Best Vinyl Cutting Machine For T-shirts: Reviews 2021 (Recommended!)
For anything extensively related to art and crafting, you must need a great vinyl cutting machine in your home. From the hundreds of brands and models available in the market, it is not very easy to choose the best vinyl cutting machine that you need.
There are specific features you need to look for, both to make your work easy and to give you good results. A good vinyl cutter machine can make a world of difference to your work, whether you are interested in sewing, applique, quilting, embroidering or something entirely different.
You’ll need a vinyl cutter whether you are using it in your business or for a hobby. You can use this machine for a number of purposes, with different materials, for both commercial and personal use.
You won’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good vinyl cutting machine for your home; an affordable one will be just as good if you know exactly the right features to look for.
A vinyl cutting machine is a great investment for your business, one that you will be able to use for years for a number of purposes.
Why Should You Need a Vinyl CuttingMachine?
If you are thinking of investing in one of the best vinyl cutter for small business, you are doing yourself a big favor. Whether you are starting a new sewing, embroidery or T-shirt making business, you are definitely going to need the help of a good vinyl cutter machine.
Before everything else, you need to know exactly what you can do with a vinyl cutting machine. A good machine can print the exact design you want on a number of surfaces, ranging from paper to vinyl material.
You can stick the material on your surface of choice to create anything you want to: a T-shirt design, patterns to embroider around, stickers, signs and even wall decorations.
Apart from these common uses for your business, you can make a number of cool household projects with your vinyl cutting machine. Almost anything that you print on vinyl material with this machine can be used in other projects, i.e. labels for your shelves and electronics, woodworking crafts, paintings or logos, and paper crafts.
Without a vinyl cutting machine to help with your designs, you might have to draw the designs on your project surface. This can be not only hard to do, but inefficient as well. Unless you are extremely good at drawing, your designs won’t come out as well as if you can make them with a vinyl cutting machine.
If you are using one already, you can print the most intricate and detailed designs on your vinyl material, and the end result will be exactly what you wanted.
Furthermore, you need a vinyl cutting machine if you want to make your work look professional. When you are using professional machine, your work will come out looking much, much better. If this is for your business, your work needs to look professional and worthy of spending money on.
You or your work can’t really be taken seriously by potential customers if it is shoddy and amateurish. A good vinyl cutting machine will give your projects the proper look that you will be proud of.
Whatever your business is, a vinyl cutting machine will be able to help. Speed and reliability, accuracy and efficiency – that’s what you are going to get from a top-quality vinyl cutting machine.
Best Vinyl Cutting Machine: Reviews
1. Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint
Cricut is the first name that comes to users’ mind whenever they think the word “craft”. The Explore Air 2 Mint from the renowned brand Cricut is the top choice from our list.
This is a favorite of DIY-enthusiasts, professionals, amateurs and small business owners. You can use this machine to make anything big and small, from greeting cards to labels, stickers to home décor items.
This vinyl cutting machine in itself is small and elegant, and doesn’t look any different from a home printer. It can print even the most complicated designs and patterns on a number of materials, designs that you have made yourself or downloaded from the Internet.
With purchase of this machine, you get access to a special design app – the Cricut Design Space. Extremely easy to learn but at the same time, professional, anyone can use this software/app to create the designs of their choice.
You can use the Cricut Design Space from both your laptop and your phone/tablet – iOs and Android. That’s not all, Cricut also has a large database of special designs and patterns that you can also download and use for your projects.
This is a wireless machine; you can connect it to your phone/laptop/tablet via Bluetooth for printing. This astounding machine works on not just vinyl material, but more than 100 different materials – both thin and thick.
It can cut through cardstock, paper, iron-on vinyl, faux leather, specialty paper, poster board, foils and many other different kinds of materials. With this machine, you can cut on almost anything to use in your projects.
- Cuts through and on more than 100 materials
- Bluetooth device; no wires
- Comes with a special app/software for designing
- Smart Set Dial can differentiate between material to determine depth
- Large database of designs to download from
- Small and compact design
- Can be used to write on materials using different fonts
- Can be used to create fold lines for paper crafts
- Faster than other machines
2. Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Machine
This is a beautiful little vinyl cutting machine from Silhouette that you can definitely mistake for something else. You won’t be able to tell just by looking, but this sleek and elegant machine is extremely strong and sturdy.
You can use this for a number of professional and household projects, from your sewing and embroidery patterns to making labels and stickers.
You can use this machine in two ways: with a blade for cutting and with a pen for sketching. With a blade, you can cut your preferred design into any material ranging from vinyl material to hard paper, cardstock and fabric.
