Have you ever struggled to weed a graphic after cutting thick vinyl like Glitter T-shirt film or sandblast stencil? If so, you may not be making full use of your plotter’s capabilities. Or you may just need to upgrade your hardware.

For owners of a Vinyl Express Qe or Q Series vinyl cutter, there is an easy fix for this problem in the advanced LCD job control menu. We call it TangentaPlus.

What is the TangentaPlus feature and how does it work? Normal cutting is of the drag-swivel variety. The blade swivels freely in the blade holder as it's dragged around the x & y coordinates of the media surface. This is fine for most jobs. But when the media is particularly thick, drag-swivel cutting can cause problems. The blade can get bound in corners, causing damage to the blade and/or blade holder, or it can simply fail to cut the corner precisely, resulting in a poorly-cut decal that’s difficult and time-consuming to weed.

If you use an entry-level cutter like the Vinyl Express R Series, or even a brand name product like the Roland Camm-1 or GX Pro series cutters, you don’t have any other options because TangentaPlus isn't available on these cutters. If you’re having difficulties weeding thicker materials, you may want to consider an upgrade to a Q Series plotter. In addition to the benefits of TangentaPlus, the extra speed, power, and precision will surprise you.

Tangential Emulation on 35 mil Sandblast Resist or Mask
Sharp serifs in 35 mil stencil sample are no problem with TangentaPlus cutting.

The Q Series TangentaPlus feature handles thick media by over-cutting the corners of a graphic so that the blade travels past the end point of a path. Then the blade holder lifts the blade, turns it, rotates toward the new cutting direction and starts cutting the next line in advance of the corner point. (It's sorta like how the cab of a big rig will over steer when going around the corner so that the tractor which follows turns correctly.) The result is a perfectly cut and easy to weed corner, even in 35 mil sandblast stencil. The Qe6000 and Q Series cutters are so finely engineered that the amount of the over-cut can be adjusted down to a thousandth of a millimeter. This allows you to fine tune your vinyl cutter so that your decals can be weeded and finished more efficiently.

To further enhance the precision, the Q series firmware offers tangential cutting in two modes.

In Mode 1, the over-cut process is applied not only to the start and end of the character, but to any acute angles encountered (such as the serif on a cursive font). This ensures optimal precision throughout the cutting process.

In Mode 2, only the beginning and end points of a character are over-cut, resulting in faster throughput or more productivity. For cutting basic block text in thick media, mode 2 would suffice. For cutting a decorative font, mode 1 would produce better quality and easier weeding.

When should you activate Tangenta Plus? Anytime you're cutting thick vinyl like sandblast stencil or prismatic reflective vinyl. Once you’ve activated the Tangenta Plus function, you’re ready to send the job. If you listen closely, you may hear a slight tapping sound when your Q is cutting in tangential mode. That's the precursor of the more important sounds that follow—the sounds of a satisfied customer and a ringing cash register.