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Cutter + software choices UK pros/cons

FinkuFinku Member Posts: 8
edited November 20 in General
Hi
Been looking on and off for ages for a cutter in the UK. I've never owned or used one before. I've found a brand called  "UKcutter" sold by Signzworld.co.uk. I have spoken with them and they confirmed they are rebranded Skycutters (sold by plottergeeks). They have 2 ranges i would be interested in the "C" and "V" The C has a maximum blade pressure of 800g while the V has 2000g, but the C can take the laser attachment which sounds cool...?
What do i lose out on cutting with 800g max?
Is there a better option/make that i'm unaware of?

Also what is the best software for these cutters and what is the easiest to learn?
Cheers, F

Comments

  • Liz_ALiz_A Member Posts: 10,777
    @Finku - Sandy McCauley has a whole section on her website dedicated to the SkyCut cutters, she is their beta tester, as well as their User Manual author. Go here for all the info that have asked for:

    https://www.iloveknk.com/support/skycut-support-page/

    Happy Cutting!
    Still using MTC but slowly migrating to SCAL. KNK cutters including the Force and Maxx Air continue to be my favourites. Fluent in other cutter languages.
  • FinkuFinku Member Posts: 8
    Thank you, i will check it out!
  • FinkuFinku Member Posts: 8
    I've had a check on Sandy's site, a lot of great info i can tell i will need when i get a cutter, but i couldn't really find much on the advantages of the V series 2000g cutting force.
    I would like to be able to cut Mount board  used in picture framing. It's 1mm to anything upto 3mm thick but i generally use the 1.4mm. A nice lady at ThymeGraphics made some test cuts on a "Silver Bullet" cutter. While it did cut, it was a bit messy and took many passes to cut. Does Sandy post here or should i try contacting her from iloveknk.com?
    Thanks.
  • Liz_ALiz_A Member Posts: 10,777
    @Finku You can get Sandy's attention by putting the @ in front of her username which is SandyMcC, like I did with yours.

    Cutting force is the amount of pressure that can be exerted in a downward motion. Higher values tend to indicate you can cut slightly thicker - the limitation is going to be can it fit under the pinch wheels, can the pinch wheels close properly - and denser materials. However, if you look at the drag blade being used, there is very little real estate to its surface, so that is also a limitation. You would hold the edge of the blade to the edge of material being cut, and if that is thicker than the tip of the blade is long, its too thick to be cut. Did you look at the comparison of cutters?

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1y5KRULViA9-sWLZEk4JLn8CPwueEkjTVsUWJqIV9vlk/edit#gid=0


    Still using MTC but slowly migrating to SCAL. KNK cutters including the Force and Maxx Air continue to be my favourites. Fluent in other cutter languages.
  • Liz_ALiz_A Member Posts: 10,777
    @Finku - the C series of Skycut can cut Chipboard up to 0.033”. I would think that the other models would be similar or slightly better.
    Still using MTC but slowly migrating to SCAL. KNK cutters including the Force and Maxx Air continue to be my favourites. Fluent in other cutter languages.
  • SandyMcCSandyMcC Member Posts: 7,809
    The Skycut V would be the equivalent of the Silver Bullet but with newer technology.  While it does have a bit more cutting pressure than the Silver Bullet AND can cut the same mat boards as the SB, you might not see the results you're wanting simply due to the nature of how drag blades work on thick dense materials.  Also, the best approach on  mat board would be to cut partially through in one or two passes with the blade half-exposed. Then finish up the last one or two passes with the blade exposed to the full thickness of the material.  This yields cleaner cutting.   

    However, before you get too wound up about getting a Skycut/UK Cutter, I  need your answers to the following questions to that you can, indeed, meet your requirements with a drag blade cutter:

    (1) How large of sheets do you plan to cut?

    (2) Is this a hobby application or are you planning to cut a lot for a business?