Simply by replacing the blade with a pen tool, this machine can make the exact same design/pattern on similar material by drawing on it, instead of cutting through it. This feature is especially helpful if you are making designs for sewing, embroidering, quilting or painting.
This is a large machine, especially helpful for making broad and wide designs. You can make a cutting/drawing up to 12 inches wide and 10 feet long with this machine. With purchase of the Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Machine, you get access to a special software that you can use in your PC or laptop.
With this software, you can both design and command the cutting machine, by plugging it to your laptop/PC with a USB cord.
This vinyl cutting machine comes with a 12×12 cutting mat, a cutting blade, a trimmer blade, an USB cord as well as a vinyl starter kit containing vinyl sheets, transfer paper, scraper and a design download card.
- Can be connected to laptop/PC with an USB cord
- Can make designs/drawings up to 12 inches wide and 10 feet long
- Can work on a number of surfaces
- Pen tool can be used to make drawings instead of cuts
- Comes with a starter tool kit
- Can be controlled from PC/laptop via special software
- Sleek and elegant design
- Small touch screen control
- Comes with a cutting blade, cutting mat and a vinyl trimmer
3. Cricut Maker, Champagne
This sleek, elegant vinyl cutting machine is another one from Cricut, perfect for any kind of paper crafts, sewing and embroidery projects, iron-on designs, as well as leather crafts. You can use the Cricut Maker on almost all kinds of materials, from very thin and delicate paper to denim and leather.
With the Cricut Maker, you won’t just be able to use a blade to make cuts on your preferred material, but also use a pen and a scoring tool. With a pen tool, you can make drawings on any kind of materials instead of making a cut, great for sewing and embroidering patterns.
At the same time, with a scoring tool instead of a blade, you can use this machine to make folding/tearing marks on paper.
The Cricut Maker comes with a brand new rotary blade, that can cut through any kind of material, even thin fabric without a solid backing. The New Knife Blade, another extension tool, is especially useful for cutting through heavier and thicker material, like leather and mat board.
With this tool, you can cut through up to 2.4mm wide materials. You can use the easy design app that you can access with the purchase of the Cricut Maker to create your own designs, or you can download any design from the hundreds available online for free. Besides, this vinyl cutting machine from Cricut can work on a large piece of material, up to 12”x12” in size.
- Perfect for DIY, amateur and professional work
- Can be used to cut through and draw on hundreds of material types
- Can be used on both delicate and thick materials
- New Rotary Blade can cut through any material without solid backing
- Separately bought pen tool can be used to draw designs
- Separately bought scoring tool extension available
- New Knife blade can cut through materials 2.4mm thick
- Comes with a 12”x12” cutting mat
- Connects to laptop/PC via USB cable
- Supports multiple file formats
- Tablet/Smartphone holding docket on board
4. USCutter Vinyl Cutter MH
This vinyl cutting machine from US Cutter is an exceptional machine, quite different from other similar models. It can cut through a number of materials of all length; since it can be elevated above the ground, you can use a long material in it.
This is a 34” MH cutter that you can use with both Cut Design and Cut Software – easy to learn software that you can use to both design and control your vinyl cutter machine. This machine supports a wide range of file formats and can be used in Windows laptops/PC.
Inside the vinyl cutter, you have three separate pinch rollers that can hold onto your material, whatever you are using, so that your material is held securely and doesn’t move. Besides, the ball-bearing dual roller system is also quite helpful in giving you the exact design you are looking for, always.
This machine comes with a compatible blade holder that can hold any kind of blade available in the market. Although this machine comes with a few knives of its own, you can also use separately bought more economical blades for different purposes.
Besides knives, this vinyl cutting machine also come with vinyl rolls, magnetic blanks, transfer tapes and a squeegee. As a starter, you also get multiple sample vinyl material for your first projects, as well as other useful accessories, such as a pen holder.
- Comes with a tall stand for working on longer material
- 34” MH cutter
- Can be used with a Cut Design and a Cut Software
- Supports a number of file formats
- Three separate pinch rollars to hold your material
- Comes with useful accessories and sample vinyl materials
- Compatible with separately bought economical blades
5. Silhouette America Portrait 2
This elegant and sleek vinyl cutting machine won’t just work on vinyl, but all kinds of paper and fabric. You can use this machine to make designs and cuts on a number of materials and surfaces, including magnet paper, adhesive vinyl, card stock, transfer paper, fabric, heat transfer paper and vellum.
