Introduction to Vinyl Cutting – Perfect Designs Made Easily

More and more people are being creative these days, whether it is by making music, video recordings, writing blogs, or doing arts and crafts. With the advent of more and more technology, it’s easier to find out what you need by looking online. This article has a basic look at vinyl cutting – a fun and fulfilling way of making your own designs. It can be anything from vinyl stickers on T-shirts to other craft projects. Creative artwork with text is the simplest. It can be done as a business and you can even do it at home.

Once you’ve started your own vinyl cutting, it’s easy to recognize other examples of it. The next time you see an advert posted on a van, the likelihood is that the letters were made with a vinyl cutter. It’s more complex than ordinary printing, but something you can easily learn with time and practice. So let’s get started.


Do you Need to Buy a Vinyl Cutter?

The answer is ‘no’ – you can cut out shapes with a knife or a pair of scissors. That’s certainly a cheap option and somewhere you can start before you decide whether to invest more money into your hobby. Craft types of vinyl need tools and supplies related to them. If you become more serious with your hobby, the likelihood is you will want to invest in a vinyl cutter.

Source: FDC Graphic Films

What is a Vinyl Cutter?

A vinyl cutter could almost be confused visibly for a computer printer. In fact, it is a computer-controlled machine. Images are loaded into it from a pc via Bluetooth or wifi. If you were going into sign making, for instance, this method would be your first step. These machines don’t create a lot of maintenance issues once you have them, so they shouldn’t cost you much after the initial purchase. The rolls of vinyl you use are also relatively inexpensive and can be bought by bulk. As a result, running costs don’t have to be prohibitive.

As always, everything you need to research is found on the internet. Some sites don’t just tell you about their vinyl cutters and the prices, but also provide helpful guides to assist you in your hobby. I found a honey pot of information when looking at online because the experts had also posted helpful reviews. When guides are also placed on the same site, it creates a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know from start to finish.

Source: FabLab Factory

What is the Process?

You will first need to use vector drawing software on your computer to create a vector-based image – more of that shortly. Basically the vinyl cutter will control the blade movement (the cutter moves from side to side) as letters or shapes are cut out of sticky back plastic (vinyl). They have to be of one color rather than mixed – if you want the latter you’ll need to do different colors separately and put them over the top of each other in layers (you can’t do photographs for similar reasons). This will obviously be more time-consuming.

Vinyl cutters can cut in arcs, circles, or lines. They can’t use pixels. These machines have a lot of functions and cutting commands. The blades can be set at different angles to suit your purpose, ranging from twenty to sixty degrees. How deep the blade is to go and how much it is to push down will also be chosen in advance using the various settings. Sometimes you have to do it several times before the shape is cut out fully. There will be a vinyl backing underneath which you mustn’t cut right through.

You will hear the term ‘weeding’ when discussing vinyl cutting. It’s basically about removing the excess parts of figures.

Source: Hercules Fence

What is VCRVA?

It stands for Vinyl Cutter Ready Vector Art. This is produced on your pc using software packages such as Illustrator or Coral Draw. Besides using the fonts you can already find on your pc, you can buy others online.  The Mega V A Collection is one example. It then has to be imported into your vinyl cutter program. Two highly popular programs are Sign Cut and Flexi Starter 10.

What are the Different Types of Vinyl?

If you want to attach designs to a T-shirt or a fabric bag, for example, you need to use a heat transfer vinyl. When it is hot it’s ready to be applied to the article and all air bubbles need to be removed. It will be fully stuck once it’s cooled. You won’t usually need transfer tape for this. If you were working on signs or store windows nothing has to be heated, so a simple adhesive vinyl will be fit for purpose.

The good news if you always use the same vinyl type is that once you’ve chosen your vinyl cutting settings, they won’t need changing.

Source: 3D Insider

How Long Does the Process Take?

That depends on you! As a learner, the process will be slow at first but will speed up as you become more familiar and more confident. If you choose simple designs they won’t take as long to do like the really complicated ones. Smaller shapes will also be more difficult and time-consuming.

I hope this has to whet your appetite as you consider adopting this exciting new hobby. Why not try initially with shapes that can be cut with scissors. If you enjoy it, get yourself a vinyl cutter and let the real action begin. There might be years of pleasure ahead of you as your designs become more complex and more fulfilling. There will be a number of uses you will find for your new ability, and who knows, you might end up in full-time business. Whether this happens or not, you will have the opportunity to learn more and become more skilled. Books and resources abound online. There’s also the opportunity of making friends with people who share your interests. Who knows – you may one day be teaching other people! Good luck.