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  1. 1. Do you currently own a cutting machine?

    • Yes
    • No, but I want to in the next 12 months
    • No, I have no plans to buy one
    • I'm undecided at the moment


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21 hours ago, Steadfast said:

I use DXF files to go from Illustrator (and before that Inkscape) to Silhouette Studio and have never had a problem.

I'm always a touch sceptical of the these articles telling you about "problems" and include affiliate links so they make a bit when you purchase the "solution".

 

The only issue is Studio doesn't always size the imported file correctly, but adding a box of known dimensions around your design and resizing in Studio if needed solves it in about 30 seconds.

 

Jo

 

Thanks Jo, I agree whole-heartedly, and always read such things with a dose of skepticism. I should have said as much.  I haven't actually tried the exercise myself, although there is now a C4 on the floor behind me, still in it's box.

 

The reason for posting is that I recall some people reporting huge file sizes and slow loading/hanging.  I should have said that too.

 

BTW: Silhouette claim that the sizing problem is "a limitation of the DXF file type itself".

 

Edited by aardvark
Added BTW ...
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  • 1 month later...

Well 5 years after purchasing my SP I have finally managed to draw something up and got my first design cut out as a test piece using some 600 microns thick plain white card. The last time I tried to cut something was the chevrons shapes and to my horror once the SP started going it started to cut into the mat and then the card, so somewhere I had missed a step, probably pressing the load mat button whoops. So the mat still has it's chevron cut marks, fortunately not gone all the way through phew.

 

So inspired by the recent article in Rail Express Modelling about making cheap wagon models specifically the MTV/ZKV 'Zander' open box wagons 150 of which reused the old 20 ton Class A and B tank chassis and for us modellers that means the classic Airfix now Dapol ESSO 20 ton tank kit and as per the article using most of the chassis and underframe parts.

 

So I though after reading the article, surely it would be better to have the parts for the floor cut out more precisely using the SP... and that got me thinking. In the article it uses 30 thou plastic sheet to make up the floor, sides and ends - the floor is doubled up to make a 60 thou thick floor. Having had a skim through this very, very long thread I am hopeful that I can at least score or partially cut the 30 thou just enough to enable the parts to be snapped out.

 

Exhibit A shows my initial test cut I have just done... bit of a nervous moment hoping it would start to cut in the right place yikes.

 

Now to find out of I have any of those 20ton kits stashed away anywhere... oh and find my drawings for my other planned wagon ideas.

 

Cheers Paul

20211103_142127.jpg

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8 hours ago, aardvark said:

 

Please keep us posted.

Will do I have ordered some sheets of 20 and 30 thou plasticard so I am ready for stage 2 once finished tinkering with my wagon plans to refine them slightly. 

 

Cheers Paul

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  • 3 weeks later...
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Just a quick question.  Has anyone 'upgraded' to Windows 11, and has it affected your ability to use your cutter.  I have a Cameo 3 and do not wish to roll out Windows 11 only to find that my laptop will not talk to my cutter. 

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  • 3 months later...
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ChrisN, forgive my tardy response to your query.  But, I notice nobody else has responded either!  Am I alone in making a Portrait 1 talk to Windows 11 through a USB3 socket?  The story is, however, long and convoluted.

 

At the time I bought my Portrait (November 2014) I had two machines to drive it with, a four year old HP Laptop running Windows 7 and a two year old Mac Mini (I can't remember which flavour of Mac IOS that was running at the time).  The Mac also had Windows 8.1 loaded and running using Parallels.  Everything fine and dandy and some cutting was done.  Then life got in the way (I won't bore with the details) and the portrait sort of got put away and almost forgotten about while what modelling that was achieved revolved, almost exclusively, around 2mm etched coaches.

 

Fast forward to March 2022 and I wished to restart work on my, very, embryo layout, in particular the buildings for it.  So, I dug the Portrait out and prepared to do battle with various types of cuttable material.  Unfortunately, in the intervening years there had been a number of changes to the IT setup in the house.  The HP laptop had been replaced by a new HP laptop running Windows 11 (Intel I7, SSD), the Mac had been progressively updated to Catalina and Windows on the Mac was up to 10.  

