Designing for Pop Out Decals
Fig 2: The Customize Line Styles window lets you optimize the perforation pattern by entering values for the dashes and gaps.Select a perforated line style from the drop down list. Then right click to open the drop down menu again and, from the bottom of the list, select “Edit”. This will open the Customize Line Styles window (Fig 2). Here, you can optimize the perforation pattern by entering specific values for the dashes and gaps. The dashes are the sections the blade will cut. The gaps are the sections it will leave intact. It is tempting to create a pattern with long dashes and a few short gaps so it will be very easy to pop the decal free after it’s been cut. But a graphic with very long dashes allows the decals to begin lifting from the sheet of vinyl as the plotter is still working, and raises the possibility that the cutting head will strike and damage the decals. It’s an interesting spectacle, but not good for productivity. I’ve found that 0.75” dashes and 0.010” gaps work well for a 2” x 9” decal. Now that you’ve created and optimized the perf cut path, you’ll need to manage the two cut paths so you can send them to the plotter separately. This is done by applying one of Flexi Sign's most basic tools: cut by color. Assign different colors to the two contour cut paths. In our example, we've chosen green for the first contour or "kiss cut" and red for the second or perf cut. This is easily done by separating the contour cut, then selecting it and changing the stroke characteristics using the Fill/Stroke editor. You may also opt to name them CutContour and PerfContour and leave the stroke color the same. These labels will also be visible in Production Manager's Contour Tab. When the job is sent to Production Manager, you will see both paths in the Drawing Colors window and will have the option to direct the RIP to pause between colors. Note: Whatever method you choose, remember to separate the contour cut paths before the RIP and Print command. This will allow production manager to see both. If you create two cut paths, but only see one in Production Manager go back and separate the paths.
Cutting Pop Out Decals Stickers
2nd Generation Q Series have a dual position tool carriage and a trough directly in front of the Teflon cutter protection strip.Before we convert our digital file into ink on vinyl, we need to configure the Q Series plotter for the dual path cutting. Newer, second generation Q Series vinyl cutters are engineered for this capability. They have a dual position tool carriage and a trough directly in front of the Teflon cutter protection strip (Fig 4). The forward position in the tool holder places the blade above the trough to support cutting through the media without damaging the cutter protection strip. Cutting through the backing paper into the cutter protection strip will eventually lead to degraded cutting quality and tracking. So the first contour cut will be performed with the blade holder in the rear position. The perf cut will be performed with the blade holder in the forward position. We’ll need to set the proper cutting conditions and perform a test cut to make sure we have the optimal depth for both processes. We’ll use two different conditions settings. Our SGIA Decals were printed on 3 mil PrismJET 203 glossy vinyl, so I programmed Condition 1 with the cutting force set at 17 and the speed at 50. To cut through the media for the perforation, I programmed Condition 8 with the cutting force at 35 and lowered the speed setting to 30.
Then we use the arrow keys to navigate to Condition 8 and press the #3 to select the forward tool which is tool #3.Because we’re using two different tool positions, we need to designate that in the control panel. We’ll use the standard tool position for the contour cut (Condition 1) and the alternate, forward position for the perf cut, which is allocated to Condition 8. We do this by opening the Conditions menu and navigating down to the second page. Press button #3 to access the Assign Tools Menu. Then we use the arrow keys to navigate to Condition 8 and press the #3 to select the forward tool which is tool #3. (Number two is the optional second pen holder). (Fig 5). This step allows us to maintain perfect alignment between the printed image and both contour cut paths, despite the fact that they’re performed from different positions relative to the print. It’s a thing of beauty. Since we need to cut all the way through the face film, adhesive, and release liner, I opted for a 60° blade in a separate blade holder for the perf cut. This also makes it easier to quickly change from one operation to the other.
FIG 6: Check Pause between Colors, to automate the sending of different cut paths to the vinyl cutter. Note the cut path labels.As noted above, when you open the Contour Tab, you will see two cut paths indicated at the bottom of your screen in the Drawing Colors Window. Make sure to Check the "Pause Between Colors" box located just below the Registration Marks window (Fig 6). This will allow you to send the cut paths one at a time with a pause between jobs to allow you to move the blade and change the cutting conditions as instructed above. You can select which color you want to cut first by selecting them in the Drawing Colors window. Start with the one associated with the kiss cut. This will be the path closest to the contour of the printed image. Also remember to un-check "Use same driver for all colors". This allows you to change the conditions between cut jobs so that your specific force and speed settings will be applied correctly. Now you're all set. Start as you would a normal print and cut job, by sending the print file. Then cut the printed graphic from your printer, remembering to leave about 4" of media behind the rear registration marks to allow the cutter to scan all four marks. Load the media on your Graphtec or Q Series cutting plotter as you would normally. Set the Origin point, ensure that the blade is in the rear position in the blade holder, and that the Cutting Conditions are set for the kiss cut. Then, open Production Manager, find the cut job Holding in the cutter Queue and click Send. Since you have elected to