Swank Force One
Swank Force One MegaDork
6/9/15 4:32 p.m.

I have a need at this point in my life for a vinyl cutter. I don't need anything that will do anything huge, doubtful i will ever need to cut something bigger than 18".

1) Reasonable quality
2) Affordable
3) Easy-to-use software

Help me. Talk to me like i'm stupid.

Streetwiseguy PowerDork
6/9/15 4:55 p.m.

Friend of mine bought a Chinese plot cutter off ebay for under $500. Used it for 3-4 years, occasionally bitched about getting the programs to run properly, but cut a load of Vinyl. Recently bought a used higher end unit for about a kilobuck.

Slippery Dork
6/9/15 5:24 p.m.

My wife uses a Silhouette Cameo. She seems to like it but thats as much as I can tell you.

She also cuts fabric with it.

I tried to use it but could not figure out how to get the file type needed. I'll try again this weekend and report back.

Slippery Dork
6/9/15 5:26 p.m.

BTW, I bought it for her two Christmas ago. I think I paid less than $300 on Amazon.

I bought a different brand originally (Cricut) but she hated it so I returned it.

wearymicrobe SuperDork
6/9/15 5:40 p.m.

All over craigslist here in California you can get a monster roland 60' machine for about 1K with no software though.

For the smaller stuff unless you are cranking out masks for custom painting even the middle of the road used ones are fine. You are always going to want a bigger machine though, especially for car vinyl. I used to get 60$ a gumball with the lettering cutout in 24-30 inch sizes and people had no trouble paying it.

One other thing you can find material on craiglist and ebay dirt cheap in the smaller widths. We paid something stupid like 5$ a roll for 24 inch 3M a few months back for work and we bought everything they had in the building at that price.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
6/9/15 6:52 p.m.

We use a Roland Stika 15" at work. There's a plug-in for Illustrator so I can export straight to it, super easy. It's been a real workhorse, we used to cut hundreds of windshield banners on it as well as a bunch of custom vinyl. I even used it for the big sign on the side of the building and all our show banners. Paid for itself years ago.

Because the max size is 39"x15", you need to do some planning if you're going to do something big. Hasn't been an issue yet, but of course a 24" gumball isn't going to work well.

JThw8 PowerDork
6/9/15 7:15 p.m.

Bought a cheap chinese model um....10 years ago. I had originally bought out an old sign shop for a whopping $50 on ebay. Got an ancient tank of a gerber cutter out of it but it didnt hook to a computer so doing graphics was a challenge. That particular machine is still in demand buy the guys who cut sandblast masks for making gravestones because it will run forever without supervision so I sold it for enough to cover the cheap one and kept all the vinyl.

10 years later that cheap thing is still trucking along. Came with its own software which wasn't too hard to learn but it emulates a roland so you can connect it to any software that works. Get at least a 24" model if you can.

JThw8 PowerDork
6/9/15 7:18 p.m.

This is the latest update to what I have, I think you can find them on ebay a bit cheaper http://signmax.us/achatenligne/product/show_product.aspx?lang=&idprod=10

mazdeuce PowerDork
6/9/15 9:07 p.m.

I have the silouhette cameo. I cut all the stuff for One Lap with it. It's major limitation is the 12 inch width. I can work around that for the $270 or so that it cost and the 10 foot length means I have a lot of things I can still cut before I feel like I NEED a bigger one. I can work the software, so it can't possibly be THAT hard.

93gsxturbo Dork
6/10/15 4:36 p.m.

I have a Roland Stika 12" version.

Works great, paid for itself several times over, blah blah blah.

Once in a while I get a wild hair up my butt to buy a bigger one, then I remember I cut vinyl like 10x a year now and the little Stika does everything I need.

In my collegiate days I was cutting a ton and had a bigger machine (Roland CAMM as I recall), thats all gone now.

iceracer PowerDork
6/11/15 10:56 a.m.

Back when I was cutting magnetic vinyl for numbers I used a pair of scissors and an exacto knife.

Probably not what you are looking for.

Slippery Dork
6/11/15 11:12 a.m.
iceracer wrote: Back when I was cutting magnetic vinyl for numbers I used a pair of scissors and an exacto knife. Probably not what you are looking for.

Yeah, but what brand/size exacto knife?

Swank Force One
Swank Force One MegaDork
6/11/15 11:23 a.m.

Thanks guys, definitely have given me some stuff to look at.

I don't think i'll need anything huge, windshield banners would be the biggest things i can think of right now. 4 feet long would be the longest, 12" width would probably be fine, but i would probably look for a 15-18" anyways "just in case."

Cutting meatballs might be smart, too, though.

nervousdog HalfDork
6/11/15 1:41 p.m.

So the Silhouette Cameo will cut out sticky vinyl letters and numbers? I had a small project in mind and would like to label the knobs and switches. The mass produced stuff is silkscreened but that's too complicated for one-off stuff. I would only need letters that are maybe 0.5" to 1" tall.

thewheelman New Reader
6/11/15 1:52 p.m.

I bought my wife a Cameo for Mother's Day, and I think I have played with it as much as she has. I already have a lot of decals designed.

You can make custom stickers with it as well as cut out decals. We use full sheet Silhouette brand sticker paper, print the designs using our printer (or the laserjet printer at work) and then have the Cameo cut the stickers out. My wife uses it primarily for her planner, which also happens to double as a scrap book (don't ever let your wife discover Erin Condren planners...).

There are hundreds of instructional videos on YouTube for the Cameo. It hasn't taken either of us long to get proficient with the software.

Our Preferred Partners