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Hello again ... I was wondering what all different uses there were for the cutter/plotters as far as producing shirts and other imprintable items.
I would like to look into one for custome lettering and text, but I was wondering if there were more uses for the item than just for text ?
I'm very new to this kind of item right now, but I am looking for any way to expand our business to make more different, unique, and personalized items.
Thanks for all your time and any input or opinions would be greatly appreciated !!!
:D
 

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Certain brands of vinyl cutters can be used for many things. The primary use of vinyl cutters are/were making signs and vehicles graphics. However, with the use of a heat press, a vinyl cutter can now be used for cutting text and logos out of heat transfer vinyl for applying onto shirts. In addition to this, some cutters offer an optic eye feature that can be used for cutting around pre-printed transfers & stickers. This means that you can print out full color images on an inkjet printer or large format printer and then feed them throught the cutter to be trimmed around instead of having to use scissors or an exacto knife. Another use of a vinyl cutter with a sewing/embroidery machine is to cut twill and make applique. Some cutters can cut fabric like this to be stitched down to a garment.
 

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OK, so if I planned on using a cutter/plotter for text and for trimming transfers, I would be best to find a size on the cutter that matches the maximum width I can print transfers at ... I am not currenctly printing my own transfers yet, but I planned on picking up a large format printer (Epson 1280) and I believe the maximum width for the printer is 13 inches, so I would be OK with, say, a 15 inch wide cutter plotter with the photo eye for trimming ?
If this is right, any suggestions on brands to look at ?
Thanks Josh ... looks like we are neighbors too ... GO STEELERS !!!!
 

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Actually I wouldn't recommend going below a 24" cutter and to find a cutter smaller than 24" that has the optic eye is tough if not impossible(I haven't seen one). So I would recommend the Roland GX-24, has the optic eye, is 24" wide and has the ability to cut twill. Go STEELERS for sure, lets just keep quiet about the Pens & Bucs:)
 

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Steelers, hell yeah.
I started doing signage and am now progressing into pressing. I bought a Designtech and really love it, except, that it doesnt have the optic eye for contour cutting. Meaning I cant use it to do the nice cut around a graphic to remove the excess transfer material. The Roland is a very good machine. Depending on your budget, there are a few chosses. The company I dealt with was SSK and they treated me as if I was theyre first and only customer. Any question or problem I had during set-up was assaulted to guarantee my happiness. I also suggest a 24" machine, no use in limiting what you can do by what you purchased. Before you buy, just google a review on the model youre interested in and that will shed loads of light on your future purchase.
 

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I have a question about my digital cutter. When I first used the cutter I got some nice cuts after changing my blade some problems occured. When I cut now I have little hairs around my image how do I fix this problem?
 

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Hi Cre8tive,

Welcome to the forums. In the future though, you should start a new thread instead of tacking on a question in a thread that was started already with a different question. That way we can help each person better, and your question will not get lost. With that said,....

When you replaced the blade, did you set the blade depth correctly?
What brand of cutter do you have?
 

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badbird said:
Hello again ... I was wondering what all different uses there were for the cutter/plotters as far as producing shirts and other imprintable items.
There are so many things you can do with a good quality 24" vinyl cutter. The main use for t-shirts though, will be cutting thermal vinyl so that it can then be applied to a shirt with a heat press.


I would like to look into one for customer lettering and text, but I was wondering if there were more uses for the item than just for text ?
Text is one of the big pluses of using thermal vinyl for making t-shirts, as there is nothing transfered to the garment other than what you want transfered. This makes it very good for making dark garments. However text is definitely not the only thing you can do. You can make multi-colored designs of almost anything imaginable except for photo realistic type designs. The vinyls are solid colors. There are a few special vinyls like camo and stuff, but the point is the colors are solid, and you create different designs with multiple solid colors. Most text, logos, cartoon characters etc. are based on solid colors.

Here is an example of a shirt I'm making for a local band using 3 colors of ThermoFlex vinyl on black shirts. It's an example of something you could do with a good cutter and heat press.


I'm very new to this kind of item right now, but I am looking for any way to expand our business to make more different, unique, and personalized items.
.....

If you were to get a good cutter, and learned how to use it and the software to work with vector based graphics that are "vinyl ready", you would not only be able to make t-shirts, you will also be fully capable of creating signs and decals for your customer. I don't mean that you have to do big lit up signs, but some nice banners and yard signs. That might not be what you want to focus on, but at least you could.

For example, a customer is starting, or has a small business. They come to you for some t-shirts. They want nice black t-shirts with their company name and logo on them. They are a small company, so they will only need 10 shirts. This is too small a quantity to screen print them, and dark shirts are not the easiest thing to do with ink jet transfers. This is perfect for thermal vinyl. While your at it, you could easily offer them some lettering or graphics for their vehicles or store front, or some signs to help promote their business. (Different type of vinyl, but the same software and cutter.) These are just some very real possibilities. You may wish to stick with just t-shirts.

By the way, that t-shirt design for the band that I linked to above, will also be cut using sign vinyl to be applied to the bass drum head, and will also be cut to make banners for the band and lettering for their van. All possible because I was able to make them some t-shirts.
 

