Recently we bought a cheap Chinese vinyl cutter, or "sticker machine" and although the machine itself is reasonable quality and works well, the Artcut software the runs the machine is just horrible. I found that I couldn't import images, there are not many fonts to choose from and its just not user friendly at all, many of the menu items either don't work or, have really odd functions that are not much use for anything.
Time to use something else
Step 1: Stuff You Will Need
So you will need a Vinyl cutter, and Vcarve.
I got the the cutter from ebay seller Signstech Ive bought quite a few pieces of equipment from them and they have all way given me excellent service and advice on the laser cutters, parts and the vinyl cutter Ive bought from them.
Vcarve is also great for making stickers
Step 2: Simple Text Sticker
This step is a bit like a slide show, so click on the first image and use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move to the next screen shot. All the pictures have notes, just run your mouse over the box in the image.
If you use photoshop, inkscape or gimp, you might get to the last step and think, I could do this in one of these other programs he just exported as it an EPS. Well I thought that too, but for what ever reason the Chinese Artcut software will not import an EPS from these other programs.
Step 3: Turning and Image Into a Sticker.
Most drawings or images can also be turned into a sticker without too much trouble, as long as the image is a good size (not pixelated). Also images with strong contrasting colors work best, Like cartoons or logos. Photographs pose lots of problems, they are not impossible but can be very time consuming, and the end result can be disappointing. Just depends on your photo and how talented you are using the software.
The first step is to find and image, there is a useful tool in google will will filter the image by size under the size button.
Click on the slide show to start.
Step 4: Setting Up the Machine
Setting up the machine is simple, just turn on, pull up the handle at the back and insert the vinyl. Remember to lower the handle down again to lock the rollers in place
It is important to get the vinyl straight and it worth using the "leave" button and arrows to move the vinyl to ensure it tracks straight.
The machine will not work if the "leave" button is on, so push again to turn off. You can also make the knife start anywhere on the vinyl by using the leave button and hitting reset when the knife is in the position you want.
Step 5: Running the Machine
Now you can start cutting. Open up Artcut and the 2nd screen will allow you to choose the size of your vinyl.
Type in the width and height, this will change the appearance of the next screen. This machine has a maximum vinyl width of 600mm so don't put a larger number in there or something will get screwed up . The height is actually the length the the vinyl so you can do really long stickers by changing this value.
Now hit create.
You can now Import your EPS drawing and resize or move it around he screen with the arrow icon. Make sure you put you sticker in the top left and if you have several small stickers put then across the page.
You can also mirror the image which is useful if you want a sticker on glass just grab one side of the drawing and pull it across itself.
Now find the cut/plot in the file menu and the follow the silly prompts and the machine should start.
Step 6: Applying the Sticker
Once you have your sticker out of the machine you can remove the excess or waste vinyl. You need to take a bit a of time thinking about which bits to remove and which bits to keep. I usually start from the outside and treat it like a zebra, you know black, white, black, white. A little knife can be handy to remove the small bits.
I use tape to hold the sticker together, but you can also use contact if you wish or you have a large sticker.
The last step is clean the surface and the hardest step of all getting the sticker straight and centered.
You can then peal off the tape and your done.