Vinyl sign: Tips to set up your vinyl cutting machine and ensure a quality result


Vinyl sign is an important component of advertising display systems. The instant visual impact of an advertising message and your marketing efforts however start during the production with your signage equipment. Other than choosing the right vinyl sign for your application, setting up your vinyl cutting machine correctly is the primary step in developing a quality sign.

There are two main sizes of machines, firstly a cutter that is generally 650 mm wide and takes vinyl rolls up to 610 mm that can fit on a stand or a bench top. For larger rolls, approximately 1220 mm wide, a cutter on a stand is more apt choice. However, the setup process is same for both.

There are two areas, the cutting blade setup and the surrounding environment you cut in, that need attention to guarantee success.

Cutting blade

Make sure that the cutting blade is set up correctly with the right pressure and the depth suitable to the material you are using. The cutter is like a surgical blade and it remains continuously in contact with the material unless it needs to lift up and go to a space.

Most of the cutters have a multi depth cutting attachment. This lets you position a cover that goes over the blade so it doesn’t cut deeper than you require. If the blade depth is too long, there is a risk of snagging on the vinyl with a result that the vinyl starts to look crumpled. However, by setting the length of the blade correctly, you can cut very precisely.

One must choose a cutting bit with the cutting length or edge that most accurately matches the thickness of the material to be cut. It is also vital to ensure that the cutting edge is at least as long as the thickness of the material to be cut. For this, start by testing the blade length manually with a hard surface and the material to be cut. Whenever you cut, you can adjust the multi depth blade holder and cover according to the requirement. For example, if your material is 0.5 mm in depth, the depth of the blade must be 0.6-0.7 mm.

However, the manual test doesn’t put a consistent pressure on the material and you will have to put the blade holder back into the machine and set the right pressure to complete the work. For example, on some reflective films like honeycomb reflective film that has a very thick topcoat and thin liner the blade pressure is crucial. In this condition, you have to have sufficient pressure for the machine to cut through the material but not too much to cut through the bottom layer.

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Make sure that there are no obstructions in front or behind the cutting machine. It is important that the material runs through the machine backwards and forwards in a straight line. Make sure there is nothing behind the unit that will obstruct the free movement of the vinyl.

Simultaneously, don’t have anything on the floor that will make the material to lift or catch. By keeping the surrounding environment clear, you will be able to run up to 50m in length without the need to touch anything.

When the setup is not right, the material doesn’t run through the machine in a proper alignment and risk not activating one of the eye sensors. Simultaneously, there is a risk of jamming the machine as it is off track. For example, if you are cutting words for a van of say 4 meters in length, it needs to be precise to get the desired affect and if the tracking is off, you may have to again work on the sign cutting and you will end up wasting a nice amount of vinyl material.

In short, the key to cutting success is to make your environment is not cluttered. Use a flat surface with nothing around for a smooth free flow of the material. Also, ensure that you use the right blade and multi depth cutting attachment and set your cutter to the correct pressure to cut precisely. With this you can ensure the quality of the finished advertising sign.

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