How do I use the Vinyl Cutter?

The Garage is equipped with a Roland GS-24 Vinyl Cutter. It sits on a cart on the left side of the Prototyping Lab, along the curtain wall. Many colors of vinyl with adhesive backing are available, stored to the right of the iMac in the Prototyping Lab.

To use the Roland, you’ll need a custom plugin for Adobe Illustrator that’s installed on the Prototyping Lab iMac. Because the plugin is hard to find, it’s recommended to just use the iMac instead of attempting to download the relevant software on your computer. Remember, you can use your netID and password to sign in to the iMac.

To prepare a file for cutting, you must convert its components into line paths using Illustrator. Once you have done this, wheel the Roland over to the iMac, plug the power into the wall, and plug the USB cable from the Roland into the iMac.

To load the Roland with a vinyl roll, push the lever on the back left side of the machine. From the back, load the vinyl through the cutter slot, making sure it’s straight. Push it through until it’s jutting out a couple inches from the front of the slot. Then pull the lever forward to lock in the vinyl. On the Roland’s screen, go to the “Select Sheet” setting and select “Roll” It should then automatically load the vinyl for you.

This is what a properly loaded vinyl roll should look like. The vinyl roll sits behind the cutter, with the vinyl pulled through the feeder a few inches. The vinyl is straight, and the lever on the left side of the cutter is pulled forward, locking the vinyl in place. Once powered on, the screen will show the Select Sheet option. Use the Enter button to select Roll, and the vinyl will be loaded, with the cutter head moving to the left side of the machine. Once this happens, you’re ready to go.

Once the vinyl is loaded and the Roland is plugged into the iMac, go to Window –> Extensions –> Roland CutStudio  in Adobe Illustrator. This should load a new window with the Roland settings. Make sure you choose “GS-24” for the model. The preview window at the bottom will show you the paths that the vinyl cutter will cut. You can change these using the various settings in the window. If the preview window is blank, make sure the file you’re trying to cut has been turned into paths, and press “Update” in the preview section to see new changes. For example, if you use the Text tool in Illustrator, you need to right click the text and click “Create Outlines” for it to show up in the preview section.

Open the Roland CutStudio window by going to Window –> Extensions –> Roland CutStudio in the top menu bar. The CutStudio window is visible on the left side of the screenshot. Notice how “Model” is set to GS-24, and the preview window is displaying the canvas with the text. Once these are set, you can click the Vinyl Cutter icon to cut your design.

Once everything is ready to go, press the button with the icon of the vinyl cutter in the top right of the CutStudio window. This should send the data to the Roland, and immediately start cutting.

Once the Roland is done, push the lever to unload the vinyl, and cut out the vinyl section with your design on it. Then return the vinyl roll to the vinyl storage rack. Unplug the Roland and wheel it back to the curtain wall. You can now peel back the paper layer from the vinyl to adhere your design to something.

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