Vinyl Cutter Buying Guide

Vinyl Cutter Buying Guide

A vinyl cutter is one of the best
investments your business can make. It can start
turning rolls of vinyl into real dollars in as little as 20
minutes. I’m Zack Ellsworth and today I will help you choose the
perfect vinyl cutter for your business. Since you’ve been vinyl cutter shopping you’ve probably found that 24 inch wide
vinyl cutters can range in price from three hundred dollars all the way up to
three thousand dollars or more. So where does it make sense to sacrifice
a few features to save a few dollars? and when should you spend a little more
to pick up features that the less expensive machines might not have? Let’s start by talking about what you
can make with a vinyl cutter in any price range.
Every vinyl cutter you research will give you the ability to make signs decals and heat transfers using standard
vinyls. Standard vinyls for signs and decals are
also known as cast or calendared vinyls. They stick to any
hard flat surface, come in colors and leave a gloss or
matte finish. They can range in thickness from two mil thick to four mil thick. If you’ve seen a stick figure on the back of a
minivan driving down the interstate, then you’re familiar with standard
sign vinyl. Standard vinyls for making heat transfers are known by many different
brand names. A few I recommend are Thermo-FILM®,
Fashion-FILM® or SportFilm Lite™. These vinyls can be heat applied to any
cotton or polyester fabric. They come in common colors and they
leave a gloss or matte finish. They can range in thickness from 70 to 120
microns and are used a personalized t-shirts, bags, sweatshirts, banners and more. Almost every vinyl cutter without
exception will give you the ability to make signs decals and heat transfers with these types
of vinyl. If you’re satisfied using standard vinyls exclusively then
you can invest as little as five hundred dollars in your vinyl cutter. We’ll come back to this price range in a
few minutes to help you choose which inexpensive cutter is right for you. but if you want to do more than decorate
t-shirts and standard signs, then let’s look at the next set of items
you can make with a vinyl cutter. Did you know that there are films you
can cut to decorate performance fabrics and other synthetics? like swimsuits, umbrellas, windbreakers and stadium seats? these films are different from standard
heat transfer films in a number of ways. The most important difference to
choosing a vinyl cutter is that they are significantly thinner
than standard vinyls. That means the perfect vinyl cutter for
cutting these thin films will have superior material handling capabilities and very precise downforce to cut just
through the film layer of a roll. Machines with this type of
percision cutting and material handling typically have a
Digital Servo Control. A Digital Servo Control operates in a
closed-loop which means the cutter is always making
adjustments from position feedback to control its motion and final position.
That not only makes the movement of the cutting head more accurate but also the movement of the roller that
feeds the material back and forth through the cutter. The other motor option which is
typically found in vinyl cutters under one thousand dollars, is a stepper motor. A stepper motor
operates with an open-loop. It doesn’t receive any feedback on
motion or position and breaks movements into rotations or smaller steps. Stepper motors are
known for how loud they are and are typically warranted for half the time of a digital
servo controller. If you want to be able to consistently
and accurately cut performance heat transfer vinyls for applications like performance wear,
nylon jackets, umbrellas and sublimated garments, then
you will need a vinyl cutter with a Digital Servo Control. There are also vinyls on the opposite end of the performance spectrum. These vinyls
are very thick and durable, designed for application onto
jerseys and garments that would be used in full contact sports or for designs that really need to pop off
the garment like glitters, flocks and puffs. These types of vinyls require a vinyl
cutter with significant downforce. Again, machines with stepper motors might
work for a short while but they will eventually wear out if
you’re cutting a lot of thick durable vinyl. Look for a machine with the Digital
Servo Control combined with at least 250 grams of down force for consistent and accurate cutting on thicker
materials. It’s in this category of super thick or super thin, difficult to cut vinyls that the
additional features of the premium vinyl cutters begin to differentiate
themselves as the best machines. Maybe you’ve heard
