Paper/vinyl cutter bots?

GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,366
edited 2012-04-21 - 08:46:35 in General Discussion
Anyone have a Craft Robo or similar cutting machine? Has anyone had much success making one by converting an old dot matrix or ink jet printer?

-- Gordon

Comments

  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,474
    edited 2012-04-20 - 10:00:33
    Anyone have a Craft Robo or similar cutting machine?
    I have a Roland PC-50 vinyl printer/cutter. Do you need something cut out?
    Has anyone had much success making one by converting an old dot matrix or ink jet printer?
    That is unlikely to be very successful. The reason is that the paper advance mechanism in a printer does not need to accommodate bi-directional motion and can get by with rubber pinch rollers. Plotters and vinyl cutters used grit wheels that make an indelible impression in the medium. This keeps the medium locked to the feed mechanism without slippage, regardless of how many back-and-forth iterations it makes. Rubber pinch rollers will creep after many direction changes.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,366
    edited 2012-04-20 - 10:14:45
    Phil, I can see that the rollers would need Hulkinating and some printers would not be suitable. My wife's ink jet actually goes into reverse quite well to print double sided. I think we paid $90 for it, new, and if experience is any guide, it'll last about two years total. We've been recycling all our printers but I was thinking of a cool Make Magazine article, but only if it doesn't require lots of shop re-work.

    But on the larger issue of cutters, I'm wondering with all the 3D printing craze if we're not overlooking the forest for the trees. I've some examples of 3D papercraft models made on an ink jet or color laser (with registration marks) then cut out on one of these cutting machines. For classroom settings especially, this offers a great deal of hands-on mechanical experience for what ends up costing pennies per student. 3D printing is slow and costly, and CNC routers are expensive and dangerous in school settings. I think it should be possible to create all kinds of simple mechanical structures, even gears (laminating sheets with glue stick).

    The Craft Robo is pretty expensive, and I have no clue what your Roland set you back. I gather yours is a commercial unit, like the kind they have at the mall? The ideal pricepoint for schools might be in the $500 range. I wonder if that is possible, and still get a decent machine?

    Beyond that, I have some ideas I'd like to pitch to Parallax regarding some educational materials with precut pieces. More later after I send them a proposal.

    -- Gordon
  • RobotWorkshopRobotWorkshop Posts: 2,300
    edited 2012-04-20 - 10:17:00
    If you need a machine to do that I have heard that these are pretty reasonable:

    http://www.cricut.com/

    You may even be able to find a used on on your local Craigslist.

    Robert
  • LoopyBytelooseLoopyByteloose Posts: 12,537
    edited 2012-04-20 - 10:20:37
    I have mechanically hacked into an old HP inkjet printer to create a stepper motor head movement for another project, but the paper feed side of things is rather impossible to modify or salvage.

    These vinyl cutting machines are quite common in Taiwan. Why so? Taiwan makes one third of the world's plastic and we have a very intense sign industry that uses Chinese characters. With the alphabet being roughly 7000 items, you can't afford to stock letters for off the shelf sale - signs are either hand painted or digitally created as every one requires a custom solution. We also have available an incredible selection of Japanese craft/art paper - many colors and wonderful textures.

    I do wonder what the cutter is. It would have to be able to handle changes of direction and stay sharp. Are these laser cut or something else?
    Hwang Xian Shen, Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.
    All things considered, I can live and thrive without Microsoft products. LINUX is just fine.
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,366
    edited 2012-04-20 - 10:24:15
    Robert, Thanks for the link. I've seen these at the local Joann's, and looked briefly at their software. Their "play" seems to be in selling some pretty expensive pattern add-ons, so I was concerned that the total cost of ownership is high. The design software is only $60, so that's not bad, if it's self contained and doesn't rely on add-ons for extra features.

    -- Gordon
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,474
    edited 2012-04-20 - 10:34:41
    My wife's ink jet actually goes into reverse quite well to print double sided.
    That still doesn't solve the problem of creep caused by the repeated changes in direction required for plotting.

    BTW, I agree that these cutters are an overlooked resource for doing 3D modeling. Laminar alignment should be fairly easy, too, by cutting round holes in each layer and stacking the layers on dowels.
    I do wonder what the cutter is.
    It's a small knife blade on a pivot with a very slight positive caster so that, when it changes direction, the knife will rotate, dragging the tip behind it. More expensive units have a motor that drives the knife rotation so that it always follows the direction of travel without having to drag a little behind the rotation axis.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,366
    edited 2012-04-20 - 15:42:11
    That still doesn't solve the problem of creep caused by the repeated changes in direction required for plotting.

    Very true. The error would be cumulative, so by the end of a series of cuts the blade could be well off course.

    Out of interest, does your Roland have the laser or other contour registration feature? IOW, can you cut out on pre-printed paper?

