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Looking to upgrade. Is MTC worth it?

cautioncaution Member Posts: 5
Hi! I'm on the hunt for a new machine and I'm running into this MTC thing again. I remember when I got my Cameo a couple of years ago (my first cutter!) that I almost got a CriCut, but quickly discovered after some research that they use some weird software that force you to use pre-defined designs, and wouldn't let you import DXFs, which I use since it lets me go between the CAD tools I use, including Inkscape when I need to vectorize an image or convert formats. I remember seeing MTC at the time but researched some drawing tools and found that I could get 99% of my needs met with a free tool called QCAD, and only use Silhouette for positioning. So if you rely on the cutter software shipped with the machine, and you own muliple brands/models, MTC is your answer? Does MTC have drivers for multiple models, and knows how to run each one's full featureset?

I initially got into cutting as part of my efforts to restore a radio, but since then I've done a ton more similar work and am now wanting to cut much thicker and tougher material. I want the force range of a Silver Bullet/KnK machine, but with that I want to be able to control the way the knife interacts with the medium, and path order. Even on thinner stuff my Cameo can cut, and perhaps it's the Silhouette software, but it won't cut closed shapes in one fell swoop every time, it just hops around. Unsure if MTC is required to deal with with these things on certain machines or if it's already available on some.

So if I get MTC, would it work on a Silver Bullet? It's not listed as supported, but that may be okay, I might go for a KnK if MTC plays a big factor. If you have any recommendations on which machines work better than others with MTC versus without it, I'd be interested to know.  I also don't see DXF listed on their site as a supported format. It's so common that's got to be an error, I'd be dead without it.


Comments

  • Di-liteDi-lite Member Posts: 2,849
    I do not see dfx on MTC anywhere.  I think if you want to use dfx you will have to look at another program - it might be common to you but I have never used it although I have a few dfx files in my library from somewhere but can't view them in any of the programs I use.  svg seems to be the way to go so you would need to export your dfx into that format for most cutters.  Not sure but thought I let you know that MTC is off the menu for dfx.
    Have fun, Di, ID 14610
    UK, Cameo, Serif Draw, Win10.
    Link to My Craft Bazaar | Link to Skool | Force Bazaar - Archimedes
    Feel free to use anything in these links.
  • Crazy_Mr_ZingCrazy_Mr_Zing Member Posts: 2,262
    edited February 15
    You could download Make the cut and trial it for free  it is fully functional apart from restrictions to actually outputting your projects
    Make the cut has not been updates is some time which it why many newer model cutter are not supported
    SVG have become almost the universal file type in the craft/hobby cutting world

    To get the best advise on machine suitability it would help if you listed What materials would you actually want to cut and maybe a few examples of the project you would be making

    Another 3rd party software you could trial is sure cuts a lot is appears to offer support for many of the new model cutters

    I Use Zing Air, Make The Cut - Pop Card Studio, WinXP- Win7 -Win10
    Paper Modellers I Revere Marc Hagan-Guirey ----- Yoshinobu Miyamoto ----- Peter Dahmen
    Gallery ID #26944 ----- Link to My Cloud Have a Look your Welcome to Make Use of the Files
  • cautioncaution Member Posts: 5
    Thanks for checking Di. That surprises me, it's .dxf is listed as "Desktop cutting plotter" in Inkscape. It's an older format that does not support more complex and newer features so it's probably not useful for more complex designs. The stuff I'm doing is not complex geometrically, it's a matter of good measurement.

    I'm part of a community that restores old and rare collectible boomboxes. I originally bought it to help determine the exact dimensions of all the cutouts in a large metal plate that all the controls stuck through, since even being off by a few thousandths in many spots would have stopped from fitting correctly.  Cutting out paper versions and laying them down over the controls allowed me to ensure I was on the nose before sending the design to the laser cutting shop.