This is a wireless machine that you can connect to your laptop/PC via Bluetooth, eliminating all the chaos a wire can cause.
The Silhouette Portrait is compatible with both a Mac and a Windows PC. With the purchase of this machine, you get access to an exclusive design database of Silhouette America containing more than 50 stunning digital designs.
The Auto Adjusting AutoBlade can recognize and work with over 100 materials by determining their depth and thickness; even though the machine looks compact, it can make designs up to 11 inches wide. The machine comes with a 12”x12” cutting mat that is quite helpful while cutting.
You can use both PixScan and Silhouette’s special software Design Studio for this machine – both extremely easy to learn and handle. You can use both software for both designing and controlling the machine easily.
- Extremely compact with an attractive design
- Auto Adjusting blade can determine and thickness of material used
- Perfect for both DIY and professional projects
- Can make a design up to 11” in size
- Comes with a 12”x12” cutting mat
- Comes with access to 50+ exclusive designs
- Can be controlled via Bluetooth; wireless technology
- Supports a number of standard file formats
- Can work on more than 100 materials
6. Silhouette Cameo-3-4T Wireless Cutting Machine
Whereas other vinyl cutting machines work on a much smaller material, the Silhouette Cameo-3-4T can actually create a rather large design up to 12 inches wide and more than 10 feet long.
You can work on an extensive paper or fabric project with the help of this machine. You can use both PixScan and Print & Cut software to make designs and control the machine to make the cut on your material.
Like any other Silhouette machine, the Cameo 3-4T also has a self-adjusting AutoBlade that can recognize the density and thickness of the material you are using and adjust itself. You can use this machine on a number of materials that you will be able to use for your projects, including fabric, paper, vinyl, card stock and similar materials.
The AutoBlade will adjust itself to meet the requirements of the material you are using. Besides, the blades with this machine can cut almost anything up to 2mm easily, which means thicker materials like denim and leather.
The Silhouette Cameo-3-4T features a dual-carriage that you can use for other tools apart from the knife tool. You can use the carriage for some other kind of tool, such as a pen tool or a scoring tool. Also, as a wireless machine that you can plug into your laptop or PC, it eliminates any kind of unwanted mess in your desk.
- Can work on materials 12 inches in width and 10 feet long
- Great for working on long and extensive projects
- Can work on all kinds of materials
- Self-adjusting AutoBlade
- Can cut up to 2mm thick fabric
- Dual carriage can also accommodate a pen tool or a scoring tool
- Compatible with “PixScan” and “Print & Cut” software
- Comes with a 12”x12” cutting mat
- Wireless connection via Bluetooth
- Compatible with Silhouette Studio design software
7. Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine
Cricut, being one of the best brands for vinyl cutting machines, has a number of models available in the market, each one better than the others. The Cricut Explore Air 2 is one much model from this brand that is faster and more efficient than most other similar machines in the market.
In fact, this is a unique feature of the Explore Air 2 Machine – that it is up to 2 times faster than other vinyl cutting machines that you can purchase within the same budget.
The Explore Air 2 is a wireless machine; you can connect it to your laptop or PC via Bluetooth. It can both cut and write, with the respective tools, on more than 100 materials, as is a standard with Cricut machines.
You can use this particular machine to work on every kind of thick and thin paper, adhesive and regular vinyl, iron-on, felt, denim, burlap and thin leather. The Smart Set dial on this machine helps you to work on a number of material simply by adjusting the blade depth.
Besides, the Explore Air 2 supports a number of file formats, including .svg, .gif, .jpg, .png and .dxf. By using the Cricut Design Space software, you can create your own designs for cutting/drawing, or download anything from the Internet.
This machine is compatible with both iOS and Android users, and you can use the Cricut Design Space on both your laptop/PC and smartphone/tablet. The software is extremely easy to use even for someone who is new to this craft.
The dual-carriage system lets you use two tools at the same time, i.e. you can draw and make cuts at the same time, or use the pen and scoring tool together. The machine comes with a built in cutting tool, USB cord, sample materials, 12”x12” cutting mat and a beginner’s tool kit.
- 2 times faster than any other vinyl cutting machines
- Works on more than 100 materials
- Works on both thick and thin, fine materials
- Can cut, draw and use scoring tools
- Supports a number of file formats
- Compatible with both iOS and Android
- Dual-carriage lets you use two tools at the same time
- Compatible with tablet, smartphone and PC./laptop
- Wireless machine works via Bluetooth
- Comes with a 12”x12” cutting mat, sample materials and beginner’s kit
8. Brother CM350 Electronic Cutting Machine
While Brother is a brand more associated with sewing machines, this vinyl cutting machine from this renowned brand has also received much praise. This is not just a vinyl cutting machine, but also has a built-in 300 DPI scanner.
