In recent years, vinyl cutters have gone from something that only industry professionals had the space and money to afford to be accessible by any home consumer.
They’re great for creating all kinds of art projects, imaging, and craftwork. Whether you’re just using it for a hobby or running a small business, you want the perfect vinyl cutter for your needs. Here are some tips on how to find the right one for you.
Consider Your Purpose
What do you want to use your vinyl cutter for? Are you running a small business or do you want it just for personal use? If you need to be making many different products on a regular basis, you’ll want something that allows you to create designs accurately and efficiently. As a hobbyist, you might prefer something smaller and easier to carry around so you can do projects wherever you want. The type of cutter that’s best for you depends entirely on your needs.
Browse Manual and Electronic Cutters
When choosing a vinyl cutter, the 2 main options are manual or electric. Manual cutters are operated by a hand crank and don’t require software. Instead, they use die cuts and embossing folders. On the other hand, you can create a wider variety of pictures, logos, or artwork with an electronic cutter through compatible computer programs. You don’t have to be a vinyl cutting expert to use an electronic cutter. The machine will do the work for you, so you won’t need to spend time or energy cutting the vinyl.
Consider the Size of the Machine
One consideration you need to make when buying a cutter is the size of the machine. Bigger cutters will be able to accommodate larger sizes of vinyl. The vinyl size they use can range anywhere, from as small as 8.5 x 6 inches to 50 x 80 inches for the larger stand-up machines. However, the typical electronic cutting unit that can easily fit on a table or office desk uses 12 x 24 inches. You should also keep in mind that larger rolls of vinyl will cost you more, especially over time, so don’t get a machine bigger than what you will typically be using it for. If you decide to expand your business, you can always purchase a bigger cutter once you’re ready to offer larger products.
Get the Software Needed
While some vinyl cutters come with dedicated software, there are third-party options available that have different strengths and weaknesses. The cheaper ones can be simple and easy to use, but they don’t come with the additional features that more expensive versions offer. Most software includes an array of preloaded text effects and art to help you create your designs. You can also upload your own files in order to make customized projects if you’re running a business or just want something with a more personal touch. Not all programs can work with every machine, so you’ll have to decide what’s important for you to have and find a cutter that’s compatible with your needs and preferences.
If you’re working on a limited budget, you may need to choose one of the smaller cutters with fewer features. You can find many decent mid-range options that offer enough general functionality without costing a fortune. However, if you’re selling the items you make, investing in a more expensive machine that has a wider variety of features could allow you to expand your business and offer more products. Manual cutters can usually be found for under $100, while electronic machines typically range from $100 to over $300. Whatever your budget, you should be able to find one that you can afford.
Consider Additional Features
Some vinyl cutters come with extra features that make designing and production much more convenient. If they offer wireless compatibility, you’ll be able to use your mobile devices to create your designs anywhere you are. This is great for when you have some free time and get a great idea but can’t access your computer. There are also machines that have the ability to cut unbonded fabric. This gives the machine better versatility, allowing it to cut more than just vinyl. These usually include automatic settings so you don’t have to manually adjust it to work on these other materials, as there will be presets already loaded into the software that will calibrate the cutter accordingly.
Recent advances in home vinyl cutting technology have made it easier than ever to own and operate a machine. Whatever your needs, there’s a machine that can fit them. Keep these tips in mind when shopping for a vinyl cutter, and you’ll find the perfect one for your needs.