cutting models

Discussion in 'General Card Modeling' started by burneggroll, May 14, 2011.


Where do you cut?

  1. I cut inside the line (remove line).

  2. I cut outside the line (keep line).

  3. I cut on the line (split the line).

  4. I use pinking shears (don't care).

  1. NobodyUknow

    NobodyUknow Member

    Well, therein lies the rub...

    You can find them all over the internet, I got my Silhouette SD 2 years or so ago off of a general crafts store website for something like $160ish... I recently got my new Silhouette Cameo with a mega-bundle of extra goodies and replacement mats/blades for something like $280.

    So it's definitely an investment, particularly for a hobby that's heavily oriented around being low-cost on the whole. Definitely look around on the internet as well, there are a few other makers of similar plotter/cutters, some even have more features. Research them as well to make sure it's really something you want, and will necessitate. One model simply doesn't warrant a plotter/cutter, it's like getting a howitzer to go duck hunting... But if you're going to be making many many models over time, it can more than make itself worthwhile.

    For me however, my first machine proved its worth when I replicated a "Chinese papercut" pattern of a Koi fish, that previously took me two days to cut, excruciatingly cut every single scale for scale a while back... I set up the patter in the Silhouette cutter, and it not only cut it out in just a few minutes, it cut it so cleanly it was every bit as good as a die-cut, even superior to my hand-cut original as there weren't even any blade marks or nicks along the edges where I turned my xacto knife to make turns.

    The utterly profound level of time-dilation you can get from "production" level amounts of work, or just repeating a previous task (like cutting tank tread links), due to its automated nature is a force multiplier that's really hard to measure for me, and on the other side it ends up more akin to a 3D puzzle or a lego set, where now all I need to do is make use of the pieces it's already cut.

    Time saved cutting can be that much more time gained crafting...
  2. micahrogers

    micahrogers Active Member

    That sounds like something I'll look into when my finances recover from changing jobs.
  3. NobodyUknow

    NobodyUknow Member

    Indeed, look into them and research plotter/cutter machines in general, because there are several, I just happened to find what I needed in the Silhouette line.

    They are all generically called "die cutting machines" because that is basically what they are imitating, a die cutting out a pattern. So for instance reviews of several of the different ones can be found:

    But make sure you read the reviews carefully, as sometimes the actual "number" value doesn't reflect what it does. For instance it is a common limitation that the devices can't engrave metal or even glass, so that's marked against ones that have either no or limited engraving capability.

    Other things like "carrier" mats can be a bit of a difference. For instance the Craftwell eCraft actually uses no carrier mat, like the Cameo does which is actually a heck of an advantage, HOWEVER, the fineness of the cuts is often considered lacking and more importantly, a carrier mat actually holds the cut project in place while its being cut, so tiny little parts like on some of the models I've seen could potentially just fall away and/or be damaged. There is an option for such cutters to leave "attachment tabs" to the larger piece of paper, however that too leaves great potential for problems to both clean up and the very real potential of a cut-part springing up in the middle of the work to be mangled by the passing cutter as the guide wheels move the paper back and forth to be cut.

    More than anything, I'm only interested in cutting paper, and -maybe- down the road some vinyl, so when looking across the capabilities, accuracy, and overall value for the investment, the Silhouette came out ahead for my needs and wants.

    Hope that information helps, and whatever decision you make, enjoy!
  4. Trimble Epic

    Trimble Epic New Member

    I just use a swiss army classic (the little one) pocket knife's sissors for my cutting. I also learned to use a sewing needle to score the lines for folding, since a needle can't CUT the paper (without EXCESSIVE force)
  5. zathros

    zathros -----SENIOR---- Administrator

    I have Silouette Cameo. I spent two weeks, thinking that I must be the biggest idiot on Earth (I may be, but I', speaking relative to this issue), and I finally called them. They went thrugh about 15 seconds on trouble shooting, told me my machine was defective, they would send me a new one, and send the other one box in the prepaid box they sent me. I was so disgusted, it has sat for a year, and I have not gone near it. I intend to set up a dedicated hobby area, and then get back into it, but getting one D.O.A. really blew it for me.