of some of these features before but wondered why they matter when
choosing the right vinyl cutter for you. Features like overcut or tangential emulation or
guarantee tracking. Let’s give some substance to these words
and how they relate to the performance you need from your vinyl cutter. The overcut feature of a vinyl cutter does exactly what it says. It cuts over the end of the line in your
graphic to make sure the cut is complete. This really comes in handy when you’re
cutting rhinestone templates from flock or San Blas material. One of the most
difficult cuts to complete for any vinyl cutter, is a circle. In a
rhinestone template graphic is nothing but a series a small circles. You will want a vinyl cutter
with the overcut feature to make weeding your rhinestone template
graphics a breeze. This feature is available for under two thousand dollars on the GCC
Puma 3 and the Graphtec CE6000-60. When a vinyl cutter is cutting the blade
is being dragged through the vinyl to cut it and every blade has an angle at offset.
This angle and offset from the center the blade shaft make it
possible for the vinyl cutter to find the path of least resistance through the vinyl. When it comes time to take
a corner, the blade continues to swivel and drag around that corner. That’s why
it’s important to know the degree and recommended offset for your cutting
blade because the cutter will adjust
accordingly so that the dragging of the blade around corners doesn’t cause them
to become rounded or concave. What a tangential cutter does is pick up the blade holder and spin the
blade in a completely different direction to create more cleanly cut corners. The
blade essentially goes off on a tangent or in a completely
different direction. The Graphtec CE6000, the Jaguar IV and the Puma III all offer tangential emulation mode. They lift the
blade holder and allow the blade to turn in the right direction. This gives you the ability to cut thicker
and thinner materials more accurately and achieve finer detail in the graphics
you cut. Another important thing to consider when
choosing the perfect vinyl cutter for your business are the types of graphics you want to make. If you have the opportunity to sell into the promotional market, you may get
a lot of requests for graphics that will be applied to the left chest area of a shirt, like my
shirt is or on smaller items like can koozies or pad folios, tablet
cases or tablet covers. That means you’ll need
a cutter that can handle graphics with fine detail. This points us back to the vinyl cutters
with digital servo controls and features like tangential emulation and
overcut. These features help you to cut smaller
text and graphics cleanly for application onto small items or spaces. You might find yourself in just the
opposite situation. Maybe your potential customer base will
require large graphics like the one you see on the wall. Maybe you’ll be cutting team after team for the
local soccer league or you might find that you’re asked to
produce some large signs for outdoor use or even pinstripe graphics for vehicles
or trailers. To produces larger orders and graphics,
you should choose a vinyl cutter with a sufficient amount
guaranteed tracking. Guaranteed tracking is the distance that
the vinyl role will feed straight and unattended through the vinyl cutter.
If you have a pinstripe to cut that’s 12 feet long and you can only feed 10 feet of material
through your machine you’re going to add steps to the cutting process. Again, we have to look to the Graphtec
CE6000 or the GCC Jaguar IV to cut graphics for jobs longer than 20 feet. At this
point, we’ve examined the nuts and bolts of a
vinyl cutter and how the features found in some of the premium machines can
actually help you return more on your initial investment. Now it’s time
to bring the inexpensive machines back into the conversation because it’s time to talk software.
Whether you’ve decided on investing less than five hundred dollars or upwards of 2,000, the software that is
included or available for your machine can make all of the difference. All software is
not created equal. Every vinyl cutter requires a vector
file to be sent to it for cutting and there are two design softwares that are stables in the creation of vector graphics; CorelDraw and Adobe Illustrator. If
you plan on using one of these two design softwares, make sure the vinyl cutter you are
purchasing has a plugin that is compatible with them. The GCC machines come with a plugin
called GreatCut. The Roland machine comes with CutStudio and the Graphtec machines come with Cutting Master 3. All three are compatible with CorelDraw