 

As a first step I loaded the latest version of Studio on to the laptop (it had never had any version on it before), checked that was working OK and then plugged the cutter in.  Nothing! No connection!  Not a peep!  Searching the interwebby I discovered there were issues with older machines and a combination of Windows versions (particularly 10 and 11) and USB 3 technology.  All's not lost I said, the Mac has USB 2 except for one USB 3 socket.  Updated Studio on the Mac to V4 and plugged the cutter in.  Lo and behold, it connected and showed ready.  A quick test to see if it was fibbing, no it wasn't!

 

One site I looked at suggested that the issues had been addressed with firmware updates so I dived into the Silhouette website but could only find upgrades for Portrait 2 or later on the firmware page.  While looking for answers, I decided to just see if the Windows 10 on the Mac would connect.  Again, upgraded Studio to V4, plugged in and - a connection!   Now I had a way of working.  The laptop has much the same software on it as the Windows on the Mac plus I have a dirty great NAS drive hanging on the home network.  Do the design on the laptop in the comfort of the armchair, copy the files to the NAS and pick them up from there on the Windows portion of the MAC and drive the cutter from there.

 

While searching around the Silhouette support site I started looking at the FAQs for no connection and, bingo, found reference to firmware upgrades for older machines, including Portrait 1.  So, firing up Windows on the Mac ('cos I knew it connected to the cutter) I followed the instructions and actually ,managed to update the firmware.  In the meantime, I was searching the house for a USB 2 hub that I was pretty sure had been binned yonks ago to see if that would allow the laptop to connect by slowing down the data transfer rate (I believe the USB 2 rate is 5 or 6 times slower) and resigning myself to begging for one at the local computer shop, begging because the staff there aren't old enough to remember USB 2.  

 

Failing to find the hub and not having had time to visit the computer kindergarten, I just, idly, plugged the cutter into the laptop (which only has USB 3 and USB C sockets), fired up Studio and got - A CONNECTION!!!!!!!!!   Hence, I go back to my statement of ages ago, I have a Portrait 1 talking to Windows 11 through a USB 3 connection!

 

Phew!

 

John

 

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1 hour ago, Doncaster Green said:

ChrisN, forgive my tardy response to your query.  But, I notice nobody else has responded either!  Am I alone in making a Portrait 1 talk to Windows 11 through a USB3 socket?  The story is, however, long and convoluted.

 

At the time I bought my Portrait (November 2014) I had two machines to drive it with, a four year old HP Laptop running Windows 7 and a two year old Mac Mini (I can't remember which flavour of Mac IOS that was running at the time).  The Mac also had Windows 8.1 loaded and running using Parallels.  Everything fine and dandy and some cutting was done.  Then life got in the way (I won't bore with the details) and the portrait sort of got put away and almost forgotten about while what modelling that was achieved revolved, almost exclusively, around 2mm etched coaches.

 

Fast forward to March 2022 and I wished to restart work on my, very, embryo layout, in particular the buildings for it.  So, I dug the Portrait out and prepared to do battle with various types of cuttable material.  Unfortunately, in the intervening years there had been a number of changes to the IT setup in the house.  The HP laptop had been replaced by a new HP laptop running Windows 11 (Intel I7, SSD), the Mac had been progressively updated to Catalina and Windows on the Mac was up to 10.  

 

As a first step I loaded the latest version of Studio on to the laptop (it had never had any version on it before), checked that was working OK and then plugged the cutter in.  Nothing! No connection!  Not a peep!  Searching the interwebby I discovered there were issues with older machines and a combination of Windows versions (particularly 10 and 11) and USB 3 technology.  All's not lost I said, the Mac has USB 2 except for one USB 3 socket.  Updated Studio on the Mac to V4 and plugged the cutter in.  Lo and behold, it connected and showed ready.  A quick test to see if it was fibbing, no it wasn't!

