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Questions About A Small Vinyl Cutter For Sandblasting


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#1 kristenalane

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 02:40 PM

Hello,

I'm looking into purchasing a vinyl cutter. I want to use it to cut stencils to use for glass etching. I use a sandblaster to etch glass and stainless steel. What would be the best vinyl cutter to purchase? I want to start out with a small, less-expensive cutter. Also what type of vinyl would I need to use in the vinyl cutter?

Thank you so much for your help!
Kristen

#2 Engraver

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 03:19 PM

The cheap vinyl cutters will print the usual type vinyls but in general will not cut the heavier masks (guessing 10 mil & up). I purchased a cheap Signmax (Redsail) on Ebay just to cut vinyl (mostly for signs). I have previous plotter experience so the limited instructions received with the unit was not a problem for me. I am happy with this plotter but it is much noiser and slower than my good plotter that I cut 49Mil Sandblast mask with. It has paid ffor itself many times over in the 5 months I've been cutting vinyl with it.

I would buy the best one I can afford. If you are not going to cut the thick stuff or use it like a workhorse - you will have alot more options available to you. If you never owned or used a plotter before, I would suggest reading up on the vector formats that they are required to use for cutting. Read through the plotter threads here. You will find a host of info & am sure others will chime in also.

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#3 JWoodJr

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 03:33 PM

Hi Kristena,

I'm almost in the same boat. I've decided to jump into this fray spending the least I could

I also had previous plotter/cutter experience so I was a little ahead of the curve. Also was a graphic artist so I'm very familiar with Adobe's functionality.

I ended up getting a USCutter 12" vinyl cutter off ebay for under $200 shipped.

It came with Sign Blazer which I didn't even bother installing. I've been using Flexisign and I've still got a lot to learn about it but it works like any other graphic design software packages I've used.

To go super cheap I wanted to see how far I could get using con-tact paper instead of vinyl. Got a $24 sand blaster from Harbor Freight and I'm experimenting with play sand and aluminum oxide so far.

I built a small blasting cabinet out of a storage tub and so far the results are not too bad. I'm learning a lot as I go and been reading as many posts on here as possible.

All in all, it works. Its a little harder than using the "right" stuff but for just getting started it does what its supposed to.

Hope that helps.

John

#4 Inga

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 04:37 PM

QUOTE (Roderick @ Jan 19 2010, 03:41 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
.......I use a Mac so it works via a bridge program using Adobe Illustrator. That may be one of the most important things to reshearch. What your system is and how it is going to comunicate with the plotter


Kristina,
Roderick is so right on this, especially if you run a Mac because our options are a few less than PC.
I don'r know what Roderick is using right now, but I used to run Flexi/Vinyl Express, but have recently been recommending SignCut X2 / SignCut Productivity Pro software if one doesn't already have a cutter package or program that is working well for them.

SignCut is leased by the month or the year and is very affordable, without any big huge upfront cost. It also has a couple of really top notch features on it that I just love. Best of all, it runs almost any plotter. (They should have a list on their site)

Good luck on your plotter.

~Inga
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#5 Matt

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 04:42 PM

QUOTE (JWoodJr @ Jan 19 2010, 12:33 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I ended up getting a USCutter 12" vinyl cutter off ebay for under $200 shipped.

It came with Sign Blazer which I didn't even bother installing. I've been using Flexisign and I've still got a lot to learn about it but it works like any other graphic design software packages I've used.

I'm experimenting with play sand and aluminum oxide so far.


John

A lot of people get inexpensive plotters to start with, and nothing wrong with that. Research the features, ask what others use, and make your decisions from there. There is a lot of information from other posts in the archives, so feel free to browse.

John, I am taking it that you already had Flexisign, which is an expensive program (2000+)? I got Flexi Starter with my el cheapo plotter and does all I need it to with just cutting vinyl and masks.

With this setup, I sure hope you are taking proper breathing protection, sure would hate to see someone develop lung problems with something like silicosis.

Since I see this is both first posts for John, and Kristen, please take a moment and introduce yourselves in the Parlor, sure makes it easier to help members when we know a bit more of where you are at, sandcarving wise, and where ya want to take this craft.

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#6 Inga

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 04:51 PM

QUOTE (Coppers Lot @ Jan 19 2010, 04:16 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This is new to me roderick,can you post a link so i can see this stuff please?


All of these have been discussed extensively in past posts, so you can do a little reading and find all of it.
You can also do a little googling and find the sources for all of them:

VENTURE TAPE - http://www.venturetape.com 800-343-1076
HARTCO - (I happen to get mine from BEACON GRAPHICS...but there are may others)
AVERY PAINT MASK - many sources out there......

......I often use http://www.nextag.com to find sources when I want to do some comparison shopping and find a good price for things)

~Inga
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#7 cutme

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 06:13 PM

i would reccomend you take a look around this forum www.forum.uscutter.com for more info on plotters. i have a laserpoint24. while it has it's shortcomings, i would have to say i am very happy with what it can do for the money. i also use signblazer, illy, p-shop, inkscape and vinylmaster pro. in that order. i have been using oramask 810 with great results. it is a paint mask, but at low pressures it is just fine for sandblasting. i am thinking about getting some hartco blast resist though.

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the information contained in my posts is worth exactly what you paid for it. you are welcome to pm me for a full refund if you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase.

#8 Inga

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 06:28 PM

QUOTE (Coppers Lot @ Jan 19 2010, 05:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks for that Inga, it's nice to get some pointers as its very hard to find stuff in the UK based on US names as most items get a name change as it crosses the pond.


Ah...I SEE!

Well, the Avery paint mask is about a 3 mil paint mask. This is different fro sign vinyl in that it allows for easy removal when you are done blasting. You shold be able to find the equivalent in auto body paint supply resources.

Hartco, basically provides a 10, 25 & 35 mill vinyl, plus a new one they recently added. Hartco's stencils are all made with acrylic/water based adheasive backings** and the heavier ones come in both high tack and regular tack.

Similar to Hartco, Venture Tape is another company that has vinyl stencil only in other thicknesses. Unless something has changed, they have a 4 mil, 8 mil and 15 mil vinyl stencil....a little on the pricey side, but supposed to be good stuff. (I have not tried it)

Hope this helps.

~Inga

** ( Typically, most stencil material that is regular tack is petroleum based, but Hartco makes all of their with the acrylic based adheasive. There are times when this can be important to know about...like when working with stone, and fillers)
Imagination is more important than knowledge,
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#9 woodburn

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 03:30 PM

Yes ...thank you Inga, as always you are extra informative .
I predict that someday in the 'not so distant' future, John and Kristen will be imparting similar information and guidance to new members at this forum.

Matt makes a good reminder to post a little introduction in the Parlor happy.gif .

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