A vinyl cutter is a computer-controlled plotting device that draws with a blade instead of a pen. The cutter is capable of moving the blade over the material, cutting it into any shape imaginable. Since the vinyl material comes in long rolls, projects with significant length like banners or billboards can be easily cut as well. You can download free or paid-for designs, or quickly create your own designs with free software on your own computer.
Besides vinyl, some vinyl cutters is also able to cut paper, which opens whole new creative avenues. Adhesive vinyl comes in a wide variety of colors and materials including gold and silver foil, vinyl that simulates frosted glass, holographic vinyl, reflective vinyl, thermal transfer material, and even clear vinyl embedded with real 24 carat gold leaf.
Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with this technology by watching video (8 minutes) of a vinyl cutter in action. The cutter used by maker Megan Elizabeth is a Silhouette Cameo desktop model.
How do I learn to use a vinyl cutter?
Of the advanced fabrication technologies available to makers and artists, the vinyl cutter is one of the easiest to master and can produce pleasing results in a relatively short time. The software interface is very similar to a regular printer, and should give novice makers a sense of familiarity and confidence when first starting to cut. Here are some more on-line resources to get you started:
- Google: when used correctly a source of inspiration, but also paid-for and free 2D designs ideal for vinyl cutting.
- Youtube: as always, a go-to resource for potential makers with some time available, that want to learn a new skill.
- SvgCuts: creative ideas, vinyl cutter tutorials and non-free designs.
- Silhouette School: a resource for the serious vinyl (and paper) cutter.
tekSPACY offers a programme for novice makers that want to learn vinyl cutting. As a tekSPACY member you shall receive guidance throughout the learning process from a skilled maker, with the eventual aim of creating, cutting and even selling your own designs.
Start by learning
Learn the basics of vinyl cutting under the guidance of a tekSPACY maker. This includes cutter calibration, preparation of your design file and finishing the completed cut. You shall also be required to know and practice the tekSPACY safety rules.
During this phase, you shall learn to create or modify designs using a 2D design application such as Inkscape. By the end of this step you should be able to create, cut, sell and display your designs.
Make your own
By now you shall have received maker status for vinyl cutting. You shall be able to make and sell your vinyl cut designs without supervision.