I’ll bet that if you I asked you to diagram the entire DNA sequence, most of us couldn’t do it. Do you know what hemochromatosis is and why that’s important to your health? It’s not that we aren’t intelligent — it’s just that it’s advanced knowledge many of us don’t need. That’s what the Advanced Settings for cutting on a Silhouette are like. It’s either information we don’t need, or don’t even know is there. But, unlike with the biology topics mentioned, you might actually need to know the Advanced Cut Settings or even use them on a daily basis to achieve optimal cut health. That’s today’s topic in the Cut Doctor series. To start with Lesson 1 in this series, go here.
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What are the Advanced Cut Settings and where do I find them?
Version 3 of the Silhouette Studio software used the term Advanced Cut Mode for cutting by line color, fill color or layer. I’ve mentioned that terminology in some of our Cut Doctor appointments because it’s helpful in contrasting it to Simple mode. But because it can be confusing, that may be a reason the company changed the term. It’s now called Action by: Line, Fill or Layer and you can read all about it here.
Advanced Cut Settings are not the same thing, even though it sounds similar. The Advanced Cut Settings we’re talking about are for how the machine behaves during a cut, not how it determines what you cut or don’t cut on any given pass through the machine.
To access Advanced Cut Settings, click the gear icon at the lower right of the Send area…
… to open the Advanced menu.
Don’t confuse that with the gear icon that’s at the lower right in the Design area. That one is for general software Preferences. We’ll talk at our next appointment about some of those that may affect cutting.
We also aren’t talking about the Advanced Material Panel, which is where you can adjust some of your cut settings for materials. I covered that in this post.
The first section in the Advanced Cut Settings menu is Feed Options. This determines what your machine does with your mat or material after it has finished the cut job.
The origin point for a Silhouette is the upper left corner — the far left of the material at the very top. That means that’s where the blade is before it starts cutting. It might not start cutting right there, but that’s it’s “home base.”
During the cut, the motor box moves left and right along the bar. After the cut the blade carriage returns to the far left.
The other direction that mat or material moves during the cut is forward and backward, or into and out of the machine. That’s the “upper” of upper left corner. The roller bars spin, and because the outer rollers are gripping the mat or material it moves toward you and away from you. It’s this post-cut location that you can change with Feed Options.
Return to Origin
This is the default option. When the machine has finished cutting, the mat or material rolls back to right where it was when you loaded it. This is what the vast majority of people use, and they don’t even know another option exists. But it does exist and can be very helpful.
If you change the option to Feed, you can have the mat or material end at a point farther down (farther into the machine) — past the origin point.
You may ask, “Why would I want to do that?” Great question!
Say you’re cutting without the mat. It’s tricky and time-consuming to keep loading and unloading. But say you are cutting designs from several files and don’t want to put them all on the same design page. This is where Feed helps. When the machine finishes cutting your first design, it scrolls the material below the bottom of the cut. You can start your next cut right there without having to unload. Also, you don’t have to measure out the length of your material, or lose the extra 1″ at the bottom that the machine needs to grip. You could choose Feed when you’re cutting with a mat — it’s just not as useful.
When you select Feed, you set the amount of distance the machine will leave below the first cut before it starts the next one.
That enables you to leave a gap in case you need to cut the jobs apart once you’re done.
Tips for using the Feed option
There are some important pieces of information you need to know about the Feed option.
- If you have designs off to the side of your page that are lower on the page than the design you’re cutting, those are considered part of the design. So in this picture, the machine would feed to a spot below the car, even though the butterfly is the only thing I’m cutting.
- After you’ve finished cutting while using the Feed option and go to unload, you’ll have to hit Unload on your machine several times. It only feeds back out to the top of the job it just finished, not to the original load-in point.
This is an area that you won’t need to visit often. If you’ve designed a project in layers, it determines which layer cuts when.
This is the default. If you’re using Action by: Simple, the software determines the order in which the layers cut. That may be subject to what you have selected in the Cut Order Sorting (we’ll talk about that in the next section).
In Action by: Layer, it cuts each layer in the order they are in the list of in the Send area. So here, mine would cut layer 1, then 2, then 3, then 4.
It would be the same if I had designed in layers but were cutting by fill color or line color.
Within each layer, it goes in the order that the shapes are in the Layers panel. Just be aware that the list in that panel is in reverse order. Layer 1 is at the bottom, so the shape at the bottom of the list cuts first (see the yellow highlighting here). That would hold true, even if you dragged that layer to the top of the panel.
Group Layers by Condition
This option cuts layers based on which ones are alike. Notice that my 4 layers are using 2 different materials.
