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The Future of this Forum:

The Inkscape Project opened its first official forum on its website this month (August 2019). https://inkscape.org/forums/ In an effort to combine all the different forums into one, this forum will no longer be accepting new members or new messages. However, it will remain open for a little while, for existing members, to have access to their contents, if they need them.

Any potential new members should register on the new forum, and post their message there. There is a special board for questions about using Inkscape for cutting machines (of all kinds). (https://inkscape.org/forums/cutplot/)

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Although I've been planning to put this forum in read-only mode, at the time of this transition, unfortunately, my personal circumstances have changed, and I won't be able to host this forum much longer. I'm not sure about the time frame. It could be as soon as the end of 2019, or as long as a year from now. If anyone is interested in taking it over, please contact me.

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Author Topic: Know Inkscape -- don't know cutters  (Read 12950 times)

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Offline Digitante

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Know Inkscape -- don't know cutters
« on: October 28, 2012, 11:05:20 PM »
Hi all!

My name IRL is Terry Hancock. I write a column on Free Software, mainly for desktop and end-users, and I work on a lot of other projects. I'm pretty ardent about using free software for everything I do. I'm an experienced artist with Inkscape, but craft cutters are all new territory for me. It seems like they could be a lot of fun, though, and I've got some specific projects in mind now, so it'd be a good time to try one out.

I was pretty surprised to find there is an entire forum dedicated to using Inkscape with craft cutters, but it's awfully neat that there is.

My first question though, is what kind of cutter should I buy?

I'm looking for an inexpensive cutter that works well with Inkscape on Linux, preferably using only free/open-source software to drive it. I would prefer not to pipe anything through "Make-the-Cut", which I gather is a proprietary package I'd have to run through WINE anyway. I have no interest in ready-made cartridges or downloadable patterns -- my interest is in cutting original work in SVG format from Inkscape.

I've seen "libcutter", "licut", and "inkcut" in my initial exploration of the software. And I've seen a variety of cutters -- Cricut, Silhouette, Graphtec, Klic-N-Kut, etc. In fact, it's just too many -- I don't know how to narrow this down.

I'm not sure where to ask this on the forum -- it seems like it's mostly organized for people who already have a cutter and want to figure out how to control it -- whereas I'm starting with Inkscape and Linux and looking for a cutter that will make this easy for me.

Any recommendations?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline newbiecat

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Re: Know Inkscape -- don't know cutters
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2012, 02:07:03 AM »
Hi there -  Please take a moment to wend your way throught this lot

this is a cut and paste from an answer to a similar question I received a while ago - now I am based in the UK and can only answer for the small number of cutters that I personally have used, I have to date owned a Pazzles, Cricut and now a Black Cat cougar though I will shortly upgrade to the Silver bullet.   There are many other machines including professional cutters (mainly designed for vinyl /sign cutting etc) of which I know nothing although youtube is a great place to watch various machines in operation and therefore links to the sites
 
The answer to your question is complex, and probably best solved by posing a few questions first
 
1. What range of media and in particular what thickness do you wish to cut?
2. What is the largest image / template that you want to cut ?
3. Do you want to cut more than one image at one time , and if so what would be the combined area of those images?
4. Do you want to either now or in the future do any of the following - emboss, engrave, (paper/card/metal ) use the cutter to draw or write messages or script?
5. How comfortable are you learning software and being patient learning the machine and its capabilities?
 
I ask all the above since they will give you a very good idea of what you should be looking at in purchasing a machine.   Since you want to be able to cut your own templates (for your pop-ups) that would tend to rule out a Cricut which is a great machine but limited to the use of cartridges and therefore will not suit your purpose.
 
There are a huge variety of machines out there and they all have their plus points - here is a link to a chart which does some direct comparison of many of those machines
 
http://www.thymegraphics.co.uk/Thyme%20 ... rison.html
 
this does not include the silver bullet or the ecraft machines/ or when I last looked the cameo or silhouette though it may be updated now - however it will give you some comparable information on a number of comparable home use cutters
 
I suggest that before your purchase any machine that you enquire/research the following
 
1. What aftersales support is availble - crucially how long before you will get an answer to  a query ?
2. How long post purchase is that help available?
3. What website/ forum/ help group is/are available to provide a common area for seeking/exchanging information and support or just bragging about your designs ?
4. What reviews /comments are availble re the level of after sales service as per question 1
5. What do you think you will need post buying ?
 
It is certain that all machines have a learning curve, some much steeper than others so I think that is important to set your expectations quickly.  
 
