Buying a vinyl cutter is an important decision. There are a wide variety of vinyl cutters available on the market with vast differences in performance and quality. We’ve created the ultimate vinyl cutter buying guide to help you understand what to look for and what’s important to consider when purchasing the best possible vinyl cutter.
There are two types of motor drive systems that control the movement of the cutting head on the cutter; servo motor and stepper motors.
A mechanical stepper motor is much slower and is not capable of making precise movements. Stepper motors are found on entry-level cutters and craft-oriented cutters. Stepper motors also tend to be loud. Stepper motor cutters are less productive.
Most commercial cutters use a digitally controlled servo motor. Servo motors are capable of higher speeds, increased cutting accuracy, and they are quieter. Most importantly, servo motors are more durable, which means your investment will last longer, and you can avoid production downtime.
Tracking is the ability of a cutter to process long distances of materials while cutting. Several factors influence a cutter’s ability to track long distances. Most cutters have friction fed systems that do not require perforated holes punched in the vinyl for use with a sprocket feeding system. Friction fed systems do not waste material, as the user can cut variable widths as well as scraps. The media handling system and grit rollers significantly affect the cutters ability to track over long distances accurately.
The media handling system includes the pinch rollers that feed material through the machine as well as the media roller system that holds the rolled material.
The grit roller is the roller attached to the cutter which turns to advance the material through the cutter. A metal grit roller composed of a machined part is capable of exerting more pressure than roller cut from bar stock. The additional strength and traction of a machined metal grit roller will significantly increase tracking distance.
NOTE: The GCC Jaguar V and Puma IV LX use machined metal grit rollers for maximum tracking efficiency. GCC machined grit rollers are over twice the diameter of bar stock Roland and Graphtec grit rollers.
Accuracy affects the ability of a cutter to cut small text and graphics. The accuracy of a vinyl cutter also influences the ability to effectively weed (remove excess material) without tearing the material or pulling up unwanted material. Poor accuracy can lead to wasted and ruined materials and slow productivity.
NOTE: The GCC Jaguar V and Puma IV LX are capable of accurately cutting 1/8” tall text.
Downforce is the amount of pressure that the cutter blade can apply to the material. The more dense, thick or rigid a material is, the greater downforce on the cutter blade is required. If you plan on cutting tackle twill, sandblast resist or reflective vinyl, you will need a cutter with more downforce. A higher downforce rating also extends the life of the cutter, as it is only using a fraction of its capacity. A metal blade holder and blade holder assembly are more durable and will produce greater cutting accuracy as compared to plastic parts.
Cutter speed is a significant factor when selecting a cutter. The faster the cutter, the less time you have to wait to complete a job. Cutting speed is a somewhat arbitrary specification when quoted by cutter manufacturers. Just because a cutter is rated at 50 IPS (inches per second), does not mean it can cut at this speed on every graphic. This only means that the cutter blade can move from one point to another point at a specific rate (a straight line on the diagonal). Acceleration is the cutters ability to accelerate from one location to the next on a diagonal. The faster the cutter’s speed and acceleration rating, the more productive the cutter.
Most cutter blades are in the general shape of a triangle. This means that when a cutter cuts a corner, depending on the depth of the blade and thickness of the material, the cutter may not cut entirely through the material. This results in poor weeding of the cut graphic. Cutters equipped with an overcut function will cut past the corner to ensure proper weeding. An overcut feature is typically found only on servo motor cutters and essential for cutting thick or dense materials.
NOTE: The GCC Puma IV LX and Jaguar V LX have adjustable overcut. Additional overcut can be added using the StoneCut, and StoneCut Pro cut with overcut mode.
Most economy class cutters are capable of cutting materials no thicker than .25 mils. This is adequate for most vinyl materials and heat transfer materials. Few pro class cutters can cut materials thicker than .8mm. Thicker materials also require higher downforce pressure. If you plan on cutting sandblast resistant material or tackle twill, you should consider a cutter that can cut a minimum of 400 grams of downforce and .8 mm of cutting depth.
NOTE: A GCC Puma IV LX and Jaguar V LX can cut materials as thick as .8 mm, over twice as thick as a Roland GS 24 or Graphtec CE 6000 series.
Our experts can help. Reach out to learn more about our complete vinyl cutter systems.
Or, call 800-959-7627
Digital Art Solutions has been selling GCC cutters for over 15 years. We sell GCC cutters because they will significantly outperform other popular cutter brands and at a lower price. Compared to Roland and Graphtec cutters, they are faster, have more downforce pressure, and track much better. GCC cutters are also extremely easy to operate. Best of all, they are incredibly reliable and durable. Simply put, for the money, there are no better cutters on the market.
Our CorelDRAW powered multi-decoration system is the industry leader in ease-of-use. Design and production time in our system is a fraction of the time compared to traditional methods in CorelDRAW, Illustrator, or sign making programs. Our StoneCut and StoneCut Pro cutting programs are the most user-friendly and production-oriented cutting programs on the market. Compared to the bundled software included with most cutters, StoneCut and StoneCut Pro will significantly improve productivity with critical production features such as overcut mode, material optimization, and automatic sorting of cutting order.
In addition to producing industry-leading software, Digital Art Solutions is also the industry leader in digital art content for sign making, screen printing, laser engraving, embroidery, and digital printing. With our comprehensive line of digital art products, each system is customized to fit the artwork needs of your business. Our system includes interactive design templates, product blanks, production-ready clip art, and exclusive DAS fonts.
First and foremost, we are a software company. When you buy a cutter from a typical reseller, they have limited expertise in supporting the software. We designed our system specifically to run a cutter. Who better to support the cutter than the company that created the software to run it. We provide support for the entire system, the cutter, the software, the artwork, and the materials. You do not have to shuttle between 3 or 4 different companies to get a solution for your problem. Because we support the entire system, we provide a level of technical support that surpasses even the manufacturer’s capabilities. Every new cutter owner is supplied with a remote setup where our technicians will remotely configure the cutter and walk through the essential operation of the machine.
Each system includes comprehensive training guides with step-by-step instructions. We don’t leave anything to chance, if it’s essential, it’s in the training guides. Step-by-step video tutorials are integrated directly into our software. You can simply call up a video tutorial any time you need assistance. DAS is the industry leader in free online training, hosting over 130 live webcasts each year. During our onboarding process for new owners, we will register you for our webcasts and give you a login for our dedicated owner’s website. The site includes an archive of past webcasts, training videos, PDF training guides, and samples files. Digital Art Solutions conducts hands-on training events including our Road Shows, Multi-decoration University in Tempe and trade show workshops. In the event you do need help, our team is just a phone call away.