Graphtec Craft ROBO Vinyl Cutter
The Vinyl cutter can cut shapes out of self-adhesive vinyl that can be used for decorative purposes, or as a mask for chemical etching or sandblasting. It is suitable for use with thin vinyl/PVC that can't be cut on the laser as PVC fumes are hazardous. Induction is not required for the vinyl cutter but it can be quite tricky to use and if you need help you can contact someone from the maintainers listed below who may be able to help. Please be aware that the blade on the bottom of the cutter is razor sharp and take care not to get cut. The manual for the vinyl cutter is here.
|25th October 2018||Functional||Functioning normally following replacement of power supply|
|10th June 2019||Functional||Functioning normally on Design Station 1 after re-installation of drivers|
How to use it
The vinyl cutter is kept in the cupboards underneath work table in the kitchen area. The vinyl cutter is used to cut self-adhesive designs of various patterns (typically text and logos) to be stuck on to a workpiece. For more advanced usage it could also be used to make stencils for chemical processes or paint.
The Vinyl Cutter uses drivers which install the device as a printer. Design Station 1 does have the corresponding drivers installed the printer is called: Graphtec CC330.
Preparing the Design
You can prepare your design in Inkscape or similar 2D software some members use Adobe illustrator as there prefered tool.
When using Inkscape:
- Set the document properties to units of mm (milimetres) - this will help you down the line and avoid confusion!
- Draw the design actual size. Obviously fill and colour don't matter, it only cuts outlines.
- If the design includes text, using the toolbar at the top of the page go to: "Path -> Object to path" option in Inkscape to make paths. This applies also to any other object which is not a path for example a image you have imported.
- All cut lines must be in black and with a line with of 0.25pt
- Ungroup everything before cutting (Inkcut doesn't like groups)
- Orientation - the cutter will cut ALONG the roll by default. This is not usually what you want for small pieces (width < 500mm). So rotate it 90 deg. If creating a very large design (e.g. 500mm high text), then leave the design "the right way up". (NOTE: This advice seems to be irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but I'm keeping it in case anyone finds it helpful)
Setting-up the Machine
- Plug the machine in to the PC via USB and into the mains
- Turn the machine on using the power button.
- Ensure it has connected to the PC correctly by looking in the devices menu on the PC and finding the printer GraphtecCC330.
- Loading vinyl - make sure that the feed clamps are clamped in appropriate places. (Feed in vinyl from the back)
- Setting cut pressure - this is the parameter "p=" shown on the cutter screen. Set it so it cuts through the vinyl but not the backing. Use "test" button to check.
- Setting the origin - set the origin to the bottom *RIGHT* corner of the working area, not the bottom left!
- Offline the cutter
- Position the cutter head using the arrow buttons (Do not try to move manually)
- When in correct position, press the "zero" button
- Put cutter back online
- To test the machine, the "test" button cuts a small rectangle. You can use this to check (e.g. on newly loaded stock) that it's cutting through the vinyl cleanly
Applying Vinyl to Workpiece
There is a roll of "transfer film" which is "sticky but not too sticky" somewhere.
- Prepare (clean, dry, lay out etc) the workpiece.
- Cut the vinyl to size with scissors etc.
- You can "weed" out the unwanted pieces at this stage, or manually remove them from the workpiece afterwards.
- Cleanly stick the transfer film to the top of the vinyl.
- The tricky part - now remove the backing from the vinyl, you should be left with the self-adhesive stuck to the transfer film.
- Stick the vinyl to your workpiece!
- The cutter shows up as a standard USB<->RS-232 converter cable, and talks HP-GL.
- Connection via USB in Linux, means the device is probably /dev/ttyUSB0, Make sure that the serial baud rate is set to the same on the PC in Inkcut, as on the front panel menu. (see Tech Details below) Ensure you have read/write permissions to /dev/ttyUSB0, this can be done by running sudo chmod 777 /dev/ttyUSB0
- The best software for printing (From Linux at least) is InkCut an InkScape extension. Simple convert stroke to paths, select what you want, and `Extensions->Cutter / Plotter->InkCut`. Click the 'Properties' top-right to set the correct serial port (probably /dev/ttyUSB0) and speed (defaults to 38400, but you can set it via the menu button and LCD on the cutter).
- Forget about Inkcut plugin, Inkscape will cut directly.
- Install drivers from http://www.microcontrols.org/arduino-uno-clone-ch340-ch341-chipset-usb-drivers/ (These work in Win10)
- Turn the printer on, then plug usb in
- Find Com? in device manager
- In Inkscape lick Extentions>Export>Plot...
- Set com? and baud 38400, when printer is zero'd and online then click apply and it should start cutting.
If the power supply messes up
If the power supply goes wrong in an especially weird way then it will cause the vinyl cutter to set some internal lockout that prevents it recovering even if a good power supply is connected. This can be diagnosed by checking the clock signal on the main CPU on the vinyl cutter's circuit board. If it's in lockout then the clock will be grossly distorted.
The fix for this is to connect the vinyl cutter to a known good power supply (24V at not less than 2A) then while it is powered up remove the firmware EEPROM module which is bolted onto the main PCB. This causes a hard-reset of the internal state and clears the lockout. Then power off the cutter and replace the module and re-start the cutter. This should restore normal operation.
No upgrades are currently planned for the Vinyl Cutter
Graphtec Craft ROBO Caretakers
These are the people who look after and repair the Graphtec Craft ROBO, they're the ones to contact if there's any problems with it
|Tony-S||Tony offers support in using the vinyl cutter|
|Dan C||Dan is happy to offer assistance with use and design.|
|Steve R||Steve supports the hardware of the vinyl cutter but does not offer assistance with software installation or use.|
If you make any non-trivial changes to the Graphtec Craft ROBO or perform maintenance please note it here, delete records older than 1 yr