    (3) What kinds of shapes? What sizes?  You can cut fairly basic shapes but not like lettering or anything else with a lot of small tight curves.  You can from THIN materials but not mat board.

    A few more things to note:  Drag blade cutters are NOT suitable for cutting frames for pictures or artwork. Those types of frame typically have beveled edges and very perfect interior corners. That requires the type of manual cutter designed for cutting frames.  Drag blade cutters cannot do beveled cuts.

    Regarding the laser for the C model: It's a laser ENGRAVER suitable for leather and wood. While is CAN cut through materials it will never yield the type of cutting resolution achievable with a far more expensive laser cutter like the Glow Forge. 

    Hope this helps!  Feel free to ask more questions or you can post a PM to me here, as well. 
    Sandy McCauley
    Cutting with KNK Force, Maxx Air, Zing Orbit, Skycut C and D
    Over 90 free MTC videos: http://www.iloveknk.com/support/mtc-support/
    Latest MTC User Manuals: http://www.iloveknk.com/Support/user-manuals/
  • MeFlickMeFlick Member Posts: 9,284
    I ditto what Sandy said in regard to using a drag blade cutter to try and cut Mat board for framing and trying to use a laser on a drag blade cutter. I have a Silver Bullet and a stand alone diode laser.  So to best tell you whether you can do what you are hoping - we need more specifics and details as to what you are wanting to do and if its a business (daily, hours of use) or hobby.
    Go Vols!
    image
    Cutting with 18" Silver Bullet and a KNK Force (the rest are collecting dust!)
  • FinkuFinku Member Posts: 8
    edited November 23
    SandyMcC said:
    The Skycut V would be the equivalent of the Silver Bullet but with newer technology.  While it does have a bit more cutting pressure than the Silver Bullet AND can cut the same mat boards as the SB, you might not see the results you're wanting simply due to the nature of how drag blades work on thick dense materials.  Also, the best approach on  mat board would be to cut partially through in one or two passes with the blade half-exposed. Then finish up the last one or two passes with the blade exposed to the full thickness of the material.  This yields cleaner cutting.   

    However, before you get too wound up about getting a Skycut/UK Cutter, I  need your answers to the following questions to that you can, indeed, meet your requirements with a drag blade cutter:

    (1) How large of sheets do you plan to cut?

    (2) Is this a hobby application or are you planning to cut a lot for a business?

    (3) What kinds of shapes? What sizes?  You can cut fairly basic shapes but not like lettering or anything else with a lot of small tight curves.  You can from THIN materials but not mat board.

    A few more things to note:  Drag blade cutters are NOT suitable for cutting frames for pictures or artwork. Those types of frame typically have beveled edges and very perfect interior corners. That requires the type of manual cutter designed for cutting frames.  Drag blade cutters cannot do beveled cuts.

    Regarding the laser for the C model: It's a laser ENGRAVER suitable for leather and wood. While is CAN cut through materials it will never yield the type of cutting resolution achievable with a far more expensive laser cutter like the Glow Forge. 

    Hope this helps!  Feel free to ask more questions or you can post a PM to me here, as well. 

     @SandyMcC @Liz_A @MeFlick Thank you for the replies!

    I just wrote a detailed reply and it somehow was lost when i tried to edit it....
     
    I appreciate the drag knife (trolley wheel) principle and that they may have some limitations. Ideally i would love a Tangential knife cutter but they are hugely expensive.

    (1) A2 17"x24"ish should be good i reckon.

    (2) I suppose i fit in the Hobby category, but don't like the term as it implies lower quality. I would like it to as precise and robust as i can afford.

    (3) Mainly Geometric shapes and letters/symbols all sorts of sizes but i doubt smaller than 1"square.

    I understand they don't do bevelled cuts and nor do i need them, so that's good.
    The the Laser attachment was just a curiosity, I'm ok without it. Looked at that Glowforge and thought it was quite good until i saw the price and 6 month warranty, is that even legal? I'd expect 5 years for that money... I would sooner spend the money on a secondhand Valiani or Gunnar CMC.
     
