Vinyl Cutting 101
Time 1.2 hrs

Difficulty Intermediate
Prerequisites Epic Wallpaper
Departments Human Technologies
Authors Sandra Kuipers
Groupings Individual
Pairs
Minimum Year Group None

### Blurb

Vinyl Cutting 101

This work is shared under the following license: Creative Commons BY-SA

### Outline

 ResourcesWhat is needed to run this unit? ... Cross-Curricular Links Do not try and force this. What areas of other subjects might this reflect and/discuss language. For IB, links with ToK. ... Teacher ReflectionWhat was successful? What needs changing? Alternative Assessments and Lesson Ideas? What other Differentiation Ideas/Plans could be used? ... CreditsAny CC attribution, thanks, credit, etc. ...

Introduction
Vinyl Cutting 101
• In this unit, you'll learn how to use the vinyl cutter to make a decal of your name.
• Vinyl is a material somewhere between plastic and rubber, and is great for creating decals to add names and labels to objects.
• You'll use a vector graphics program and the Cricut cutting maching to create your vinyl decal.

Vector Graphics
Getting Started
• If you've created computer graphics before, chances are they were designed using pixels.
• Computer screens display everything in pixels, so the default and most common form of computer graphics also stores everything as pixels.

• Pixels, however, aren't the only form of computer graphics.
• Vector graphics are another form of computer graphics, often used in printed media.
• The difference is that vector graphics are stored as a type of mathematics called coordinate geometry, where pixels graphics are stored as pixels.
• Why have more than one type of graphics?

• An important difference between pixels and vectors is what happens when you scale them up.
• If you resize a pixel image to make it larger, it will get blurry.
• If you resize a vector image, smaller or larger, it will always be perfectly sharp.
• This is because numbers and math can scale to any size!

• Vector graphics are used by cutting machines like the Cricut and Laser Cutter because the cuts need to be incredibly precise. The laser width is 0.08mm, that's eight hundredths of a millimeter!
• The most common format for vector graphics is .svg, which stands for Scalable Vector Graphics.
30 mins
Design
Step 1
• We're going to use an online vector graphics program called Vectr to design your decal.
• Next, click the New Artwork button:

• Then, select the Print sizes tab, scrolling down to find the Business Card template. This is a good default size for your decal. Now click Create.

• You'll notice that this has many similar tools and layouts as other graphics editors such as Acorn and Pixlr.
• Look for the T tool to create some text, then click on the page and type your name.

• The default font is boring! Look on the right-hand side for the Text menu, which lets you change the font as well as the size and other properties.
• There are a huge number of built-in fonts (the list may take a second to load).

• Take some time and try out a bunch of different fonts.
• Seriously, play around and have some fun! (don't just pick the first font you see)

• Once you've selected the font you want to use, we need to turn these into an outline. This step will convert your text from a font into the fancy math that vector programs use to create shapes.
• First, click on your text to make sure it is selected (with a blue outline).
• Then, tight-click on your text (or ctrl-click) and select the Outline Text option.

• Once your text it outlined you're ready to export. Look for the Export option in the right-hand sidebar.

• In the Export window, change the units to Millimetre (mm) and make sure SVG is the selected file type.

• Finally, we're going to email your file to a specific email address:
• Go to Gmail and open a new email.
• Attach the file you just saved (double-check you have the right file).
• Give the email a subject line with your name and form group.
Eg: "Your Name 7.1 - Vinyl Cutting 101"
• Then, send the email to design@ichk.edu.hk
10 mins
Step 2
To continue, you'll need to switch from using your own laptop to using the dedicated Cutting Machine laptop. Check to see if it is available.

• Using this laptop, open Gmail using Firefox, which should automatically be logged into the design@ichk.edu.hk account.

• You can learn about the vinyl cutting process through this video. Be sure to also follow the steps below, as they will differ slightly from the video:

• Open the Cricut Design Space application if it's not already open (cmd+space to open spotlight, then type Design).
• On the left hand sidebar, click New to create a new project.
• Then, click the Upload button, as seen below:

• Find and upload your file. You can drag-and-drop it from Finder, or use the Browse button to find it in the downloads folder:

• You'll see a preview of your decal. Check to see that everything looks good.
• If there is an error uploading, chances are you didn't outline your text or didn't save as an SVG file. Go back to Vectr and check this, then export again.

10 mins
Prepare
Step 3
• If you've followed all the steps so-far, and haven't skipped any, you'll now see your name in the Cricut Design Space application. Neat!
• Before continuing, you need to resize your name so that it's the correct size.
• Grab a ruler and measure the width of the area on your water bottle or other surface that you'd like to put your decal on.
• Measure using centimetres (not inches!)
• Select your name in the app.
• Then in the Size panel at the top of the screen, enter your measurement in the W value.

• Double-check the width and height that you see on screen and grab your ruler. Check to see that both the width and height will fit on your water bottle or other surface.
• Then, click the Make It button in the top right.

• You'll see a preview of what will be printed. It should look the same as your design, but on a black background. Make sure the material is set to "On Mat" and doesn't exceed 30.5cm.
• Do not click Continue yet, you need to prepare your mat first.

Congrats! You're now ready to setup the Cricut and cut your decal out :D

10 mins
Cut
Step 4
Ask your teacher for assistance to turn on the Cricut cutting machine. The teacher should be present while you are operating the Cricut. Ask them for help if you get stuck!
• The Cricut is like a computer printer, but instead of printing ink, it had a tiny knife inside it.
• It uses motors and sensors to know exactly where to cut and what pressure to use.
• It uses sticky mats to hold vinyl, paper and other materials in place.

