Equipment / Vinyl Cutter
Please note that the CraftRobo vinyl cutter has been replaced by the new Silver Bullet. For information on the old cutter, please look here: CraftRobo. The CraftRobo has been stored in the trove in a plastic box along with all its accessories. It is fully working and available for anyone to use.
The current Vinyl Cutter is a versatile general-purpose craft cutter made by Silver Bullet. Makespace has the 24" size (around 61cm). As well as sticky-backed and heat-applied t-shirt vinyl, the Silver Bullet can cut paper and card (with a sharp blade), engrave, emboss paper, punch and draw with pens/pencils. Use the correct blade or holder for the work you want to do.
For tutorials and videos, see Silver Bullet or search for videos online.
The Vinyl Cutter is Orange equipment and is available for use by any member of Makespace (with or without training).
Training sessions for using the Silver Bullet will be advertised on the makespace website and on the forum.
Using the Vinyl Cutter
The Owners are those nominally in charge of the equipment, organising its maintenance, helping others to use it, and generally being a point of contact.
The current Owners of the Vinyl Cutter are:
- Katy Marshall
- Jo Brook
- Matthew Taylor
- Mark Cheverton
If you have any questions, problems or concerns around the vinyl cutter, or would like a personal introduction to how it all works, these are the people to contact.
The fact sheet for the Vinyl Cutter can be found here: Fact Sheet
Health and Safety
The vinyl cutter is a potentially dangerous piece of equipment which must be operated with due care. The top things to always remember when using the vinyl cutter are:
- ONLY USE THE VINYL CUTTER IF YOU HAVE READ THE SAFETY NOTES BELOW
- NEVER LEAVE THE VINYL CUTTER RUNNING UNATTENDED
- ONLY CUT APPROPRIATE MATERIAL
The risk assessment is located here: Formal Risk Assessment: Vinyl Cutter
- SHARP BLADE - when handling the blade (eg. to adjust or change caps for different thickness) take care not to cut yourself
- TRAPPING - The head and roller of the machine are moved by programs in the machine's memory. Be careful when near the machine, it will possibly move even if the PC is off. Always keep the cover closed when cutting
We stock Heat Vinyl on the left (for TShirts) and Sticky Backed Vinyl on the right (for Signs).
Heat Vinyl is cut upside down and mirrored. Sticky Vinyl is cut right way up and right way round.
Draft instructions for use assuming Sticky Vinyl. If using Heat Vinyl, see Equipment/TShirtPress for alternative instructions as it's substantially different and must be mirrored.
Read all instructions and warnings before you start
- Create in Inkscape (see notes below about scaling if you use Illustrator!)
- Load into SureCutsALot
- Cut on the Silver Bullet
- Press on the heat press or stick to something.
- Create your vinyl masterpiece in Inkscape
- Convert all your objects to path
- Check with view outlines it's what you want (line thickness is ignored remember)
- View -> Display Mode -> Outline
- Save as SVG
- Import into Sure Cuts A Lot (SCAL) on the vinyl cutter PC
- Check scale (you'll need to make things 25% larger if using Illustrator. Please don't change SCAL import settings)
- Do not mirror for sticky vinyl.
- View as outline to check (sometimes this will show things that it otherwise hides)
- Check tool offset is 0.25mm (Cutter -> Cutter Settings)
- Check mat orientation in SCAL (portrait/landscape)
- Set up Silver Bullet
- Check correct tip installed (usually 45 degree standard cutter, "Click blade holder", the red one)
- Insert sticky vinyl (if using Heat Vinyl, see Equipment/TShirtPress for alternative instructions)
- Please put money for the vinyl in the honesty box straight away
- Load up Silver Bullet with Sticky Backed Vinyl. Use the Silver Bullet Cutting Sheet to make life easy, you can get away without it for stiffer materials if leave 5cm at the top and 1cm at the bottom. Portrait or Landscape to match Cutting Sheet settings in SCAL. Note that the cutter assumes you are looking at it sideways -in the Cutter->Cutwith silver bullet menu, you can see an image of what way around it expects your material to be. Generally it seems to like the short edge to align with the cutting rollers, regardless of whether your piece is 'landscape' or 'portrait' in software.
- the origin on the cutter may not be the same as the origin shown on the cutting mat image in SCAL! in fact it probably isn't the same. the image in SCAL which shows the arrow on the cutting mat pointing left is the way around your work with be in the cutter, with that edge going through the back of the cutter.
- Check cut depth on red Click Blade Holder (4 for vinyl?)
- Offline mode, set cutter head to bottom right of your material, and ZERO it (offline mode, cross hair button).
- After Zeroing, press Test to do a test rectangle. Check it cuts the vinyl but not the backing.
- Move cutting head to bottom right of sheet (so your material is sticking out the back of the cutter) and zero it (offline, cross hair)
- Double check you zero'd it and press Online on the Silver Bullet.
- In SCAL:
- Delete any colours you're not cutting (undo with ctrl-Z later, but don't under your mirroring!)
- Menu: Cutter -> Cut With Silver Bullet.
- Select Use Software Speed and Pressure. For Vinyl set to Speed = 200 and f=50. (could go faster? needs checking)
- Select "Origin Point". Bottom right of piece to match location in SCAL.
- Check Silver Bullet is Online.
- "Cut" to start
- Will start immediately. If there is a delay, you probably forgot Online mode!
If your cut starts to go wrong, press ONLINE on the cutter to stop it. you will need to turn the cutter off and on again to clear the memory if you want to start again.
Pay for your vinyl
- Stick Transfer Tape to front of vinyl
- Weed from the back
- Stick to final location and carefully remove transfer tape
Software not connecting to cutter: "The problem was that the baud rate in the menu on the Silver Bullet was set to 9600, while the software was set to 38400. These need to match, even for USB serial, so I've reset the SB back to 38400."
Official Documentation and Further Information
- Silver Bullet Manual: Silver Bullet manual download (actual file removed for the moment)
- Silver Bullet SCAL Software Manual (PC) (actual file removed for the moment due to copyright claim): Media:Silver Bullet and Scal Manual pc.pdf
- Silver Bullet SCAL Software Manual (Mac) (actual file removed due to copyright claim): Media:Silver Bullet and Scal Manual mac.pdf
- Silver Bullet Accessories: Media:Silver Bullet Accessories.pdf
- Free files (boxes, frames, game pieces) that might be useful: Free Files
- Intro to materials that can be printed and cut Video Intro
- Material cutting gallery
- Silver Bullet video collection
- Online tutorials
- Silver Bullet Cutters' Forum
- MDP Supplies - Where Makespace gets the vinyl stock
You can make up your own personal guides to materials that you use and the settings used on those materials by printing out guide sheets from the PC connected to the Silver Bullet (the guide sheets are on the desktop). A few pre-printed guide sheets can be found in the second draw down on the right beneath the Silver Bullet.