Here we are again! I’m glad you’ve come back to see the Cut Doctor. You’re getting better every day! Today we’re going to talk about Passes. If you’ll spend just a little time understanding this cut setting, you’ll save loads of time in the long run. To start with Lesson 1 in this series, go here.
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What does “passes” mean?
Simply put, passes means how many times the machine is going to cut, sketch, score, emboss, deboss or etch the design when you send the job. So if you have 1 pass set, the machine will only cut the design 1 time. If you set up 3 passes, the machine will cut the design 3 times in the same spot. You don’t have to unload the mat/material or send the job multiple times.
This used to be called Double Cut — the machine would cut each design 2 times. What’s nice now is that you can be more specific.
This does NOT mean that the machine will cut the design multiple times on the page. It cuts in same spot on the page, like if you cut some cardstock with a paper trimmer and run the blade up and down a few times.
When should I use more than 1 pass?
Typically, you only need more than a single pass for thicker or more dense materials. Chipboard is one of the thicker materials, so if you choose that material the settings default to 2 passes.
It’s also a good idea to use 2 passes when you cut fabric. That ensures that you get all the threads cut fully. You can see on these photos that 1 pass wasn’t enough.
I have also been experimenting with cutting leather on my Cameo 3 and Curio. I’m just a beginner, but for that I use a deep cut blade on 20 and 4 passes. (To see some earrings I made, see this post).
Why would I want to avoid using multiple passes?
Good question! Isn’t more always better? Not in this case. It can actually do more harm that good. You want to avoid having to do more than 1 pass when you don’t need it. The percentage of times that you need multiple passes is pretty low in general, since the machine can cut through most materials in 1 shot.
For example, if you are having to make 2 passes on vinyl or HTV every time, one of your other settings is off. Those materials are thin and pliable, not thick or dense. If you cut more than once through the material, you’re spending too much time. Adjust your blade number and/or speed and/or force instead and you can cut your cutting time in half. And you will double the life of your blades, mats and cutting strips.
There’s also a higher likelihood that you will end up ruining your material if you use multiple passes on something that doesn’t need it. The first pass cuts through, so the second goes too far. On a thin material like vinyl, a second pass is more likely to pull it off the backing.
Get into the habit of making good test cuts. If you can get the settings right, you can cut most materials in a single pass. What if you have tweaked them and 1 pass didn’t go all the way through? As long as you don’t unload you can cut in the EXACT SAME SPOT. So your next good cut health habit is to check to see if you can remove the shape or weed easily before hitting that unload button.
I can’t wait for our next appointment! I’m going to share with you my hands-down favorite cut setting. It goes a long way to getting you on the road to recovery with your cuts and can literally change your entire experience.
If you’d like to see some of these tips in video form, check out my class When Good Cuts Go Bad on Terri Johnson Academy. It’s done in an older version of the software, but the concepts are the same.
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