How to use the Vinyl Cutter on Windows with InkCut

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.

Originally, the vinyl cutter was used with a plugin for Adobe Illustrator, but that plugin is unfortunately no longer available and is not compatible with current versions of Illustrator. On Windows, you can use InkCut to control the vinyl cutter.

To install InkCut, you must first install Python 3.9 (note: InkCut is not compatible with Python 3.10 as of November 2021). It is important that you also add Python to your PATH by clicking the check box during the installation. You can download it from https://www.python.org/downloads/release/python-391/.  Once Python is installed, you can install InkCut (https://codelv.com/projects/inkcut/download/) either by running the “install-inkcut.bat” file in the attached zip file or by opening the command prompt, which you can find by searching for “cmd,” and then running the command “pip3 install pyqt5” followed by the command “pip3 install inkcut.” Do not close the command prompt after running “install-inkcut.bat” – it will automatically close when it’s finished. To run InkCut, either open the command prompt and run the command “inkcut” or run the “run-inkcut.bat” file in the zip folder attached to this page. If InkCut does not run, try running “install-inkcut.bat” again. If “install-inkcut.bat” does not work and “pip3 install pyqt5” results in an error that pip3 is not in your PATH, you probably didn’t check the box to add python to the PATH. Re-run the python installer, making sure to check the box to add python to the system PATH (it may say system environment variables instead of PATH).

You will also need the drivers from Roland. Because the GS-24 is no longer well supported, it can be very difficult to find or download the driver files, so they are available as an attachment on this page. Download and unzip the file, and then run SETUP64.EXE in the folder that starts with RWD-120 to install the drivers. Be sure to select “Install,” “Roland GS-24” for the model, and “USB” for the port, then click “Start.”

The first time you run InkCut, you will have to configure it to communicate with the vinyl cutter. To do this, click on Device->Setup and set the driver to “Roland CX-24,” connection type to “printer,” port to “Roland GS-24,” and protocol to “HPGL.” You can leave all of the other settings at their default values.

To load the GS-24 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 and slide the wheels as close to the edges as possible while making sure they are under the white lines, then pull the lever forward to lock in the vinyl. On the vinyl cutter’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 around 1 inch. 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.

To cut a graphic, you must first get the graphic you want to cut as an SVG file. To generate the SVG, you can use a program like Adobe Illustrator, which is paid, or Inkscape, which is free. Once you have the SVG, you can open it in InkCut by clicking File->Open and then selecting the file. You can then scale the graphic to make sure it’s the right size. If the width is wider than the width displayed by the vinyl cutter, you must scale down or rotate the graphic to make it fit. When you are ready to cut the graphic, click Device->Send to device or use the shortcut Ctrl+P. The vinyl cutter should immediately start cutting out your design.

Once the cutter 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. Depending on the complexity of your design, you may want to remove the parts that you don’t want and then adhere transfer paper to the top of you design before removing the backing, which will hold the design together while you transfer it to whatever you want to place it on.

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