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Plotter Cutter Tests - On Members Workbenches. - More Practical Help - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Thu Mar 14th, 2013 10:16 am
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Brookwood
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Hi Robert:

Thanks for your helpful replies. I download the trial version of MTC (Make the Cut) and had a play with it. I exported a CAD drawing in JPG then imported it into MTC with the 'pixel trace'. I was impressed with how easy it was. I'll have to get my head around it wanting to cut both sides of a line but I think that will just be a case of how I fill in the original drawing.


I have ordered a Zing from their UK website. The reason I went for the Zing was it's cutting force (750grams)enables it to cut much thicker material than a lot of others on the market and you also have to be aware that some cutters will not work with anybody else's software. The Zing only works with MTC but that is rated as being one of the better ones.

I would strongly recommend to anybody considering one of these cutters to do the research thoroughly, my partners Cricut only cuts their patterns (and you have to buy their cartridges to get those patterns) and in very thin paper.

I spent a lot of time eavesdropping on lots of different websites to read what people recommended. There is lots of information out there but for the price the Zing seemed to suit our needs. 

The first essential question is what are you going to do with it. What attracted my attention was Robert's signal box and being able to draw something and then cut it out. Must be a boon to scratch building.


Regards
Chris









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 Posted: Thu Mar 14th, 2013 11:42 am
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 Posted: Thu Mar 14th, 2013 12:48 pm
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Dorsetmike
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Marty wrote: Get thee away from me .....

Must .... Resist.... Must resist....:shock:


You'd be too late now Marty, I succumbed. I was contemplating a clearance Graphtec Silhouette cameo at £230, but decided to go for the cheaper option, if I find it does what I want then great, if not at least I'll have some experience of the things to figure if an upgrade is viable for my needs.



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 Posted: Thu Mar 14th, 2013 04:17 pm
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If I've read things correctly I should be able to print on my colour laser then cut on the CraftRobo, although I suspect I will have to add registration markers. My work, so far, is all at A4 size and I print to either self adhesive vinyl or paper label stock which I buy in 50 sheet packs What changes or additions will I need to make to my artwork? Currently mostly saved as TIF images, but I can easily convert to BMP PNG or JPG.

A typical vinyl sheet has sides for 13 Maunsell coaches (like the one below), I want to be able to cut out the windows then complete sides (or do it all in one go).



A full sheet would have coaches with different running numbers correct for SR sets, plus loose coaches, restaurant car or whatever I want for a rake. The above is the brake compo for set 179, (colour needs a bit of lightening), the TIF file is better but YMR will only take gif or jpg. It is scaled to fit a hacked Farish "main line" or a shell assembled from BHE side/floor/roof parts. I've used the same basic artwork for decals scaled to use on etched kits. Once you have the artwork in the above state it's easy to change running numbers, I usually save an un-numbered file and add numbers as required.



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 Posted: Thu Mar 14th, 2013 06:16 pm
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Angusog
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DD

a) Will it cut curves? (assume yes), yes it excels at curves
 b) What thickness of styrene would it cut? c) no idea, I have some sheet styrene and can do a test cut this weekend for you
Are there flat-bed types as well as rotary? don't know what you mean by this, my Zing cuts on a flexible mat that is fed in flat, i think you could cut styrene without this, as long as it is under the feed rollers which are on 13" centers


Dorset Mike cutting vinyl are what these cutters where made for and they do it well, and yes registration marks go a long way to helping you cut and placing your cut vinyl, have done a couple of signs on standard sign vinyl that is 5 layers and with some practice it goes together reasonably well.

haven't tried printable vinyl yet I have tried 2mm lettering and it struggles with it, either tearing the vinyl or dragging it from the backing paper

I have an idea on using scalescenes printouts, i will try, and post to let you guys know how i get on

Robert



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 Posted: Thu Mar 14th, 2013 06:55 pm
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Thanks, Robert.



