Today’s visit with the Cut Doctor will be a quick one. That’s because we’re discussing Speed — how fast or slow your Silhouette machine moves as it cuts your design. There’s not too much go over here, but it’s very important. There are some big ideas you need to know so you choose the right speed setting. And make sure to get the bottom line tidbit at the bottom of the post. (To start with Lesson 1 in this series, go here.)
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click the link and purchase something, I may receive a small commission. This helps me to be able to keep my business going and provide more tutorials. All opinions expressed are my own and are not tied to any compensation.
Does speed really matter?
You may ask, “Does speed really matter?” Yes, my dear patient, it does. It can make or break your project. Believe me, you’ll end up spending less time in the long run by setting the right speed so that you don’ have to recut. And you’ll save money and frustration. We all like that!
Big idea #1: Thickness matters
In general, thicker materials need to cut slower than thinner materials. The blade needs more time to get through them. They also have more resistance against the blade, so slowing down on thicker materials makes it easier to keep the material on the mat. So vinyl, for instance, can use a faster speed than chipboard. But keep reading! There are other considerations as well.
Big idea #2: Intricacy matters
The smaller or more intricate your design, the slower the speed needs to be. A slower speed means less pulling on the design. It gives more time for the blade to go in new directions.
Big idea #3: Speed affects force
As you decrease the speed, you slightly increase the downward force. This is another reason that the thicker materials cut at a slower rate.
Big idea #4: Speed can affect the data stream
If you notice that your machine pauses for long periods during the cut, try a slower speed. That slows down the data stream — the passing of information from your computer to your machine.
The bottom line on speed
When I worked in Customer Support for Silhouette America, there was a guy who spent all day testing new materials, machines, mats, etc. He’s the one who recommended the cut settings. I used to ask him as many questions as I could so that I could better help the folks calling in with cutting problems.
Here’s a critical bit of information he told me. He said that when he was having trouble cutting anything, the VERY FIRST thing he did was take the speed all the way down to 1. That’s automatically eliminates that as an issue. Once you get your other settings figured out, you can gradually go faster to decrease the time it takes to complete your project. This is coming from a man who spent all day working on cut settings. I listened and I always keep it in mind because he was right.
I’m a chicken and a pragmatist here. I don’t want to waste my material by trying to go too fast and ruining it. I actually save time in the long run by just taking my speed down because I don’t have to start over. If the settings are wrong, less of the design is cut before I realize it and adjust them. That also saves me time. Sometimes I go quickly, but since a great deal of what I cut is small and/or intricate I’m usually on a 1 or 2.
So here’s the bottom line: you can cut too fast, but you can’t cut too slow. Err on the side of caution.
I told you today would be a quick visit! But you will NOT want to miss our next appointment. We’re going to talk about the least understood setting — force. Understanding the force setting can completely revolutionize your cut health so be sure to be here!
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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