    I probably need something in-between, that doesn't exist, as usual...

    Cheers, F

    P.s Can these cutters take a pen to draw? I see it uses a pen to test, would seem silly not to be able as these are reappropriated plotters, no?

  • MeFlickMeFlick Member Posts: 9,284
    it’s a real pain when you type out a long post only to have it disappear. Poof - I have had it happpen and feel your pain. When I type one, I try to copy it to my clipboard or notes area “just in  case” so I have it to try again. Works most of the time.

    I would respectfully disagree on your assessment that “hobby” implies lower quality. I know plenty of people who do their art as a “hobby” but  who are “professionals” in almost any sense of the word but are a “hobbiest” because they do not do their art or hobby full time and/or it is not the source of their primary income. When that question is asked in this context, it is just to discern how much time one anticipates using the equipment. As someone using it for business is generally thought to be using it much more daily and for extended hours then someone using it as a “hobby.” Even that though is not always an accurate assumption. I know some who do things as a “hobby” but put in lots of time. So the question is really simply trying to ascertain how much time you would expect to be using the cutter on a daily/weekly basis to get a rough idea of how much wear and tear you would put on it.  Like you, I don’t do my “hobbies” as a business, but I try to buy good quality equipment that I can afford as most do and I think we all appreciate that. Then, one determines what level of price they can afford to pay. Some will buy entry level machines and be happy with those, others will buy midrange and be happy while others will buy business level machines even if they are not running a business. It depends on your budget usually.

    i still think as Sandy noted, you won’t be able to cut lettering in mat board with a drag blade cutter.it would require too many small turns and adjustments and the material is too thick and dense for it to work to the level you would be happy. I have messes with cutting mat board, with a mat board cutter and my drag blade cutter in the past. I would love to be able to cut lettering into the mat board but have never found it capable of doing so. I will offer an alternative approach that can work depending on your needs, desire for look, etc. (I will do separate from this reply.)

    I understand about the Glowforge, I didn’t know about it’s limited warranty. I have looked at them in the past, ever since they did their initial crowd source campaign to get started and several people on here bought one and waited months for the delivery. I wouldn’t pull the trigger then, and still have not been able to for various reasons but never delved in enough to know of the short warranty period, but I am not surprised. From my research, the laser head on most of these smaller home styled lasers is not very robust and can burn out pretty quickly. My biggest issue with it was that best I can tell, you need to use their cloud base software to control and engrave and cut to the glowforge. That is what has always continued to stop me. What happens to your machine should Glowforge the Company go away along with their cloud based software. I want equipment that is not reliant on a Company and their cloud based software. 

    The other thing people miss about lasers is understanding there are different types of lasers and laser equipment and just because you can use one laser for one thing, it may not work for other things. As I noted, I have a small diode laser machine. While I mainly wanted it for “engraving” or burning onto wood it would be great if I could also cut wood items with it. However, a diode and the wattage it supplies on the one I have is not going to cut much other then extremely thin, and with high power, and extreme number of passes and you risk burning out the diode very quickly. As a result, I have learned that while it will do “some” of what I want, it won’t do everything and that a bigger, more robust and much more expensive CO2 laser would do more, but even then, it’s not going to do everything. I haven’t looked at the sky cutter and it’s laser, but I assume it’s more like my diode laser. Plus, there are materials and items you should not cut with a home laser as they can omit lethal gases, one of those being vinyl.

    Yes, most frag blade cutters can be used with a pen or marker to “draw” with. Some require an adaptor in their blade holder clamp, others don’t and can hold the pen or marker, usually to do so, they need an adjustable clamp.


    Go Vols!
    image
    Cutting with 18" Silver Bullet and a KNK Force (the rest are collecting dust!)
  • MeFlickMeFlick Member Posts: 9,284

    You still haven’t given us a full explanation or detail of exactly what you are wanting to do with the mat board.if you are intending to use it outside of “framing” artwork for something totally unrelated or if you were wanting to cut shapes and letters into the mat board that you would be then using to frame items. The more we know of what you are wanting to do, the better we can answer.

