Author Topic: CNC Craft Cutter  (Read 550 times)

Offline Joules

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CNC Craft Cutter
« on: December 21, 2017, 12:05:56 PM »
These maybe more familiar in the States where they are very popular with crafting ladies (No Ade, not build your own sex doll)   They are used for cutting card, vinyl and textiles on a small scale.

Now why me !!!   Well, I was give a really old cutter (Krusty Cut) below.   This was an early version that used cartridges and you couldn't cut your own designs.  I had a play and pulled it apart to see if it could be modded, but in the end it just wasn't worth it for the small 6"x 12" capacity.  Then I did some online research, at the same time work came in requiring some paper templates be made for wrapping round steel pipe for marking up and cutting.  I did a few using scissors, and decided this is a waste of my time, so invested in a machine called a Silhouette Cameo 3.   Think of it as the illegitomate offspring of a pen plotter and inkjet printer, the thing is heavier built than an inkjet and a couple of carriers for accessories in place of the print head, one of which is a blade, the other can be a pen.  This allows you to mark up the parts and then cut them from sheet material.

When the Cameo arrived I duly set it up, a day wasted trying to get it to talk with a Mac over bluetooth, worked fine with a Win10 netbook.  So it's now talking via a long usb cable, I can live with that.  The included software supports dxf files, the paid option adds software support for SVG files.  Not a big issue other than wrong choice of dxf can have the plotter doing all the tiny arc cuts than smooth curves, so beware.  Software is pretty competent too so you can do basic shapes and text within the supplied application.  Inkscape would be a good choice for more complex object creation, I will just use my CAD software.

My first proper test cut was a gasket in sign vinyl, the machine has a capacity of 2mm thick material including backing.  The backings are carrier sheets having different tacky surfaces for holding materials in place whilst they are cut, so it keeps parts or fabric in place.   If your only plotting on paper or cutting vinyl, you can feed the machine off the roll.  The max cutting area for a carrier sheet is 12"x 24", my other half is keen to try it out for dress making in panels of the afore mentioned.   Not sure this machine is ideal for fabric as it has a drag blade, but another machine due on the market has a steerable rotary blade.  Save that for another time.

The Cameo has one draw back to it...  The blades it use are incorporated into a moulded housing, so when the blade is worn you replace the whole housing, the opposition (CriCut) use a blade housing that takes normal Roland cutter blades, about a third of the price, plus you can resharpen the blades if you know someone with a T&C grinder.  Once the blade is too short it can be re ground for use on the lathe for fine turning, grooving etc.

I took Krusty's blade holder and machined it down to size so it would fit in the Cameo.  All sorted it fits in place and is set at the correct height for use.  I now have a standard blade holder and can just buy Roland style blades when the next machine arrives !!!!   Yeah, it has proved that useful.   The Cameo is going to be my vinyl and thin sheet machine, the next beast will have a steerable blade   :thumbup:

So far the uses for it have been card, paper, thin styrene sheet, kitchen foil, that last one was making RF shielding, and could also be used to make high frequency antenna's.   I hope to also try thin balsa and ply for model aircraft and boat building and another planned use will be cutting model yacht sails out of drafting film.  I'm sure more uses will spring to mind over time, think of it as a poor mans laser cutter with the benefit of no burn and it can cut metal foils.  Another handy tool to have around the workshop.
Just get doing and make swarf, you can decide what its going to be later.   :thumbup:

Offline Joules

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Re: CNC Craft Cutter
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2017, 12:57:57 PM »
Take a look at this.





It compliments my 3D printing.
Just get doing and make swarf, you can decide what its going to be later.   :thumbup:

Offline GordonL

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Re: CNC Craft Cutter
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2017, 01:38:49 PM »
I bought a Silhouette Portrait about a year ago to cut gaskets. It is a smaller version of yours. It cost about $100 US. It works well for gaskets except that the parts must be resized when generated from a DXF. They are about 5% off so I measure some known dimension and then resize to something like 104.5% or whatever the the math tells me. So far I am pleased. I have some vinyl sheets to make logo's etc but have not used it yet.

Offline Joules

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Re: CNC Craft Cutter
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2017, 01:41:23 PM »
Gordon did you run the calibration for the machine.  I did that first and checked the dimensions, since then everything has been spot on.
Just get doing and make swarf, you can decide what its going to be later.   :thumbup:

Offline GordonL

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Re: CNC Craft Cutter
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2017, 07:51:21 AM »
I did not know there was a calibration procedure. I will have to look into that. Thanks.

Offline Joules

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Re: CNC Craft Cutter
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2017, 08:52:56 AM »
Glad to help Gordon, the calibration screens are under the SEND menu in Silhouette Studio, right click on the cutter icon at the bottom of the page and it brings up another menu where you can select calibration.  At least I hope that option is correct for your machine.

Had a play this morning with my modded blade holder and resharpened blade to see what it could do.  The example is 15 micron kitchen foil, the larger outline cut is 1.5mm, the small was attempted at 0.5mm.  It cut most of it, the tack on my new mat was too much for the foil really, but you can carefully peel the foil away.  My resharpened blade did pick up the foil on the left side, hence it missing, but did the rest of the cut OK.  I need to investigate using small less tacky patches on the main carrier, perhaps Post It Note tackiness would work.  You also need a really clean surface as the tacky stuff picks up dirt like a magnet and on really thin stuff this embosses the material.  My resharpened blade working fine on vinyl, so I know I can extend my blade life without too much trouble.
Just get doing and make swarf, you can decide what its going to be later.   :thumbup:

Offline Brass_Machine

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Re: CNC Craft Cutter
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2017, 11:02:20 AM »
This is one for my futures... I have been planning on getting one of these. Interested in doing gaskets and some vinyl.

Science is fun.

We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.

Offline Joules

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Re: CNC Craft Cutter
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2017, 12:53:16 PM »
Eric, look carefully for what you need.  I bought the Silhouette for business use as it works offline and I wonít have issues with confidential work being on the Cloud.  The CriCut Maker would be my machine of choice other than the software is Cloud based.  This isnít a problem for hobby stuff, you do need a good network connection for the online software though.

Another thing comparing both machines. The Cameo 3 has a blade force of 210 grams and the Maker 4000 grams.  That means the Maker can handle much heavier materials, combined with the steerable blade makes this a very interesting machine for model making.  Loads of online videos once you can ignore 90% of the presenters and concentrate on the machine.
Just get doing and make swarf, you can decide what its going to be later.   :thumbup: