GCC Jaguar VLX Vinyl Cutter
(If you would like to become certified on this machine, attend an Introduction to vector cutting with the GCC Jaguar VLX Vinyl Cutter workshop!)
The GCC Jaguar VLX vinyl cutter is a 2D subtractive manufacturing machine. Put simply, the vinyl cutter is a computer-numeric-controlled (CNC) blade. It’s capable of making many exact cuts into a sheet of vinyl very rapidly. This makes the vinyl cutter most useful for cutting designs into vinyl stickers and heat transfers. The machine does not exclusively cut vinyl but can also cut other materials such a standard paper.
The input for this machine is 2D vector graphics. That means that your design needs to incorporate vectors such as in an SVG file. The SVG, or Scalable Vector Graphic is an XML-based vector image format for two-dimensional graphics. It uses precise mathematical equations in order to draw lines and shapes. By doing this the blade of the machine knows exactly where go in order to cut your design. To learn how to design items to cut, see Introduction to 2D CAD (with Inkscape). Inkscape is a free and open-source software similar to illustrator that will create SVG files. You can also google "[My Design] svg" to try and locate a design which suits your needs.
The CAM software used with the Jaguar is called GreatCut4. This software will convert your 2D vector graphic into instructions for the machine to cut. To start, simply navigate to File -> Import to bring your design into the software. Within this software you can do things such as scale and rotate your file.
Within the `Cut output` dialogue menu, the first thing that needs to be done is to grab the material measurement taken from the Sizing Material section. To do this press the `Read Material` button at the bottom of the dialogue and the new sized measurements should populate. There are material profiles within which you should heed when you are cutting different materials.
Default Material Cutting Settings
|Material (profile)||Blade||Pressure (g)||Speed (cm/s)|
|Adhesive Back, Standard||Red (45º)||40||90|
|Heat Transfer, Standard||Red (45º)||40||90|
|Heat Transfer, Sparkle||Red (45º)||80||70|
|Heat Transfer, Felt||See a CaTS for further guidance||60||50|
After loading stock into the machine, adjust the pinch rollers by applying force at the rear portion of the pinch roller support. Always adjust the position with the pinch roller raised. Disable any pinch rollers not in use but gently pressing down on the top pinch roller release grip. To enable a pinch roller, pull up the bottom release grip. It is important to note that the material should always be within the front and back sensors. There are 3 methods for sizing material:
- Roll (Left arrow)
- Edge (Down arrow)
- Single (Right arrow)
The "Roll" option will spool out the entire roll of material and measure the length on what is the x-axis. "Edge" serves as the complement as it will only measure the width of the material using the y-axis across the front of the machine. The last option, "Single" will do both; it measures both the length and width of the material on both axes. Options 2 and 3 find frequent use on this machine while option 1 does not. Using "Edge" is great for spools of vinyl as it will measure just the width. However, it will spool out about a meter when cutting just as a calibration test, so keep this in mind. "Single" is effective in using smaller scrap pieces that have arbitrary dimensions, as it will measure the width and length. We currently do not have a use for "Roll" so it is best to not use that option.
Keep in mind that you will have to resize the material every time the pull lever is engaged.
Before previewing a cut, click 'Read Material' so the CAM software knows how much vinyl it has to work with. Then you can precede to preview and output.