    For example, if you are wanting lettering on the mat board on a framed picture or image,  I have done two things in the past to give the “look” of lettering on a matted frame. One, instead of using an actual mat board, I have cut the lettering out of an appropriately sized piece of art or colored paper and basically “reverse” weed it which means remove the lettering and shapes from the paper it’s self, throwing away the letters and shapes and using the paper with them removed, you then lay that over the mat board and the mat board is visible behind the paper and colors in the lettering and shapes from behind. The outside “mat” is the color of the paper. I have done this with smaller projects. Most people would never look close enough to see it was not cut into mat board.

    another option is to cut your lettering out of self adhesive wall vinyl and apply that to the mat board it’s self. This also works and can look good depending on what you are wanting to do.

    the one thing I always wanted to do was to cut say someone’s name, or a name of a city out of mat board and then use it as the mat to frame photos that would be inside the letters as I have seen done, that I have yet to be able to do with a drag blade cutter (although you could create it as a “faux” look with my paper technique outlined above but I wanted the beveled edge of the mat board so still waiting on the tool to do that. 😉
    Go Vols!
    image
    Cutting with 18" Silver Bullet and a KNK Force (the rest are collecting dust!)
  • SandyMcCSandyMcC Member Posts: 7,809
    One again, I ditto every thing @MeFlick has said.  Here are a few additional things I'll point out based on your responses and my own experience:

    (1) You wrote this: "drag knife (trolley wheel)"  My interpretation of "trolley wheel" would be a rotary blade and a drag knife is a swivel blade. It drags/cuts though a material in the same way as if you were using a butter knife to cut through a pizza dough versus a rotary blade would be like a pizza cutter where the blade is a big circle/wheel cutting through the dough.    When a drag knife reaches a corner it cuts a teeny bit further and then swivels around to then cut in another direction. 

    (2) When asking if you were a hobbyist, I was definitely trying to ascertain how many hours per day you were wanting to cut mat board. After 15 years of providing support, I can guarantee you that hobbyists tend to not only expect better cutting but also are far more particular about the designs they're cutting! 

    (3) The cutting mat (which is required for paper materials and, certainly, mat board, is only A3 in size.  You can create your own mats from thin plastic sheets BUT you don't want to be cutting large sheets of mat board for many reasons... too many to explain in detail. 

    (4) Nothing smaller than 1" or extremely detailed is a good. But also the larger the shape, the more issues you'll also face, such as the blade not tracking on the subsequent passes unless you use a lower speed and cut by depth, as I described in my prior post. This works but is tedious especially if you don't have a dual head model.

    (5) The last I checked, Signzworld wasn't selling the tables that can attach to the UK Cutter V or D models.  I consider the tables to be essential, especially with any heavy materials because, without support for the cutting mat, the mat can bow in the middle due to the weight of the material, and that leads to cutting issues. Now you can use boxes or a stack of books or whatever to support the mat, but having the tables works so much better 

    (6) Note that cutting a lot of mat board means you'll be dulling the blades rather quickly. It's hard to provide an exact "life expectancy" on a blade because it depends on how many cuts, the density of the material, the size of the cuts, etc.  But mat board, for sure, wears out blades probably 10 times faster than cardstock and 100 times faster than vinyl.

    (7) The UK Cutters come with a test pen and two refills (double that one the D model). But if you want to use other pens, markers, etc. then you can order a Skycut pen holder from me.  I had some manufactured but note that shipping from the US to anywhere overseas is insane and can take up to a month at least since Covid reared its ugly head on the world.  Below is a photo.

    I think that's all I have to say!  Please do post more questions, if you have them. 


