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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Janome Artistic Edge Cutting Machine Review Part 1


Recently I was asked to try out the new Janome Artistic Edge cutting machine. I eagerly said, "Yes" to the opportunity.

You see...I'm a big fan of the Janome brand. My obsession with them started three years ago when I bought my daughter a Turquoise Hello Kitty sewing machine, by Janome, for Christmas. This particular machine came by recommendation of a sewing teacher for kids. I loved the look of the machine...
...but I wanted to know...could it really sew? She told me it had such a nice straight stitch. So with a bit of hesitation, because the machine is so darling it looks like a toy; I went ahead and that's what we got.

Soon, she was doing small projects, while I became jealous about the smooth hum of her machine, vs the clunky sound of mine. To my daughter's raised eyebrow...I found myself sewing on her machine often...and then all the time. It stitched much nicer than the machine I was currently using. I was seriously impressed, and a new convert to the Janome brand. Since then, I've upgraded to a new machine...a different Janome (my daughter is happy to have hers to herself now), and I'll have to post about that machine soon.

Needless to say...I wanted to see what Janome could bring into the world of digital die cutting. They were moving to expand in that direction with their Artistic Suite software that can connect to cutting machines like the Zing and the Silhouette. The software has many capabilities that most paper crafters don't even know are available--blending the worlds of sewing, paper and digital die cutting. I'll share more on the software in tomorrow's post.

When the box arrived, with my new Artistic Edge I peeled into the box quickly, and Janome did not disappoint. Inside the box was a beautiful sleek piece of equipment, smooth lines, and much heavier than I had anticipated--which is a good thing. (Lots of metal went into the making of this machine to stand the test of time.)

Janome sent me their 12 inch format cutter. It also comes in a 15--with WIFI capabilities. Yes...folks...15 inches across cutting area. Wowzers!
Janome told me that the machine was in a different class and aimed to appeal to a different breed of die cut users--those who would use it for cutting fabric frequently, paper, and heavier materials like chipboard. It is also geared toward PC users, as the software is not compatible with a Mac. (yet...a girl can hope right?) If you are a Mac user, like me, you can run the software through Parallels--a software that allows you to run your PC programs on your Mac. I just installed the software on my laptop, which is a PC.
The machine comes with a vial of 3 different blades with either red, yellow or blue, colored caps. Each blade has a specific purpose. The red cap is for your standard to medium weight papers and vinyl. The blue is for heavyweight card stock, and other heavyweight material like magnet sheets, foam, chipboard, and crystal template material. The yellow is for light and medium weight fabric when used with stabilizer. The blades can be replaced with pens if you want to sketch a design with the cutter.
I was concerned that all these blades might complicate things, but was surprised at how easy changing blades is. Because the blades and the blade casing is separate, you have the ability to thoroughly clean out your blade casing of all the little paper debris and lint that builds up over time. The blades are held in by a magnet, when you start putting the blade in, you feel the magnet suck it in to secure it. Blades are ejected by pushing a button at the top of the blade casing.
Dialing in a blade depth setting is super easy too. So my concerns about it being complicated were unfounded. You could say that I was totally won over with this changing blades concept--knowing that it was going to expand the machines ability with multiple materials.
It's also easy to place the blade into the carrier. First you align the arrow with the black screw, then you tighten it. That's it. The large size of the black screw makes this an especially easy task.

After setting it up with the right blade and depth (by turning the dial on the top,) I was excited to try it out; but had a small stumbling block. While the Simple Cut software could import many different types of files, it would not import my SVG files properly. I found out that SVGs will import if created in Corel Draw...but I'm an Adobe Illustrator user. (No worries SVG users...they have a fix for that with a software update coming out in March 2015--can't wait!) I know that being able to use SVG files is super important for those who download files from my digiplayground.com site--so be patient...the Artistic Edge will have this ability very soon. To get beyond this hurdle, I discovered that if I converted my SVG cut files to EPS files, the Simple Cut software could import the files. Yeah! Now I could put the machine to test!

I imported some of my most complicated files that I've designed. If you are familiar with my work...you know that I love detail and flourishes. However, not every machine will cut detail properly. This is the design I chose:
It's available at the Silhouette store in Studio format here.
and...
 Available as printables, digital stamp and of course SVG cutting format at digiplayground.com.
 (I included the EPS file as well.)

Since detail is important to me, it was the first thing I wanted to test. I set the design up to cut in the software; then inserted my mat. 
There is not an "insert mat" button like there is on so many other cutting machines. Instead this machine has 4 feed arrows to give you optimal control. Hold the "up arrow," and insert your mat. I like to start at one end of my paper in order to conserve. Next you need to align the blade casing so that it references the "point of origin" you chose in the cut dialog window. 
There is a laser which I thought showed you where to line up that point of origin, but the laser is actually only to be used for positioning with Print and Cut. 

Here's an example of what the Simple Cut export to cutters interface looks like:
It has a few nice features that make setting up a cut great. You can set your speed, depth, test a cut and more. The little pink circle with the plus in it, shows that I selected the upper left corner as my origin for starting the cut. This is where I would align the blade on my paper. (using the arrow buttons on my cutter.) Remember, this in not where the cut starts, but rather, the corner where it originates.

After sending it through the machine, I was pleased as punch! Let me show you the results...and you can be the judge:
My thoughts...the machine has a really nice smooth hum to it. While cutting machines are known to be loud and make obnoxious noises, this one was much quieter. It wasn't quiet, but it was quiet for a cutting machine.
One thing I want to point out about the cut, is the corner precision. I chose to cut a very thick white-core card stock; as it is very unforgiving with cutting machines. This kind of card stock can "snag" at the corners to reveal unsightly white "boogers" where some machines have a tendency to bunch up the corners. There was none of that going on with the Artistic Edge cutter. The corners were cut nice and sharp.

Well, I'm going to leave it at that for today. I have lots more to say...so I will divide this into a three or four part post.

I'd like to talk about the software.
Also, using the Cutting Edge in conjunction with sewing and embroidery/appliqué projects.
And lastly, using the edge for 3D projects.
I'm sure I'll have more to say over time as I get to know the machine, but those are the main things I want to cover in this multi post review.

Also...if you are interested, here is a link to the Janome user manual, visit this page, and scroll to the bottom to get the link to the PDF manual.

--Samantha Walker


8 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Hi. Can you please help how did save multip formates at the same time with artistic suite thank you Nicola

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  3. Thanks for sharing this great article! That is very interesting I love reading and I am always searching for informative information like this. laser cutting machine price

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Thanks for your post. It helped me find an issue I was having with our own software (QuiltFusion). When importing SVG files into SimpleCut from quiltfusion, the scale was off. You trick of converting to EPS in illustrator worked. However when I needed to do this programmatically, and converting to EPS still had a scale issue. Turns out Illustrator assume 72dpi for SVG files and SimpleCut and Inksapce assume 90dpi. You can fix this right in the svg file by adding a "pt" to the height and width attributes. They will then import correctly.

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  6. I am having a problem with mine. Do you have a contact for someone who I can talk to to address the issues i have.

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  7. Its very helpful information and so awesome for everyone about Laser engraving and cutting machines. I am smelling fumes from my laser etcher where I work, what are my health hazards from these fumes?dentist reading

    ReplyDelete

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