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Vinyl Cutting

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

Troubleshooting Resources

Links and guides to help identify and go through how to fix issues with the Silhouette Cameo 4.

Troubleshooting: A guide on the variety of troubleshooting strategies you can use for when you have an issue with the machine
Cameo Won’t Cut Troubleshoot Video: A video specifically about troubleshooting an issue where the Cameo 4 does not cut. 26 minutes long
Blade Maintenance: A video on how to keep your blades maintained and cleaned
Cutting Mat Maintenance: A video on how to keep your cutting mat sticky and in good condition
Cleaning Your Silhouette Cameo: A video on how to clean the Cameo 4
Use and Clean Silhouette Cameo 4: A detailed video on cleaning and maintaining the Cameo 4
Silhouette Cameo 4 Most Common Problems: A 5 minute video going over some of the most common issues with the Cameo 4
Crooked Cutting Repair: An article on what to do if your cuts are not coming out in the shape you want them to
Silhouette Machine Maintenance: An article giving general tips on how to maintain and clean your machine

Common Issues

This is a list of common issues that you (the user) can reasonably fix without too much skill unless indicated otherwise. If you do not feel comfortable or the issue is not listed on this LibGuide, contact a staff member for assistance.


If not getting clean cut

  1. Slow down the Speed and try again.
  2. Increase the Force setting (Thickness in older versions) and try again.
  3. Increase the numbers of Passes (Double Pass in older versions) option and try again.
  4. Manually increase the blade level and try again.
  5. If all else fails, replace your blade and try again.


Not cutting at all

  • Make sure the blade is correctly inserted into the machine. Then, ensure your cut is deep enough.
  • If it is still not working, check the cap of the blade and try to tighten it, but not too tight. If nothing works, get a staff member to help


Vinyl being torn

Slow down the speed of the cut


Abnormal noise

  • Check under lid to see if there is any tape connecting the motor to the side of the unit.
  • If not this, then likely there is no problem


Cut when it turns on

  • Power off your Silhouette, Close Silhouette Studio®, go to the START menu
  • Go to the Control Panel
  • Go to the Printers section
  • Look for any printer drivers that are greyed out or printers which are no longer hooked up to the computer
  • Right-click on one of the printer drivers in question and go to the Printer Properties option
  • In the window that comes up, go to the Ports tab, Locate the port type “File” and check this box, Click “Apply”, Repeat this action for all applicable printer drivers.


Doesn’t pause

  • Will stop after current continuous line finished.
  • Will pause shortly, but if not power off


Pause for long periods of time while cutting

  • Processing an overwhelming amount of data. Nothing to do with computer – image size + intricacy, content outside cutting area, cut settings in use.
  • Remove additional content, and if this does not resolve lower cutting speed to 3 or lower, giving more time to process data


Blade dirty and full of debris

Get staff to clean


Multiple passes misaligned

  • Go to the Send panel in Silhouette Studio®.
  • Choose your material for your project.
  • Click “Edit Material” and check the “Track Enhancing” option. This feature will feed the material through your Silhouette several times prior to the cutting operation and create a “track” for the Silhouette to roll on during the job in question.
  • To properly align the secondary passes, turn the Speed setting down. This should further ensure the rollers are not slipping during the cutting operation, replace the cutting mat to make sure the adhesive quality is sticky so it can hold the material properly.


Performing vertical cuts only

  • The motor is stuck (generally due to unremoved packing tape).
  • Lift your Silhouette’s lid and remove any blue translucent tape that is connecting the motor to the body of the unit or appearing anywhere on the blade carrier.
  • Perform the following steps:
    • Power off your Silhouette
    • Lift your Silhouette’s lid
    • Manually push the motor all the way to the left of the machine
    • Manually push the motor all the way to the right of the machine
    • Power your Silhouette back on.


Crooked Cuts

Get staff


Very loud

Normally this is not an issue as the vinyl cutter is, in general, a loud machine. However, if you are concerned about the noises it is making please talk to a staff member. Better safe than sorry!


My Cut Job Has Vertical Gaps Appearing Down Length of the Page

If vertical gaps or stripes of uncut portions appear down the length of the page, your blade is not fully seated and is bumping against the rubber stoppers or white pinch rollers during operation.

  1. Remove the blade from your Silhouette by unlocking the blade and pulling it up and out.
  2. Place the blade back into the carriage.
  3. Prior to locking the blade back into place, twist and push the blade down to make sure it is seated all the way down in the holder (while holding the lock lever in place so that the blade does not tap up and down).
  4. Ensure the collar of the blade rests flush against the lip of the blade holder receptacle.
  5. Ensure that the blade’s fin is pointing forward (in the 6 o’clock position) in order to make sure that the blade is seated properly.


My Cut Has Uncut Portions in Specific Areas

Get staff

The Start and End Points of My Cut Don’t Align

If your cut design is not lining up properly or your image appears to be skewed and mis-aligned during the cutting process, then the cutting mat (or material if no mat is in use) is drifting or moving off the rollers.