So each other machine has an individual learning curve, when it comes the the cougars there is a very steep curve, since you will probably most usefully need to learn Sure Cuts a Lot or similar cutting program In your case, clearly the software side will not be an issue but you cannot as yet cut directly from Inkscape however learning a cutting program whichever it is will clearly be easier for you than others and Inkscape ( free download - great vector desing/drawing program)clearly this does not apply to you but am leaving it in for others with similar questions  so it would be realistic to think in terms of learning to drive and the number of lessons one has needed to take to become proficient with that.  
 
As with most things in life there is not really a 'right' answer however if you take time to consider the above questions and want to ask me anything more specific I will be happy to respond if I know the answer
 
I would love to see a picture of your work or a link to a website showing it would be good - always love learning new software things
 
Please take time to consider your decision and ensure you get the right machine for your purposes as I said I will be happy to answer any other questions if I can and I know there are many others on here and other forums who will have opinions which will be useful
 
best wishes
Pandora    :)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Guest »
Win 7, Inkscape .47, 18" Silver Bullet,(love the speed)
Craft Artist Professional, Photoshop CS2, SCAL 3. ?? latest, still have my cricut - need to find a new home for it

Offline Aussie Carolyn

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Re: Know Inkscape -- don't know cutters
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2012, 08:57:07 PM »
Welcome Terry, LOL to your comment about being surprised there is a forum dedicated to cutting with Inkscape. I use to sell machines and found it was easier to start a forum with talented friends than answer the same question repeatedly. The forum now has owners of many different brand cutters.

Many of us own multiple machines and have a favourite machine but that varies depending on the type of projects created. Some people may only cut vinyl or create 'print and cut' projects and others like the flexibility to engrave, emboss and cut heavy duty materials. Could you give us an idea on the types of projects you have in mind? What is important here is what you would like a cutter to do.

Most of our members are using cutters designed specifically for the craft industry. As you will have already noticed, there are many more options if you look at vinyl cutters. Some of the vinyl cutters have very similar specs to craft cutters, so you have many to choose from.

In my own opinion the main difference between a craft cutter and a vinyl cutter is the ability to use a sticky mat. Force/ pressure can also differ, as vinyl doesn't need much force/ pressure to be cut whereas some cardstocks or plastics require a lot more force. To cut vinyl you do not need a mat. To cut paper you need a sticky mat to hold the paper in place. The same with engraving or embossing, the media needs to placed on a suitable sticky mat. Keep this in mind when researching cutters. If you want freedom to cut more than vinyl, ensure the chosen cutter will allow for the thickness of a mat. The clamps also need to be strong enough to hold a mat in place to prevent the mat from moving around while cutting.


Software
At this stage it seems to be your most important consideration.

Most forum members here are Windows or Mac users, so you probably won't get answers about Inkcut. If you have a look at the official Inkscape forum you will find a lot more answers about the software. http://www.inkscapeforum.com/search.php?keywords=inkcut  You will also see cutters not mentioned so far on our forum, so it may also help with your search for the perfect cutter to suit your projects.

It appears that Licut and Libcut are programs designed for the Cricut machine. Provocraft the owners of the Cricut range have sued most 3rd party software programmers who created software permitting freedom to design and not use their cartridges. If you want more freedom Inkcut looks like the better option as there are many machines you can use with the program.

Did you have a look at the list of Inkcut compatible cutters? http://inkcut.sourceforge.net/cutters/index/page:1

I am not much help, am I?  :roll:  You have pretty much decided which software programs you want to use. If you go ahead and use Inkcut you have many cutters to choose from. All you need to know now is which one will best suit the projects you plan to cut, emboss or engrave. Let us know what you plan to use a cutter for and members can tell you if there favourite cutter could be a suitable option. As cost is always a factor it is often a waste of money buying a machine with too many feature if you will never use them. A bit like buying a Porsche to drive a few kilometres a week  :lol:

Other things to take into consideration
- what is the maximum width you may need to cut
- what is the maximum length you may need to cut
- Blades - some machines use a proprietary blades, therefore limiting the ability to buy from a cheaper source.
- Blade holders. Some machines have a specific bladeholder and others have larger clamps allowing you to use different holders.
- what type of materials do you plan to cut? Denser materials will require a machine with more force/ pressure
- Velocity/ speed - some machines only cut at very low speeds. If production is important, velocity/ speed should be considered.
- If you want to engrave, cut paper or emboss the machine must be able to support the thickness of the mat and have clamps strong enough to hold the mat in place.
- If you want to create 'print and cut' projects, would you prefer an optic eye or to use a laser to locate the registration marks? We can give you further information on the two options if you require more information.
- User manuals and support forums. You have a head start as you know Inkscape but it may be handy to have access to good support if you require help to master your chosen cutter.