With this machine, you can actually scan a design you like, and then turn it into a unique cut design for your projects. This is a unique feature that is not available in most other vinyl cutting machines in the market.
This cutting machine from Brothers is a more hi-tech device than other regular ones. The Brother ScanNCut2 machine is quite independent in its operations; you can use the machine via the touchscreen without even connecting it to a laptop or PC.
Although you have the option to connect the Brother ScanNCut2 to a laptop/PC or smartphone/tablet via Bluetooth, you can use the touchscreen for all the functions. The 4.85” LCD touch screen can be used to choose between functions: to scan, to edit your designs, or to choose patterns.
You won’t even need the help of any other device to use this vinyl cutting machine. The touch screen is large, non-glare and extremely easy to handle.
The actual working area is quite large. This machine also comes with a 12”x12” cutting mat, but you can also work on a larger scale. You can choose from a collection of 631 designs built into the machine, exclusively with the purchase of this machine.
You can also, if you want, combine two or more designs to create something unique for your project. For a more complicated design, you can take the help of special software on your PC/laptop.
- Built-in scanning and cutting option
- Large 4.85” touch screen
- Built-in 300 DPI Scanner that can copy any design
- Standalone machine or PC Connectivity
- Built-in 631 designs to choose from
- 12”x12” working zone
- Compatible with ScanNCutCanvas software for PC/laptop
- Compatible with most file formats including .svg
- Compatibility with Windows User
- Touchscreen can be used to edit, select and scan
9. 28-inch Vinyl Cutter Value Sign Making Bundle
With this brand, you get one of the best vinyl cutting machine for t-shirts. The 28-inch Vinyl Cutting machine from USCutter allows you to use a number of materials for your projects, including all kinds of paper, most fabric, vinyl and adhesive vinyl, and other similar materials. The machine comes with a stand, which means you can work on a long material for an extensive project.
Two adjustable pinch-rollers give you the freedom you need to work on a number of shapes and sizes of materials. Your material, whatever you use, will stay fitted to the machine for cuts and drawings.
Besides, the standard ball-bearing dual roller gives you the exact drawing, design or pattern you want on the material of your preference. Although this model comes with multiple blades, you can replace them later with economical blades available in the market, or any other tools you need.
You can draw or cut anything with this machine: logos, patterns, text, designs, curves or general signage.
With this model, you don’t just get the machine, but a complete starter pack for your first projects. As well as three blades that are compatible with the machine, you get multiple vinyl rolls, transfer tapes, hobby knives for cutting off edges, a squeegee and a manual.
You can use these material for a number of beginner level projects to help you through your primary practice days.
- 28” vinyl cutting machine for extensive projects
- Works on many different material surfaces
- Comes with a tall stand for convenience
- Comes with three blades for cutting
- Blades can be replaced with economical easily-available blades
- Comes with a starter pack
- Adjustable pinch rollers hold your material in place
- Ball-bearing dual roller gives you the exact cut you need
- Compatible with Windows
- Connectivity via USB Cord
10. Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Machine Vinyl Starter Kit Bundle
The Cameo from Silhouette is another electronic machine that you can use for cutting and trimming vinyl material. This is the newest model from Silhouette with which you get a beginner’s kit and limited download from the official website.
The Cameo is a great machine for DIY projects, amateurish and professional projects; you can do much more with a vinyl cutting machine than just cutting. You can replace the blade with a pen tool for drawing instead of cutting in some special projects.
This machine can be controlled with your PC or laptop, both Windows and Mac. You can do this easily with the help of the USB cable that comes with the machine.
Or, you can save your designs and patterns into a USB drive and feed it into the machine. The Silhouette Cameo is also compatible with PixScan, which you can use to create your own designs or edit designs you’ve downloaded from the Internet.
This starter bundle kit doesn’t only come with the Silhouette Cameo, but also all the materials and accessories you are going to need for your first projects. This includes 50+ cuttable designs, a cutting blade, a vinyl trimmer, a 12”x12” cutting mat, USB cable and instructions, a manual, transfer paper and silhouette scraper.