and Adobe Illustrator on PCs but only the Graphtec plugin works out of
the box with Illustrator on a MAC. These plugins also control the
contour cutting capability of your machine. Almost every premium
vinyl cutter gives you the ability to contour cut
full-color graphics using registration marks. This is normally done through an
automatic process built into the machine and plug in software. Graphtec calls it
the ARMS system and Roland calls it Optical Registration
and this is where the GCC ExpertLX stands out among its inexpensive
competitors. Most machines with contour cutting
capability in the economy price range require you to manually align the registration marks with a laser
pointer on the machine the ExpertLX uses when GCC calls the
Auto-Aligning System to read the registration marks automatically for you. This feature saves you time and is more
accurate than the normal process required by other less-expensive contour cutting
machines. But what if you don’t want to spend the extra $500 to $1000 dollars on
a design software like CorelDraw or Illustrator that was
built to do way more than graphics for just vinyl cutting? Some vinyl cutter manufactures thought
of that and they included design software in addition to their plugin for
CorelDRAW and illustrator. Roland’s CutStudio plugin gives you
some design capabilities. In Graphtec’s design software, Graphtec
Studio provides a host of additional design
options, including advanced shapes and free hand tools, along with a tool
for making bitmap files cut ready. One thing missing from all of the
software solutions is clipart, templates and design effects
that work specifically for vinyl cutting. That’s where Stahls’ is
different. No matter which vinyl cutter you buy
from Stahls’, you receive free and full access to our cloud-based
design solution called CADWorx Live. CADWorx Live is filled with thousands of templates,
fonts and pieces of clipart designed specifically for use with your
new vinyl cutter. You can lay out team names and numbers,
make your customer’s artwork cut ready with the scan and vectorize
feature and easily create and cut multi-color text with the cut outline
tool and cut by color functionality built
right into the software. In addition to that, CADWorx Live takes
the guesswork out what size to make your graphics for application onto a left
chest or a full front. With stock and custom
sizing wizards, you can adjust to your customer sizing
needs with the click of a button CADWorx Live also gives you the ability
to do your design work anywhere. Whether you want to design alongside
your customer, in the office or in the comfort of your
own home; this cloud-based solution gives you the freedom to design wherever you have internet
access and there’s no limit to the number of computers you can use it on and as an added bonus, there’s also no
limit to the storage space for your designs. When finalizing your decision on the
perfect vinyl cutter for you you should also ask “what comes in the
box?” or ” what’s included with your purchase price?” Some vinyl
cutters come with a stand and some require an additional purchase
to add the stand. The stand is necessary to get the most out of the guaranteed
tracking so make sure to find out if it included. The Graphtec CE6000 includes the stand in the purchase
price. One last important item to note that comes out of the box, is the cutting
blade. Your cutter can have every feature
available in the world but won’t be much help to you without a quality cutting
blade in the blade holder. Once again, the Graphtec delivers. The blade that comes in the box will cut
up to 4,000 linear meters before needing to be replaced. Last but
not least, if you’re new to the world a vinyl
cutting, you should look for a dealer that offers start-up packages and
training to get you going. The worst thing you can do is order your
new machine and not have any vinyl to start cutting. Stahls’ has a number of
options to get you going no matter what you wanna make. From our vinyl cutter orientation
classes to our vinyl cutter success classes, we show you how to start making money
with your new machine right away. At this point hopefully you’ve heard
enough to make the best decision for your business and I hope you’ve
realized that a partnership with Stahls’ is the quickest route to success for
your vinyl cutting business. We sell all of the industry-leading
vinyl cutters so we can place you with the one that is exactly right for your
needs. You can find more information about all
of your vinyl cutter options by visiting or give us a call at one eight hundred
four stalls our experts are standing by ready to get
you started