    After that I started to design and sticker sets cut from chrome mylar and duralar that would lay over the old surfaces, which usually chrome plating starts pitting and flaking off after 35 years. There is no way to re-chrome these plastic parts. Some can be repainted but nearly impossible to get true chrome. Some models also have molded features begging to be chromed but never were. I've discovered that the thicker you go the more mirror-like the material becomes, and I've got some 0.2-0.3mm mylar that my Cameo just scratches at 1cm/s deepest cut setting, quad cut. I also want to create paint stencils for restoring lettering and other graphics worn away over time, and engraving for more permanence on metal surfaces.

    Since I have to get my material from China, it's in metric, so I have to cut them down to fit in the cutter.

    Samples of some design work.
    https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2678/32097159333_5533dec41d_o.jpg
    https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2484/32871528626_8d95ce4764_o.jpg
    https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/571/32560200186_4e2b2f1726_o.jpg
    https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/432/32022662220_a9835b0dfa_o.jpg
    https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/324/32297153271_2d618cf488_o.jpg
    https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2814/32097187603_9dca14ed70_o.jpg




  • Di-liteDi-lite Member Posts: 2,849
    To cut thicker materials I would go for a max air or the Force both of which cut much wider stuff then the Cameo (which I love).  I have a Force which requires a steep learning curve and has it's own integral software that is gradually being updated to accommodate other features.  It also works with SCAL and other software that uses svg. The Zing and the Max have been around a while and I understand are good cutting machines.  All the machines will cut extremely well within the defined size of your designs.  You can see examples of what I have cut on the Force in my Force Bazaar below - just go to the photo album sections to see pics.  Although I have only just started cutting vinyl I can tell you that it does a good job.  Need very light settings for the fine stuff and slightly higher for the thicker stuff.  Many create stencils with Mylar etc.   Take a look on the KNK site and you can chat with the owners who will advise you very fairly.  I'm sure others will be along shortly and add more information on the various cutters that might suit.  Also there is an FB forum for the Force where you will find all sorts of posts covering stencils and vinyl.
    Have fun, Di, ID 14610
    UK, Cameo, Serif Draw, Win10.
    Link to My Craft Bazaar | Link to Skool | Force Bazaar - Archimedes
    Feel free to use anything in these links.
  • MeFlickMeFlick Member Posts: 8,878
    To cut to a Silver Bullet or a KNK machine - you need a software program like MTC or SCAL that will send the appropriate "cut commands" to the cutter.  Both programs require that the images be "vector" based files.

    dxf files are not really "common" in the craft/hobby cutters that these program were developed for.  They rely on "vector" files for cutting.

    See this thread for explanation by Julie to get a "dxf" file into MTC.  It's a workaround because MTC does not import dxf files.
    http://forum.make-the-cut.com/discussion/41318/dxf-files
    However, since you note that you work with Inkscape, you don't necessarily need to go through all of that - you can do the process you are doing now and. take the dxf file into inkscape to vectorize the file for cutting. You can then take the file from Inkscape as an .svg file and import that directly into MTC or SCAL for positioning and cutting - the same as you would do to your silhouette now.

    Both MTC and SCAL work with the Silver Bullets and several of the KNK machines. (MTC does not work directly with the KNK Force, but it does export out to .svg format that the C3 program of the Force uses to cut with.) Further, KNK is coming out with another cutter soon that MTC may not work with unless the developer does further work to create more plugins.  This has not been done for several years now. As a result, if it is one of the newest cutters out there, SCAL may be the only option as they have continued to add cutter plugins.

