About cutting machines

daishi

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Hi all!

I've had a discussion about papercrafting with a co-worker and it made me remember that there are plotter/cutter machines in existence.
As my recent models were such monstrocities in terms number of cuttable parts, that I've seriously started thinking about buying one.

Could you share any experience on them? As in how problematic they are to use? Which ones actually work for paper? (I usually work with 150-180 gsm matte photo paper) Which ones should I avoid? etc.

The ones I looked at so far are the
- Cricut Explore Air 2 looks good, but the reviews on amazon are abysmal, mostly because a web based, subscription required software.
- Brother Scan N Cut: according to this thread this thread that I should avoid these
- Silhouette Cameo 3 this one looks the most promising so far, and I did find sellers in Europe for it which is great
-Edit: or just buy this Silhouette Portrait 2, looks like it can handle A4 paper and costs a fraction.

Anyone has any advice, anekdote, warning that could help me?
 
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zathros

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I own a Silhouette Cameo. I have to be honest. I had so much trouble with this machine, spending a couple of hours with their very kind tech support, only to find out the machine was defective, weeks later. They sent me a new one, I had to pay for the second one before they would send the replacement, you think they would have sent a pick up from UPS or Fedex for sending me a broken machine. After spending weeks trying to make the first one work, I never plugged in the New Cameo I received. It sits there, for years now, doing nothing. I know people who have had great experiences, more than my negative to be honest. The machine does work as advertised, and I imagine their tech support is even better. Just make sure you really go through the machine, and make sure their return policy is the same as it is in the U.S. Also, if you do not have the capability to produce .dwx drawings, you will have to outline every part you want the cutter to cut with "Control Points". That is extremely time consuming. Pepakura has an option for purchasing the files for the Cameo cutter for Pepakura models. These machines use Carbide cutting bits and will cut very thin metal quite easily. Lots of potential.

Please don't let my experience deter you. I just want you to cover all you options before you purchase it, especially on machines that are "Dead on arrival".

Bottom line, Yes, they do work, and if you get one, and all is in order, it will save you an incredible amount of time, and relieve the endless cutting by hand pain. Once you have made the program, you could actually include it with a model, or upload it for others to use, it you want too. I would recommend this machine. they were extremely apologetic for mine not working, and the failure of their technical staff to realize that sooner. When I finally got the right person, he had me try 3 things, and concluded the machine was not functioning as it should. I don't know what the rest of the people I talked to their were thinking, I wasn't asking for a refund. .:)
 
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Gandolf50

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I have a Cameo 2!
I LOVE it... but there is a learning process as there is with everything.
As far as cutting a whole sheet of model parts, such as you do, it will be a steeper learning curve and trial and error.
I use 199 g/sq/m Index stock, almost exclusively, with a good blade that is not too old or used to cut chipboard, it cuts through the 199 card like butter! You will need a cutting mat and when first used the glue to hold the card, is fresh and hold TOO well, hard to get small parts off, and the like. Eventually, it will lose some of the tac and work fine... they have Low-Tac but are TOO low, you don't want the part to come off while cutting.
What Zathros refers to as control points ... IS TIME-CONSUMING... Ink scape will save the .dxf files you will need or I think Cameo 3 will import .SVG files. Also, a little-known fact, you can print the file in Inkscape and send to the Cameo instead of the printer and the cut options are then available, instead of using the Cameo software which I find horrible.

Here read these threads where I have discussed this topic with others!
Tool Or Not
Conversation with Liz

the cameo is just wonderful for monotonous repetitive cutting of the same parts like tank treads and the like...!!!!! There is SCAN and CUT mat that you can print the page, mount it to the mat, then scan it into Cameo then after the adjustments Zathros referred to, cut the page! Time-consuming,YES, but not as hard as cutting by hand
 
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Gandolf50

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same same as @zathros said "you have to add control points" ... or in their words... ( between the lines ) send more money and then you GET "Silhouette Studio® Designer Edition allows for all the above file types as well as the ability to import SVG files and PDF files. If importing PDF, you can select to Import as Image, which will not include cut lines, or Import as Vector, which will perform an automatic trace creating cut lines."

Which is basically what you have to do anyway!

If you forget about the Cameo or Cricut or whatever the other inexpensive ones out there are, are used by soccer-moms for cutesy decorations and the like ( There are hundreds of people ( not to be sexist ) out there doing nothing more than FONTS and MEMES cut out of vinal stock!! ) and use it a another tool in the arsenal, you learn to MAKE IT DO WHAT YOU WANT IT TO!!!

I got interested as I read an RR Blog on some train-nuts that were using it to cut styrene sheets to make their own box-cars and buildings... just imagine having a tool that will cut styrene windows out FOR YOU!!! and by placing a scribe instead of a cutter head, draw all your panel lines and the like... sold me right there!!!
 
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zathros

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same same as @zathros said "you have to add control points" ... or in their words... ( between the lines ) send more money and then you GET "Silhouette Studio® Designer Edition allows for all the above file types as well as the ability to import SVG files and PDF files. If importing PDF, you can select to Import as Image, which will not include cut lines, or Import as Vector, which will perform an automatic trace creating cut lines."

Which is basically what you have to do anyway!

