11 July, 2014

Silhouette Hack 05: Double-sided cutting

One of the problems with the Silhouette is its limited cutting force and depth. 210 grams is among the lower end of cutting machines, meaning the thickest materials it can cut are around 200 gsm cardboard ("cereal box"). Even multiple cuts (I've tried 10 cuts on shrink plastic) don't work. One solution might be to get another blade holder and 30° blades, but before spending 30USD, here's a solution that doesn't need any spending (a small hole puncher helps). The gist of this hack is: if you can cut a material from both sides, you can cut up to twice as thick. The difficulty is in aligning the cuts.

First, you need to mark your mat. I already described a method in my Constellation hack. As to what pattern to mark it with, 4 dots arranged in a rectangle is a good start. A better one is a trapezium/trapezoid, which only has left/right but not up/down symmetry. Remember to keep the digital file of the pattern.
I have marked my mat with 4 dots of paper, arranged in a trapezium.

Next you need to mark your material with the same pattern, on both sides. If your material is transparent, just lay it over the markings on your mat, then mark them with permanent marker, like I did in the picture above.
If it's opaque, you could scratch the markings in with your Silhouette, then punch them out with the small hole puncher (at the most 2 mm diameter holes).

This is the interesting part. First you lay out your design and cut it, as normal:
Now, you have to flip the design in the software, while keeping the markings' positions constant. I think, if your design is within the markings, and you select both design and markings then mirror them all, it should do the trick.
The precision depends a lot on your positioning accuracy. As you can see, my black dots are smaller than the blue markings on the mat. Smaller markings should be more accurate, but it also depends on how consistently you can load the mat.

After cutting both sides

Ta-da! It works! It can be improved by tweaking the method, but this is a viable technique to cut thicker materials.

No comments:

Post a Comment