When you group the layers by condition, the machine cuts layers 1 and 3 (which are using cardstock), then 2 and 4 (which are using copy paper). That’s so you (or the machine) don’t have to reset the blade and it doesn’t need to change the settings as often. It does this regardless of the order of your layers in the Send area list. Again, this works the same if you’re cutting by fill color or line color. Within each set of conditions, the software uses the order of the list and the order of the shapes within the layers.
Let’s say I added some shapes and went up to 10 layers. And let’s say I had 4 different material types, some with sketching and some with cutting. The machine would do all the layers with the same material with sketching first, then those with cutting together. Then it would move to a different material with sketching, then that material with cutting. So “conditions” takes into account both the material and the action (and it would with tools as well). Not all sketching will happen in sequence if it’s with different materials.
You wouldn’t have this if you were cutting in Action by: Simple, because you can’t set different materials or actions for different shapes (except for using different tool holders).
Whoa! Head Spinning!
Honestly, this can be very confusing because the order you’re seeing in the list won’t necessarily be the order the machine uses during the job. And you’d have to add pauses in just the right spot to change out tools as needed, remembering that not all the sketching will happen in sequence. But if you were running a business, it would be worthwhile to become familiar with it. You could potentially save lots of time because you wouldn’t have to be manually adjusting the order as much in the software.
Cut Order Sorting
This setting it determines the order in which the machine cuts the pieces that are on your project. Most people don’t need to worry about this section. I find it doesn’t usually make a huge difference. But some of the non-default options can benefit specific folks.
This is the default. The software cuts the pieces based on its own logic and the layout of your pieces. That’s not always top to bottom and left to right. For example, on text the machine may not cut the letters in order in the words. This confuses some folks and they cancel the job, thinking something’s wrong when it’s not.
This one cuts more in order left to right and top to bottom (the next closest line from where the previous line stopped). The goal here is to finish the job as quickly as possible.
Minimize Roller Movement
On this setting, the mat or material doesn’t roll in and out as much. If you’re cutting a more delicate material (like metal clay), this means there’s less chance of the rollers indenting it. That’s especially the case on–
- Cameo 1 machines and other older machines that have the hard rubber rollers in the middle of the bar.
- Any of the smaller machines, or all Cameos when using the Portrait-sized mat, as the hard outer rollers are on the material.
- Any machine when you’re cutting without the mat, because the outer rollers are gripping the material itself.
Sort Interior Contours First
This is a default setting that has to do with cut sorting but is different from the 3 previous options. You’ll always have one of those selected. Sort Interior Contours First toggles on and off. I highly recommend keeping it on always.
If the machine cuts using this option, it cuts pieces on the inside of an image cut before the outer edge. For example, if you’re cutting a donut shape, the hole would cut before the outside of the donut.
The reason I recommend always having this on is because the pieces stay place better during the cut. If the machine cuts the outer piece first, the whole shape is then detached from the main piece of the material. That means that inner piece is more likely to lift off the mat, especially on small, intricate cuts. If the interior cuts first, the outer piece is still attached to the larger part of the page and therefore more stable. If you have No Sort selected, you won’t have the option to turn this off. That’s because the software is choosing the cut order and it will always choose to cut interior pieces first.
The last section in your Advanced Cut Settings is Defaults and it has just 1 option: Restore Default Materials. You absolutely need to understand what this one does because it can spell disaster if you don’t.
I’ve explained in other lessons how to change settings for default materials — those that are built into the software. Those changes remain until you revert them to their originals or close the software. If you do the latter, the software asks if you want to save the changes. To do that it takes you to the Advanced Material Panel to create a custom setting. You can never permanently alter one of those defaults.
So what does Restore Default Materials do? It allows you to revert all the built-in settings to their defaults with 1 click. That way you don’t have to do them all individually or close the software and discard the changes. So say you’ve been playing around with lots of different settings and just want to go back to all the standard recommended ones for all the materials. You can use this option. But keep reading for a VERY important warning.
If you hit Restore Default Materials, you will also revert to generic defaults ALL YOUR CUSTOM SETTINGS!!!!! Yes, you read that correctly. The blade numbers, force settings, platforms, extra actions, etc. for all the new settings you created and named will go back to the generic default for a custom setting. In other words, they are all gone, even the names of the settings. It’s as if they never existed. This is such a drastic action that the software warns you it’s about to happen and asks permission to continue.
Ya, you usually don’t want to do that. So I personally think it’s better to revert the defaults one by one. I don’t like losing something I’ve spent lots of time and material to figure out. Just like you wouldn’t want your doctor’s office to accidentally delete all your records.
So there you go — all you’ll ever need to know about Advanced Cut Settings. It’s not something you’ll need every day, so if it overwhelms you just file away in your head the main idea and forget the details. But it could save your cut life someday, so know that you can refer back to this post as needed. The topic for our next appointment is similar — it’s some settings in your Preferences you may need to know about. I’ll also dispel a well-traveled urban legend about one of them.