 

One site I looked at suggested that the issues had been addressed with firmware updates so I dived into the Silhouette website but could only find upgrades for Portrait 2 or later on the firmware page.  While looking for answers, I decided to just see if the Windows 10 on the Mac would connect.  Again, upgraded Studio to V4, plugged in and - a connection!   Now I had a way of working.  The laptop has much the same software on it as the Windows on the Mac plus I have a dirty great NAS drive hanging on the home network.  Do the design on the laptop in the comfort of the armchair, copy the files to the NAS and pick them up from there on the Windows portion of the MAC and drive the cutter from there.

 

While searching around the Silhouette support site I started looking at the FAQs for no connection and, bingo, found reference to firmware upgrades for older machines, including Portrait 1.  So, firing up Windows on the Mac ('cos I knew it connected to the cutter) I followed the instructions and actually ,managed to update the firmware.  In the meantime, I was searching the house for a USB 2 hub that I was pretty sure had been binned yonks ago to see if that would allow the laptop to connect by slowing down the data transfer rate (I believe the USB 2 rate is 5 or 6 times slower) and resigning myself to begging for one at the local computer shop, begging because the staff there aren't old enough to remember USB 2.  

 

Failing to find the hub and not having had time to visit the computer kindergarten, I just, idly, plugged the cutter into the laptop (which only has USB 3 and USB C sockets), fired up Studio and got - A CONNECTION!!!!!!!!!   Hence, I go back to my statement of ages ago, I have a Portrait 1 talking to Windows 11 through a USB 3 connection!

 

Phew!

 

John

 

 

John,

Thank you for your long and full reply.  I have to be honest, I have been thinking for a while I should interrogate the Silhouette site and see if their are firmware upgrades.  I have a Cameo, and having been told it would not run on Windows 10 I was more than pleasantly surprised when it did.  Of course now I am being offered an upgrade to Windows 11 and am just a bit wary.  Now your post, and do not ask how this works, has made me realise that my wife's new laptop is a Windows 11 machine.  I may well ask her if I could load Silhouette software onto her machine and see if it works, if not, no bother I can work out what to do from mine.

 

If your layout is pre 1923, do not forget to post it in the Pre-grouping area.

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I had a great deal of problems back in 2020, did the firmware update on the plotter (for which I think I needed a earlier version of Windows - fortunately I still have an old laptop) however I was still having odd problems - the good news is that I found that the trick with a USB2 Hub plugged into a US3 socket in the PC to act as an translator works.

 

Jon

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Hi,

 

I have a brand new laptop running Win10 Enterprise, the only way I have found to get it to talk to my Silhouette Portrait is to use a USB hub with USB 2 sockets. I couldn't find any reference to firmware upgrades for the Portrait.

 

Regards,

 

John P

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The firmware update for the Portrait 1 doesn’t appear on the firmware page of the Silhouette America website.  However, if you enter ‘machine will not connect to Silhouette Studio’ in the FAQ section you will be presented with solutions for both the Portrait 1 and Cameo 1.

 I followed the instructions using a Windows 10 installation and a USB 2 connection.  The firmware updated successfully - the bonus being that when I tried with Windows 11 and USB 3 the machine connected with no problem and everything appears to work properly.  All I’ve got to do is relearn how to use it!

 

John

 

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4 hours ago, ChrisN said:

 

 

If your layout is pre 1923, do not forget to post it in the Pre-grouping area.

Chris

 

Most definitely late 1950s/early 1960s.  Reliving childhood memories and one of the most memorable buildings in the backdrop wasn’t built until 1957!

 

John

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  • 1 month later...

This threads has been pretty quiet, but I've only just unboxed and done the first cut using a Cameo 4 with the Autoblade.  I cut a rectangle of 20 thou/0.5mm clear plastic/acrylic for glazing for a model door - baby steps to start.

 

I made several newbie mistakes (including putting the sticky mat on the floor, where it immediately attracted countless strands of dog fur) but the real puzzle was that the rectangle cut 7mm to the left and 9mm down that expected, which meant that the machine happily carved off the side of the acetate and across the mat.

 

Part of the discrepancy was that I was using a LightGrip low-tack mat (bought from the vendor when I bought the machine), which has the cutting origin (0,0) 1.5mm to the right and 6.5mm lower than the authentic Silhouette mat which came with the machine.  My fault there - it was naive to assume the Cameo 4 replacement mat would actually be a replacement.  However, even allowing for that difference, the cut was still 5.5mm to the left and 2.5mm down that expected.