If you forget about the Cameo or Cricut or whatever the other inexpensive ones out there are, are used by soccer-moms for cutesy decorations and the like ( There are hundreds of people ( not to be sexist ) out there doing nothing more than FONTS and MEMES cut out of vinal stock!! ) and use it a another tool in the arsenal, you learn to MAKE IT DO WHAT YOU WANT IT TO!!!

I got interested as I read an RR Blog on some train-nuts that were using it to cut styrene sheets to make their own box-cars and buildings... just imagine having a tool that will cut styrene windows out FOR YOU!!! and by placing a scribe instead of a cutter head, draw all your panel lines and the like... sold me right there!!!

Very good point Gandolf. The ability to put in a tip of your making basically gives a machine capable of doing much more. The hard work is getting something to do the X and Y coordinates. Much potential in this machine, but you have to invest the time to get the results. The end result will be a very capable machine with no more cutting, andd, as Gandolve said, scribing parts and making models you would not otherwise consider. ;)
 
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daishi

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I've checked out Shilouette Studio (Basic is free) and seems straight enough to use. As I use Pepakura almost exclusively seems kind of fast too. Pepakura can export the cut vectors as a .dxf which SStudio can read. Looks pretty convenient.

Found this video that show how the process can work, with the added extra of using the machine to score fold lines too. ... If you don't mind the score lines on the front. I usually score on the back so not the damage the printed pattern.
Additionally it looks like there is a (paid) version of Pepakura Viewer that can print the alignment pattern for the cutter, so you do not need to import the bitmap to SStudio at all just the cut vectors.

All and all I think I'm sold on the Cameo 3 now, going to order one as soon as my next template gets close to printable state.
 
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zathros

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I think, based on your models, your experience will be very beneficial to the forum if you post your results, and tips.. :)
 
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zathros

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I think, based on your models, your experience will be very beneficial to the forum if you post your results, and tips.. :)
 

zathros

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I think, based on your models, your experience will be very beneficial to the forum if you post your results, and tips.. :)
 

zathros

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I think, based on your models, your experience will be very beneficial to the forum if you post your results, and tips.. :)
 

zathros

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I think, based on your models, your experience will be very beneficial to the forum if you post your results, and tips.. :)
 

Gandolf50

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I think, based on your models, your experience will be very beneficial to the forum if you post your results, and tips.. :)
I had the same problem the other day... finished a reply and start a new one and it appended it to the last post ( not here BTW) the computer GODS must have had a stutter when you posted!:)
 

Gandolf50

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I've checked out Shilouette Studio (Basic is free) and seems straight enough to use. As I use Pepakura almost exclusively seems kind of fast too. Pepakura can export the cut vectors as a .dxf which SStudio can read. Looks pretty convenient.
Additionally it looks like there is a (paid) version of Pepakura Viewer that can print the alignment pattern for the cutter, so you do not need to import the bitmap to SStudio at all just the cut vectors.
All and all I think I'm sold on the Cameo 3 now, going to order one as soon as my next template gets close to printable state.
The alignment marks 3 of them in the top and lower Left corners, take up a lot of possible cut room, there is a display so you can get your stuff out of the NO-CUT zone. It is a part of the Print and cut function even the standard version is able to do... bring in your bitmap and add the registration marks and send to the printer, put on a cut pad and register and cut away! Which is probably explained in the video you just posted and ...oh well.. need typing practice anyway...

One Note: You can also use Inkscape to add your cut lines ..they just need to be all one color say Pure Blue for cut, Red for Score the Basic Cameo does not let you do this as well as Version 3, as I found out from Liz! You can send directly from Inkscape to the Cameo! Or export as a .dfx robocutter file...
 
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zathros

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I was surprised about how much space those alignment marks occupy. It's poor programming. You need something to brake up the parts, like Photoshop, to utilize the whole sheet properly. I would like to plug mine back in and go at it again, but I am

still rebuilding my house from the Two Tornadoes that hit. I don't have time to mess around with fun stuff now, add one dead car to that list. I look forward to seeing how you guys do this. Maybe a "New Thread", that we can make into a "Sticky", for "Cameo" users, eventually, it's own section would seem in order. :yesyes:
 
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Gandolf50

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I was surprised also, the marks and grid should be minimal at best. You would think that a simple cross at 3 corners would do it, of course then they would have to add a lens to actually read the cross and therefore bump up the price $$. Some enterprising wiz kid could possibly make a hack using an old phone camera and an Arduino USB board. I do know you need quite a bit of light for the current system to "SEE" the black squares, best to have a LED light handy!
 
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xaero892

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I'm considering getting a cameo3 and have watched a few tutorial videos.

In one such video he was able to reduce the size of the registration marks so they only took up a small portion of the page.

The little square was only about 5mm.
 
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zathros

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I', nor surprissed that people have improved on this. I got mine when they weren't out for so long. It's still new, as I used the replaced one one time after waiting 6 weeks to figure out the first one was D.O.A. They did take care of that, and many people are doing many things with them. I would recommend this machine to anyone wanting to get into it, just know that it is much effort to write a program, with "Control Points" to outline the cutter path. Pepakura does offer a software package, and .dxf files can be used, but it is not "ready to go", there is a learning curve. :)
 
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