Introduction: Vinyl Cutting Tutorial

About: Maker in Residence at Laney College

This tutorial will go through the steps of using a vinyl cutter and how to properly apply the film to the appropriate surface. The machine used for this tutorial is the Roland CAMM-1 GS-24.

Required items:

Step 1: Cutting the Vinyl

After you have your picture file (.bmp, .jpg, .png) or Adboe Illustrator file (.ai, .eps) imported to your vinyl cutter's software cut program draw a box around your project (this is optional but will make it easier to remove your project from the material later). Once you've done that you can begin configuring your machine setup.

Keep in mind that I'm operating with a Roland CAMM-1 GS-24, so some of these settings may be specific towards this machine.

  1. Load the material
    • Before locking it down make sure it is properly lined up with the rollers and knurled roller ( white areas along the edge )
    • The cutting area is limited to the distance between the rollers
    • Then select the sheet type
      • Options: roll, edge, or piece
  2. Select the point of origin
    • You can set the origin by moving the cutter with the left and right arrows
      • Once you have found your desired origin, hold down the origin button until the machine reads "origin set"
        • Make sure the area next to your origin contains enough space for your project
  3. Set the cutting force
    • This step is based on your material thickness and blade type
    • For easier removal at least two passes is recommended
      • Start with a low force setting of 30gf
      • Then take a finishing cutting with a higher force setting of 90gf
        • **This is my recommendation, you can change the settings based on what works for you with your material**
  4. Make the cut
    • **Before cutting remember to draw the recommended cutout box around your project**
    • Make sure all the items you want to be cut are selected
      • Then start cutting

Step 2: Removing the Vinyl

For this next step you will need to break out the transfer tape, scissors, tweezers, and maybe a *box cutter or X-ACTO blade. **FAIR WARNING: This process can be frustrating and tedious; it may take a few attempts**

**BEFORE starting this step make sure the surface [that you'll be placing your project on] is clean, dry, and as dust free as possible.**

  1. Remove the box
    • Push your hand across the surface of the part of the project you want to keep
      • This will help secure it from being prematurely removed
    • Use the tweezers to grab the corner then carefully remove the surrounding area of your project (the box)
      • Use blade to cut unwanted parts to be removed in separate pieces
    • Once the box is removed you will have a clear area to place the transfer tape to remove your project without lifting the remaining material on the sheet
  2. Remove the bits and pieces
    • Use the tweezers to remove any unwanted pieces
      • i.e. the inside of the "O"
  3. Take it off
    • Cut a strip of transfer tape slightly larger than your project
    • Place the strip on your project
      • Push your hand across it (apply pressure)
    • Carefully peel at a steady rate
      • Make sure all pieces of your project are secured on the tape before COMPLETE removal

Step 3: Positioning the Vinyl

This step is all about placement and positioning of your project. It's all up to you to decide the location and orientation for your project, so these are just a couple of suggestions to help you out.

**Before placing remember to clean the surface**

  1. Marking your position
    • Mark desired areas with tape or light pencil marks to create a template or guidelines
    • Use a straight edge to check that it is straight
  2. Ask the questions
    • Ask yourself and possibly others the following questions before you move on
      • Does this look straight?
      • Am I confident about how this will look?
      • Am I ready to move on to the final step?

Step 4: Placing the Vinyl

Alright, this is the final step, the "Vinyl Countdown." You basically just need to place your project and apply pressure. **Once again make sure that the surface you're placing it on is clean.**

  1. Follow your guidelines
    • Follow the guideline that you created to carefully put your project in its place
  2. Secure it
    • Now that you've placed your project on the surface you must get it to stay there
      • You can do so by again running your hand across the surface and applying pressure
      • You can also use a credit card to push out the bubbles
    • Continue to apply pressure until all the bubbles are gone
  3. Remove the transfer tape and leave the rest
    • Carefully peel the transfer without removing your project from the surface
      • Apply pressure to each part of your project while removing the transfer tape
  4. Enjoy your project and profit from its value.