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Plotter Cutter Tests - On Members Workbenches. - More Practical Help - Your Model Railway Club
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 Posted: Mon Jun 17th, 2013 10:23 pm
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Dorsetmike
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I've managed it now, reverted to manual labour! Used one of those blades on a track on a ruler and getting it all square using the grid of  the cutting mat.

Looks like I need to rethink the way I do windows, I tried printing the frames to transparent acetate, but they are barely visible unless I make them quite thick which would make them a ridiculous size scaled up from N gauge, I dont think they use 12 inch wide timber or metal! I think the way to go will be to cut an "inner" card with doors and window frames, I like my doors and windows recessed ; a further bonus would be the extra strength of a second layer of card. To prevent delamination problems I'll make the inner layer as individual walls a fraction smaller than the outer walls.

Back to the drawing screen!



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 Posted: Tue Jun 18th, 2013 01:08 pm
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The Bankie
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Hi Guys
I had a go with one of the CraftRobo machines a couple of years ago but it delivered a jigsaw of bits because it cut every line on
the kit below.







Sorry about the mass pictures but you can now download and print them out for any kids in the family. 160GSM from Staples is good.

The latest video on You Tube shows a better machine but I would like to know if anyone has used the latest version?

Unlike you guys I want to produce trams in 00 and am using AutoCAD to draw them so I can get outline etc with no problems.
My dilemma is that the Zing seems the better machine but the Craft Robo the better match for my output files.

I would appreciate any suggestions as I not only have to produce my rolling stock I need to do my own tenements and although I can & do cut them by hand I need a LOT of them and I would rather be producing trams.

Your delamination problems lead me to think that you do not do a lot of card work. All you need to do is put a smear of glue from your finger [NOT SUPERGLUE] and then hold down for a few seconds.  If you need longer, invest in some freezer bag clamps from the supermarket about £1 for two dozen.

Regards
Jim



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 Posted: Tue Jun 18th, 2013 07:43 pm
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Dorsetmike
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This is not a happy bunny! I'm having more problems than I bargained for! Example, it cuts fine near the origin, but the cut gradually gets shallower across the sheet, ending up only cutting halfway through 0.3mm card!

The latest has me really puzzled though, I'm (trying) to make a building with an outer wall cut from brick printed card, with an inner wall plain colured card with door frames and window frames to show through the holes in the "wall", separate doors and glazing to be glued to the inside, similar to Metcalfe kits as mentioned in a previuos post, first sheet cuts (except for the getting shallower), the second with the window frames etc, loads and shows on screen in MTC fine, but when I select cut, it tells me parts are outside the mat area, still shows fine on screen, tried shifting it about, no different - outside the area message so I thought blow this for a game of soldiers (or words the that effect) and went ahead, first two items on the sheety cut OK, then it nearly ejected the mat and tried to cut fresh air! I've posted a cry for help on the KNK forum, see what good that does!

The windows  I'm trying to cut frames for have small panes, about 2mm square and it doesn't seem as though that is going to work, so I'm now trhinking etched brass frames! Why are things not simple!:roll:



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 Posted: Thu Jun 20th, 2013 11:07 am
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Dorsetmike
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I've seen quite a few mentions of Inkscape for drawing, what advantages, if any, does it have over MTC. I have just installed it and tried importing a file in .tif format, it crashed twice before it worked, but it seems to have no indication of size of an image/obect; this to me is a big drawback as being able to know from the "rulers" at the edge of the screen if an object is accurate to whatever scale one is working on, or if it will fit onto, say, an A4 page.

I do most of my editing in a photo processing app and have the rulers set to mm so that if I want an n gauge door I know it needs to be about 13.5mm - 14mm high (for normal house doors); MTC annoys me by not having an option for metric rulers/grid, it gets to be a PITA swapping between apps to check measurements.



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 Posted: Thu Jun 20th, 2013 03:21 pm
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The Bankie
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Hi Guys
This may not be too helpfull to those of you who have already bought Zing machines but since I had already tried the Graphtec Craft Robo cutter about 3 years ago (and it was an old machine then) I thought I should give them a shot at this.
The machine was easy to use and accepted DXF files directly but there was no real control over registration.

So I got in touch with Brian Pickup at Graphtec and he invited me to send some artwork.
I sent a JPG of a Glasgow tram in 4mm. Below is what he emailed back about 2 hours later.









Looks like they have the registration sorted now. Guess what I'm saving my pennies for?