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Hello, what is the best Vinyl printer cutter for stickers. 
    I want something on budget and print in colours and cut. 
    would you advice me?

  2. hello" can i ask if there is a link for Free Flexi10 software.. and also is this software is very important or optional? thank you! CADCUTDirect

  3. Are there any translucent films available such as for making Stained Glass Overlay? or is there anyway to get a stained glass look using a vinyl cutter?

  4. I apreciate the video, however it really seems they are just pushing the Graphtech wich they have placed main stage, I know the specs on the Roland GX-24 and it is a dream of a machine and stands up to any Graphtec. ..This video seems a little biased.

  5. I want a cutter that will work with drafting mylar to cut stencils for airbrushing. I also want a cutter that I can design and cut my own designs. What is your opinion on this cutter. USCutter 28 in Vinyl Cutter Plotter with Stand and SCAL Pro

  6. Is a "digital servo control" mentioned in the comparison charts the same thing as a "servo motor" mentioned in the comparison charts?

  7. Which machine would you recommend for a beginner that all I will use it for is makes decals for cornhole boards I build?

  8. great video man but I have a question … I have heard about 45 degree and 60 degree blades whats the point of the degree of the blade ?

  9. We need your help, we are a Military Chapter, and want to get into the T-Shirt business. Can you please call me, 716-649-7647, Scott

  10. Roland is the Cadillac of vinyl cutters.I have a GX-24 over six years now,no problems and trouble free operation in my business.I'm gonna upgrade to the new GS-24 soon. 🙂

  11. Good info however the graphtec also has automatic seeking for the reg marks the same as the gcc . The video says its manual thats not true at all you can manually chase the narks if for example theyre too far away on the product for the cutter to find fast but changing origin will cure this also.

  12. I just want to know where to buy quality adhesive vinyl rolls from for outdoor applications like car windows and windshields

  13. Which one is more durable ? The manual screen printing or vinyl heat press ? I am taking about quality of the print on tshirt
    Kind regard

  14. Hi there ! How about The KNK Zing Orbit or silver bullet die cutting machines ??? They can do the same thing also right? Plus they are not that expensive …. 🙂

  15. Is there a plotter that would cut Thin – ish plastic wall stencils? thank you. I am looking for a cutter to cut larger at least 700mm wide cutting area but standard plastic cutters like scanncut only cuts small stencils.

  16. I'm new in the airbrushing , I would like to make my on stencils ..any tip on Wich one to buy..I have a $400 budget.

  17. I have new roland 24gs cutter plotter machine. It did good test but when i need print another design it through the roll and the light is red I need know why ? Can you help me please ?

  18. Awesome Video to get an overview ! Do you have a video for Desktop Cutters Sillouetthe or this one from Brother, wich are in the price range 150-400 Euro? Thanks for your answer

  19. GCC Jaguar is best machine. try to cut thick materiel like reflective vinyl, only jaguar can cut other machine can not. Check tracking capacity of machine for length cutting jaguar is best. in other machines material will go cross.

  20. Hi i wanted to create decals for big rigs truck. When they put the name of their bussiness on the side of the big rig door. Banners for cars when they put on the back or top of the front wind shield. and viny for t shirts. what machine is best for me.

  21. Great presentation. All of these extra features do matter, however I've accomplished a lot with a silhouette cameo 2.

    Cut just over 17ft decals for tines for wall hraohics5. Did extra thick vinyl (multi cam), I have done extremely thin and small cuts of an eagles wings,beak and eyes no problem. These are very small cuts. Like you said, get a good blade and good material and you will be ok. Also, the silhouette is under $300. Only thing it lacks is width, 12".

  22. Hi… i wanted to cut and draw clothes pattern on thin draft paper.. it require size accuracy.. can you or anyone here suggest the right product?

  23. I want vinal cutter in india which best for T SHIRT CUP BAG PURSE ETC PLZ PROVIDE THE NUMBER OF INDIAN AGENT TO BORROW IT

  24. hello and thanks for good video,
    i went to your site but couldnt find any picture ,info or pricing for Graphtec vynil cutter.
    please let me know how much is the cutter?

    thank you!

  25. Hi, I love your tutorials and they are very helpful. Apart from the machines you mentioned, which other Vinyl Cutter machine would you recommend for a start off with a budget of $150 to $200?

  26. looking to up grade a vinyl cutter to do business logos on windows and wood boards, also making t shirts.

  27. Liquor 1350 mm 53" LCD Sign Decal Sticker Vinyl Cutter Cutting Plotter Contour 90V-240V,can anyone HELP on where to purchase the software for this machine….I have look at the reviews but everyone has said that is not compatiable..HELP I have had this machine for now 2 years and have not used it at all…..Thanks

  28. Hi, i am starting tshirt and all kinds of heat transfer application materials learning, i use mainly photoshop and i have 2 plotters at home, cameo 3 and scan n cut 2, but im looking to get a vinyl cutter from you but i dont know which one would be the one, i havent start producing yet but i want something to start with. Can you send me info please on prices and options? Thx awesome video btw !

  29. Thank you. Can you tell me which type of printer would be best to print out photo quality, life size pictures of people? I intend to apply it to cardboard and trim it to the photo outline. Effectively creating cardboard stand ups.

  30. Wow! This is a great video that articulated information about vinyl cutters in a concise manner. I realize this is a few years old, but I'm definitely going to your site to see whats new.

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