How To Use and Cut With a Vinyl Cutter Like Cricut?

First time using vinyl cutting machine? Can’t figure how to start cutting your decals, stickers, graphics, etc. with your new machine or where to feed the vinyl material to be cut?

If yes, this guide is for you.

We’ll take you through beginner-friendly steps on how to use your vinyl cutting machine for the first time.

NOTE: This is a generalized guide for cutting machines, so we suggest that you use your user manual as the primary source of reference for your specific machine since the operation of various models differ slightly.

For this guide, we’ll use the Cricut cutting machines as our references since it appears on all lists of the best vinyl cutter for home use.

Steps to follow:

Step 1—Prepare the design or artwork to cut into a sticker.

The first thing you need to do is come up with the design you wish to cut with your vinyl cutting machine.

Your cutting machine has an option for letting you upload an existing design or open a saved one for cutting.

If you don’t have a design or artwork ready for cutting, don’t worry. You can easily create a new one using the cutting software that comes bundled with your machine.

In the case of a Cricut machine, you simply open the Cricut Design Space software and select a design from Cricut library images or chose the Make It Now project option to create a new one from scratch.

Considering that you’re an absolute beginner, we recommend you to look for simple artwork…a text is the easiest design you can cut with your cutting machine.

Step 2—Edit your image with the cutter software

Once you have your design on the vinyl cutting machine, you need to edit to make it ready for cutting.

The editing you do here is nothing complicated as most machines come with a design software with a user-friendly interface to facilitate smooth navigation.

When you display your design or artwork on the vinyl cutting software, it’ll enable you to create weeding lines and weeding frame/box, scale and rotate your art, make copies in rows as well as columns, layer the cuts, and perform a variety of other tasks…and to finally command your cutting machine to begin the cutting process.

If you’re using a Cricut machine, you can test whether your design is ready for cutting by simply clicking on the Make It button.

If the resulting screen shows a “smushed” image with the shapes separated by color but spaced incorrectly, then it means the image isn’t ready, and you need to go back and make a few more adjustments.

Step 3—Connect your vinyl cutter to your computer

With the image ready for cutting, it’s time to connect your cutting machine to computer to begin the cutting process.

As you do this, keep in mind that different models have different ways in which they connect up to your computer. In most cases, you connect them to your computer using a USB port

(Most manufacturers usually included the USB cable to be used for connecting the two. If your package didn’t come with this cable, you’ll need to buy one separately).

After you have successfully established a connection between the two devices, you’ll then need to specify the port or cutter in the cutting software interface to help connect your cutter to the software for easy cutting.

Step 4— Time to load the vinyl for cutting

Now it’s time to load the vinyl you wish to cut into your vinyl machine to prepare it for cutting.

Loading is as simple as roll feeding the vinyl material into your vinyl cutter. The roll ought to hand off the back side of your cutter on the rollers or the roller bar.

Feed your vinyl under your machine’s pinch rollers and on top of the roller bar, then release the rollers to enable them to hold the material in place.

For Cricut users, loading the vinyl material is as simple as pressing the flashing Load/Unload button.

Step 5—Begin the cutting process

With your design ready, cutting machine connected to your computer (cutting software), and the vinyl loaded to your machine, it’s time to send your designer to the cutting machine to start the cutting process.

For Cricut users, clicking the green Make It button will get your design automatically split into different mats (based on color). This facilitates cutting out of multi-colored and/or multi-layered designs in a single project.

You can also change the Project Copies field if you wish to make multiple copies of your project. And remember to set material size for each mat and to toggle the Mirror switch (if you’re using the iron-on type of vinyl).

When you’re satisfied with everything, press the cutting function on your cutting software to give your machine the go-ahead to do the cutting work.

The cutting process can take anywhere between a few seconds to hours, depending on the complexity of your artwork or design. In the case of a sticker or decal, the process should take a few minutes only.

Step 6—Remove the cut vinyl

Most software will show you a progress bar for the cutting process and tell you when the cutting is over.

To remove your complete design, advance the vinyl roll with cutter control panel, or simply release the roller and pull forward your vinyl.

Use the rolling scissors to trim the vinyl from your base roll.

The next thing you’d want to do is weed out any material that you don’t want on your design to make it ready for transfer to your target surface.

Once you have nicely weeded your design, you can now transfer it from the release liner and onto your target surface. And you’re done!

Make your first cut!

These are the crucial steps to follow when using your vinyl cutting machine for the first time. As you can see, these are pretty easy to follow steps to follow to get the job done.

Although we made some references to Cricut cutting machines, this is a general guide that can apply to all vinyl cutting machines. We recommend you to use your user manual as your primary source of reference when using your machine.

What are you waiting for? Follow this simple, beginner-friendly guide to make your first sticker with a vinyl cutting machine.

  • Updated December 11, 2019
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