    Sandy McCauley
    Cutting with KNK Force, Maxx Air, Zing Orbit, Skycut C and D
    Over 90 free MTC videos: http://www.iloveknk.com/support/mtc-support/
    Latest MTC User Manuals: http://www.iloveknk.com/Support/user-manuals/
  • FinkuFinku Member Posts: 8
    MeFlick said:

    I would respectfully disagree on your assessment that “hobby” implies lower quality.

    Some will buy entry level machines and be happy with those, others will buy midrange and be happy while others will buy business level machines even if they are not running a business. It depends on your budget usually.

    Yes, most frag blade cutters can be used with a pen or marker to “draw” with. Some require an adaptor in their blade holder clamp, others don’t and can hold the pen or marker, usually to do so, they need an adjustable clamp.I think it's more the "Hobbyist" industry and how it's marketed. Usually spending more on adverts than the product.
    I agree, i think my issue is with the "Hobbyist industry" and its marketing, not the end users.
    So i although i fall into the Hobbyist category, and the cutter may well be shelved for weeks at a time, i would like pro quality. When shopping for something new i generally start at the top and work down to my budget to see what i lose as the price goes down and if those losses matter to me. This often gets the sales people more excited too!
    Good news on the drawing ability, the Skycutter info didn't seem to mention it though.
    MeFlick said:

    I would love to be able to cut lettering into the mat board but have never found it capable of doing so. I will offer an alternative approach that can work depending on your needs, desire for look, etc. (I will do separate from this reply.)

    Any info on alternative Mat board cutting would be great!
  • FinkuFinku Member Posts: 8
    MeFlick said:

    You still haven’t given us a full explanation or detail of exactly what you are wanting to do with the mat board.if you are intending to use it outside of “framing” artwork for something totally unrelated or if you were wanting to cut shapes and letters into the mat board that you would be then using to frame items. The more we know of what you are wanting to do, the better we can answer.


    I started using the Mount board purely because a local framer had a box of offcuts sitting outside the shop for free. I really like it because it can soak up a lot of water/ink without losing shape or shrinking/expanding. It has a thickness that looks good when tessellated like tiles. But it needs to be cut really accurately, by hand is not good enough. On its own i like how it sticks out (relief) from the surface.
    Having said that i also use some really really thin Japanese "Shoji" papers, they are like tissue paper but hold colour and structure like mount board. Some of it gets encapsulated in epoxy resin.
    So, yea, i don't use it for any framing. it's part of the artwork and i actually don't find the bevelled edge that useful. I just want very accurate, repeatable cuts.

    Cheers, J


  • FinkuFinku Member Posts: 8
    SandyMcC said:

    (1) You wrote this: "drag knife (trolley wheel)"  My interpretation of "trolley wheel" would be a rotary blade and a drag knife is a swivel blade. It drags/cuts though a material in the same way as if you were using a butter knife to cut through a pizza dough versus a rotary blade would be like a pizza cutter where the blade is a big circle/wheel cutting through the dough.    When a drag knife reaches a corner it cuts a teeny bit further and then swivels around to then cut in another direction.


    Thanks for all the great info @SandyMcC

    What i meant about the "trolley wheel" was that the head pulled it around and it cuts on that path as opposed to a tangential cutter where the blade direction is motor controlled as-well-as the head. Sorry for the confusion.

    Great news on the pen adaptor, this is something that you've had custom made?
    Yes the support tables do sound like a must have. I will ask Signzworld about this.

    In regards the Mount board, i will just see how it goes. It's clearly at the limits of this type of machine so i will just have to test when i get one.

    A better question might be, what is the thickest paper/card type material it can cut reliably well?

    Thanks!


  • SandyMcCSandyMcC Member Posts: 7,809
    I personally, outlaid the money to have a hundred pen holders manufactured so that I would have something myself to use and could then attempt to recoup my investment by selling them to other Skycut owners.