- Comes with a complete starter kit
- Compatible with Windows and Mac
- Can be used on a lot of materials
- Compatible with PixScan for designing and editing
- Can be connected to laptop/PC via USB cord
- Can cut materials up to 12 inches wide and 10 feet long
- Comes with a 12”x12” cutting mat and other important accessories
- Blade can be replaced with a pen tool for drawing tool
- Comes with an exclusive download card
11. Xyron 624632 Creative Station
This is an adjustable 9” creative vinyl cutting machine from Xyron that you can do more with than just cutting; you can laminate your projects immediately after making the cut. It is a small and compact machine that takes up a minimum amount of space on your desk and looks elegant and picturesque.
It uses two cartridge sizes in one machine; which means, you can use different sizes of materials for big or small designs and not waste much extra materials. This is a unique feature of this cutting machine that guarantees less wastage and more flexibility with materials.
You can use a number of both common and uncommon materials in this machine for cutting, including all kinds of paper and adhesive material, plastic and laminates. You can make cuts for paper crafts or design stickers, laminators and even decorative magnets with this machine from Xyron.
Because you can use both a 9” or a 5” cartridge in this machine, you can make cuttings of any sizes and shapes.
Another unique and extremely useful feature of the Xyron 624632 Creative Station is that it comes with a 25-foot-long and 9-inch-wide permanent adhesive cartridge which you can use you make anything with an adhesive background, i.e. labels, stickers and markers.
This machine does not require any electricity, recharging or batteries to work; you’ll just need to connect it to your computer/laptop for working. The Easy Drop-in Refill feature allows you to replace your cartridges anytime, even in the middle of a project, so that your designs are not hampered.
The Xyron 624632 Creative Station can help you make three different kinds of projects: make stickers, labels or markets with an adhesive back, laminate your paper crafts with a layer, and print your designs on a magnet. This is a great machine for DIY projects or making your own gifts for your loved ones.
- Compact machine only 9” in length
- Cuts, laminates and adds adhesive backgrounds to your materials
- Allows easy replacement and refills even during operation
- 9” and 5” cartridges for big and small projects
- Reduces wastage of materials
- Comes with 25 feet long permanent adhesive back to work on
- Doesn’t require electricity, heat or batteries to run
- Non-toxic and acid-free lamination
- Lightweight at 4.8lbs
Things to Consider Before Buying a Vinyl Cutting Machine
Buying a vinyl cutting machine isn’t going to be complicated, but only when you know the exact features to look for. Whether you are starting a new business or you are looking for a hobby or a way to make your own gifts, a vinyl cutter machine is going to help you a lot in different crafts.
There are a lot of models out there, but if you are looking for the best vinyl cutter for t-shirts that will be just right for you, these are the features you need to be looking for:
The size of the machine is important, even when it doesn’t seem so. The vinyl cutting machine isn’t the only appliance you are going to use for your crafts, so you can’t afford to have a large machine in your care that takes up most of your space.
What you need is a compact machine that will not take up too much space on your desk or in your work space. The smaller and the more compact the vinyl cutting machine is, the easier it will be to accommodate.
Although this machine is called a “vinyl cutting machine”, vinyl is not the only material that you can cut with it. Most such machines can be used to cut a number of materials ranging from paper to faux leather.
The more materials you can cut through with your machine, the more versatile you can be in your work. Machines from brands like Cricut can work on 100+ materials, and models from other brands such as Silhouette can also be used on a similar number of material types.
Even if you only want a machine to use in paper crafts or embroidering, a versatile machine that can work on a variety of materials can help you to branch out your business in the future.
With such machines, you can make cuts, drawings and even lines for tearing or folding on all kinds of paper, fabric, card stock, leather and faux leather, even denim and adhesive material. This means that you will be able to use these versatile machines for other projects in the future if you want to work with other materials.
Most vinyl cutting machines can be connected to your laptop/PC with an USB cord, but the ones that can be connected via Bluetooth are easier to handle. When you can connect your machine to your computer without the need for an USB cable, it gives you much more flexibility in your work.
It means that your vinyl cutting machine doesn’t have to be kept in a close proximity of your computer, freeing up work space. You can keep the machine in another desk on the other side of the room if that’s convenient for you, and clear up some space on your desk.
Besides, Bluetooth connectivity also sometimes means that you won’t have to sit on your desktop/laptop every time you are using your vinyl cutting machine. The machines that work with Bluetooth can also be controlled with just your smart phone or tablet, which is always easier to handle.
While some machines are used only for cutting through machines, the more sophisticated ones can also include the use of other tools, i.e. the pen tool and the scoring tool. With the pen tool, you can make exact drawings on your design on the material of your choice, instead of a cut.
