Vinyl cutters are used in the sign writing industry, and are great for making stickers, signs and graphics. I would like to thank Instructable  members silverjimmy  and Groover for their fantastic laser cutter instructables, without which I would not of been able to complete this project.
My idea is to take an old printer and turn it into a vinyl cutter, as they are quite similar in there design and it would hopefully make the build just that little bit easier.
As most people find the electronics an software the most intimidating part of a project like this, I've gone into a fair amount of detail on how to set it up.  Turns out the mechanical part of this project is far more challenging, as it takes quite a bit of tweaking, adjusting and general head banging to get the vinyl to cut  properly.
The video is of a test run with a marker pen.There is really not that much to see when Its cutting vinyl as its very hard to see where the cuts are until after the the vinyl leaves the machine.

Step 1: Parts you will need

I got quite a few of the parts from Core electronics who have lots of stuff and post it out really quickly. The rest I got from ebay which also has lots of stuff, but the post can take 2 or 3 weeks here in Australia especially if the parts come from Hong kong or China.

A little trick I learned in com tech at school is to stick the tape to your clothes a few times so I gathers some lint as that makes the tape less sticky and easier to remove from the sticker.
<p>Hello!<br>very good project. I had almost finished it!!! ..but with few problems...<br>first at all... I can not see the wiring in the &quot;2 relay module&quot; in none of the photos, can you please add me some images of the relay module connections?? <br>thanks a lot in advance!!!</p>
<p>The screw in terminals are the switch side of the relay, there are 3 on each relay common, normally open and normally closed. There are 3 pins you need to use gnd goes to ground vcc goes to 5 volts and IN1 goes to the signal wire on the arduino pin 12 .</p>
thanks! ..but...<br> that things you tell me I had already done... <br>I was asking &quot;in what ports&quot; do you connect in the exits of the 2 relay module, and which cables, because in the photos doesn&acute;t seem to be very clear.<br><br>I had connected gnd, in1 and vcc pines, that&acute;s ok, the problem is the other side, I connect the 2 positive cables and the 2 negative cables for &quot;power in&quot; the stepper easydrivers, in the &quot;common&quot; exits of the 2 relay module... It seems to work, but don&acute;t cut correctly.<br><br>thanks a lot for your help. I hope to be explained well my problem.<br>
<p>The easy drivers have power all the time and are not connected to the relay. The relay, is used to drive the solenoid or coil to move the knife up and down. </p>
<p>OK!!<br>all done and working!!! thanks a lot for your help!</p>
<p>Do you have any idea as to how one can make a vinyl cutter that uses dc motors for the roller and slide? Any suggestions welcome. Thanks</p>
<p>It would not be easy, you would need motors with encoders on them, and the arduino code would be a chalange </p>
<p>Ok, thanks for the reply. So basically your saying that I should go and find a printer with stepper motors if i'm not up to the challenge.</p>
Very good job liquidhandwash, <br>But I have a question,<br>How can you turn the knife in the cutting direction ?<br>I don't understand how can it cut whitout
<p>all vinyl cutter knifes are on a swivel, they will spin around and all ways cut no mater what direction the cut is made</p>
good job, i like it :)
<p>I picked up a large HP Draftmaster SX Plotter for Free with manual and pens even a HP Workstation with all the software used to run it along with the main Server for the HP workstaion in perfect working order. I seen the cutter that you used and its shape looks like this plotter would pick it up and hold it like a pen does this sound feasible ?</p>
<p>It will probably work if you fit a cutter to it you will just have to try it</p>
<p>Hello, i want to make one but i have printer with two wire motors, if i change them with stepper motors (i have some spare) can that be made please?</p>
<p>I suppose you could, any thing can be made with enough determination. </p>
Thanks, i will try and update if suces, thank you for your instuctables! Cheers
<p>Have you tried using contact paper in place of tape to lift off the vinyl? It's a bit less sticky than masking tape, and you don't have to line up several strips of tape that way.</p>
<p>I usually use wide blue masking tape, Ive tried contact it works well but can get tricky as it can build up a static charge, and it cause the sticker to jump on the surface before you got a chance to get it straight. I just prefer to use tape even though is much more expensive . </p>
<p>Great project! <br><br>If the magnet only has 2 cables how does it connect to relay and power supply?</p>