Regards
Jim



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 Posted: Thu Jun 20th, 2013 11:22 pm
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Dorsetmike
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Still having problems with the window frames, I've just fed the Zing with this file



Similar to the previous one I posted but this is the "inner layer"to be cut from a plain coloured card such that it shows through the openings in the wall as window and door frames, the individual small panes are about 2mm x 1.5mm with the frames between them about 0.2mm. Card did not like this at all, so I've now tried self adhesive vinyl again printed a plain colour which I stuck to transparency stock.(after cutting)

This time it does appear to have cut a bit better, but the holes are more nearly circular than square as in this photo, just clipped together and a white page behind it. Methinks it will take a while to pick out all the tiny bits, the vinyl certainly sticks well to the tranny



I'e now done a redraw with window openings to fit etched brass frames.  Found a new source for etched and resin cast N gauge stuff, will post details and URL tomorrow in the appropriate shopping thread.



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 Posted: Sat Jun 22nd, 2013 11:28 am
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Brookwood
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HI Mike

This probably doesn't  answer your question about Inkscape, just the reason I use it. I only use it to change file formats. Because MTC doesn't accept DXF files directly I load it into Inkscape and convert it to a PDF file which MTC does accept. It takes seconds to do and the final measurements after the cut are exactly as the original drawing.

Using that method I find I can cut anything I can draw and with very accurate angles and corners. The only thing I have found it best not to do is cut a 2ft long straight line in 1.3mm card so I do that on the bench with a knife. The 1ft lines across the mat are no problem it's just the four cuts running backwards and forwards, the registration slips slightly as it only cuts going one way so that is eight movements for four cuts.

Regards

Chris





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 Posted: Sat Jun 22nd, 2013 09:01 pm
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Angusog
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hey Folks

The only thing I have found it best not to do is cut a 2ft long straight line in 1.3mm card so I do that on the bench with a knife.
Chris I haven't tried it in card, but i have cut 2-3ft long vinyl on my zing, trick is to do it portrait rather than landscape, so the cut is traveling away from the machine rather than across, and to make sure you are under both feed rollers, doing this you can cut any length, and i have not had a problem with accuracy either. again only in sign vinyl. i did cut some 1mm & 3mm pinstripes for truck and trailer 18"+ perfectly straight and parallel. after reading your post again, I think you are trying to cut strips from the card, rather than cutting a rectangle, my pinstripes were rectangles and did cut in a circle, as in up, across, down, across up. so was a continuous cut.

though to be fair by the time you set this up in the zing you could have cut 3-4 with a knife and straight edge.

regards

Robert



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 Posted: Sat Jun 22nd, 2013 11:30 pm
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Dorsetmike
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I'm still using my old faithful picture Publisher, first used V2 in about 1991 when I got my first scanner. I can draw and do quite a fiddles with the clone tool. I used to do most of the work in jpg format, but that degrades with each time you save an image, so I now use tif  format. I can import those to MTC.

I found that MTC  didn't like very fine detail unless you set despeckle to 0 and threshold to 250 or more, even then it can't hack a line 2 pixels wide, minimum seems to be about 4 pixels. I found this out trying to do some industrial building metal frame windows, the frame width between panes of glass would be about 2" thick, in N that is around 0.3mm,  cutting that sort of window frame in card would appear to be well nigh impossible. I had quite an exchange of enails and files with Sandy McC on the KNK forum, even with thicker frames, thwe small panes of glass were being cut nearer circular than rectangular, this was partly solved by redrawing the frames in MTC and setting the blade offset from 0.35 down to 0.25. Still not perfect though, frames are now too wide, more frame than window, so I'm going for etched frames, which meant redrawing the window openings in the building.

I've just got some Metcalfe N gauge stone card, slipped up on the brick and got 00 gauge, so had to reorder. So for now I've switched to a terrace of stone cottages to match the Metcalfe Pub and shop, trying to keep the general appearance the same as the pub/shop, although the stone card is nearer the colour of the stone railway cottages kits.

As I can't print white onto transparency stock I'm not sure what to do for windows, probably try and tweak some of the etched ones, either that or try printing some vinyl in a light color and trying to persuade the Zing to cut it for sash windows, simple wooden cross bar, somewaht thicker than Crittalls galvanised ones!

Looks like I'll have to cut the rest of the way through  this Metcalfe card by hand, It's 0.6mm thick, I've considerably extended the blade, and increased cuts to 3 and force to 100, but it hasn't cut through, so next try with more blade and 4 cuts, sometime tomorrow.




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 Posted: Sun Jun 23rd, 2013 07:19 am
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Hi Mike

Experimented yesterday trying to cut Greyboard - 1.5mm thick (from HobbyCraft), Blue blade 0.75 offset, speed 8/9, pressure 160 2 passes. Tried pressure at 100 but didn't cut through. Will try again and lower the pressure from 160 until it fails to cut through.

