What does it do?
- Cuts out shapes from rolls of sticky back plastic.
- Draws on rolls of plastic or paper (or fabric?) with pens.
How do I use it?
Create what you want in your preferred vector drawing package.
If you are using Linux – you can output to the Vinyl cutter using the InkCut extension (see below) This is a nightmare to install under Windows and also doesn’t work…so don’t bother. However, it IS possible to create artwork in InkScape and then manually send it to the plotter with a Terminal program.
A Quick (but really important) Note on Orientation.
The Vinyl Cutter uses rolls of material. When you send a job, it will cut/draw the artwork rotated 90 degrees anticlockwise. The top left of the artwork will appear at the bottom left hand side of the roll and the bottom right will be at the top right of the roll.
Creating the Artwork
- Open Inscape
- File, Document Properties
- Default units â€“ mm
- Custom Size Width 2000, Height 570, Units mm. (This has been added as a template on some machines – File,New, VinylCutter.)
- Ensure that the Show page border and Show border shadow are ticked. They will not print but help to position the artwork.
- Weâ€™ll create some Lettering.
- Use the Text Tool to create the required text in the desired font. EVERYTHING THAT YOU WANT TO PLOT MUST APPEAR INSIDE THE PAGE BORDER. POSITION THE FINAL ARTWORK AS CLOSE TO THE BOTTOM LEFT AS POSSIBLE BUT NOT MAKING CONTACT WITH THE LINES. REMEMBER THAT THE LEFT HAND EDGE OF THE PAGE BORDER REPRESENTS THE BOTTOM EDGE OF THE VINYL.
- Select the text you entered (arrows will appear around it) and use Path, Object to Path to convert it to a Path.
- The Text will now be a Group of objects but we need to convert it to a single Path so select Path, Combine.
- Re-Size the text as required. Hold in the CTRL keep to maintain the aspect ratio.
- Ensure that text is still selected and set both the Stroke and Fill to None. (click on the X above the word Fill: and Stroke: in the bottom left corner of the screen then click it again whilst holding in the SHIFT key.
- It may appear that the text has disappeared. If so select View, Display Mode, Outline. (This is a really useful mode for this type of design work)
- The letters should now appear as outlines.
- File, Save As…
- Navigate to the required location. 16. Change the file type to HP Graphics Language file (*.HPGL)
- Enter a filename and Click SAVE.
- HPGL Output options will appear. (These usually only need to be set the first time as entries will be remembered)
- HPGL Output flatness â€“ 0.0
- Mirror Y axis â€“ Tick
- X and Y origins 0.0
- Resolution. 1000dpi – any change to this will affect the scale.
- Pen Number 1
- Plot invisible layers â€“ tick.
- Click OK to save the file.
Setting up the Vinyl Cutter
- Switch on the Cutter
- Default speed is 800 and default pressure 100. Use the cursor keys to change this as required. If using a pen to plot an image, reducing the speed will produce a better result.
- The ENTER button selects the currently highlighted option.
- SELECT moves to the next option. 5. Highlight Local, ENTER.
- Use the cursor keys to move the material to where you want the origin to be. Check the diagram above for guideline.
- SELECT (to change the display to CURRENT), then ENTER to lock in the new origin.
Transmitting the Artwork to the Vinyl Cutter
- Switch on the Cutter and connect the USB cable to your PC.
- Use Device Manger to check which COM port the cutter has connected to.
- Open CoolTerm and click the Options icon.
- Change the Port to the COM port noted above.
- Check that the baudrate shows as 9600.
- All other options can be left as default.
- Click OK to clear the Options screen .
- Click on the Connect icon.
- Select Connection, Send Textfile.
- Change the â€˜files of typeâ€™ field to All Files.
- Locate the HPGL file you saved earlier.
- Click Open.
- The Cutter should start working immediately.
- Hit Reset on the Cutter to abort if necessary.
- When the job finishes, the cutter will stop moving.
- Press Reset on the cutter control panel to return the carriage to the side.
- Press the ENTER button on the cutter to access manual scrolling using the cursor keys to feed out enough material to be able to cut it off.
- Then press select to highlight CURRENT and then enter to reset the origin.
US Cutter Software
This is an extension to Inkscape to let it use cutter/plotters directly. It was written to work with the Linux version and will NOT work correctly under Windows.
It appears to be a Chinese clone of a US Cutter SC-Series cutter/plotter.
- USB interface appears as a serial port
- HPGL – will accept an HPGL file sent over the serial port by a terminal program