An update

Wednesday, 06 October 2010 13:03

kokeshi_tshirt_200Hi All! This site seems to be awefully quiet isn't it. Not to worry - we will be back with many new things!

I recently decided to add fabric printing to my set of skills and have completed a course in textile printing. Our designs were tried and tested in both screen printing and relief printing and we decided to add a section to this site with more information on designing for print making.

One of the easiest ways for transfering a design onto textile is by using a direct stencil - basically cutting the design out of a suitable material. The stencil is used to partially block the screen, and the paint is forced through the unblocked area of the screen. I made a simplification of the Kokeshi doll - cut it out manually and transferred the design on to a plain t-shirt.

That opened a new door - as I am not so skilled with manual stencil cutting - and we looked into possibilities to cut the stencils with a desktop die-cutter that allows for import of SVG. We thought we had found an awesome machine: the eCraft Personal Cutter - and the initial reviews were very promising. We pre-ordered the machine and after a long 2 month wait it finally arrived.

Technically the machine is an engineering beauty - but unfortunately the software motor is underperforming: it simply is not able to import and cut SVG's without problems. If you are interested about the technical possibilities and the current struggles - consider visiting Tom Meek's blog Create and Cut.  The manufacturer of the machine is currently working on a new release of the software and maybe one day it will do what it should do. Right now Dakka says we bought ourselves a pricey paperweight.

I'll keep you informed of the developments, but for one thing we are now also focussing on vector designs that are suitable for cutting.

Cheers, Syllie.




0 # GAZ 2010-10-08 04:06
you should have got a blackcat cutter (a cougar) these work great.

I have one, an 18" model (BTW 18" is the cutting width, not the machine width) but there are both 13" & 24" models, again that is cutting width.

We use inkscape to design so no trouble with svg. but you can also use illustrator or even funtime
It comes with Signcut (we use this like a printer driver) to do the actual cutting free for 1 year from purchase, after that you buy a licence for £40 for owners of the machines

granted, it dearer than the ecraft but it works, does what it should & grows with you - plus there is a great forum for the blackcat where everyone helps each other with software, hardware or any problems - even personal or printers if you want to post it LOL
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0 # syllie 2010-10-09 13:34

I looked at many other cutters before we decided to order one. The Blackcat Cougar is a factor 3 dearer than the eCraft in its cheapest edition (13") and does have the limitations of a cutting mat. The lack of cutting mat as well as the option to cut any length of material were significant in our decision making, but the budget was most important. And paying an additional fee to use a program to cut designs on your own machine?? That sounds like a lock-in too.

Granted that at this moment I am not too happy with the eCraft (they should have just provided the printer driver instead of trying to rebuild a drawing tool) - I am happy I did not spent heaps of money on it. I believe that the success of this machine is made or broken by the success of cutting SVG files properly. And I believe also that this company has too much at stake to let the machine fail.

Interesting fact is that the developer of MTC (Make the Cut) has opened a dialog with eCraft, so perhaps they will allow that software to support their machine too (cost of that software is $60 which still sets the endprice a lot lower than for any other cutter with similar capabilities). As that software already has all design, import and cut capabilities - only the driver part needs to be included - which should be not too complex. I hope eCraft comes to their senses and realises what a good opportunity is being offered here.

So I sit back for a while and wait out further developments.

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0 # Gaz 2010-11-06 23:38
well I typed an answer to all this but at 280 words was told it was too big. so I guess I'll just have to sum up that the black cuts are professional machines but for the home market - they now have all software included in the price and work with MTC directly from that software

I guess you get what you pay for. and at least the Black cats work with their software. if you had a problem it is sorted within hours not months.
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0 # angie 2010-10-10 09:46
I've been silently following you for over a year; and have learned so much. Thanks for all your great tutorials.

I do some textile printing, and like you hand cutting a stencil is not for me. Right now, I use a thermofax machine and so some photo emulsion print. But there is so much to learn.

Looking forward to more great tutorials.
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