Step 1 - Cricut Setup:

• With your teacher's assistance, turn the Cricut on and press the open button on the left-hand side. This will open up the Cricut so that you can load a mat into it.
• Ask your teacher to show you where the vinyl is stored. You'll get to choose one of the available colours.
• Also, grab one of the Green Standard Grip cutting mats.

Step 2 - Mat Setup:

• Each cutting mat has a sticky surface, which should always be protected with a plastic sheet when not in use.
• Avoid touching the sticky surface, we want to keep it as sticky as possible!
• Place the mat on a table. It should be nice and flat with lots of room to work.
• Carefully remove the plastic sheet and set it aside. Don't bend or fold the clear plastic sheet.
• Rotate your mat so the smaller markings (centimetres) are along the top left edges.

• Now, visually line up your material with the top left corner of the mat, holding it a few centimetres above the mat.
• Carefully, paying attention to the top left edges, place your vinyl down on the mat.
• Gently press the vinyl down with your fingers, avoiding touching the sticky part of the mat.
BEFORE continuing, ask your teacher to be present to observe as you complete the next steps:

Step 3 - Cutting:

• Go back to the laptop with Cricut Design Space open. Ensure the Cricut machine is on.
• You should still see a window open with a preview of your cut:

• Click Continue to bring up the cutting dialog window and connect to the Cricut.
• If it does not connect, check that the Cricut is on and Bluetooth is on for the device you're using.
• Once connected, you should see the option to select a material.
• Select Smart Vinyl - Permanent from the material options.

• Select More when prompted to choose your pressure setting.

• Now, carefully load the mat into the machine with the following steps:
• Hold your mat flat and carefully place it up to the machine.
• Check that the mat is under each of the guides on the left and right side of the machine.
• Gently hold your mat in place, don't push it in.
• Press the Load/Unload button and let go as the Cricut grabs your mat and feeds it in.
• Ask your teacher for help with this step if you're uncertain.
• With your mat loaded, you should see the Play button blinking and a "Press Go" message on screen.
• Double-check that your mat is aligned and that there is enough space behind the Cricut (at least 20 cm).
• Now, press the Play button on the machine and watch the Cricut go!

• Once the cutting is complete the Load/Unload button will be flashing. Press it to unload the mat.
• Carefully peel your whole sheet up from the mat. Don't peel the vinyl away from the backing yet.
• Before doing anything else, cover the mat with the clear plastic sheet to protect the stickyness.
• Important: Check to see if anyone else needs the laptop or the Cricut. If not, turn the Cricut off and return the laptop back to it's charger.
5 mins
Weeding
Step 5
• Weeding is the process of removing excess vinyl to reveal your design.
• Just like weeding out weeds from a garden, when you're weeding vinyl, you're taking away everything you don't want to leave the design you do want on the page.
• Follow the steps below and be sure to go slowly and carefully, to make sure you don't remove something you want to keep.

Step 1 - Tools:

• Ask your teacher for a set of vinyl tools. You'll need at least a scraper and a weeding pick.
• Use the scraper to gently press the vinyl down, to ensure it is stuck to the backing.

Step 2 - Remove the excess:

• To start weeding, first you'll remove the outside piece of vinyl (the negative space).
• Starting at the edge of your sheet, use the weeing pick to peel up the corner.
• Moving at a 45 degree angle, slowly peel off the layer of excess vinyl.
• Watch carefully to check that none of your letters or design peel up too.

Step 2 - Remove the inside bits:

• Now that the outside is removed, any word or shape that has a hole in the centre still has a piece of vinyl in it.
• Use the weeding pick to carefully poke into the unwanted pieces of vinyl and peel them away.
• This step can take time if there are lots of letters or your design is intricate.
• Be patient and move slowly to make sure you don't remove anything you wanted to keep.
• When you're done, you should have your design in vinyl attached to a white backing, with no excess vinyl.
5 mins
Transfer Tape
Step 6
• Now that you've designed, cut, and weeded your vinyl decal, the next step is to prepare it to stick onto a surface.
• The vinyl you just cut out comes with a sticky backing. However, if you tried to remove the vinyl from the backing now, things would get messy (and sticky!).
• We use transfer tape to transfer a vinyl decal from the backing onto a surface.
• This works by sticking the clear transfer tape to the front of the decal, then removing the backing and sticking your decal to a surface, then carefully removing the tape.

Check out this short video, or follow the steps below:

Step 1:

• Find a piece of transfer tape that is big enough for your design. They're reusable!
• Carefully remove the protective sheet from the transfer tape, sticking the clear side on your decal.
• This works best if you peel only one edge first, stick it down, then slowly remove the backing to stick the transfer tape down (just like a screen protector).
• Be sure the transfer tape covers your whole design.

Step 2:

• Use the rubber scraper tool to smooth out the transfer tape, pressing down to remove any air bubbles and ensure the tape is nice and securely stuck to your design.

Step 3:

• Use some sanitizer and a paper towel to make sure the surface you plan to stick to is clean and dry, with no finger oils (fingers are oily!)
• Line up your design. Then, carefully remove the opaque white backing of your vinyl decal and stick your decal to the surface, pressing it with your fingers.

Step 4:

• Carefully peel up the corner of your transfer tape, leaving the vinyl stuck to your surface. If your decal is sticking to the transfer tape, press it back down and use a weeding tool to gently separate the layers.
• Once the transfer tape is removed, you're done!
• Save the transfer tape by putting the protective sheet back on it. It's reusable!

Evidence
• Take a picture of your water bottle with it's cool new vinyl decal and submit your photo as evidence of your learning in this unit.

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