    That being said, they are the nicest, most courteous bunch of people to deal with, and I think my experience was an aberration. I would not hesitate to deal with them again. :)
  6. Anpu

    Anpu New Member

    I usually cut on the line, as I have found it easier for me to see where to cut that way.
  7. xBobble

    xBobble New Member

    I bought a Silhouette Cameo and it should be on it's way to me soon. I presume you use the Cameo to do scoring as well as the final cuts. What setting do you suggest for scoring 110 lb paper? I saw the comments on "10" blade length, highest pressure setting, and 'double cut' for cutting. Do you set up your scoring path along with the cutting path or create separate "file" (or "project" or however the software stores it's data)?

    I've noted the tips about using line trace rather than curve trace and printing from Silhouette Studio with the registration marks. Any other Cameo tips?
  8. zathros

    zathros -----SENIOR---- Administrator

    I own a Silhouette Cameo. It takes a long time to make the cutting path. A very long time. The first machine took me (and the techs as Silhouette) two weeks to figure out that it was defective. I was so discouraged because they kept insisting I was doing something wrong, I finally got a tech that realized it was defective they sent me a second one, I was able to calibrate it. I unplugged it, and it has sat for a year. The software really needs improvement. I have set up and programmed 1/2 million dollar CNC 5 axis machines that were easier to set up than this was. Have fun, they do work, they can cut very thin metal! As far as how deep to go, too many variables there, it's hit or miss. They do work though, but if you are doing a once off part, you could cut it quicker than you could on the Cameo since you have to write all those programs, then doing trial cuts, the time adds up really quick. They do work, and really well, once it's all set up. Better have a good printer! :)
  9. Rogerio Silva

    Rogerio Silva Active Member

    I ALWAYS listen to Zathros...


    I intend to make a trip to the US by the end of the year, and I really wanted to buy one of those Cameo "things" (incredibly cheaper there than here! :curse: :rolleyes:). One doubt, though: is it able to both print AND cut, or can you print the sheets elsewhere, and THEN load them into the Cameo and have it cut them?
    I was reading something in the internet about it, and it said that the Cameo can ALSO print, but its printing capabilities are somewhat limited.
    A little guidance, please? :confused: Thanks in advance! :mrgreen: :thumb:
  10. NobodyUknow

    NobodyUknow Member

    The cameo device itself has no printing capability at all... It is a plotter/cutter...

    You -will- require a separate printer for actually printing out what the plotter will then be loaded with to be cut out... Perhaps what the things you read were saying is that you can print from the Silhouette Studio SOFTWARE directly to your printer.

    In fact that is how I routinely print my projects with the registration marks already on them, so that the plotter will already have it perfectly to scale.
  11. Rogerio Silva

    Rogerio Silva Active Member

    So the Cameo will be able to read the marks in the paper in order to cut tje pieces properly? Is that right?
  12. NobodyUknow

    NobodyUknow Member

    Correct, it has a digital "eye"of sorts that will try to scan for the appropriate marks in the approximate place it expects them to be (typically on three corners around your work pattern), and based upon where it determines their boundaries to be relative to one another, it triangulates where the rest of the printed pattern and thus the cutting path(s) should be.

    It's actually a fairly ingenious system, but it does take a little bit of learning, I taught some of my friends how to use theirs as well. Thankfully, once you've learned what makes it work, you can print and cut with nearly absolute confidence.

    While the plotter/cutters are not all that practical for a single piece or perhaps one job, if you have to cut many many things or cut the same thing many many times, it is simply incomparable in not only the reliability of the results, but the fact that you can basically set it to cut out the most complicated patterns imaginable with many dozens of individual tiny pieces with elaborate shapes, and once it's going you can just go make dinner.

    It may well take a few minutes to get through a lot of intricate work, but it's easily many dozens if not hundreds of times faster than hand work, with no strain, and the quality of the cuts has been great for me.