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 Posted: Sat Mar 16th, 2013 05:21 am
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Angusog
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mmm lost 10 mins of typing and editing, kk lets try again

I ran some tests on my Zing plotter today, heavy card, 0.5mm styrene, 0.75mm siding styrene, 1.5mm balsa

I will continue to do some more cuts and tests especially balsa as the test I did was just a basic rectangle.

all 3 test were good, results were very crisp, and although did not cut all the way through I think with some more tweaking my machine i can achieve this, but i was satisfied with what resulted. a couple of light passes with the scalpel guided by the cuts made and I was through all three mediums.

the test was done on John's Scalescenes goods shed, as this simple model required the least amount of copying shapes over the pixel trace, I did 1 cut of the pixel trace and didn't zoom in that far, and didn't realise that i had a squiggly edge until the cutter replicated it, minute indents on what should have been a straight cut.

overall I am happy I can continue to tweak and improve the way i do this, below some pics of the results.







regards



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 Posted: Sat Mar 16th, 2013 08:20 am
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ddolfelin
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Thank you very much, Robert - that's a great help.
Very pleased that it will cut styrene.
As you say, even if it provides cut guides for a scalpel that is very useful.

I wonder if it will cut embossed styrene? Probably from the back I suppose.

Because I'm thick, I would really appreciate a dimbo description of how you present the guide information to the machine.
Would it follow a matrix produced in a computer print-out?



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 Posted: Sat Mar 16th, 2013 10:02 am
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Brookwood
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Hi Robert:

Thanks for doing all this testing for us, your results look very promising.

I'm still only playing with the software as the machine hasn't arrived yet.

I'm impressed with the balsa cutting, even if it doesn't go all the way through we are all used to releasing die cut stuff, and a little bit of fettling is to be expected.

Regards

Chris

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 Posted: Sat Mar 16th, 2013 10:37 am
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Angusog
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Hey DD

I wonder if it will cut embossed styrene? Probably from the back I suppose.
the siding is embossed styrene DD, although very minor embossing, and the back is smooth and i cut from that side and the cut was clean.

how you present the guide information to the machine. Would it follow a matrix produced in a computer print-out?
not sure I understand the question, from what i know of plotters ( not much) it follows a vector path, generated by the software, which in MTC is invisible, i have seen 3d cnc machines that generate the path and you can watch the progress as it cuts. is this what u meant.

regards




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 Posted: Sat Mar 16th, 2013 11:55 am
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ddolfelin
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Not really but I don't know enough to ask the right question!

If I produce a black and white original, how do I get the machine to cut it out of whatever material?



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 Posted: Sat Mar 16th, 2013 06:50 pm
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Angusog
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Ahh now I understand, to import into the cutting software you need either a vector file or a jpeg, other formats can be used, but to keep it simple we'll use jpeg as the example.

first scan the drawing if it isn't a jpeg file you have, save it as jpeg
next you have to run a pixel trace to get it into the cutting software.







as you can see some tweaking is required before you can cut the shape, the first drawing the blue lines are cutting lines, what the trace has done has traced the shading in the picture, so we have all these differnt shapes , what we want is a outline of the shape, and the next picture shows that in the green Gable end nice clean line filled in .

I don't know enough yet to do a tutorial on this, and it would be hard to follow if you didn't have this machine anyway, i believe they are all different and run different software.

but I hope you get the Idea.

regards





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 Posted: Sat Mar 16th, 2013 08:18 pm
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ddolfelin
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Yep - very helpful, thank you.



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 Posted: Sat Mar 23rd, 2013 01:12 pm
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Brookwood
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Hi Robert

How are you getting on with the Zing and Scalescenes?

I have just managed to cut out a sheet of Scalescenes after much experimenting.

Regards

Chris


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 Posted: Sat Mar 23rd, 2013 02:07 pm
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Brookwood
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Hi Robert

This is what I've managed so far.  There is a bit of paper tearing, possibly because I still haven't got the force, cutting speed or blade protrusion quite right yet. It may also be down to the quality of paper, the stickiness of the mat and possibly our blade is damaged.

It makes two cuts down the middle of the window openings which are barely 0.5mm apart. I also seem to have lost a couple of window sills somewhere.

Let me know how you are getting on and perhaps we can swop notes.

