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Instructions for 2.009 vinyl cutter

There is a Rolland Camm1-server vinyl cutter available for 2.009 use in the Pappalardo lab.

This tutorial guides you through the steps of using the vinyl cutter in the Pappalardo lab, running it from the 2.009 computers. The vinyl cutter is located in the 2.009 computer area. If you're using a different set up or computer, you're on your own!

There are two parts to this tutorial: loading the vinyl, and cutting vinyl

1. Choose your vinyl
This step is very exciting! The vinyl is on the same cart as the vinyl cutter, and if you don't see the color that you want, please contact us. We may be able to order different vinyl for you.
Special thanks to engineer Brandon for his help, enthusiasm, and remarkable hand model talent that made this tutorial possible.

2. Load the vinyl roll on back tray
Make sure the roll is on both sets of rollers so that it will feed straight.

3. Push lever down on the back left of the machine
Assuming that you are standing in front of the vinyl cutter. This lifts the feed rollers so you can slide the vinyl into the machine.

4. Feed roll the vinyl through the machine
The roll should be oriented so that it comes off the top of the roll and the colored side faces up.

5. Move vinyl so its edges are under rollers, and the rollers are over knurled sections
The edges of the vinyl need to be secured by the rollers. To grip the vinyl (so the vinyl feeds correctly and does not skew during cutting), the rollers need to be pressing down on the roll over the knurled sections, which are indicated by light grey rectangles above the rollers. In image below, vinyl is only under one roller.

The image below shows a good setup, with the roller near the end of the vinyl and also over the knurling.

6. Lift the lever to engage the feed rollers
There should be some pressure in raising the lever back up.
7. Plug in cutter if you haven't already, and turn it on

8. Determine media size
When you turn the vinyl cutter the screen will appear as below.

The vinyl cutter recognizes three sheet types: roll, piece, and edge. For a roll, the cutter just measures the width and assumes the roll goes to infinity in the length of the roll. For a piece, the cutter will measure width and move the sheet forward and back over optical sensors to obtain its length. For an edge, the cutter will measure width and move the roll forward and back to measure the front edge. You will almost always choose edge as this option will waste the least vinyl. Use the up and down arrows to select what type of media you want the cutter to call this and press enter.

The measurements for an 'edge' piece are shown below. You can see that the carriage moves across the roll, then advances the roll until an optical sensor sees the edge.

9. Make note of media the width
The cutter will output the media width, as shown below (in this case the width detected was13.9in). It is important to note this dimension because the cutter adds margins. If you make a design outside these margins, the cutter will often not raise an error but you will have an unusable piece. So it's best to make your design with this width in mind.
Congratulations! You have set up the vinyl cutter! You may plug the USB cable into a 2.009 computer or wait until later.

Printing to the Vinyl Cutter from a 2.009 computer using Illustrator

The lab computers are set up with Adobe Creative Suite (CS6 or creative cloud). Illustrator has a plugin that will output vector artwork to Cut Studio (which is Roland's proprietary vinyl cutter software). It's a bit of a clunky workflow, but this tutorial should help you navigate it.

1. Open Illustrator

CS6 or CC are fine, the plugins are installed for both.

2. Set up your artboard

Remember the width of the media from wen you loaded the vinyl? Set this as your artboard width. This will help you get everything to fit on the roll. Height is up to you, it depends on your design and is in the length of the vinyl roll.

3. Make your design!
Make anything, as long as it has vector outlines. The vinyl cutter only recognizes outlines.

4. Open the Cut Studio Plugin
Roland is the company that makes the vinyl cutter and Cut Studio is their software.
Choose Windows -> Extensions -> CutStudioPlugin.

You'll see a window similar to the image below.

5. If applicable, render text
As you can see, the heart from the design rendered but the text did not. The text is not an outline yet.

Select the text you want to render, and click "outline text" in the plugin window. This is the same as expanding its appearance. But if you add things like outline strokes to the text, you'll want to expand the appearance (fill and stroke) using Illustrator commands. The command in the Cut Studio plugin does not expand the stroke.

Now the text will show up as an outline (vector)!

6. Output the artwork to Cut Studio
The large button on the top left of the plugin window will output these paths to Roland's software.

Cut Studio will open and appear as below.

7. Cutting Setup
Go to File -> Cutting Setup. You'll get a window shown below and you want to select the printer as Roland GX-24.

You will see that the paper now shows its size as "user size". Keep it portrait.

The software will ask you about moving your object. Click Yes.

7. Print
Now the software will show and image in which your artwork is at the bottom of the page. This means it'll be printed at the end of the roll, which is what you want. For mysterious reasons, the paper extends to the right and above much more than the Illustrator artboard size. But as long as the Illustrator artboard wasn't larger than the vinyl size, everything is fine.

Select File -> Print and choose Roland GX-24 as the printer. Like other printers, the job will wait in the queue until you turn the printer on. Once you have hit print and have the cutter plugged in, the job will start. You do not have to confirm it on the cutter.

Watch in awe as your vinyl us cut!

Please contact us if there is a problem with this page or you have suggestions for improvement.