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Vinyl / Media cutting for Aid in Platemaking

-These notes were part of a demonstration by Margaret Craig and Dinah Coakley at the 2015 SGC International Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Electronic cutting machines (i.e. Cameo Silhouette) use a small blade to cut paper, cardstock, yupo, rubylith and vinyl and other material up to 12” wide and 10 feet long. You can customize your design in the software included with the machine or import from Photoshop or Illustrator in a pdf or jpg. The knife moves side to side and turns while the material is moved beneath the knife, resulting in an image cut into the material.

Items used in the demonstration

  • Computer
  • Vinyl cutter – Cameo Silhouette, Brother print and scan, CriCut
  • Arlon Sign Vinyl – Clear -­ 6-year outdoor sign vinyl
  • Sand Blast Mask – Hartco HGS425‐S‐25
  • yupo
  • acetate .005 or .007
  • cardstock
  • rubylith
  • Lexan .6mm or .5mm
  • Frosted lexan / Velvet Mask Polycarbonate .45mm
  • Transfer Tape ­‐ (Application tape) transfers your cut vinyl graphics from the release liner to the substrate (main tape/hobby transfer tape).
  • Sharpie – optional, red/color
  • Xacto / weeding tool/etching tool
  • Vinyl Squeegee

Tips for importing and tracing your image in the Silhouette

  • Use a black and white image.
  • Jpgs or pdf will import into the Silhouette.
  • Silhouette only recognizes Silhouette files.
  • Change opening window to look for jpgs.
  • Images will need to be traced in silhouette program (trace Icon is a blue and yellow box on the
    upper right)
  • First select image (select trace area). You can play with how the line looks for the cut on your image under trace settings.
  • Recommended settings
    • For most images we liked: Threshhold 54% Scale 4
    • Also interesting: High Pass 5, Threshhold 45, Scale 4

Cutting Stencils ­(yupo or acetate .005 or .007, cardstock)

  • Apply material to cutting mat (using a cutting mat allows for material to be cut all the way
    through).
  • Line up material to the upper left corner of the grid and rub down really well.
  • Before you send image to cut design, place image away from the edges of the page. Cutting too close to the edge of the page may cause the cutting knife to get caught under the sheet and could crumple material.
  • Load cutting mat and press cut.
  • After cutting remove stencil, use a palette knife to remove the negative areas that are still stuck to the cutting mat.
  • Recommended settings
    • Yupo 74lb, 104lb, & acetate .oo5 – speed 3, thickness 25, blade 4 double cut
    • Card stock heavy cover – speed 1, thickness 33, blade 7 double cut
    • Card stock 67lb – speed 3, thickness 33, blade 4

Cut vinyl (one-time use silkscreen stencil)

  • Cut image, remove (positive areas for the ink to pass through)
  • Weed, where excess parts of the picture are removed, using an xacto knife, dental hook or weeding tool.
  • Leaving the cut design on the backing paper, place transfer tape /Application tape stick down and smooth over your design. (still on backing paper) leaving your design on the transfer paper.
  • Next place transfer paper (with cut design on it) to bottom side of the screen.
  • Firmly rub silkscreen fabric to adhere the vinyl to screen and carefully remove transfer tape from cut vinyl.
  • Wait about 20 minutes to peel away backing paper (allow vinyl to adhere to silkscreen).
  • Print design.
  • Cut vinyl designs will fall away easily when hit with a high‐pressure hose when cleaning up.
  • Recommended settings
    • speed 2, thickness 8, blade 2 double cut

Cut vinyl – collagraph, watercolor monoprint

  • Cut image
  • Aapply transfer tape to cut image.
  • Remove backing paper.
  • Apply vinyl to Velvet Mask Polycarbonate.
    • Frosted lexan for watercolor monoprint or
    • Gloss lexan for intaglio
  • Rub down cut image to ensure adhesion to substrate.
  • Slowly remove application tape then weed (remove) excess areas that are not part of your design.
  • Running plate through press gives a longevity to the design on the plate.
  • Recommendations
    • Ink intaglio for collagraph
    • For watercolor monoprint
      • Degrease plate.
      • Apply a small amount of gum arabic to damp plate.
      • Paint plate with watercolors.
      • Print watercolor monoprint when plate is fully dry, press (at about etching pressure) with damp paper.
    • speed 2, thickness 8, blade 2 double cut

Cut rubylith ­‐ Silkscreen and Photopolymer (for letterpress and intaglio use)

For cutting positives that do not have any halftones

  • Apply rubylith to cutting mat
  • Line up material to the upper left corner of the grid and rub down really well.
  • Before you send image to cut design, place image away from the edges of the page.
  • Important! – Cutting too close to the edge of the page may cause the cutting knife to get caught under the sheet and could crumple
    material.
  • Load cutting mat and press cut.
  • After cutting remove rubylith from cutting mat and weed image.
  • Tape to a screen/plate that has unexposed photosensitive material and expose.
  • Recommended settings
    • speed 3, thickness 2, blade 1

Sand Blast Mask – Hartco HGS425-‐S­‐25 (for relief and watercolor relief)

  • Adjust image size to fit standard sized of feed for silhouette. 12.75 “ or 8.5”.
  • Before you send image to cut design, place image away from the edges of the page.
  • Load sandblast mask and press cut.
  • After cutting use transfer tape, remove backing, and stick to substrate (yupo or posystyrene work well)
  • Weed image and run through press.
  • Roll and print or cut more with lino cut tools.
  • For watercolor relief
    • transfer to yupo, weed, steel wool plate with 0000 steel wool to make a tooth.
    • Run through press.
    • Degrease plate; apply a small amount of gum arabic to damp plate, paint plate with watercolors.
    • When plate is fully dry, roll with thin transparent color.
    • Run through press with damp paper.
  • Recommended settings
    • Custom media, speed 1, thickness 33, blade 8 double cut

Lexan , matt Lexan (Velvet Mask Polycarbonate) Drypoint for Intaglio, and Watercolor Monoprint

  • Apply material to cutting mat.
  • Line up material to the upper left corner of the grid and rub down really well.
  • Important! – Material should not just be under one foot grabber. Before you send image to cut design, place image away from the edges of the page. Cutting too close to the edge of the page may cause the cutting knife to get caught under the sheet and could crumple material.
  • Load cutting mat and press cut.
  • Recommended settings
    • Custom media, speed 1, thickness 33, blade 10 double cut
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