While in Hobbycraft yesterday, in the clearance bin I found a Sizzix Eclips blade holder and blades - the one with the click stop depth adjustment and magnetic blade retention, 1 holder, 2 sets of blades for under £9, worth a punt. :lol:
So far I'm impressed, very easy to change blades - no springs to fly off, and easy repeatable blade depth adjustment.
The outside diameter of the holder is 15mm against the 14mm of the Zing holder, so I had to re-calibrate the laser position for the holder - actually I hadn't done it yet for the Zing holder :roll:
Tip - measure the distance between the cut line and the template line and divide by 2, and use this figure as the adjustment, that should get you damn close.
Using the standard eclips blades (blue cap) I have tried an offset of 0.28, the results are close but may need a wee bit of tweaking.

Paul



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 Posted: Sun Jun 23rd, 2013 01:42 pm
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Having watched this thread develop and with 200 plus windows for Salts to make I decided to take the plunge and give the Zing a try out. I'm amazed at just how well and finely it cuts. So far I've only tried it on A 4 label paper although the scanned result below (6th attempt) doesn't do the crisp cutting justice. The window is just over 2" high by .65" wide, courtesy of Jim (The Bankie), while the fine bars must be around .75 of a millimetre or less. I had hoped to stick the A4 label paper to OHP transparency paper, then peel off the panels once the cut had been made. I hadn't allowed for the fact that the label paper would actually do what it's supposed to, and stick to the OHP! :oops: 
Have to look at another method. Early days, but I'm most impressed.




















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 Posted: Sun Jun 23rd, 2013 02:44 pm
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Dorsetmike
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I've just tried more cutting of Metcalfe Stone card, getting a bit closer, increased the force to 130 has got to the stage where some lines cut right through but most still need a bit of work. I reread the PDF manual and they suggest sandpapering the back of the card in these circumstances - it works, makes a mess too!

The card doesn't cut all that cleanly, it appears to be quite fibrous, I note the MTC PDF suggests "white cored" card does not cut as well as card which is cxoloured all through, which could be a bit of a bummer seeing we are mostly dealing with white card; the Metcalfe card also doesn't seem to be very consistent for thickness, my digital measuring stick reading varies from about 0.55mm up to 0.68, after sanding I'm down to 0.5mm or just under. I've now got 5 rows of 6 terraced cottages walls cut.

More window experiments will now follow, I will try Vinyl label stock for some and etched brass for others. I plan to Zing the vinyl stock and cut out the windows from the stock individually and stick to transparency, having once tried to stick a complete Zinged vinyl wall to transparency, generating a considerable blue atmosphere over the work bench, smaller pieces should be easier.




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 Posted: Sun Jun 23rd, 2013 02:50 pm
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The Bankie
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Pat wrote  while the fine bars must be around .75 of a millimetre or less.
He's not exactly wrong about the size. The bar sizes, if he has just used the drawing as I sent it, are 1mm, .66mm and .33mm. representing 3 inch, 2 inch and 1 inch.

The boy done good.

Regards
Jim



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 Posted: Sun Jun 23rd, 2013 08:26 pm
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Dorsetmike
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I think I'm making progress! Cutting window frames from vinyl label stock seems to work, at least for the cottage windows

From the top, the sheet of window frames I fed to MTC, next an A4 sheet, after cutting, of Vinyl label stock printed with red, blue, green and cream, then below that some of the frames stuck onto clear acetate,



the post it pad I found handy to deposit the unwanted bits that didn't stay on the stock, the craft knife helped poke out the bits onto the post it pad, the missing red one has been cut out of the acetate and got stuck in the opening for it, just visible bottom left  the bit of wall shown is the end and front wall of 2 cottages, as mentioned there are 6 cottages in a row, and I have 5 rows, guess what I'll be doing for quite a while!

I will probably do another set using different colours for a bit of variety in the cottages, I may also do one row with some etched windows. Next lot of "artwork" will be for 60 doors, 2 doors per cottage, 5 rows of 6 cottages, then there's chimneys, sheds, privies and walls for the back yard. And before I start on that lot I need to run a felt tip down the raw edges of the card.

Who's idea was all this?????????????? And they say a woman's work is never done, well ours ain't far behind!!



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 Posted: Sat Jun 29th, 2013 10:39 am
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Hi

Tried cutting windows using the sizzix eclips in the zing.
Didn't like the results, I had used the standard eclips blade with a 28 offset, the MTC manual indicates blade offset is too low.
Further testing required ...............

Material is 6x4 label stock, cut pressure 30, single cut, speed 9/10

Blade offset 0.35, 0.40, 0.60 and 0.75



The 0.60 looked reasonable but looking closely shows the bars do not line up correctly.
May need to reduce the value from 0.75 as the bottom right hand corner seems to kick out, c/w the others which curve in.


