Some diseases you get as a baby, some as an adult, some as a senior. Basically, you can get sick throughout your entire life. In the same way, you can run into cutting woes at any point in the process. Today, we’re going to focus on problems that happen at the end of the cut and what happens when the software’s memory is overtaxed. Then next time we’ll start looking at analyzing a completed cut and figuring out what went wrong. (To start with Lesson 1 of the Cut Doctor series, go here.)
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Symptom: Machine does not complete the cut job but says it has
Remember that we’ve already covered when the machine tells you that the cut is complete but it hasn’t moved. What we’re talking about here is when it starts cutting but then stops for some reason. We’ll focus on 3 areas — machine issues, memory issues and communication issues.
Diagnosis #1: Firmware update needed (Cameo 2, Cameo 3, Portrait 2 and Curio only)
Just like computers have software programs to run them, machines have firmware. Firmware helps the machine communicate correctly with your computer. If you have firmware that’s working incorrectly, you get problems like odd cuts, loading issues, the machine pausing and not restarting, etc. You can find firmware updates here, and my post on how to check, download and install them here.
Prescription: Check the firmware edition on a Cameo by clicking the gear icon on the machine screen and selecting About. For any machine, click on the machine detail icon in the Send area to open the machine detail dialog box. Compare your version to the latest release version on the Silhouette America website. If the version on your machine is lower than the version listed on the website, download and install the update.
Diagnosis #2: Packing tape not removed
This is another one we’ve talked about in a previous lesson. If the packing tape is still on the machine, it’s not letting the motor box move freely so it doesn’t finish cutting.
Prescription: Look for and remove any packing tape on the machine.
Diagnosis #3: Excessive amount of Auto-saved files (Recovered Documents)
Silhouette Studio version 3 and up has an Auto-save feature. It’s there so that if your software closes unexpectedly due to something like your computer battery dying or the software crashing, you won’t lose all your work. It happens on a set schedule and you can’t turn it off. When you next open your software, any files you had open that had any unsaved changes show up as Recovered Documents. They stay in that list until you discard them.
If your list of Recovered Documents gets REALLY full, it can cause issues with the software. That’s because the software is holding all that information in its current memory. If you are running low on memory, have a large number of Recovered Documents, send a large file to cut, and an Auto-Save starts, you can overload the software. One symptom of that is that the software can’t finish the cut job. It may pause for a long time, stop cutting and tell you it’s done when it hasn’t cut everything. This can also depend on how much memory your computer has and/or how many other programs you have open.
Prescription: Routinely check the Recovered Documents panel and discard unneeded files.
Diagnosis #4: Excessive amount of images off mat in Design Area
This is a similar disease to Diagnosis #3 — it’s overloading the memory of the software. Even though you aren’t cutting those pieces, the software still has to figure that out when it is generating the cut job. It’s determining what it can and cannot cut given your material and mat sizes. This is especially the case if you have raster images or fill patterns in the designs, as those use a good deal of memory.
Prescription: Remove excess designs from outlying areas. Or, move to a new file only the pieces to be cut on a single pass through the machine.
Diagnosis #5: Too many cut jobs in queue
We talked about queued jobs back in Lesson 17 and how they can prevent a cut job from starting. They can also cause a problem during the cut. If files pile up in the queue, it can cause an issue with memory. Here I’ve got 4, but just think about if I had 50 and they were all complex files.
Prescription: Keep the cut job queue from getting overloaded, especially if the files are complex.
Diagnosis #6: Too many files open
This is pretty rare, but it can happen. This is getting familiar — it’s a sign of a memory issue, particularly if your designs have lots of fills.
Prescription: Limit how many files you have open at a single time, especially if they contain fill patterns or raster images or if your computer has low memory.
Diagnosis #7: Computer going to sleep or cutting paused too long
Have you ever been watching TV and fallen ALMOST asleep? You can hear what’s going on, but your mind isn’t able to understand it. That’s similar to what happens when your computer goes to sleep or you pause the cut for a really long time. Your machine may even go into sleep mode. Any of that can cause the machine to not finish the cut job when the computer or machine wakes up.
Prescription: Babysit the computer during the entire cut. If you suspect you may have paused too long, take the blade out before resuming the cut. That way your material doesn’t get ruined. As long as you don’t unload (and your cut settings are good), you can put the blade back in to send the cut again and it will cut in the exact same spot.
Diagnosis #8: Packet size set too high
We talked about Packet Size in Lesson 14. If you have it set too high, the software can send too much information to the machine at a time and overwhelm it. Instead of being able to finish the cut, it gives up.
Prescription: In Preferences>Advanced, lower Packet Size to 500 bytes.
Diagnosis #9: Indirect USB connection or cutting via Bluetooth
I love Bluetooth (except for how fast it drains my phone battery). But the truth is that data going through a USB cord is often more reliable than it going from your computer to the machine via Bluetooth. Using a USB hub or running your USB through a computer monitor can also be less effective. Even a USB cord that’s going bad can cause issues.
If you notice that the machine doesn’t complete the job, testing these as possible causes pretty easy.
Prescription: Plug the USB cord directly into computer. Do not run it through a USB hub, monitor, etc. If you’re cutting via Bluetooth, try using the USB cord and see if it solves the issue. Use the USB cord that came with your machine.
Symptom: Mat or material doesn’t roll back to the starting point or origin
Diagnosis #1: “Feed” selected in Feed Options
We talked about the difference in Return to Origin vs. Feed in Lesson 13. If your mat or material doesn’t roll back out after you hit “unload,” the most likely reason is that you’ve got it set on Feed.
Prescription: Select Unload multiple times on the current job. For future jobs, in the Send area, under Advanced>Feed Options, select Return to Origin.
Diagnosis #2: Motor box moved down for test cut and not reset to origin
I’ve said before that I don’t really like the test cut feature that’s built into the software. (To see what I recommend instead, see this post). One reason is that if you do a test cut, find you need to change the settings, then move the blade housing down to a new location for a second test, the blade housing does NOT automatically return to the origin point (upper left corner). It uses the spot it was after the second test cut as its starting spot, which means it starts the cut in the wrong place. And when it’s done, it goes back to that starting spot instead of the real origin point.
Prescription: Always reset the motor box to the origin point before sending a cut job to the machine.
Symptom: Blade housing doesn’t return to origin
Diagnosis #1: Motor box moved for test cut and not reset to origin
Yep, this is the same diagnosis as the previous symptom.
Prescription: If you move the motor box to do a test cut, reset it before starting the cut job. Or, unload your mat or material after the cut is finished and that will reset it.
Diagnosis #2: Canceled cut job
All the cutting machines have the option to pause a job, and then cancel it if you choose. When you cancel it, the motor box does NOT go back to the starting spot in the upper left corner unless you unload. It stays where it was when the machine paused.
Prescription: After a canceled job, unload your material to get the motor box back to the starting spot. If you want to try to salvage some of the material and then cut again in the same spot, you don’t want to unload. So you can instead remove the blade and continue the cut job if possible. That’s only possible if your mat or material has NOT come out from under the rollers.
Just so you don’t worry that I haven’t diagnosed your particular cut disease, know that there’s plenty more to come. Next we’ll cover bad cuts — times where the machine rips and tears your material, doesn’t cut all the way through, cuts a stray line through it, etc. We’ll learn to look at it, analyze the problem and figure out a solution. Don’t miss your next appointment!
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