Vinyl Cutter Basics: What You Should Know Before Buying a Cutter


For an aspiring sign maker, choosing the first vinyl cutter is one of the most critical decisions. A quality plotter will help your dreams become a reality. Wrong equipment, on the other hand, will only cause you failure and frustration. Most people tend to make the mistake of only focusing on the speed, force and price when buying. This was not a bad strategy a decade ago. Today, however, you need to be more careful. A power of 500 grams would have done it in the past, but will not work in a professional shop in the 21st century.

So what criteria should you use when making this critical decision? What features are the most important? Here are the most crucial things to look for when buying a vinyl cutter.

Drive motors: stepper or servo

The first thing you need to consider is the vinyl cutter’s drive motor. The drive motor powers the grit roller and gives advances and retracts media and moves the blade across the platen. There are two types of drive motors used. These two are digital servo motors and mechanical stepper motors. As their names suggest, the mechanical stepper motor is a small increment that is driven by physical gears. It is old technology and thus cheaper. However, it produces noise which is often hard. It also does not have much precision when it comes to small graphics. It is more affordable and allows manufacturers to provide good vinyl cutters affordably.

The digital servo motor, on the other hand, has a digital decoder that translates the commands made by the software in zeros and ones. Because of the computerized processes, the results are precise and smooth because of the synchronized movement between the cutting head and the drive motor. The operation is also quieter because there are no mechanical gears to work with. It cuts small letters just as precisely as it does the bigger ones.

What size do you want it to cut?

You also need to think about the different cuts your shop will specialize in. There is a wide variety of cutting widths. Some will be as tiny as 6 inches and some as big as 12 inches. So, you have to choose a cutter that you want. Different cutters will give different sizes. It depends on the array of customers you want to target.

High-quality cuts

If you want to attract customers, you need to make sure that you get a machine that makes high-quality cuts. Unfortunately, the tools that make these high-quality cuts are the expensive ones. Generally, though, make sure that you also check for reliability, decent software and a good motor. Machines that have these qualities are quite expensive.


Choosing the right vinyl cutter means reading reviews and looking at different models. You have to do proper research co your get value for your money and long term longevity for more profit. You also need to consider what your customers mostly ask for. You never want to buy a cutter you will only use once in a while.


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