70 seems to have it for the moment

Paul



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 Posted: Sat Jun 29th, 2013 11:55 am
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actually on closer inspection I think 0.75 was cleaner .....

Paul



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 Posted: Mon Sep 30th, 2013 03:52 pm
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Dorsetmike
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Waking this thread up again, seems like some of my nonsquare corners problems could be due to importing pixel trace jpg and tif formats,  rather than vector graphics like SVG, a contact on another forum gave me a link to Free downloads of Adobe CS 2 and parts thereof, so I've downloaded Illustrator with the intention of opening my jpg/tif files, cleaning up, if necessary, then exporting as SVG.

Among other experiments along the way I have tried a slower cutting speed, increasing the blade offset and even trying the blue blade, all with some improvements, the blue blade gave better results, so I'm going to try increasing the offset for the red blade, see what happens, so far I only tried increasing to 0.4, may try 0.5 next.

I'm also looking at thicker card on ebay, has anybody tried card or greyboard around 600 - 750GSM? How does grey board compare to "ordinary" card?.

I did pick up some 273GSM coloured card in Lidl last week, in pads of 25 sheets for £1.99, what does colour matter if you're covering it with brick or stone printed labels.



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 Posted: Mon Sep 30th, 2013 04:36 pm
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You lost me totally with all the "computer speak" Mike but then I saw the word "card" and woke up again. :lol:

I'm not sure what you mean by "ordinary" card. :hmm  Bristol board is a very high quality dense card whereas "greyboard" is a much rougher type of card coloured, as it's name suggests, grey ..........i.e. unbleached :roll:

I use it in both 1mm and 2mm forms for my Scalescenes models.  It's quite course,  blunts blades quite quickly and, cut with a dull knife, will tend to pull and leave "rough" edges whereas a high quality board (or card) is both easier to cut and has a very sharp cut edge.

If you soaked a piece of greyboard, it would, I'd guess, quickly turn to mush.  Basically, it's a cheap, low quality card.  Ideal for my models but not for "architectural" modelling.

I'll happily send you an offcut if you like. :thumbs



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 Posted: Mon Sep 30th, 2013 05:13 pm
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I tried using the Zing to cut mount board, the stuff used in picture framing but no combination of settings could get through it. Also blunts blades very quickly. As Peter said the grey stuff is very coarse and I've never used it in a construction where an edge might be exposed e.g. around a window aperture, just as a hidden reinforcement. You could try laminating the thinner card you've bought, then use the Zing for cutting. I've stuck to a combination of Stanley knife and scalpel, and live with the not quite even window sizes. The Zing compensates for this by cutting the window frames to the size of each aperture I give it. Are you wanting to use print to cut, e.g. for Scalescenes printouts, or are you making up your own customised design?



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 Posted: Mon Sep 30th, 2013 08:55 pm
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I tend to modify Scalescenes and scanned Metcalfe to suit the location or to introduce a bit of variety. I convert the images to black and white before importing to MTC, and cut either from preprinted Metcalfe brick or stone, or print brick or stone on A4 labels and stick them to card.

Today I downloaded an old (CS2) version of adobe illustrator (free) hoping to be able to mport jpg, tif or bmp clean it up and export as SVG when I load the SVG into MTC I get a grey blurred image; so back to the drawing screen, save my images as bmp's  but as I've set blade offset to 0.45 I'm not sure if  the improvemnet is due to the bmp or the blade offset or a bit of both!

I'm beginning to get a bit disheartened, plus I'll soon be ankle deep in failed cut cards.

Not sure if it's my methods or if I'm expecting too much, but having seen what others have achieved I'm darned if I can see where I'm going wrong.

Method: prepare image in a photo application as black and white silhouettes, save as both jpg, tif and now also bmp files. (Experiments to get usable SVG files are ongoing)

Import as pixel trace, image on MTC screen looks fine, go to cut, outlines cut fine but window and door openings have at least one rounded corner, often 3 and sometimes all 4 corners. The windows I'm cutting now are 4.5 x 7.5 mm which judging by others' results should be well within the Zing capabilities.

I was originally cutting at 10, but have tried as low as 7, currently using 9; red blade offset initially at the recommended 0.35, but finding 0.45 is giving slightly better results, a blue blade set at 0.75 gives some impprovement but as I'm only cutting 0.45 card & label the blue blade is not the recommended one!

Force and blade depth I have tried various settings. Cutting thicker card (Metcalfe preprinted 1.5mm) results are worse, if the corners were any more rounded they'd be circles.



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