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Vinyl Cutting

A guide to operating the Silhouette Cameo 4 owned by the WeatherTech Innovation Lab

Setting Up

After you selected your design and material, all that is left is setting up the machine.

  • You will need to make sure it is plugged into both the power outlet and to the computer that has Silhouette Studio.
  • Then, you need to insert the blades. There are two carriages, labeled as 1 and 2 respectively, though most cuts        will only need 1 as that is where the standard AutoBlade is loaded. You will have to push down on the blade to       insert it and then push on the carriage itself to lock it in place. There cannot be any extra space, so you have to     listen for a “click” sound and make sure there is no visible space either. If there is, the cut will likely fail.

Autoblade

  Inserting Autoblade into Vinyl Cutter  Autoblade inserted. Note the lack of space on the sides

 

 

  • After installing the blade, get the cutting mat and peel off the cover.
  • Put the vinyl/whatever material you want to use on the cutting mat (it is sticky), making sure the glossy side is facing up.
  • Then, put the cutting mat under the roller, lining up the edges with the indicators on the sides of the bed before pressing the ^ button, loading the cutting mat.
  • Then, in Silhouette Studio click the “send” tab in the upper-right corner to pull up the cutting menu where you can adjust the cut settings and begin the cut.

Inserting the cutting mat

Before beginning to cut, there are three final steps.

  • The first is to make sure the computer is properly hooked up to the cutter, which is not hard to do as Silhouette Studio indicates if the cutter is properly hooked up to the computer or not and will not display any settings so long as there is no connection.
  • The second step is to choose the settings you want. Usually, it should not be very difficult as Silhouette Studio’s settings tend to be accurate so long as the correct material is selected, and the Innovation Lab has recommended settings anyway. There is also the "no cut", "cut" and "cut edge" settings, which "no cut" means the lines won't be cut, "cut" is the default and means the lines will be cut, and "cut edge" applies most when two objects overlap as any of the overlapping lines will be ignored while the perimeter is cut.

What is under the "send" tab. Note that the computer is not connected to the printer, so not all settings are displayed The "send" tab when computer and cutter is linked. Note there is nothing in Carriage 2, so nothing is displayed contrary to Carriage 1

  • The third step would be to do a test cut to make sure the settings are correct. This is important as if the settings are not accurate, this prevents you from wasting vinyl before realizing the error and make adjustments accordingly.

A cut too weak will prevent weeding (peeling away excess vinyl), or at least make it much more difficult. A cut too strong will cut through both the vinyl and the backing, create debris and possibly making marks on the cutting mat if it is way too deep. In either case, adjust power in small increments (depth too if the cutting mat is being cut or if the cut is not making it through the vinyl). Try to cut with the lowest possible settings to ensure the greatest chance for success. After you are satisfied with the parameters, send the file to be cut!

Applying Vinyl

Cuts with the vinyl cutter usually do not take very long.

  • After the cut is complete, press the down key to unload the cutting mat.
  • Use the weeding tool (the tool with the hook) to peel away all of the excess vinyl that you do not want.
  • DO NOT REMOVE THE VINYL FROM THE CUTTING MAT YET.
  • After that, determine how much transfer tape you will need based on the size of your object (slightly larger than the cut itself), then cut the transfer tape to prevent waste and apply to the vinyl still on the cutting mat.

  Vinyl After Weeding Applying the Transfer Tape  Peeled Vinyl off using the Transfer Tape

 

  • After applying the tape, press down to squeeze out any air bubbles and ensure that the tape will stick to the vinyl,
  • Use a scraper if that is available, but hands work just fine.
  • Press for a few minutes before peeling the tape back. If the vinyl doesn’t come off, put the tape back on the mat and press for a few more minutes. This is especially important with letters as even if one part does not come off, that can mess with the entire letter.
  • After peeling the tape and vinyl off, stick it on the object you want to stick the vinyl too.
  • Press down and spend a few more minutes pressing the vinyl to the object. Peel the tape back and make sure the vinyl sticks to the object, and you are finished! 

Peeling off Transfer Tape  Finished Vinyl

Heat Transfer

Heat transfer is the process of applying vinyl to clothing. Much of the process up until the application remains the same except for using different vinyl types and putting the tape on. To begin with, the vinyl should be placed shiny side down as it is applied in reverse. Special transfer tape is also needed as well. Other than that, it is the same process as before

  • When applying the vinyl, make sure it is about ~3 inches down from the collar on a standard adult t-shirt (adjust as needed for other clothing items).
  • Apply the vinyl with the tape on top and cover it with a sheet or something that can withstand either an iron or heat press.
  • Press onto the sheet with said iron or heat press for a few minutes to get the vinyl to stick to the clothing.
  • After, wait for the surface to cool slightly and then try to remove. If it does not stick, press with the iron for another minute or so. After that, you are finished!