Playing With a Die Cutter

Since I last posted, I’ve been busy going on holidays in Scotland, zooming about on my new bike, and generally going out and doing stuff. But as its getting dark again, and the weather is getting worse, its time to make some stuff.

Months ago, I bought a Silhouette Cameo 4 Die Cutter. I’ve got plans for this, but I wanted something simple to start with.

Its pretty cool: you can cut paper, vinyl sheets etc, controlled by a design on a computer.

I decided to go for the Silhouette range rather than their competitor, Cricut. I do not approve of Cricut’s business practices. Yuck.

With Silhouette, there’s a well supported open source Inkscape project (there’s even a teeny tiny bit of my code in it now, for a new feature in the Cameo 4).

You can obviously use the supplied Silhouette Studio software, but I personally would rather use something closer to the hardware: I find I learn tools far better that way. Plus, there’s no Linux version.

Parameters

The main two parameters for this Die cutter are speed and pressure.

They need to be tweaked for each combination of material and tool: the software has some built in defaults which seem to work well. But expect some fiddling and test runs!

Design Idea

For my first project, I settled a two-sheet design:

  • A black sheet of card with a design cut into it
  • A second sheet with a design drawn on it behind it.

I bought some black+purple card, and a silver pen from Hobbycraft.

Then I started messing with Inkscape. I found a celtic tree design on the Internet to use as a quick test.

Obviously as this is not my design; I’m only using it this once to test the process out. I’ve lost whichever Google Image result I downloaded it from unfortunately 😦

The drawn design card

My Silhouette didn’t come with a pen holder, but a quick search on Thingiverse found this, which – after a spot of fiddling – works really well.

I did have a problem with the pen leaving stray lines when moving around, but simply mounting it a few mm higher in the pen holder eliminated this.

The cut design card

I’d like to try a complex cutting at some point, but this is just my first attempt. So I went for a very simple circle around the tree.

I did have to adjust the cutter blade a few times to make it cut completely through the card, but it seems the Silhouette is extremely accurate at moving the tool/paper, so you can run it through multiple times without any offsetting issues.

(The mess at the top was me testing the cutter blade to get the correct length).

I could have used the cutting tool that came with the Silhouette, but they’re kinda expensive (the blades are not replaceable). To circumvent this, I had previously bought a cheap CB09 cutter, which has replaceable cheap blades, and 3d printed a holder for it (I think I had to adjust the holder design slightly, but I can’t quite remember). Anyway, it was very successful.

Result

The final result is this:

For such a simple process, its really quite impressive!

Next time, I’m going to make my own design: working on that now.

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