<p>You connect power to the solenoid, or magnet, and the relay act as a switch between them, it just cuts one of the two wires coming from power or battery.</p>
<p>Is it possible to use a (A4) scanner ?</p>
<p>you might be able to use part of it, but you still need something to push the vinyl through.</p>
<p>Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!</p><p>Great 'ible. I can do the mechanical part, but all of the electronics was killing me! Absolutely the best walk through I have been looking for! I needed all sorts of help with converting Inkscape to GRBL, and you finally got me there!!!</p>
<p>your welcome</p>
<p>Do you know of any other printers that would be suitable for this? Would love to make it but there's a lack of old printers around here, so don't want to spend money on a printer that won't do. Many thanks for the great 'able.</p>
<p>its a bit of a problem to find a printer thats suitable, I have not come across another printer like this, Maybe an old photo copier would work?</p>
do you think an old dot matrix would work? I'd suspect the paper feed teeth would be turned by a stepper? Not big on electronics so just guessing.
<p>Maybe, could you take some photos of the insides?</p>
not got one handy just now but I'll pick one up over the next few days to investigate and ill post some pics.
<p>Hello and thx for sharing!<br>Could you explain better the function of the electromagnet? Is it connected/glued/joined to the blade? If so in which way?<br>As I understand the electromagnet lift the blade during the cutting action and at the end of the process, right?<br>Thank you</p>
<p>The electromagnet pulls the blade onto the vinyl so that it will cut, the software tells it when to move. The printer carriage not only moves side to side but also moves in and out, so when the magnet is turned on it pulls the blade with it onto the vinyl. The 3d printed bracket is glued to the carriage, the blade holder is fitted to the bracket with a screw and is adjustable.</p><p>I hope to build another vinyl cutter which anyone can build, the problem with this one is, its hard to find a suitable printer.</p>
<p>Thank you for your reply. I've an old dot printer A4, it has a PSU which put out 28,4v AC current so I've to rectified it to DC current to work with the internal step motors (six cables) - It does it with the onboard circuit so I think I can desolder some components to build a new circuit board. I will update you with my progress :-) Cheers</p>
Making this
<p>Totally want to make one!! Inspiring</p>
<p>thanks sparkle</p>
<p>Great instructable, well documented.</p><p>A better material to use on the vinyl than masking tape is Premask. It does the same job but peels off a lot easier. It's what the professionals use and you should be able to get it where you buy your vinyl.</p>
<p>thanks for the tip</p>
You're welcom
<p>If the motors have 5 or 6 wires, they're probably unipolar rather than bipolar steppers. 6 Wire motors generally can be used as bipolar, but 5 wire motors need unipolar drivers (which are not common in the hobby world.)</p>
<p>thanks sjrubol, thats something i forgot to put in the instructable</p>
<p>Thanks for sharing! Great upcycle</p>
<p>This is amazing. I hope you win what you wish for. I've voted for all 4 contesrs</p>
<p>Thanks shazzni</p>
<p>Oh my...! Excellent project and great step-by-step instructions! It is exactly what I needed to get started with Arduino 3D-Plotting-XYZ controlling stuff!</p>
<p>Thanks salexandridis. Im working on a cnc router that can be 3d printed just waiting for a few parts, see the photo in step one. so stay tuned for that instructable.</p>
<p>Hey! It's been about 4 moths or so that I have found a couple of inkjet printers thrown away. I connected both of them to my PC to find out whether they work or not. One of them (Canon PIXMA iP4500) needed a new printhead and the other one (HP PSC 1510) gives a mysterious error message. I disassembled the printers, but none of them had any stepper motors, just normal two-wired motors. Is there any way I could drive these motors without making any major changes to your setup?</p>
<p>unfortunately the newer printers cheap dont have stepper motors in them, you will just have to find an old printer.</p>
<p>THANK YOU!!! I've been looking for a project like this for ages that doesn't involve sourcing an old pen plotter for conversion. Lucky for me I seem to have some spare printers already, the Arduinio and some automotive relays - just need the rest of the bits. I probably won't be able to get to this project until later this year, but it is on my definite to do list!</p><p>I have a need but not the budget to invest in a traditional plotter or newfangled &quot;craft&quot; ones for making: Papercraft, Etch Resist Masks, Electrolytic Etching Masks, vinyl/sticker decals etc.</p><p>plus I can use the left over scanner beds for Very Slow/High Res digital scanning backs for photography.</p>

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Bio: Fixer, Finder, Fabricator.
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