Your cutter may be a basic or advanced model however; all of that power and precision is channeled to your vinyl through the blade. So if you’re using the wrong blades, or if you’re using worn-out blades, or if your blade is installed incorrectly, all of that power and precision is nullified. If you use the right blade, install it correctly, and maintain it, you get to enjoy all the benefits your vinyl cutter can deliver. Think of your blade as the conduit of quality.
All GCC Vinyl cutters sold by Stahls use the same standard 45 degree blade. Over time the cutter blade will start to diminish which will result in, inconsistencies in the cut or waste of media. If used consistently everyday blades can last up to 2 months before showing signs of wear.
Replacement and Maintenance?
- When to replace? When you begin to have problems weeding your vinyl, or if you see visible degradation of cut quality, inspect the blade. Look for chips along the cutting edge. Sometimes the damage is obvious, sometimes not. If it looks good but works poorly, try a new blade and see if quality improves. Obviously you’ll need to keep some on hand so you can do this and replace as necessary.
- How long does a normal blade last? There’s not a standard lifespan for plotter blades. Your mileage may vary. It depends on how much vinyl you cut, and what kind of materials you cut. The glass beads and metal flake used in reflective and metallic films dull blades more quickly than our standard vinyls. And, as noted above, how precisely you set your blade for the materials you cut affects its service life.
- Don’t cut too deeply. Paper dulls blades faster than anything. Cutting too deeply into paper release liners can accelerate normal wear, dulling the tip and making weeding more difficult.
- What about maintenance? Plotter blade maintenance is pretty simple. Keep it clean. A buildup of vinyl debris inside the blade holder can interfere with proper rotation of the blade and degrade cutting quality. Inspect the blade holder periodically and remove any debris.
Correct Blade Depth:
Whether you’re buying and installing a replacement vinyl plotter blade or installing the blade in a brand new cutter, the first thing you have to know is how much of the blade should be exposed. If you have enough blade sticking out to clearly see and feel the tip, it’s probably too far out. Most new vinyl cutter owners improperly install the blade with too much of it protruding from the holder. Set it so that you can barely see the tip. Then take the blade holder and manually drag it across a sheet of vinyl making a box pattern or square. You should be able to weed that easily, but you shouldn’t see deep scoring of the release liner. If you flip the vinyl over, you should not be able to feel the cut line in the back of the liner. If you can cut vinyl manually without carving up the liner
Stahls Cutter Blades use an offset of .25mm or .250mm
CUTTER PROTECTION STRIP
The cutter protection strip is a special part of the platen that supports the media in the area right beneath the cutting head. It is firm enough to support media with a hard, flat surface, but soft enough to prevent damage to the blade tip in the event that it cuts all the way through the release liner. Generally, the cutting strip is one smooth flat surface. This is the case with all of our vinyl cutters. You should never cut completely through the release liner.
Doing so will damage the cutter protection strip and cause it to scar and become uneven. For the same reason, you should never use a roll-fed vinyl cutter to cut any media without a release liner, i.e. paper or film. When cutting standard adhesive backed vinyls, you can prevent damaging the cutter protection strip by starting each job with a test cut to ensure you’re using the proper amount of blade force.
If you have too much force and cut through the media, it’s easier to correct. It’s also much less damaging if you catch it on a small test pattern rather than wait until it’s carved a path all the way across the platen. Such negligence may result in a cutter strip that’s scarred for life. Until you replace it.
How to Replace the Cutting Strip:
When your new strip arrives, simply pry up one end of the damaged strip and peel upward to remove it from the trough in the platen. Take care to remove any excess adhesive from the trough before installing a new strip. Otherwise you will have the same problem. Only this time the underlying cause won’t be a scarred strip, but an uneven layer of glue under the strip, under the vinyl, under the blade