This works exceptionally better than if you have to trace the design with your hand, especially for complicated and detailed designs. The pen tool for designs can be quite useful for sewing, embroidering, painting or quilting.
The scoring tool, on the other hand, when replacing the blade tool, allows you to mark your paper crafts for tearing or folding. In some machines, you can use more than one tool at the same time, as well, or you can switch between two tools without having to change them.
- Auto Adjustable Blade
With some machines, the blades (or the other tools being used) can adjust itself automatically to meet the demands of the material you are using. This is quite a helpful feature since it guarantees that your cuts will be flawless.
The machine will adjust the length, density and the pressure of the blade automatically to match the need of the material; when the material is thick, like faux leather or card stock, the blade will automatically adjust and put in more pressure than when it is regular paper or fabric.
With other machines, you’ll have to set the dial to choose the setting you are looking for.
- Convenient Designing Software
With every Cricut vinyl cutting machine, you get access to a special design app – the Cricut Design Space, that you can use to create any design or edit patterns/designs you have downloaded from the Internet.
With Silhouette machines, you have a similar designing app – Design Studio. These two software are easy to learn and use, even for someone who is new to the whole thing. Besides, most cutting machines are compatible with PixScan – another easy designing software.
It is more convenient if you can use these software on your tablet or smartphone, instead of having to work on your laptop/PC all the time.
While some vinyl cutting machines are only compatible with Windows laptops/PCs and Android phones, it is definitely a problem for Apple users. If you use a Mac or an iPhone, or plan to do so in the future, you need a missing whose software is compatible with everything, Android and iOS, Mac and Windows.
Some machines prefer to do a more detailed job, other machines are fast. The Cricut Explore 2 Air, for example, is said to be 2x faster than any other machines in the market. A machine that is fast, as well as detailed in its work, is the machine you need for yourself.
- Supported Formats
Most vinyl cutting machines support a wide range of file formats, including .svg, .gif, .jpg, .png and .dxf. The more file formats a machine supports, the easier it is to download a design/pattern from the Internet and directly get it down to work.
- Bundle Kits
With some models, you just don’t get the machine, but a starter bundle kit that is going to be quite useful in your first projects. These bundle kits usually come with blades and other tools, transfer paper, sample vinyl sheets, scraper, knives, squeegee and vinyl rolls.
So, it all comes down to the basics: you need a vinyl cutting machine this is small and compact, but at the same time, can be used for extensive projects.
The best vinyl cutter machine will be compatible with both iOS/Mac and Windows/Android Users, and will be able to work on multiple materials ranging from regular paper to faux leather, fabric to thin metal; besides, the machine you would use would also allow you to choose between different tools: knives and blades, pen tool and scoring tool.
Also, a vinyl cutting machine that supports all file formats and can be controlled with your smart phone/tablet is more convenient. Bluetooth connectivity is more convenient than connection via USB cable, and machines where the blades can automatically adjust to material are easier to manage.
Of course, all these features should come with a machine that also has a starter bundle kit and is under your budget.
A Beginner’s Guide to Using a Vinyl Cutting Machine
If you are new to this whole concept of a vinyl cutting machine for your home business or personal use, there is nothing to worry about. Although a vinyl machine is a sophisticated piece of machine, it is not very difficult to understand or use.
You might have to practice a few times and waste a little material to get your first design right, but you are going to get used to using these machines very soon.
- Find the Right Machine for you
First of all, of course, you’ll have to find out the right vinyl cutting machine based on your needs. The more sophisticated ones can work on more than 100 different materials, work fast and still give you efficient cutting and drawings.
Your budget is important too, but it is better than you settle for one of the best vinyl cutting machines in the market that will allow you different uses over the years.
- Decide on Your Craft
If you have already decided on your craft, it will be much easier to proceed from here on. All vinyl cutting machines, as a rule, can work on the same kinds of materials.
So whether you are thinking of sewing, embroidering, quilting, heat press printing, screen printing making stickers or labels, or painting, paper crafts or anything else, you can use the same machine for everything.
You’ll, however, need to settle on a craft preference before you start gathering your supplies. Otherwise, there are thousands of craft supplies that you can buy for your vinyl cutting machine if you can’t decide on exactly what to do.
- Gather your Supplies
Some vinyl cutting machines come with a starter kit that contains a bit of everything from trimming blades to sample vinyl material. These supplies are all useful but you’re also going to need to buy other supplies.
The fabric of your choice, for example, if you are interested in embroidery or applique, or quilting. Most machines can cut patterns and shapes through fabric, which is quite helpful in both quilting and appliqueing.