  • Make sure the cutting mat is being used for materials that do not have their own adhesive backing.
  • If using paper or cardstock (or another material type that does not have a pre-adhered backing), load the material onto the cutting mat. Part of the cutting mat’s purpose is to hold the material in place to ensure the resulting cut can be aligned properly.
  • Make sure the mat or material is being loaded properly.

If the material or cutting mat is not lined up correctly with the intended guide mark and is not being initially grabbed between the two white rollers, the material will drift as it is being cut and the image would not be aligned properly. If your material is on a cutting mat and appears to be drifting or moving around on the mat (even though the mat itself is securely in place) try the following:

  • Check the mat to see if the adhesive has worn down.
  • If the mat has lost its adhesive quality (either overall or in select areas of the mat) and is not holding the material firmly in place during the cutting process, the cutting mat will need to be replaced.
  • Test to see if the concern is specific to the material type by trying an alternate material. Some thicker specialty materials may experience difficulties when being gripped by the rollers. As material thickness increases, the rollers may not grip as firmly on the media’s surface during operation.

If your material and cutting mat both appear to be gripped properly, but the resulting cut is simply not aligning properly, try the following:

  1. Make sure the proper loading option is being used to load the material or to load the material on the mat. Choose the corresponding option carefully.
  2. Make sure the blade setting is correct for the material type in use. You may want to perform a series of Test Cuts to find the lowest blade setting possible that still successfully cuts your material type. If the blade is at a higher level than necessary, it is possible that the blade is cutting through the material but getting caught on the mat during the cutting process.
  3. Make sure the blade is free from any obstruction and swiveling properly.
  4. Check the edges of the cutting mat. If you are using an older mat where the edges are curling upward, this can catch on the motor and throw off the cutting alignment. If this happens, simply replace your mat.


My Silhouette Starts Cutting Above My Material on the Cutting Mat

  • If your machine starts cutting higher than the edge of your material and cuts into the top of the cutting mat, you probably selected “Load Media” instead of “Load Cut Mat” when loading the cutting mat into your machine.
  • Simply unload the cutting mat and reload the mat by selecting “Load Cut Mat”. It should load your cut mat to the correct placement to start cutting your material.


My Cutting Mat Is Drifting During Cutting

If your cutting mat is drifting during the cutting operation and is not held in place properly by both of the white pinch rollers, the concern usually caused by one of the of the following:

  • The cutting mat was not loaded properly. During the loading process, line up the mat with the small guide mark on the far left side of the machine (rather than loading it justified to the left against the blade adjustment receptacle).
  • If you are using a Cameo, the right-hand pinch roller is not locked into place. Ensure the white lock lever is pointing upward and that the right-hand pinch roller appears to be fully gripping the edge of the right-hand side of the mat.
  • If you are using a Cameo, the pinch rollers are not in the correct position for the size mat or material is use. If using a material size that is smaller on the 12 in. x 12 in. cutting mat, please note that it is still necessary to have the pinch roller in the default position for the 12 in. x 12 in. mat (rather than adjusting the right-hand pinch roller over to the left for a smaller page size).


This is largely for staff use, though if you are experienced and feel confident, you may be able to perform some of these tasks with staff permission


Blade Maintenance

  • Pull carriage out to remove. Insert – make sure blade pointed down and pay attention to number on blade: determine which carriage to place in!
  • Clean blade: adjust setting to 0, then unscrew cap of blade (careful! Sharp!). Either blow on blade tip to remove material or gently brush away. Carefully screw cap back on
  • Never cut with the blade cap off: risk damage to blade and machine
  • Blades should not be stored with the blade tip resting against anything - rest in either container or on side!


Cutting Mat

  • Keep liner safe
  • Make sure cutting mat aligned with edge – load in straight, not crooked. Grip outside edge by both pinch rollers, not adhesive portion
  • When scraping, avoid pressing down too hard on mat
  • Don’t wash cutting mat – can negatively impact adhesive
  • Certain materials and repeated cuts in same location can wear down cutting mat more quickly. Will wear down over time regardless
  • Don’t try alternate adhesives – can result in permanent damage to machine as adhesive specifically works with Cameo 4
  • Always put cover back on otherwise dust can wear down adhesive


Cutting Machine Maintenance

  • Close lid when not in use. Dust cover recommended
  • Move machine: turn off, remove everything from tool carriage, push carriage to one side, remove all power sources
  • Allow enough space for cutting mat + materials to pass through without obstruction
  • Can of compressed air: help remove dust. Use cloth to dust off outside
  • Rigid cardstock – clean materials from under cutting area
  • Reset motor: push carriage right, left, right. Power machine back on = reset


Belt Replacement

  • Can permanently damage machine – probably not a good idea even for staff


Cleaning Cameo

  • Damp cloth – almost dry. Q-tip, toothpick, water bottle cap-full of alcohol
  • Don’t clean bar/band inside blade housing!
  • Dab of alcohol on cloth
  • Clean 1-2 times a month depending on materials used (glitter?)