How to Buy a Vinyl Cutter

A vinyl cutter is a device similar to a large plotter or printer, except that it employs a sharp blade to precisely cut patterns out of vinyl sheets instead of printing using ink. Vinyl cutters are essential tools for any sign printing business, and they can also be useful in making tee shirts and other design work. These machines can be very expensive, and purchasing one that does not meet your needs will be a frustrating experience. The considerations below are some of the key aspects of learning how to buy a vinyl cutter.


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    Determine the required size of your vinyl cutter. This is one of the most crucial considerations. Vinyl cutters vary widely in price based on the size of the vinyl sheets they can accept. Determining your required size means assessing the type of work you'll be doing. If you want to print mostly long banners, then a smaller machine will often be adequate. If you want to be able to accommodate customer requests for large signs, spend the money for a larger vinyl cutter.
    • Note that vinyl is often sold in rolls 15 inches (38.1 cm) wide or more. If you buy a vinyl cutter smaller than this, you'll have to trim the excess width from the vinyl before using it. This results in wasted material and wasted time.
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    Assess the types of materials you'll need to cut. If you will only be cutting vinyl with your vinyl cutter, then a less expensive model will generally be adequate. However, if you want to be able to cleanly cut other materials, such as foil, thick plastics, and fabrics, consider spending more for a higher-end model. Quality machines will give you precise control over the blade's pressure and location, which will result in clean, exact cuts in any material.
    • Note that flatbed-style vinyl cutters are generally more effective at cutting thick materials and fabrics than roll-fed machines.
    • If you'll need to be able to cut different materials often, make sure your vinyl cutter offers easy adjustment of the blade force. The blade force (or blade pressure) is generally measured in grams, and will need to be changed based on the thickness and density of the material being cut.
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    Ensure that your vinyl cutter offers adequate support and part replacement. If you only have a single vinyl cutter, your business will be held up tremendously if it malfunctions or needs a part replaced. Buying from major brands such as Roland or Graphtec will increase the availability of parts and support. Also, avoid buying used and out-of-production models, as these will be more difficult to service and maintain.
    • When assessing the ease of finding replacement parts, consider the cost of these parts as well. Blades, for example, must be replaced regularly. A vinyl cutter that uses very expensive replacement blades will cost you much more in the long run.
    • If you are buying a new vinyl cutter, make sure you understand what type of warranty is included. If you are new to working with vinyl cutters, consider purchasing an extended coverage plan if available.
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    Evaluate the ease of use of both the vinyl cutter and its software. Vinyl cutters vary widely in functionality and in ease of use. In addition, vinyl cutters must be coordinating with a software program that feeds the cutting pattern to the machine. This software can also vary in usability.
    • When assessing the ease of use, ask yourself how skilled the operator of the vinyl cutter will be. If you will be the only one using the machine, you can generally afford to buy a more complicated, less user-friendly model. However, if the machine will be in a setting where students or other large groups of people will be operating it, it is best to make usability a priority.
    • Vinyl cutting software varies in price, functionality, support, and ease of use. Software that is meant to be sold to large businesses can be extremely pricey. Before purchasing this software, consider some of the open-source alternatives first.


  • A large amount of memory will allow the vinyl cutter to download files more quickly from the computer, which will allow you to make multiple cuts quickly.
  • Vinyl cutters can be purchased from online retailers and some office supply stores, as well as directly from the manufacturer in some cases. For secondhand models, check online classifieds sites.

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