December 20, 2010

Vinyl Shifting on YOUR Silhouette?

I've been meaning to share these tips with you for a few weeks. I just had someone email me to ask if I'd found a solution to vinyl shifting. (Thanks Meadowlark!) I'm posting my reply to her in order to help others out there who have this same problem.

{Silhouette Carrier Sheet Img Src}

My Silhouette would work to cut vinyl on a carrier sheet but not when I cut it without the sheet. I have wasted a ton of vinyl and messed up a lot in the year I've had my machine. Unfortunately all the reading I did on the Silhouette site didn't provide an answer. But I did my research and here is what I discovered:

PROBLEM 1 (An obvious, but easy mistake)
The vinyl is not being loaded straight and by the end of a long cut the sheet is on an angle in the carrier. This is usually caused by the vinyl sheet not being square.

Vinyl not Square

SOLUTION: Cut the vinyl sheet so it's square. Make sure you load the sheet in perpendicular to the cutting strip. Feed it all the way to the end of the cutting strip when loaded and make sure it's flush. If you're worried still - manually roll the vinyl sheet the entire length of the cut through the machine and back. Watch that the vinyl sheet doesn't come out from under the pinch rollers at all.

Squaring the Vinyl Sheet

PROBLEM 2 (#1 issue for me)
The cut vinyl lifts and catches on the roller, the knife, or the metal bar behind the cutting strip and then, because it's stuck, shifts the whole sheet as it moves.

SOLUTION: I do one of four things to prevent the vinyl from lifting and catching:
  1. Adjust the thickness of the cut down one at a time.
  2. Adjust the speed of the cut down. Sometimes all the way to three. Then I watch as I cut and push down any little pieces that pop up if possible. It's a little work, but it's saved me vinyl.
    Silhouette Adjust Speed Thickness
  3. Adjust the size of the image being cut so that it is slightly larger. This is especially helpful for detailed images or script style fonts. (Of course, when the size is restricted, this option isn't possible.)
    Silhouette Resize Image
  4. Make sure there are no bubbles in the vinyl. This will sometimes cause it to pick up.

PROBLEM 3 (#2 issue issue for me)
The vinyl sheet itself gets caught on something, this may be because it has been rolled up and isn't completely flat or it gets caught on the table. I never really know for sure.

SOLUTION: I leave the vinyl on the roll when I cut it. I never would have thought of this idea, but I got the idea from the Silhouette blog itself. I saw the idea in this post. I wondered if it would help or not. It did, I've had so much more success cutting this way. The vinyl roll just rolls back and forth easily and actually works so well.

Keep Vinyl on the Roll to Cut

The vinyl isn't flat on the sheet (ie. it has bubbles in it) and that causes the vinyl to shift (not the sheet, but the actual vinyl) as it's being cut and mess up the image.

Bubbles in Vinyl

SOLUTION: Look at the entire sheet and make sure there aren't bubbles or spots where it doesn't lay flat. Especially if it's older vinyl, or vinyl that hasn't been stored nicely on a roll like the Silhouette has. What actually happens is the vinyl itself shifts on the sheet, and part of the image gets shifted. This can also be the cause for problem #1 because the vinyl lifts easier.

The pinch rollers aren't tight enough so the vinyl isn't being gripped tight enough to not shift. This is more likely on an older or well used machine.

Silhouette Parts

SOLUTION: To test how secure the rollers are, feed a vinyl sheet into the machine and then grab on the end and pull at it on an angle. (If you pull it straight the roll It should be quite difficult to shift at all. If it shifts easily you will have to contact Silhouette for support on repairs.

Test Pinch Rollers

Hopefully this will answer a few of your questions and help you to be able to cut long sheets of vinyl.

This is a cut I made today. A 33" long sheet. The "r" in thrill got caught on the knife - so I patiently waited until I was able to grab it off. I cut a new "r" and lined it up with the words as best I could. The points on the star lifted when cut, but I was able to push them down and they didn't cause me any problems!

A Thrill of Hope...


Meadowlark said...

Thank you SOOOOO much! It took me several weeks to work up my nerve to try vinyl and my first two attempts FAILED! I almost did a a "what not to do" post for Kindergarten Crafter!

Happy Holidays and thanks again!

Sarah Barton said...

WOW!! Thanks. I haven't worked up the nerve to try vinyl, but I just might now.

Mama Scribbler said...

Thanks! I just tried to cut out a pretty large project and it ended up getting all twisted around. I had to stop the machine and some of my vinyl is ruined now. But with these tips, hopefully I can learn and figure this thing out!

Mama Scribbler said...

Oh and BTW you just earned yourselves another follower! Love the blog!

Unknown said...

Hi Maggie... Love your designs...
One more vinyl tip if you don't mind. I had issues with the vinyl curling and getting caught before it goes under the silver strip as it is loaded. I just tape a one inch piece of cardstock the entire width (short end) of the vinyl to load it and it works great.