Two more machine comparison charts. It is a limited list and many of the machines will not work with Inkcut. The charts only have a limited list of cutters but it may still help when deciding what you want in a cutter.
http://www.paperthreads.com/bonus/paper ... 12008.html
http://silverbulletcutters.com/comparison-chart/

Probably not much help to you at this stage but I do have a section on my blog to help people who are trying to select a new cutter. http://www.cuttwopieces.com/search/labe ... 0Cutter%3F

If the cutter you really want to buy is not compatible with Inkcut, ask questions here, as I am sure non Windows users could help with questions about other cutting programs. I am not sure about all the programs but I know SCAL and Sign Cut do work with Mac computers, not sure if they work with Linux.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Aussie Carolyn

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Re: Know Inkscape -- don't know cutters
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2012, 10:18:09 PM »
Hi again, you mentioned you were not sure where to post as there was no set topic. You are correct we don't have a topic for machine selection.

We decided it was wiser to avoid discussions about various models as many times when the question is asked on other forums the topic becomes heated. Everyone has their own opinions and some people tend to have very strong opinions. There is also animosity between a few of the companies and we prefer to avoid conflict. Sticking to Inkscape seemed the safer option.

Also, we avoid the topic so sellers of different machines do not use the forum for marketing purposes. I don't see why any company should use our forum to gain sales (unless they pay us lots of $$$$ for the privilege,  :lol:  only joking).

Your question is fine and hopefully our lovely members will give you some suggestions when we know what type of projects you have in mind. I am interested myself in learning more about open source programs for cutting. At the moment I design in Inkscape but use 3 different cutting programs. Being able to use one program and not pay for upgrades sounds wonderful.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Digitante

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Re: Know Inkscape -- don't know cutters
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2012, 04:22:09 PM »
Thanks for the responses!

As for what I'm trying to cut: I'm mostly interested in paper products, like cardstock. One of the things I was looking for was information on the difference between "vinyl cutters" or "sign cutters" and "craft cutters". I see a lot of different names tossed around for these machines, and I don't know if the names indicate substantive differences, or just disagreement about what to call them.

The compatible cutters on the Inkcut list are mostly (perhaps all) "vinyl cutters" which use HPGL as the control protocol. So I'm also wondering if there are classes of cutter by protocol ("HPGL" and ??? -- sort of like PCL vs Postscript printers).

I don't have to use Inkcut, but I would like to use some open-source solution to talk to the cutter. So I don't want to use something like Cricut, where the company is highly proprietary and actively fights open source development. I understand some of the cutters can be controlled by "Make the Cut" or "Sure Cuts a Lot" but apparently these are proprietary Windows apps, so I'd rather not. Still, it seems like the fact that they can control a lot of cutters implies there must be documented protocols somewhere.

BTW, the KNK "Zing" is listed on the "inkcut" page as NOT compatible (it's not a list of compatible devices, but a list of tested device with compatibility noted).

On the other hand, as long as there is some open code available to drive the printer from an SVG file, then I could probably write an Inkscape extension to be able to cut directly from Inkscape. But openness is a big plus for me. Essential even. In general, I don't want to use a closed platform, because even if I manage to make it work, my using it on a public project is essentially an endorsement, especially when I inevitably write a how-to about it.

On price: $400 is probably my limit (and $200 is a lot more comfortable) for something like this. That's going to rule out a lot of the high-end machines. So, although I'd love to have a highly-flexible machine that could cut anything from craft foam to paper to balsa wood, I suspect I'm going to have to settle for a bit less than that.

My immediate project (the reason I'm exploring this now) is to make a roughly DVD-size (i.e. 13cmx19cm) printed custom cases for movies on SDHC flash memory cards. I wasn't originally thinking of doing this with a home PC cutter, but it seems like a good method. I'd need to cut heavy cardstock, possibly chipboard, and (if possible) craft foam. I worry that craft foam is hard to cut, because it's hard to do with an x-acto knife (tends to gum up and tear), but I don't really know if that's true with these cutters (for that matter, I'm not really sure how their blades work).

Of course, once I get started, I'm sure I will find plenty of project uses for a cutter! :D
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Aussie Carolyn

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Re: Know Inkscape -- don't know cutters
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2012, 04:41:41 PM »
Sorry about the error regarding the Zing. I was going to contact KNK to ask more about how Inkcut works with the Zing and noticed the error when I went back to the list. Serves me right for not reading the list correctly. I did remove the incorrect information just before you posted your last question.

Vinyl cutters and Sign cutters are basically different names for the same type of cutter. Sign writers cut vinyl and usually do not need a higher force to cut. I know some businesses now cut heavier materials such as sandblast material, so some machines do have a higher cutting force.

