Vinyl Express Vinyl Cutter

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Fab Lab
3D Printing 2D Cutting Misc


Hive13 Equipment
List of All Documented Equipment
Vinyl express.jpg
Consumables
Owner/Loaner: Hive13
Make/Model: Vinyl Express Q60 (google)
Arrival Date: 1/15/2015
Does it work?: Yes
Certification Needed?: No
Contact: Fab Lab area Warden
Floorplan: 1A
Vinyl_Express_Vinyl_Cutter.png



Overview

Fully functional. Donated by a friend of Dave B (Tony). Will cut up to 24" vinyl sheets.

The hive should figure out a system for stocking vinyl and charging for it (just to break even).

Setup

The vinyl cutter has a Raspberry Pi attached to it that operates as a print server. It is powered by a POE-Texas GAF-5v10w 802.3af splitter with a 1.35mm x 5.5mm barrel plug to micro-USB pigtail. The Raspberry Pi exposes the vinyl cutter over IPP at http://slice.at.hive13.org:631/printers/VinylExpress_Q60

Linux and Mac devices should handle this fairly well (install the generic text-only driver). Windows 10 needs IPP support enabled, you can do this with PowerShell...

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Printing-Foundation-InternetPrinting-Client
Adding a printer by URL to Windows

Let it chug for a bit, then you're ready to download the printer driver from the links at the bottom of this page. Once you have the zip file extracted, you are ready to go to the "add a printer" sequence in Windows. Tell windows it sucks at searching for your printer ("The printer I want isn't listed") and type the URL in the box that appears, as shown to the left.

At this point you'll be asked for the printer drivers. Click the "have disk" button and browse to your extracted driver folder. The Q60 is a rebranded Graphtec FC-7000, so select that one from the list.

Now you're ready to shred some vinyl and if you're really lucky, you'll have a good looking cut to stick on your laptop. Or something.


Notes

To Do (2019 Redux)

  • Fully document InkCut setup and scaling settings.
  • Fully document SCALP 5 setup and scaling settings.
  • Review the manual for the Graphtec FC-7000 Mk2.
  • Adjust the cutting area on the cutter controller so the margins aren't so goddamn huge.
  • Clean up this Wiki page.
  • Back up CUPS config from Raspberry Pi.

Preparing your image

You can import any well-formed SVG file into your cutting program. Make sure all your image elements have been converted to paths. Inkscape can do edge tracing on raster images to convert them to paths.

Choose any image, and open it inside Inkscape. With the image selected, go to ‘Path > Trace Bitmap...’. Edge detection seems to be the easiest to use, but play around with settings. The lower the threshold the more detailed the picture. Keep it around .5, but may vary depending on what image you are using. When you are done with that, select your bitmap image and go to ‘Object > Fill and Stroke...’. In the ‘Fill’ tab, click the ‘X’. This will cause your image to disappear temporarily. Now click the ‘Stroke paint’ tab, and click the blue rectangle (right of the ‘X’). This will render your image so that It can now be cut. Save your image as a .svg file.

Cutter Setup

Once you're ready to cut, turn on the vinyl cutter. select 'Rear Set' (Roll-1 or Roll-2 doesn't matter for this cutter). If it's says 'Front Set' press the left or right position button until it displays the 'Rear Set'. Press 'F1'.

The next screen will say 'Press enter key after releasing media lock'. Here is where you can release the media set lever and adjust the pinch rollers. The distance between the pinch rollers determine how wide of a printing surface you have to work with, so adjust to the edges of the vinyl. I try to leave about an inch of wiggle room on each side. Once the media and the pinch rollers are aligned, pull the media bar back into it's default position and press enter.

The pen carriage will now calibrate and sense the cutting distance between the two pinch rollers. Once it's done calibrating, it will say 'Condition #' and display ready. Once you get to the ready screen you can print from your vinyl cutting program.

WARNING!: When on the ready screen, you can adjust the Force, Speed, Quality, etc. A Force of 14 barely didn't cut all the way through, and 35 ripped the vinyl. Force of 20 seems like the best average setting.

Cutting Program

If you're on Linux, add the IPP queue and install InkCut from Code LV. https://www.codelv.com/projects/inkcut/ You can import SVG files to this program and cut them out.

On Windows, the Craft Edge programs work great and are what we have documented here. Sure Cuts A Lot and Easy Cut Studio are almost identical. Any cutting plotter software that supports Graphtec devices and the GPGL control language should work.

A vote is out (September 2019) to purchase Sure Cuts A Lot (SCAL) v5 for the CAD workstation.

Sure Cuts A Lot/Easy Cut Studio

After you have added the IPP print queue to your computer and installed the drivers, setting up the cutter to use with the Craft Edge programs is relatively easy.

  1. Add the device to SCAL by going to Cutter > My Cutter > Manage Cutters...
  2. Select Graphtec under "Company/Brand" and FC for "Model".
  3. Click the <-- Add to list button, then click Done.

After adding the device to SCAL, go to Cutter > Cutter Settings... and ensure your settings match the following:

  • Units: inch
  • X Resolution: 1.000
  • Y Resolution: 1.000
  • Language: GPGL
  • Step Size: 254 ppi (0.10 mm)

Click Save once your settings are good.

When creating a new project in SCAL, set your mat orientation to vertical. This will set the origin point at the lower right of your project. The representation is as if you were looking at the vinyl cutter straight on as it cuts. You will want to position your graphics near the origin point.

To cut your image, go to Cutter > Cut with Graphtec/CraftROBO. Use the following settings:

  • Model: FC
  • Connection: Printer
  • Port: \\http://slice.at.hive13.org:631/printers/VinylExpress_Q60
  • Cut Mode: WYSIWYG
  • Use Software Speed and Pressure: UNCHECKED

There will be a preview of your cut on the right side of this box. Click the Cut button and the vinyl cutter will spring to life.

Inkcut

Coming soon.

Inkcut scaling settings are based on a formula of 1 = 90 ppi (source). Since our step size is 254 ppi, you would use the following scaling settings in Inkcut based on a formula of 254 / 90:

x = 2.822

y = 2.822

HPGL vs. GPGL

When using Inkcut from Code LV on Linux, I had much more luck switching the cutter and Inkcut to using GPGL instead of HPGL - the software doesn't seem to insert HPGL "pen up" commands and the cutter will happily shred the vinyl.

To switch or verify the command language used on the cutter:

Manuals

File:VEX Q06 152.pdf

Archived from SignWarehouse.

Drivers

Install drivers from sign warehouse or graphtec (The sign warehouses Q60 is essentially a re-branded Graphtec FC-7000)

Windows

https://www.graphtecamerica.com/s/OPS662ver300-z22p.zip <- CURRENT AS OF 2019 (Windows x64)

http://www.signwarehouse.com/blog-support/q-series-driver-windows-32-bit/

http://www.signwarehouse.com/blog-support/q-series-driver-windows-64-bit/

http://www.graphtecamerica.com/graphtec-america-support-downloads-cutting-plotters-discontinued-legacy-cutting-plotters-fc7000-series

Mac

http://www.graphtecamerica.com/graphtec-america-support-downloads-cutting-plotters-discontinued-legacy-cutting-plotters-fc7000-series

Gallery