 

My options seems to be either offset the material when I load it on the mat, or more simply, to offset the design before I send it to the cutter (assuming I remember).  There doesn't seem to be any way to define a custom mat or offset to the software that I can see.

 

Does anyone else have this experience?

 

On a more positive note, one thing that I remembered to do was to position my design at the bottom of the acetate sheet rather than the top.  This allows the progress of the cut to be checked without unloading the mat.

 

I decide to include a photo, since there are so few here these days, even though it's not very exciting.

 

P1170047.JPG.4a79b763f1cdd0927ab0efd85889f029.JPG

 

The cut rectangle on the left was the first attempt which fell off the side.  The other was the successful 2nd attempt.

 

Edited by aardvark
crossed out the bit that was confused - see my next post
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  • 4 weeks later...

I got confused when I wrote my previous post, so I performed a test to determine the cutting offset using small 1mm crosshair located in the bottom-left corner of a Javis 20W 9x12" (228.6,304.8mm) sheet.

 

The Silhouette cutting map has the origin offset by 10,19mm, while the LightGrip is offset by 12,25.5mm.

 

The crosshair was positioned at 12,226.6mm on the 9x12" sheet, but instead, cut at 5.5,220.5mm using the LightGrip mat. So it's cutting 6.5mm to the left and 6.1mm higher than designed.  Clearly, some of this is due to the different cutting mat offset.  Allowing for this difference, the offset of the cut from the design is 4.5mm to the left and 0.4mm low. The 0.4mm is clearly within measurement error and my ability to load the cutting map accurately.

 

However, the 4.5mm is puzzling. I read that it's possible to "calibrate" the Cameo (see https://www.silhouetteschoolblog.com/2021/06/how-to-calibrate-silhouette-cameo.html), but this made no difference for me.

 

I am unable to define a custom mat in Studio, so this is something I'm just going to have to remember and deal with manually when positioning my designs on the media.  I may also need to artificially increase the height of the media if I my design needs those extra 6mm at the bottom.

 

Another thing not apparently permitted by the current version of Studio (4.4.937ss, basic version) is the saving of custom media sizes.  I've read that this was possible in older versions of Studio (https://www.silhouetteschoolblog.com/2015/12/how-to-add-custom-pagematerial-sizes-in.html), so I can only presume that this function was intentionally removed by Silhouette, or is only available in the paid version.   There is no mention in the User Manual (PDF, V4, 7,670,042 bytes: there's no detailed version identifier for the manual).

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In something that might actually be newsworthy for this thread, I managed to cut a simple rectangle completely through 20-thou plasticard with a Cameo 4 + 3mm Kraft Blade, the only blade that can go into the C4's high-force #2 carriage.

 

P1170070.JPG.fefbfbaa1367b631803b734f918adfb8.JPG

 

Details:

  • the rectangle is drawn from separate lines;
  • blade depth = 5 (0.5mm);
  • force = 1,10 and 33 in three consecutive passes;
  • passes = 1 each;
  • speed = 1;
  • disable smart cut;
  • line segment overcut with default 0.1mm extensions.

For some reason, a Studio rectangle object cuts differently from the same geometry created with 4 separate lines. In my design, the lines were drawn in order: left, bottom, right, top, and this was the order that the Cameo cut them in.  At each line end, the Cameo raise and lowers the Kraft blade.  I haven't found any way of converting a drawn rectangle into separate lines, which is a Royal PITA.

 

Disabling the "smart" cuts is hidden behind the "MORE" button and is unintuitive: just changing the tickbox won't affect your cut until you save the change as a custom material, and then select that material for your cut.  See the following for instructions: https://www.silhouetteschoolblog.com/2021/01/how-to-turn-off-silhouette-3mm-kraft.html.

 

To the left of the rectangle is a gouge in the plasticard where (I think) the Cameo was setting the orientation of the blade for the first cut.  When you have "smart" cuts enabled, Studio shows you where the "smart" cuts will be located, but this initial orientation cut is not shown, so it's trail and error.  Once that first orientation is performed, it looks like the Cameo re-orients the blade as part of the line segment overcut, and there are no further gouges.