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Decal_Designs said:
Here is an example of a shirt I'm making for a local band using 3 colors of ThermoFlex vinyl on black shirts. It's an example of something you could do with a good cutter and heat press.
Vinyl pressing is probably the print method I have the least experience/exposure to (unless it's commonly used in a certain way and I just didn't realise).

Any chance you could put up a macro photo or scan of a closeup of the finished product? I'm curious as to what it looks like on the shirt.
 

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Vinyl is very popular on sports jerseys as an example of something you're probably familiar with, but may not have realized it was thermo vinyl.

I'll take a good close up of that shirt for you after work on Monday. Right now it's 2am here. I have no idea what I'm still doing up. :)
 

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OK, I didn't get the approval of that design above yet, so I didn't cut that design yet, but I do have an earlier version of that design for the same band.

This one is on a dark blue t-shirt. I do have a very high resolution image available of the whole shirt if you want it for study, which I can email to anyone interested, (it's a 3MB file) but for now, I have made a reduced size image, and also a cropped portion of the high res file I have so you can download it faster.

These are photos of the actual t-shirt with the vinyl applied.
The only difference from the design above is there is a different font for the web address, and there is no purple drop shadow.

Reduced Size Image
Cropped High Resolution Image
 

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Very bold and clean - I can see why that would be particularly good for sports wear.

So I'm guessing the hand is fairly stiff, but not ridiculously so? (similar to 'bullet-proof' style screen printing if you're familiar with that?)

It would be weird for me to have to choose from a select colour pallette with no mixing options, but I guess you get used to it (especially coming from a sign making background). Is that annoying? Or is the colour range sufficient? Digital transfer people tend to feel the same way about screen printing, so I guess it's a all a matter of what you're used to.
 

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Actually, the hand is not bad at all, unless you start layering many colors. Usually I punch out the overlaps in my software before cutting each color layer to keep the hand minimal. I have seen screen prints with more hand, but usually screening does have less. I'm not familiar with bullet-proof screen printing, even though I've probably seen it without realizing.

About the color selection, Within the ThermoFlex Plus range, there are about 25 colors. Camo is also available, as well as some glitters, metallics, sparkles and blends, reflective, and flocks. But you must realize that this stuff comes in rolls of material, so unless you have a roll laying around you have to be careful which colors you choose. You wouldn't want to order a roll of a color you seldom use for two or three shirts.

In reality, the color choice is sufficient if you are designing something new and can pick any colors you want. There is a problem when a customer has a color in mind and it's not quite what is available. You either have to alter the persons choice of color, or use a different print technique. This is actually happening on the first design example I posted. One member in the band wants the purple drop to be a blue-ish purple. I can get four different shades of blue, an one shade of purple, but I can't get a blue-ish purple. So like most other things in life, there can be some problems. More colors would be great.
 

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Decal_Designs said:
I'm not familiar with bullet-proof screen printing, even though I've probably seen it without realizing.
I'm not sure how widely the term is used, but it's what I know that ultra-heavy hand plasticy feeling screenprinting as. The stuff that feels heavy on the shirt and kind of... bends rather than wrinkles. It's not as bad as all that, but that describes the idea. It can be desirable for some stuff (sports numbers, heavy blocks of bright colour for children's graphics perhaps, etc.) but I'm not a fan. Sounds like vinyl would be better.

Decal_Designs said:
About the color selection, Within the ThermoFlex Plus range, there are about 25 colors. Camo is also available, as well as some glitters, metallics, sparkles and blends, reflective, and flocks. But you must realize that this stuff comes in rolls of material, so unless you have a roll laying around you have to be careful which colors you choose.
Yeah, I figured that's how it would be. I probably wouldn't mind being limited to a 25 colour pallette for all my designs, but only if I got to choose which 25 ;)

Even when you can have any colour of ink you want, you often come back to a few favourites/stock colours, etc.
 

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I don't really see the point in bulletproof printing....if that's the look you're going for (for some unknown reason) you may as well heatpress.
 

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I don't really see the point in bulletproof printing....if that's the look you're going for (for some unknown reason) you may as well heatpress.
Not all designs are meant to be light and fluffy :)

Heat press is not the same as screen printing :)

Just like most things, it depends. Some designs look great with thicker coverage (bulletproof), and some designs would look silly with all that ink.
 

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Solmu said:
Vinyl pressing is probably the print method I have the least experience/exposure to (unless it's commonly used in a certain way and I just didn't realise).

Any chance you could put up a macro photo or scan of a closeup of the finished product? I'm curious as to what it looks like on the shirt.
Examples at www.stahls.com
 

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Solmu said:
Very bold and clean - I can see why that would be particularly good for sports wear.

So I'm guessing the hand is fairly stiff, but not ridiculously so? (similar to 'bullet-proof' style screen printing if you're familiar with that?)
Saw sample of Thermoflex vinyl on demo t-shirt at a supply store. They used all kinds of colors including metallics and sparkly vinyl.

There were some thin small letters. All looked sharp and clea and durable.

And the hand was not heavy in my opinion because of the design. Did not feel rubbery like a dark opaque transfer. Colors really popped - was on black shirt.
 

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I wonder what it would cost to mail you a little sample that you could press Solmu?

Susan right about the colors really looking nice on black too.
 
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