     To best use MTC with the Silver Bullet, you would need to use the KNK Maxx (not Maxx Air) selection to cut with in cutter choices.  Then there are some "changes" that have to be made to baud rate, and the X/Y offsets are "flipped".  (If you go that route, check the forum, this has all been outlined before many times.)
    Go Vols!
    image
    Cutting with 18" Silver Bullet and a KNK Force (the rest are collecting dust!)
  • GabeGabe Moderator Posts: 4,274
    @caution, several people have asked if they can define the path that MTC uses to cut shapes.  While you can reverse the path, you can't designate what shape it will cut with any precision.  The software has a set priority for the order it will use to cut paths and as far as I know, you aren't able to change that.
  • cautioncaution Member Posts: 5
    Thanks for the recommendations Di! I'll have to look into those models. I've heard great things about KNK support so that helps a lot. MeFlick, DXF files ARE vector files, which is why I'm confused as to their lack of support. But you're right, I can just export to SVG out of Inkscape, that solves a lot of my limitations with DXF. Great info on MTC's limitations and how it can be used despite them. I've got a lot to think about now, thanks for the info. That's too bad Gabe, I was sort of hoping to find a "path optimizer" function that would analyze your job and optimize the blade route. I'm a circuit board designer and used to program chip shooters (places parts) and you could set up that thing's path to no end, it was a great feature.
  • MeFlickMeFlick Member Posts: 8,878
    While DXF files may be "vector" files, they are vector files from a CAD program.  CAD program files traditionally were not considered to be files traditionally used by crafters/scrappers etc. which is what MTC and SCAL were created for just like the Silhouette and Cricut cutters programs.  So, none of those initially imported DXF files.  Some of them have later added support for importing DXF like Silhouette.  MTC has not been updated in years so DXF support was never added.  I you want to import DXF files, and want a SB or KNK Cutter, then you might want to look more closely at SCAL and its Pro version.  It works with both the SB and KNK Cutters including the latest, Force (and assume they will add support for the newer KNK Zing Orbit coming soon.) Plus, the Pro version will import DXF files directly.
    Go Vols!
    image
    Cutting with 18" Silver Bullet and a KNK Force (the rest are collecting dust!)
  • SandyMcCSandyMcC Member Posts: 6,790
    There are some cutting programs (like our original KNK Studio and Graphtec's RoboMaster) that can import DXF files. However, they tend to be broken up into tiny segments which is then a pain when cutting. For example, even though a grid of squares might have been created using actual squares, for some reason every square will import as four separate lines. This disconnection means the blade will lift at every corner and may or may not come back down at that pont but rather travel to another square and cut one of it's lines. Then lift up and proceed somewhere else. This causes the cut to take much longer and drives the user crazy watching how it cuts. So, whenever one of our customers sends me a DXF file for help, I cringe! My first question is always, "Do you have another export option?"  

    SCAL Pro will import DXF files however I've not tested it to see if the same disconnected paths occur when importing.  If needed, however, I'm happy to test for you. 
    Sandy McCauley
    Cutting with KNK Force, Maxx Air, Zing Air
    Need help with your KNK? Visit this link: http://knkusa.com/contact/
    KNK / MTC Videos: http://bit.ly/1kmAcoO
    Latest KNK / MTC User Manuals: http://www.iloveknk.com/Support/user-manuals/
  • cautioncaution Member Posts: 5
    Ahh okay, sounds like I'll stick to SCAL for doing anything I don't need to use a CAD program for. I've done some squirrels and crows for my window at work and some craft stuff for friends that found out I have a cutter.
  • cautioncaution Member Posts: 5
    Thanks MeFlick and Sandy, this would explain the odd behavior I've seen. Sounds like a matter of luck I ended up using programs that all had DXF support, I got the impression it was more widely used for cutting. And I was convinced my DXFs were parsed by Silhouette's software since it would see, say, a rectangle as one whole rectangle when selected, but not actually cut it completely before moving on. Even DXFs are not all the same, it's up to each application to implement it on their own, which causes headaches even in the arenas where its still relevant. Shapes vs. line segments vs. rastered chunks and so on. Really appreciate the info, sounds like SCAL and SVG will fix some issues and help get into line with the rest of the cutting world! Now to decide what cutter to commit to :-)
  • SandyMcCSandyMcC Member Posts: 6,790
    What materials do you specifically want to cut?  How wide of a cutting format do you need?  Are you interested in print and cut applications?   Are you interested in dual head capability (score and cut,  draw and cut, draw and emboss, etc)?

    Sandy McCauley
    Cutting with KNK Force, Maxx Air, Zing Air
    Need help with your KNK? Visit this link: http://knkusa.com/contact/
    KNK / MTC Videos: http://bit.ly/1kmAcoO
    Latest KNK / MTC User Manuals: http://www.iloveknk.com/Support/user-manuals/
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