    -- Gordon
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,474
    edited 2012-04-20 - 16:18:38
    Out of interest, does your Roland have the laser or other contour registration feature? IOW, can you cut out on pre-printed paper?
    No, alignment has to be done by hand, and it's pretty hit-or-miss. It's done by incrementing X and Y until the "base point" lies directly under the knife tip, then pressing a button. In fact, I've got some silkscreened decals that I'm supposed to cut out for a friend of mine that I've been sitting on for over a year, since I know I'll get them off-center and off-angle.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,366
    edited 2012-04-20 - 21:01:53
    I did a a bunch of research today and found that basically those with automatic contour registration are the low-end consumer units. USCutter makes an entry level 24" similar to the Roland, has a laser feature for manual registration, and is a third the cost (and probably capability) of the Roland. The CraftRobo Pro is $1,000, apparently does the automatic registration, but uses very expensive blades (about 175 for 5 -- yikes!!). It's much smaller, but I'm only looking to do letter-size anyway. I'm concerned that it's not well supported, through. I've been looking to see if the Robo Pro can be retrofitted with Roland blades. Someone on a forum said it could, but you know about people that frequent forums! Not to be trusted.

    Manually adjusting the registration for each print isn't going to work, so I'll keep looking. Hopefully someone has a product similar to the Robo Pro but isn't saddled with expensive consumables. Thirty five dollars a blade, indeed! (Gotta say that with a Dr. Smith tone in your voice.)

    -- Gordon
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,474
    edited 2012-04-20 - 21:55:47
    Gordon,

    It would not surprise me at all if other cutters can use Roland blades, since the Roland blade cartridge standard is actually an HP pen plotter standard. Here's a photo of the Roland PC-50 blade cartridge next to an HP 7475A pen:

    attachment.php?attachmentid=91883&d=1334983991

    I can use the pens in the PC-50, and it becomes a plotter. It even uses HPGL. The main difference between it and a plotter is that the PC-50 has a Z-axis pressure adjustment for controlling depth of cut, which pen plotters lack.

    -Phil
    291 x 328 - 25K
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • idbruceidbruce Posts: 5,860
    edited 2012-04-21 - 07:35:56
    Gordon

    I was going to do something similar, but changed my mind.

    The point is this... I made a fairly nice pivotable blade holder that I probably will never use, and if you make any headway in this project, I would be willing to send it to you, free of charge. Instead of using high dollar blades, the holder unscrews into two pieces, and these blades can be inserted: However, you could by one of these and modify it to suit your needs:
    Bruce


    Novel Solutions - http://www.novelsolutionsonline.com/ - Machinery Design • - • Product Development
    "Necessity is the mother of invention." - Author unknown.

  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,366
    edited 2012-04-21 - 08:46:35
    Bruce, Thanks for the offer. I figure if anyone's tried a homebrew project like this, it would have been you! For now I'll concentrate just on the store-bought solutions, and maybe look for an old plotter bed the next time I'm cruising the surplus shops. That seems a better approach than a printer.

    Phil, It seems you just can't escape the Roland's. On further research the USCutter model is too basic (the software is also not up to Roland's standards, IMO). So given what I'm needing to do it's either a Roland DX-24 or it's nothing. Now, I just have to see if I have $1800 laying about... (And yes, I've checked eBay -- these things are in demand, so the prices are pretty high even for used.)

    -- Gordon
  • KennieKennie Posts: 1
    edited 2019-10-05 - 09:27:18
    @RobotWorkshop do you own a circut machine? Would you recommend it?

    I'm in the market for a table top vinyl cutter. Read you comment and wanted to see if you can help me.

    The problem with doing research on the internet is that it's filled with garbage hype. That's why
    I would like to hear from somebody who actually owns one.

    Is this true that the software is it still online and you can't use it offline?

    I was lucky when I've found a blog post that said it as it is. Actually it's harsher than you would imagine.
    My short list included cameo and cricut. This post silhouette cameo 3 compared to cricut was an eye opener.

    Good news I got a real review bad news it has put me on the fence. What's your take on it?
    Any tip is helpful.
  • PublisonPublison Posts: 11,060
    edited 2019-10-05 - 09:50:40
    Kennie wrote: »
    @RobotWorkshop do you own a circut machine? Would you recommend it?

    I'm in the market for a table top vinyl cutter. Read you comment and wanted to see if you can help me.

    The problem with doing research on the internet is that it's filled with garbage hype. That's why
    I would like to hear from somebody who actually owns one.

    Is this true that the software is it still online and you can't use it offline?

    I was lucky when I've found a blog post that said it as it is. Actually it's harsher than you would imagine.
    My short list included cameo and cricut. This post silhouette cameo 3 compared to cricut was an eye opener.

    Good news I got a real review bad news it has put me on the fence. What's your take on it?
    Any tip is helpful.

    You do realize this thread is 7 years old and some of this information is quite dated?
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