    By far the majority of those who buy a Skycut/UK Cutter are vinyl businesses wanting the extreme speed and accuracy for cutting stickers / printed decals to sell.  Therefore, they have no interest in a pen holder.   lol  They buy Skycuts because these cutters support the adding of intermediate registration marks for additional scanning during the process which makes them perfect for that application.

    But crafters and makers ALSO love the Skycuts (so far) and a dozen or so of them on the Skycut Facebook group have bought them from me. I was hoping the various Skycut dealers would be interested in buying some to list on their site but I haven't really approached most of them because of the Covid situation. 

    I don't know what poster board is called in the UK but it's very accurate and easy to cut. That's like what protest signs are made from here in the USA and you can buy poster board in dozens of different types of local stores. Also similar to poster board and easy to cut is the type of white chipboard used for printed boxes that package products such as toothpaste, perfume, rice mixes, etc.  My favorite is  Tango C1S 18pt coated cover. This PDF shows the weight and other specs:  

    https://www.westrock.com/-/media/pdf/paperboard/product-guide/tango-c1s-product-guide-aug-2019.pdf?modified=20190828024007

    My home printer can't handle printing this thickness but this is more for making little boxes that can then be decorated.  
    Sandy McCauley
    Cutting with KNK Force, Maxx Air, Zing Orbit, Skycut C and D
    Over 90 free MTC videos: http://www.iloveknk.com/support/mtc-support/
    Latest MTC User Manuals: http://www.iloveknk.com/Support/user-manuals/
  • Liz_ALiz_A Member Posts: 10,777
    We used poster board for our school projects when I was a kid. Kind of larger sized heavier cardstock.
    Still using MTC but slowly migrating to SCAL. KNK cutters including the Force and Maxx Air continue to be my favourites. Fluent in other cutter languages.
  • FinkuFinku Member Posts: 8
    edited November 27
    SandyMcC said:
     I was hoping the various Skycut dealers would be interested in buying some to list on their site but I haven't really approached most of them because of the Covid situation. 

    I would definitely approach them, covid has made everybody home hobby crazy from what i can see.

    I'm trying to wrap my head around the way these cutter came to be. Am i right in thinking they are standard vinyl cutters that have been beefed-up (cutting force) to cope with home hobby materials like card/felt etc..? It appears the blades are very similar if not exactly the same to ones already available, so they are really still meant for thinner materials? Do you feel the blades are a limiting factor in material cut thickness? I'm not criticising the machines, just trying make sure i can get decent use out of one, or if something else would better suit.
    Is there a machine you can think of that can cut thicker materials? Laser cutters sound cool, but do appear to burn/mark the edges a bit.

    Thanks.
  • SandyMcCSandyMcC Member Posts: 7,809
    Yes... these are precisely that: beefed up vinyl cutters.  There are different blades available, both in terms of their angle (typically 30 deg, 45 deg and 60 deg) and length (up to ~ 2.00 mm). The limiting factor IS the blade length and, because they are swivel blades, it's very difficult for the blade to make sharp turns when "buried inside" a thick material.

    A good litmus test on whether or not a drag blade cutter can handle a particular material is to manually use a craft knife, like an X Acto knife and see if YOU can through the material in 2 or maybe 3 passes. If you can't cut, neither can the drag blade cutter and you will need a CO2 laser cutter. 

    Yes, laser cutters can sometimes leave sear marks but also, according to what I've read, that's a matter of fine tuning the settings.  Either way, you have to research carefully with a laser cutter to make sure you know what materials can be cut with it. For example, you must not cut vinyl because the fumes are toxic. You also should never ever leave the room when a laser cutter is cutting. Lots of safety measures to learn. On the other hand, it's probably a better option for you if you're wanting to cut a lot of larger shapes from thick/dense mat board.
    Sandy McCauley
    Cutting with KNK Force, Maxx Air, Zing Orbit, Skycut C and D
    Over 90 free MTC videos: http://www.iloveknk.com/support/mtc-support/
    Latest MTC User Manuals: http://www.iloveknk.com/Support/user-manuals/
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