 

Conventional Silhouette wisdom is that the 3mm Kraft blades should only be used on designs without fine details.  This would make sense if the blade is fully extended.  In this case, I'm only using 0.5mm of the 3mm blade.

 

Further experimentation is required.

 

Note: the 2mm Kraft blade only goes in the C4's low-force #1 carriage, and hence I wouldn't expect it to cut through 20-thou.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I thought that that was going to work, but it didn't.  I've pretty much given up with using a 3mm kraft blade to cut 20-thou plasticard.

 

The good news is that it does cut through, the bad news is that the results are too inaccurate to be usable - probably ok if your cutting for craft, but not if you're making a model.  At least not for me.  I checked the rectangles I cut above, and they are more like 24.5x11.5 rather than 24x12mm, with sides that are not straight.

 

I tried a three more tests, but none were satisfactory.

 

P1170101.JPG.bcd954e75ec992818e5c40c2843fa77f.JPG

 

The basic idea was to cut horizontal lines first, then vertical, so that the blade would only need to be oriented once.  Settings were depth=5, force=1, passes=1, speed=1, smart cuts=off, overcut=0.90mm.

 

Test 1 (left) FAIL: There is the normal starting gouge to the left; then the upper cut has made left-to-right, and has a slight downward curve at the beginning; finally the lower cut has made right-to-left, and has a significant upward curve at the beginning. The cuts are 11mm apart.

 

Test 2 (centre) FAIL: Overcut=off. No difference.

 

Test 3 (right) FAIL: Turn off cut sorting (inside Advanced panel). The normal starting gouge to the left; then the lower cut has made left-to-right, and has a slight downward curve at the beginning; finally the upper cut has made left-to-right, and has a slight upward curve at the beginning. The cuts are 12.5mm apart.

 

It would be possible to include overcuts in the design, so the rectangle would look more like a #, but even then the dimensions would be incorrect.

 

Studio may be doing some hidden geometry to compensate for the turning of the kraft blade, and if so, it would be important to choose the blade depth that you'd manually set on the blade. I did that.

 

Note: cuts in 10-thou plasticard with the auto-blade work as expected, and are the correct dimensions.

 

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On 10/05/2022 at 23:10, aardvark said:

I am unable to define a custom mat in Studio, so this is something I'm just going to have to remember and deal with manually when positioning my designs on the media.

 

I have noticed that a variety of aftermarket mats, although they say they are for the Silhouette, are not.  They have offsets as you described.  I will have to look closer at the mats I do I have.  Often, they are Cricut mats, labelled as Silhouette as well.

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On 12/05/2022 at 04:15, aardvark said:

Once that first orientation is performed, it looks like the Cameo re-orients the blade as part of the line segment overcut, and there are no further gouges.

I have had decent luck with the segment overcut feature vs. smart cut as well.  However, no software solution will match the geared head blade on the Cricut Maker that can lift and turn.  Thanks for sharing your experiences so far.  After I had worked with a Maker and the CS4 I came to the conclusion that Studio Design is the best software for designing and cutting, but the CS4 is not the best raw blade power for styrene. IMHO.

Edited by huthutcan
typo
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I referred my difficulty in cutting 20-thou plasticard to Silhouette. Their response was:

 

Quote

I understand that you are experiencing issues cutting plastic card with your Cameo 4. Since we have not tested this material with our machines, we are unfortunately unable to provide any specific troubleshooting or settings recommendations. 

 

The Silhouette Cameo 4 series offers two different tool chambers that have different cutting force capabilities. The first tool chamber has a cutting force of 210 gf while the second tool chamber accommodates a cutting force of up to 5,000 gf.

 

However, there is still a limitation depending on the material's density and make up. Certain materials that are overly dense (such as thin metals or thick acetate, for example) may not be able to be cut well or at all and can impair the blade. Certain materials that have abrasive natures (such as thicker chipboard or sandpaper) may also impair the blade or dull it very quickly. On the other side of the spectrum, certain fibrous materials (such as select felt materials or handmade papers) may not be held together densely enough for successful cutting.

