Vinyl Cutter Tips: Cutting Strips and Blade Exposure

by Juliet Kalmeta, Training

Vinyl cutters are great to work with, so long as you take care of a few small things.

The key to successfully working with your Roland GS-24, or any vinyl cutter, is to have a sharp blade, correct settings, and a cutting strip in good condition. The cutting strip runs parallel to the blade and is located where the material lays.

Cutting Strip on a Roland GX-24 vinyl cutter
The cutting strip should be carefully inspected for gooves and gashes. They can create a “bumpy road” for your blade, making it difficult to cut your film.

If your cutting strip is damaged with gashes from the blade, there is no stability under the material and it’s creating a bumpy path for the blade. You will have to increase your vinyl cutter force more than normal and/or your blade may not cut completely through in all areas of the design.

Blade exposure is another thing to watch. You also want to make sure the blade is not fully exposed from the blade holder. If there are no gashes in the cutting strip, you will be able to cut materials with very little blade exposed – only a credit card’s width, in fact.

If you are having trouble cutting your heat transfer material, I recommend increasing the downforce settings instead of exposing more blade from the holder. This will prevent the blade from skipping or friction build-up, and help prolong the life of the blade.

Occasionally, you may need to check to see if the blade is turning freely in the blade holder. Dirt or broken ball bearings in the blade holder will cause the blade not to turn freely, and that causes the blade to be dragged on its side.  You can blow out dirt or dust with canned air, the same kind that you use for cleaning out your computer’s keyboard.

Also, lubrication helps, too.  Spray a little WD-40® on a paper plate and roll the blade in it.  Then insert the blade into the blade holder, pull it out, and wipe the blade off with a paper towel.  This will lube the inside bearings of the blade holder and help clean out any debris.

Roland recommends replacing your blade holder once a year, but keeping it clean may enable you to keep it a little longer.

Editor’s Note: Roland provides some technical support and manuals on its website, too.

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