Have you ever wondered where the attention-grabbing banners and signs you see come from? Or even the cool glow-in-the-dark labels you saw at your friend’s business?
Well, that’s the work of a vinyl printer cutter.
A vinyl printer cutter is a computer-controlled machine that cuts digital image outlines on vinyl using a small size blade. This computer-controlled machine is quite similar to your home printer. The only difference is the vinyl printer cutter uses a knife in place of an ink cartridge.
Let’s take a look at how this printer cutter works.
How Does the Vinyl Printer Work?
A vinyl printer cutter requires a small computer to control the vinyl cutters. These computers resemble desktop printers. Usually, this computer controls the operation of a sharp blade that moves across the material’s surface like a printer does a nozzle. This cutting tool creates patterns and letters out of thin self-adhesive plastic sheets.
But before you can even begin creating the images and letters on the surface, you must have a way to transfer your ideas to the surface.
In other words, you need a vector-based impression created with vector drawing software. After creating and saving your images on the computer, you then send the impression to the cutter, which slices along the defined vector trails. This printing method is quite similar to printing on a surface.
However, unlike regular printing devices, the vector-based printing process allows the knife to move across the material on an X and Y axis, trimming it into any form possible. And because the vinyl material is available in long rolls, applications such as billboards and banners that require significant lengths are possible.
Do Vinyl Printing Cutters Have a Disadvantage?
Vinyl cutters have one real disadvantage; they can only create shapes from solid colors of vinyl, card, paper, or thin plastic sheets. The type and depth of material used for each cutter and the amount of drag force the cutter can manage will differ.
Sometimes, the material does not have a cutting mat or any other backing material. In such a case, a temporary adhesive is vital to allow the cutter to slash through it.
Keep in mind that each color in a multi-color design must be cut individually and then stacked on top of one another as it is imposed on the substrate – popular with stencil art. Furthermore, the shapes are out of solid colors, and replicating photos and gradients with a stand-alone cutter is usually an uphill task.
Everything You Need to Know About the Printing Process Using a Vinyl Printer Cutter
How The Printing Works
The vinyl cutter receives the images created on a computer through a wired connection or a wireless protocol such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. You then load the vinyl into the machine, and it’s instantaneously fed through. The vinyl design is then clipped per the required output.
When cutting smaller layouts, you can stabilize the vinyl by placing it on an adhesive mat. Apart from cutting, you can also use heat transfer. Heat transfer vinyl is standard because of its design applications to fabrics such as bags, t-shirts, caps, and towels. It works by either a heat press or an iron.
Some cutters can cut other materials besides vinyl. These can include plastic sheets, cards, and sometimes even thin wood. The width and material type that needs to be cut depends on the cutter’s model and the downforce to a large extent.
One of the popular models loved by arts and crafts enthusiasts is Cricut. Apart from its compact size, the cutter allows for a wide variety of materials and comes packed with high downforce.
If you are cutting material without adhesive backing, you will need a cutting mat to attach your material. Some of these mats are sticky, while others also need a temporary adhesive.
After cutting, “weeding,” the release liner is what follows. The process involves removing the surplus parts of the figures. This is what creates the final images you see on your favorite t-shirt or coffee shop window.
The everyday use for vinyl printer cutters is banners and signage. But there are many other applications for the device, such as decorative motifs for your home during a celebration.
These could be the names of the birthday boy or best wishes to the newlyweds. You could also make stickers for kids’ bowls and cups or even fun, informative charts.
Vinyl printer cutters are valuable in the advertising, business, and DIY space. You can create attention-grabbing posters, banners, and signage to drive traffic to your business, or even fun stickers and other accessories during fun moments such as celebrations.