Once the driver is installed and the machine is plugged into a computer, you are ready to begin cutting. The first thing you will need to do is power on the cutter by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the machine. The Roland GS-24 is capable of cutting both sheet and roll media. If using a roll of media, then you will want to set the media on the back roller with the vinyl rolling over the top towards the cutter. The media must then be fed into the cutting area where it will be clamped down so that it can be moved over rollers. It is very important that the rollers not be too close to the edge of the material and that both of them are in a shaded area demarcated on the cutter. Both of the rollers must be in the shaded area when cutting either roll or sheet media. Once the media is fed and rollers are set, you will need to lock the rollers into place. If cutting a roll of media, then it is a good idea to loosen up the roll by creating slack between the roll and the cutter. It is recommended to not cut a design more than 24 inches in length. The longer the cut, the more likely it is that something will go wrong when creating the design, and you do not want to waste multiple feet of vinyl!
To cut a design, you first need to designate if the media is in a roll or sheet format. If it is a roll, then the cutter assumes the length of the design will not exceed the size of the media. If “sheet” is selected, then the cutter will feed the entire media through the machine to determine the cuttable length of the material. Once the format of media has been selected, you will want set the amount of grams of force. The force determines how much pressure is necessary to cut the media. The cutter’s blades will dull over time, requiring more and more force to cut a design correctly. It is far better to simply check the blades frequently, and throw them out as soon as they begin to dull, than to attempt to correctly compensate for the blade’s sharpness by adjusting the force.
Each type of cuttable material is cut and transferred at different variable settings. The most important variable settings are the blade angle (altered by simply changing the blade on the machine) and the amount of force used to cut the material (a simple setting on the machine). Most materials can be cut using a 45 or 60 degree blade with 70 - 100 grams of pressure. The thicker the material, the higher degree of a blade as well as grams of pressure will be necessary to cut the material.
It is always a good idea to run a “test cut” before cutting a design with the vinyl. The test cut allows the user to make sure the blade and force are properly calibrated to cut the material. The test cut involves cutting a small design that shows a circle with a box inside of it and a cross inside of the box. If the blade and force are at the right settings, then the circle and cross can be weeded away, leaving just the box with the cross cut out of it. Finally, you are ready to cut the design!
After the design has been cut, “Enter” should be pressed twice which will move the cutting head back to the far right. The material is then pulled down past the bottom of the cutter so that the end of the design is hanging just beneath the cutter. A box cutter, or any other small blade, can then be used to cut the media using the straight edge on the machine.
Once the media is removed from the machine, the excess material needs to be weeded. The material is weeded using a picking tool similar to a dentist’s. Simply press the tip into the vinyl in a spot that needs to be removed. Then, slide the end of the pick in between the vinyl and its backing (without piercing the backing), and then pull the excess vinyl up from the backing. Repeat this until all of the excess material is gone. Now the design can be heat applied. It is a good idea to always follow our application instructions for our materials. While cut materials tend to apply well at 330*, most can also be applied successfully at 375*. After a design is pressed, it should always be pressed again for at least half of the original amount of time at the same temperature and pressure with kraft paper to ensure that the design is completely cured to the garment.
Cut a box tightly around the design to make weeding easier
Pick the finer details within the design first
Lay kraft or parchment paper over weeded design to prevent it from collecting dust, dirt, and other detritus before it is printed