Regards


Chris

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 Posted: Sat Mar 23rd, 2013 05:50 pm
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Angusog
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G'day Chris

you have done well, I haven't been game to try and cut the actual printout, for the very reasons you have stated,

what Paper did you use

I have started on the small engine shed using 600gsm card (0.9mm), and as you can see in the pic below, it cut great

mat stickiness is always going to be a problem, with paper, I think using photo paper might help and should give a better printout.

tearing could be due to blade damage but looking at the rest of the cuts it could just be that the paper wasn't stuck just at that point. I had a couple of fails on the .9mm card were the blade dragged across the sheet, no great hindrance as the cut was only surface damage. tho with paper it would have cut through.

question, how did you locate your starting point to cut.



regards



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 Posted: Sun Mar 24th, 2013 07:49 am
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Brookwood
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Hi Robert

I'll be back to you shortly I'm just off to a Model Railway exhibition in London if we can get through the snow.


Talk later.


Regards

Chris

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 Posted: Sun Mar 24th, 2013 05:56 pm
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Brookwood
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Hi Robert
 
Basically to cut a long story short, (I’ve seen worse puns) all I did was open the Scalescenes PDF file in MTC and then delete all the bits I didn’t want to cut, like the fold lines and the writing.
 
I did that by ‘Selecting All’ in the Edit menu then the ‘Break’ from the menu bar along the bottom and then going back into Edit menu and selecting ‘Select None’. Then if you click on each item you don’t want, it selects it and you can delete as required.
 
Then print that off as a wireframe on cheap thin paper with registration marks switched on (print options).
 
Then print the actual Scalescenes PDF. I used a different printer on a different computer because the colours came out better and so I had to do a little bit of manipulation of the MTC image to get it to fit better, you may not have to do that.
 
Hold the wireframe copy of the outline over the Scalescenes print, when they match exactly simply put a pin through the registration marks and use those to set the laser in ‘Print and Cut’. It’s good getting the laser to line up with the holes because it is easy to see as the laser literally goes down the hole.
 
I had to manipulate the MTC image fractionally by stretching it a bit by using the grab handles at a very high zoom rate. We are talking fractions of a millimetre here and you may not have to do it as you might be printing on the same printer. I still haven’t got it quite 100% yet but it isn’t bad.
 
I used better quality paper rather than cheap copying paper. It is sold in the UK as ‘letter quality’, it is still only 80grms but is smooth and slightly shiny. It would probably be better with the photo paper you are talking about but with Scalescenes you still have to be able to bend it around the card so there has to be a certain compromise.
 
I also spent a long time getting the PNC calibration (chapter 9) right, you have probably all ready done that but it is obviously very important. I used a force of 100 and speed of 10,10 and only one cut. I’ll have to leave it up to you about the blade projection because I’m still not sure I’ve got that right but I think my blade is damaged.


I like the cuts you've done in that 0.9mm card, it is so much easier and quicker than by hand.


I have also managed to cut out a CAD drawing I did; so I'm well pleased so far.


I hope all this helps and I'd be interested to learn how you get on.


Regards


Chris

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 Posted: Sun Mar 24th, 2013 06:55 pm
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Angusog
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GDay Chris

well thanks for that i had tried to 'open' scalecenes pdf files before and could never see them, but i found them this morning by Importing vector pdf, worked a treat.

I think your force might be a tad high, for paper, did you try less force and work your way up to 100, recommended force for 80gsm paper is 30, photo paper is 100.

A tip I saw online for blade depth is to fold your material in 2, and adjust the blade till it just marks the bottom layer.

yup i have adjusted the PNC laser. what a job 15 sheets later i'm still off by a 10th mil) tried again yesterday and yup cant get it to within that 10th mm. still i will see how i cut the scalescenes sheets i can now import.

well done on that, you're well on your way to mastering it.

will update during the week as I have just found another pack of 600gsm card i never knew I had. need an Inspection pit for the small engine shed.

regards



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 Posted: Sun Mar 24th, 2013 07:43 pm
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i've just got myself a Pazzle Inspiration cutter. I am wanting to use it to make window frame to go with my building kits. This is my first attempt. Just made out of card at the moment will try plastic as well once I see how the cutter does with styrene sheet.



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