are cutting. For thicker materials, you will need a higher depth and exposure.
Blade Force or Pressure
These determine how precise your cuts will be so you will need to get them right. For personal use, it may not be very important but when working professionally, you must get it right.
Tips on Caring for Blades
- Keep them in their protective case when not in use.
- Always start cutting with a low pressure.
- Do a test cut each time before your main cut.
- Use different blades for different materials and different thickness levels.
- Tag them to be able to differentiate them.
- Change them regularly especially after a lengthy/busy time of use.
- Be cautious when removing them from the holder. The cutting tip must not touch anything other than the material being cut. It must not be touched in any way.
- Keep holder clean of vinyl debris.
A blade plays a key role in cutting success. To get the best possible result and reduce time spent, take care of them and use the right one for the right material. Before selecting one, consider its compatibility with the machine you have. See https://cuttingmachinereviews.com/best-vinyl-cutting-machines/ for reviews on different cutting machines available.
How long any tool (including this one) will last will largely depend on how it is used and what kind of materials it is used for. The way you set your blade for the materials you cut also affects its lifespan. Also, do not cut too deep.
Anytime you are not getting the required results, it is most likely the cutting blade is dull or damaged. One way to know is to look for chips along the edges. When you cannot spot that, try a new one to see if there will be any improvement.
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