Vinyl cutter

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Vinyl Cutter

Latest News

  • June 2013 - C repaired the vinyl cutter, it's up and running again!

View the for a maintenance log

Vinyl cutting!

Vinyl cutters take paper-backed vinyl and cut them robotically. They talk HPGL. HPGL can be generated from various vector tools.

Our cutter

We have a 50" USCutter MH1351-MK2.

Using the cutter

Quick params:
Cut speed - this depends on the complexity of the cut. 10mm/sec for complicated cuts, up to 200mm/sec for big stuff.
Cut Press - play around with this - 50g works well.
When cutting the printer cuts 7% larger than the mm scale in inkscape, so for size-precise cuts, downscale by 7%.

Important rules

  • Don't touch the blade. Not only is it poky, getting any kind of dirt or skin oil on it makes it very unhappy
  • Be aware of static electricity - unrolling the vinyl is a mini maelstrom of sparks. Ground yourself and the machine
  • Cover the machine when done. Dust is bad.

New Vinyl setup

  1. Load your vinyl in the roller rack. Note, however, that the cutter does not have the strength to unroll any vinyl, so be sure to unroll more than you need and leave it slack
  2. Flip all the pinch rollers down, and pull the vinyl through the machine
  3. Slide the pinch rollers sideways and arrange them over the vinyl. You probably want to use three rollers - two an inch from each of the sides, and one in the middle
  4. Flip the pinch roller levers up.
  5. Adjust the cutter blade height. The cutter blade should be exactly as tall as the vinyl. Too tall and it will ruin the cutting surface below. Too short and it won't cut all the way through
    1. Loosen the brass locknut
    2. Turn the top, aluminum nut until the blade is completely retracted
    3. Expose the blade to your guess as to the depth of the vinyl
    4. Set the locknut
    5. Press the test button If the backing paper is deeply scored, then blade is too low. If the vinyl isn't cut, the blade is too high. Adjust, lather, rinse, repeat

Setting the origin

  1. Press the Pause button
  2. Navigate to the desired origin
  3. Press the Origin button


Inkscape on Linux

Inkcut software screenshot
Inkcut software screenshot
  • Download the app and get it installed.
  • Make sure you've got the right python libs:
    • $ sudo dnf install python-cups pyserial
  • Make sure you're in the dialout user group
  • Plug in the serial to USB cable from the cutter (USB to USB will not work)
  • Open up InkScape
  • Draw some useful paths
  • Go open up Inkcut in the Extensions menu
  • Go adjust the configs, match up the baud rate at 2400 on both the software and on the cutter. Make sure you turn on hardware flow control ("Hardware (DSR/DTR + RTS/CTS)") in the inkscape plot settings. Make sure that the Serial port is set to /dev/ttyUSB0.
Inkcut device properties screen
Inkcut device properties screen
  • Go ahead and cut what you wanna cut
  • See if the device is connected by running the command lsusb in Terminal. The name of the vinyl cutter is Prolific_Technology_Inc._USB-Serial_Controller.
  • It normally connects to port /dev/ttyUSB0, but if you want to confirm, you can run this script to see which devices are connected to which port:
  • Make sure you connected the serial port on the vinyl cutter (the fatter plug) to the USB port of your computer.
serial and USB ports on vinyl cutter
serial and USB ports on vinyl cutter
  • Make sure your Device Properties are right. The baud rate (2400), hardware flow control ("Hardware (DSR/DTR + RTS/CTS)") and serial port (/dev/ttyUSB0) need to be changed from default settings.
  • If you cannot click anything on Inkscape, the active window is probably under your current window. This happens, for example when you press Plot Paths - there is a second confirmation window that appears UNDER Inkcut window, and you have to move the Inkcut window to see it.
  • If all the settings are fine and the vinyl cutter is plugged in correctly, and yet you cannot send cuts to it, try switching it to the wrong port in Device Properties, saving, and then switching it back to /dev/ttyUSB0 and saving.

If you have a PostScript file

If the above is way too complicated and you are like Henner, just write your stuff directly in PostScript (or generate it otherwise), convert to HPGL and send it to the plotter in a one-liner without leaving the comfort of your shell.

Make sure to set the plotter to 9600 baud before, the 2400 baud mentioned above in the InkScape setup seems to not work and run into buffer-troubles.

 pstoedit -xscale 0.98425 -yscale 0.98425 -dt -f hpgl < | socat STDIO /dev/ttyUSB0,raw,echo=0,crtscts=1,b9600

The pstoedit command converts the PostScript file to HPGL, which is the command language typically used by pen plotters or vinyl cutters. We need to scale to 0.98425 because the cutter seems to have 1/1000" units instead of standard HPGL 1/40mm. The -dt option makes sure to trace letters (the cutter can't deal with text otherwise). Note, only text sufficiently large makes sense on the cutter.

The socat command sends the HPGL output of the previous command to the serial interface. It is useful in itself if you already have a HPGL file and want to send it over.


Note that the Sure Cuts a Lot software is no longer installed on the computer by the laser cutter, as of August 10, 2016.
Vinyl cutter users generally use the Inkscape plugin.
  • Open Sure Cuts a Lot
  • Draw
  • Unroll enough vinyl
  • Click Cut (Cutter if using Sure Cuts a Lot Pro?) -> Cut With US Cutter
  • Set mode to "Origin", not "WYSIWYG". This is usually already set.
  • Click Cut.
  • Profit

Old information about pledges

It was suggested that Noisebridge should have a vinyl cutter, which can be purchased for ~$300.

If you would like to contribute funds toward it, edit this page to add your name to this list:

  • Casey - $250 - paid
  • Leif - $50 - paid
  • Liz - $20 A bit extra for supplies
  • Molly - $25 - paid
  • Shannon - $25 - paid
  • Dan - $20 - paid

If people opt to get the 50" model, the following people will contribute money

  • Coreyfro - $25
  • Larry - $100 - paid
  • Arlen - $25 - paid
  • Merlin - $25 - paid


  • 50" Derpaderpa cutter w/ shipping + spare blades: 409

Vinyl we want

  • Some matte vinyl - looks better for laptop decals
  • Oracal transfer tape is the best