In light of the vast assortment of materials, we are unfortunately unable to provide an all-inclusive list. If you have a specific material that you would like tested, you may opt to test the materials using the information found at http://www.silhouetteamerica.com/faq/solution/test-cut-feature. This can help you to go through a series of test cuts in order to find whether or not the material can be successfully cut.

 

For a tutorial on using this feature, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIz51RKMZ64

 

It was worth a try.

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Are you trying to do this all in one single pass? I'd suggest doing repeated passes at lower pressure, letting the first pass define the route the blade will probably follow in subsequent passes. 

 

For what its worth, my portrait 1 won't cut through plasticard of any thickness, but I have only ever used score to snap, and have done that successfully up to 40 thou.

 

Jon

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No, the photo shown above is for force=1, so the first pass.  I'm beginning to wonder whether the blade depth should be increased in the same way across multiple passes as the force.

 

When I get time and enthusiasm, I will try working through Silhouette's guide to the test cut feature as described in their response.  I'm not particularly hopeful, as I expect plasticard is an overly dense material, but it's a leave-no-stone-unturned approach.

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On 11/09/2021 at 08:24, aardvark said:

 

BTW: Silhouette claim that the sizing problem is "a limitation of the DXF file type itself".

 

Possibly because DXF files are unitless so there is no way for any system to know how to scale them 

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  • 5 weeks later...

I'm having troubles getting DXF files to import into SS, so I asked Silhouette.  In short, the file has to be R13/LT95 without groups or compound paths.

 

The reply in full is below.

 

Quote

I see you are experiencing import issues with DXF files. Please note that while DXF files can be imported into the Silhouette Studio program, there is a limit on features for DXF files that are supported. Namely only the following features are supported for DXF files:

  • Arc
  • Circle
  • Ellipse
  • Line
  • DWPolyline
  • Spline
  • Text

If only these components are included and the file was exported from Adobe Illustrator, please note the following information on proper export practices for this file type:

  • The DXF file type should be R13/LT95
  • There can be no groups or compound paths when exporting
  • Re-group and/or make compound paths in the Silhouette Studio® program once the DXF image is successfully opened

If further concerns are encountered, while official support cannot be provided for images not offered by our company, you may send the DXF file for further review and consideration in making further improvements to DXF support in future versions of the Silhouette Studio software program.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm pleased to report that yes, you can fully and accurately cut 20thou plasticard with a Cameo 4 and a 3mm kraft blade. No scribe and cut required.

 

P1170136.JPG.25b340360a0138e586ce80b3489dc629.JPG

 

P1170137.JPG.d37d31d67564c8bdf7d8acb679a31ed2.JPG

 

The tricks are:

  • drawn as 4 lines, not a single rectangle
  • Smart Cuts enabled
  • Cut Order Setting set to No Sort (Advanced Setting)
  • horizontal and vertical lines cut separately by colour: horizontal lines in one colour, vertical lines in another
  • All cuts with speed=1, passes=1
    • force=1 with blade depth=1,2,3,4,5
    • blade=5 with force=5,10,15,20,25,25,30,30

It's highly likely that it can be done with less cuts. I was interested in proving whether it could be done at all, so took things slowly.

 

If you look carefully at the first image, you'll see an alignment cut at the bottom left prior to making the horizontal cuts, and one at the top left prior to making the vertical cuts.  When positioning your design on the media, you have to make allowance for these alignment cuts, even though they aren't shown on the screen.  I consider this to be a bug.

 

The eagle-eyed viewer will spot that the bottom of the cut-out is curved, while the piece is straight.  For some reason, on the final pass, the blade failed to follow the path used for all the other cuts.  The previous cuts had come so close to cutting through that the scallop fell off cut out when I touched it.  It is possible that a force of 30 was too high for the material, and that the blade was caught in some invisible grain.  I note the crafting articles rarely use full force.

 

Further tests are required to see if similar results can be made using multiple passes with a lower force.  Not everything needs to be cut using full force, especially not in carriage 2.

 

The above followed from an investigation of how Smart Cuts actually worked, which I've attached as a PDF on the off chance that anyone is interested.

 

 

Smart cuts.pdf

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