If you want to make leather bags and crafts, you need to gather some fine leather or faux leather, and of course, a vinyl cutting machine that can work through these materials. Or vinyl, which can be used in a number of ways in most crafts. You can buy everything you need from your local craft shops, or order them online to be delivered home.
- Decide on a Project
Of course, you can do a lot (A LOT!) with a vinyl cutting machine, but since the name itself advertises “Vinyl”, let’s see how to create something with this material.
Now, there are regular vinyl material, adhesive vinyl and heat transfer vinyl. Regular vinyl can be cut into shapes and patterns for all types of projects, while adhesive vinyl is mainly for making stickers and heat-transfer vinyl is for transferring your designs to T-shirts, mugs and other surfaces. We’ll work on adhesive and heat-transfer vinyl as an example.
You can buy both adhesive and heat-transfer vinyl material in bundles from your local craft shops, or online, but some samples can also come with your vinyl cutting machine.
- Find a Design
If you are good with designing, you can create one on Photoshop, AutoCad or PixScan, or the special software that comes with your vinyl cutting machines; or, you can find something simple to use from the Internet.
For your first projects, something simple will be better, such as a vector cartoon or a text. You can also choose a font to write your own name (or the name of a loved one) to turn into a sticker/T-shirt. The simpler the design, the better it is for your beginner’s project.
- Prepare your Cut File
Preparing your cut file refers to finalizing your design via any software. Since you will be using a vinyl cutting machine, you need to do this with a software on your computer (alternatively, on your smartphone/tablet).
People who don’t have an electrical cutting machine yet, can do it with their hands using a scissor, but it becomes difficult for complicated designs. Since you have already purchased a vinyl cutting machine, assumedly, you need to prepare your cut file with a software and save it in a format recognized by the machine.
The most common format is a .svg format, but machines can also recognize .png, .dxf or .png.
If you are using a Silhouette or a Cricut vinyl cutting machine, you need to use their recommended software Studio Designer or Design Space, and save the file in the format needed (usually .svg).
- Determine the size
While you are preparing the cut file, you will also need to determine the size of your design; the size of course, depends on the surface you are going to use your vinyl on. If you are making a sticker or a label on adhesive vinyl, it might be a little smaller than if you are using it on heat-transfer vinyl for a T-shirt.
For example, if you want a sticker for your Kindle cover or phone cover, the size should be a little smaller than the actual cover. You need to measure the space you want to put the sticker/label on with a ruler, and then scale your design accordingly. This needs to be done before you save your cut file in the required file format.
- Connect the machine to your device
Vinyl cutting machines come with two connectivity options: USB cable and Bluetooth. Bluetooth connectivity is easier to maintain in a crammed office/home office space, eliminating the clutter caused by a wire.
Whichever connectivity option your vinyl cutting machine has, connecting your device should be an easy task.
- Place the Vinyl Material
Now comes the part about using the vinyl cutter machine, finally. Most machines come with a cutting mat, usually one that is 12”x12” in size. With the Silhouette Cameo, you can get a slightly bigger one, measuring 12”x24”. However, for this project, you will need a very small space, so the standard 12”x12” would do finely.
You need to put your vinyl – adhesive or heat-transfer – on the cutting mat. The colored side of the vinyl (if you are using a colored one), should also be facing up on the cutting mat.
If you are using an adhesive vinyl material, the adhesive part would of course be on the cutting mat. If you are using glittery or gloss vinyl, the settings can be a little different from regular vinyl, depending on the machine.
- Make a few Test Cuts
Even if you are extremely confident about the whole thing, it is important that you make a few test cuts on a similar piece of vinyl, or on a corner of the piece you are using. A few random strokes are all you need, just to see if the blade is working fine.
You want the perfect depth of cutting where the blade can cut through the vinyl material, but not the backing underneath. If the cut is incomplete or if it has gone through the backing, you’ll need to readjust your blade’s density or thickness.
If the cut has been perfect, you can now load your preferred vinyl material – the one you want to use for this project, into the machine.
- Make the cut
This part of the process completely depends on your machine. After you’ve selected the proper settings and placed the cutting mat with the vinyl material inside the machine, there is nothing for you to do except wait and watch.
The machine, depending on the design and the speed, will complete the work in a matter of seconds or minutes. However, it is recommended that you watch the machine while it is working, and not leave the room.
- The “Weeding Process”
The process to remove the excess vinyl material from your sticker/label is known as “Weeding”. Depending on your design, there can be a lot of excess vinyl that needs discarding, or a small amount.