Craft cutters are machines that have been modified to suit the heavier materials crafters cut and to support a cutting mat. For example Foison in China manufacture a range of vinyl cutters. The KNK Maxx, the Black Cat range and the Silver Bullet range of craft cutters are manufactured at Foison to suit each companies specific requirements. They are all Foison's but the specs between the models sold by each company varies.

I was hoping members who have tried to cut fun foam, heavy cardstock and balsa wood would let you know if their machine would cut the materials. To cut heavier cardstocks you will need a machine with a higher force which will rule out quiet a few machines. I have one machine that has a force of 500gms and I have to do multiple cuts to get through some materials. Density of the material is a big factor, so is humidity. After many years of looking at crafting blogs I have noticed most machines seem to be capable of cutting fun foam. Balsa wood can be prone to splintering but there are tricks to cutting it.

Here are a list of cutters I know have been designed for the craft market that have at least 500gms of force under $450 USD
I have only listed the lowest prices after a quick Google search. It may be possible to find even lower prices.
- Gazelle by BossKut - force 500gsm - http://www.bosskut.com/ $419.00
- I am not sure of the force of the Eclips by Sizzix and the FAQ's only lists cereal weight cardboard. http://www.sizzix.com/eclips_faqs available for $299.99 at http://punkinpatchstamps.com/sizzix-eclips
- Lynx by Black Cat - force 550gsm - for $399 at http://thatsscrapinc.com/blackcatlynx12-2.aspx
- Zing by KNK - force 750gsm - for $399 at http://knkusa.com/shop/knk-zing/main_pa ... ts_id=7667
- Inspiration by Pazzle - force 500gsm - for $449.25 at http://www.paperthreads.com/store/index ... ts_id=3201
I am pretty sure all of the above companies are okay with owners using a 3rd party software program. However, I would advise you contact any company before buying to ensure you can use it with a Linux platform and have access to the drivers if you wish to write a program for cutting.

I own a Zing and a Lynx and know they both cut thicker cardstocks and fun foam. Maybe a few of the Eclips owners could let you know if the cutter would be suitable for your needs. I don't think we have any Inspiration or Gazelle owners on this forum as I think most owners either use MTC or Funtime software.

My technical knowledge about software and cutters is very limited, therefore I am going to suggest two more places you may find better information.
Craft Industry
- Michelle at Paperthreads sells a few different brand cutters, runs a forum and has contacts in the cutting industry. I feel she could give you much better advise than I can with my limited range of experience. http://www.paperthreads.com/store/ and http://www.paperthreads.com/forum/
Vinyl Industry
- US Cutter http://www.uscutter.com/ and forum http://forum.uscutter.com/ are another company that sells a range of cutters. I know some crafters have bought from US Cutters.

I would like to mention I am not affiliated with any of the above companies. They are just names I see on a regular basis.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Inkspots

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Re: Know Inkscape -- don't know cutters
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2012, 09:53:52 PM »
Hello Digitante!

Like you, I'm new to this forum..and havent chosen a cutter yet.
I love my Linux operating system, and want to be certain any cutter I buy will be one I can use with Linux software.
I'd like  to use a cutter to cut thin MDF panels and davy board for crafting ( chip board is much too coarse and splits and chips, so its not suitable) and since money is tight, I have to make the right choice first time out. Of the control software I've investigated, Inkcut looks the most promising
so I'll try to find a cutter that I can use with it.  

Best wishes and best of luck to you, and welcome to the Inkscapecuttingdesigns forum.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Guest »
Linux Mint 13,Cinnamon, I don\'t own a cutter, Inkscape 0.48.4r,The gimp, FontForge, blender 3d, LibreOffice

Offline scud

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Re: Know Inkscape -- don't know cutters
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2012, 01:03:57 AM »
I have used a Lynx, Cougar and Cameo. The Cameo is great for paper and light card stock and the Cougar will do almost anything. I am getting a Silver Bullet and am waiting for it to arrive (on the wharf and waiting for custom clearance) They cut all the Cougars do. I know most suppliers will cut samples for you if you send what you want to cut. I use mainly Inkscape but have MTC, SCAL and Studio and use them for some things but so far have cut from Inkscape with Signcut. Good luck with your decision.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Inkspots

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Re: Know Inkscape -- don't know cutters
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2012, 08:10:38 PM »
scud, congrats on your new silver bullet. I havent seen much information on it but  thanks for your comments on the others.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 05:00:00 PM by Guest »
Linux Mint 13,Cinnamon, I don\'t own a cutter, Inkscape 0.48.4r,The gimp, FontForge, blender 3d, LibreOffice