09 December, 2013

Finding The Right Settings For Silhouette

I saw a few people who said they didn't use their Silhouette because the first time they tried it, it tore their paper and they thought that's the best it can do. What a pity. It happened to me the first time too:
And using Silhouette's settings, no less. With the huge range of materials it can cut, it's hard to find the right settings for any material, so I'm sharing my method here. It's only what I've discovered so far, so I expect to improve it in the future.

  1. Set the blade depth - I actually learned this trick from the KNK Zing manual. Take out the blade and set it to a low depth (maybe 2). Put the material you want to cut on several more layers of material, or scrap paper or anything you can use to protect your table. Hold the blade in your hand, and press it down vertically and move it around, like the machine would. I thought this might damage the blade at first, but if you don't extend it too much, it won't. Now set the blade aside and look at your material. Ideally, you should have cut through one and only one layer. Adjust the depth to achieve this.
  2. Set the thickness (this is really the force or pressure). Using the blade depth you found in the previous step and again, starting from a low thickness, try and cut a simple pattern, or use Silhouette Studio's test cut. You can use the arrows to move the material around if you want to cut on a small scrap (note: the up and down arrows work opposite to how I expect them to. The arrows also seem to stop working randomly, so click somewhere else and click on them again.). Use the lowest setting that can cut through the material. If you set it too high, the material will tear, like in the picture above. If your material requires a high setting, you can try a lower setting with double cut, which might be better for your blade.
  3. Lastly, set the speed. This is unintuitive, since you're choosing the settings from bottom to top in the software. The speed doesn't seem to have much effect on the materials I use. The Zing manual says to start low and increase until you get problems, much like all the other settings.
  4. WRITE DOWN YOUR SETTINGS. Don't trust them to the software, which makes it impossible to tell if you're saving your profile or not. I suspect the thickness setting in the program is just a reminder to you; it doesn't change anything. What I do is put the settings in the profile name, which won't change. So my profiles are named e.g. "Copy paper 70gsm 7-7-2", the numbers referring to the blade, thickness and speed.

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