The right way to do is to use a weeding tool or a hook to gently lift each piece. It is recommended that you lift up the paper backing first, and then the smaller pieces.
- Applying the decal
You can do this in two ways: simply by using your hands or by using a transfer paper. Using your hands or a tweezer may seem to be the easiest and the shortest way, but using a transfer paper can give you a more professional look.
A transparent, thin transfer paper is what you need for this process. Simply cut off a piece close to the size of your design and apply it to the vinyl material, right over the part that needs to be visible. Use a scraper or an application tool to smooth the transfer paper into the decal. Turn the piece around and gently remove the rest of the backing.
- Place the Decal
Finally, place the decal, along with the transfer paper, on your preferred surface. Smooth it out with your hand, and then again, use the scraper tool to permanently place the design on your surface. Give it a good rub to make it stick better. Remove the transfer paper and enjoy your design.
It you were looking to use a heat-transfer vinyl paper to a T-shirt, the process is almost the same. You need to make a mirror image of the design before cutting it with your machine, and when placing the design on your T-shirt/tote bag/notebooks, you have to iron the design to stick to your preferred surface.
The process isn’t hard at all, especially if you are quite handy with designing software. The rest is easy, especially when you have the right materials and the right tools to help you.
How to Take Care of Your Vinyl Cutting Machine?
Taking care of a vinyl cutting machine doesn’t require a lot; the parts might need to be changed every once in a while, and regular cleaning is required. Annual maintenance, if possible, can make sure you will be able to use your machine for a long time, as well.
The right way to maintain your vinyl cutting machine can be found in the instruction manual that comes with the machine. As well as guidelines to using it, you can find everything you need to know about maintenance there. It is a common mistake that a lot of users make – to not read their manual. Manuals will have everything you need to know about taking proper care of your machine.
Regular use will dull your blade every now and then. If you keep on using a dull blade to make a cut, your machine will put unmercenary pressure on the blade. Besides, you will end up with a bad cut too, damaging your design and wasting your vinyl sheet. Replacing dull blades with new ones every now and then will keep your machine performing well over the years.
Any dust or debris on your machine will eventually make its way into the machine and create a hindrance. Dusting and wiping with a dry cloth regularly will help you eliminate this problem altogether.
The blade holders need to be cleaned regularly as well. This should be done at least once a month, thoroughly, by removing the blade holder, unscrewing the cap and removing the blade post. The blade holder needs to be completely clean, devoid of any dust/debris. One drop of lubricating oil in the blade holder is good enough for a whole month of use.
When not in use, cover the cutter with a piece of cloth so that no dust or debris falls on it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Vinyl Cutting Machines
- Do I need to be an expert in design to use a Vinyl Cutting Machine?
Not necessarily. You can use images, patterns and designs downloaded from the Internet for your projects. All you need to do is to learn the basics of the software you will be using, for getting the size right, and other simple modifications.
- How do I know what setting to use for my material?
For a vinyl cutting machine, the right setting usually means adjusting the depth of the blade, depending on the material. Some machines can automatically adjust the blade depth and for others, you will need to manually set it.
Your user manual will contain all the information you need about your blade. If not, you can set your required blade depth by making a few test cuts on a spare piece of vinyl.
- How long is my blade going to last?
The average lifespan of a regular blade is about 5 miles of cut. With regular use, a single blade can last about 6 six months.
- Can I control my vinyl cutting machine with my smartphone/tablet?
Some machines can be connected to your device via Bluetooth, and can be controlled with the help of your smartphone/tablet.
- Why do I need a cutting mat?
Cutting mats come with every vinyl cutting machines, and are necessary for making a cut. Every kind of material you will use in your machine need to be placed on a cutting mat as a backing for the blade to put pressure on.
- Can I use two tools at the same time?
With some machine, yes. Some specific vinyl cutting machines have the provision to attach two tools at the same time. You can use them both at the same time, or interchange between them, without actually having to remove one.
A vinyl cutting machine is the perfect way to unleash your creativity. Whether you are trying to set up a new business or love making craft, a vinyl cutting machine can be a great help to you.
You can do a lot with a good machine: create your own designs or download from the Internet, and personalize your possessions. Such a machine isn’t very hard to use, even when you are completely new to this.
A vinyl cutting machine is a very important tool if you want to run a business of your own. It will not only make your work easier, but faster, more efficient and more professional.
Buying the best vinyl cutter in the market is also not very complicated if you know the right features to look for; hopefully, this article has helped you in that aspect.