    Now for all the praise I pile upon my plotter/cutters, I keep a couple good pairs of scissors on hand, and several xacto knives around. Nothing is going to completely eliminate them from the equation, particularly for nipping little pieces, adjustments and so forth. However for cutting out bulk pieces so you can get the plans closer to the "lego blocks" that you just need to assemble, a plotter cutter can save you a LOT of time on larger projects.
  13. Rogerio Silva

    Rogerio Silva Active Member


    I agree that we're far from making machines mimicking the human abstraction capacity, but if there's something that could do the job easier, faster and with less error, then count me in! sign1 sign1
  14. xBobble

    xBobble New Member

    I use my Cameo to do almost all of the cutting I do. If you have a Pepakura .pdo file, you can send the cutting pattern to the Cameo fairly easily. If not, I find I'm more comfortable sitting at the computer, zooming in where I want to, adjusting the lines as I want, all before I hit the go button and have a machine do the cutting. Plus it's nice to know if I screw something up gluing or assembling, all I need to do is hit a couple of buttons to print and cut the piece again.
  15. Rogerio Silva

    Rogerio Silva Active Member


    Good. Can you configure it to cut the pieces from UHU02's Viper, for instance?
  16. zathros

    zathros -----SENIOR---- Administrator

    You can configure it to cut anything you can see in the window. You are using control points to set that path. As was stated, Pepakura has an add-on ( I think you have to pay for it) that will automatically cut the parts out. That is a great boost if you like Pepakura, and there are 100's, if not 1000's that would be worth doing. It really is amazing.

    It makes a pattern that you do not see on the paper and all parts are cut from that reference, so you print the part out through Cameo's software, and that location point is printed. That is why even if the paper is loaded a little crooked, it will still cut the parts out right, and tight. :)
  17. xBobble

    xBobble New Member

    Certainly. UHU02 just makes pdf files, correct? If so, my process would be to convert that pdf document to a series of single-page images (the free GIMP can do this), load those images into Studio on my PC which is the software that controls the Cameo (since Studio can't take pdf files directly), and then trace the outline of what I want to cut by hand in Studio. Zathros is right, it's just a matter of drawing lines where you want cuts to be made. The nice thing is that you can then edit those cut lines before they become real cuts.

    If you have Pepakura Designer (rather then just the free viewer) you can export the cut pattern of any .pdo file to an .dxf format. That's part of Pep Designer -- no extra software need be purchased. Then you can load that into Studio. That pattern will be used by Studio to do the cuts and you don't have to trace out the pattern by hand.

    As Zathros says, there's another option to purchase ($15) Pepakura Viewer for Silhouette Cameo which should allow you to open a Pepakura .pdo file and send it right to your Cameo cutter.

    For me, the Cameo save time, yes, but also breaks up the task of making a model. It's not me just "slaving" over my desk cutting, gluing, and swearing at my mistakes. The time I spend on the computer in Studio doesn't really seem to "count" somehow. It's as if that's all pre-work and after I hit a button, I've basically got a model all cut out and halfway done.

    Happy to answer any more questions...
  18. Rogerio Silva

    Rogerio Silva Active Member

    Are you happy?

    Well, it seems we should make a new thread here. Otherwise I'll keep asking and asking...
    It's an investment, but if you can REALLY improve cutting, save time and reduce (if not eliminate) errors, then I think it'll be worthy it. Now for the question: I've seen a Sizzix Eclips cutting machine, any opinions on that? It's more expensive than Cameo, but it looks better...:confused:
  19. xBobble

    xBobble New Member

    I looked through this chart ( ) before I bought my Studio. I didn't do a thorough comparison but be sure you don't have to pay extra for software for the Sizzix.

    Honestly though, when I poke around various papercrafting sites, I only see people talking about Silhouette Cameo, Silhouette SD, and formerly the Silhouette CraftRobo. It's a niche enough hobby that I felt more comfortable using the same thing that others out there are using so I could get my questions answered and get support.

    For example, there's a specific Silhouette section on this forum but no sections for any other type of cutter. As a matter of fact, the publisher of those models provides Silhouette Studio files so you don't even have to trace the model -- you're ready to print and cut as soon as the credit card goes through. Tamasoft (the makers of Pepakura) have a viewer for Silhouette but no other brands.
  20. Rogerio Silva

    Rogerio Silva Active Member


    OK, thank you for your answers and your help. I guess I'll stick to the Cameo, then.

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