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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Print and Cut with Silhouette

Have you ever looked at the contents of your trash can and shaken your head in disgust after trying something new with your craft cutter?

Well apparently for me, 9 times a charm...when it comes to doing a print and cut with my  Silhouette Cameo. Ugh!

I know what you are thinking..."But you've done Silhouette stuff for years, you've never done a print and cut in all that time???"

Well, truth is, I haven't done many, but this one posed a few special issues that I did not expect to run into.

If it had been any other project, I might have given up, but this one was different. I was making an invitation for my husband's Veteran's Day Event that he is organizing for our city.

He has been planning this event since last year, and wanted a special invitation that he could send to the mayor, the governor, and a few other specific people whom he wanted to offer a special invitation to the event.

This had to be perfect...and eventually, it turned out according to plan, but it took a lot of trouble shooting, and reading directions (gasp! I usually just look at the pictures) to finally get the end product where it needed to be.

So this post is going to be an effort to help you advert any of the same issues that I had with this particular print and cut. They were mostly rookie mistakes and there are easy ways to avoid what happened to me.

Let's start this tutorial with the Silhouette Studio software and setting up a print and cut.

Below is the file that I designed and opened up in the Designer Edition of the Silhouette Studio Software. If you are familiar with Silhouette Studio, red lines are cut lines, and the rest is printable artwork.
To me, this file looked super easy to cut. I knew that my print and cut would need registration marks added, so I clicked on the registration mark icon to open the registration marks dialog window. I thought I was good to I loaded my machine, and sent it to cut. End of story.


My first mistake was not to review the manual before starting...

Here's what you will need to know...

Above, look to the right of the screen-shot, and you will see the registration dialog box. To add the registration marks, go to the first box where it says "style" select your Silhouette cutting machine from the drop-down menu. I selected Cameo/Portrait option. This will put up the registration marks on your page, and some cross-hatch looking stuff, and a red box all the way around your design.

Now it's important to know what each of these means:

1. The red line is the boundary for which no cut lines can extend beyond.

2. The cross hatch area is the boundary for which no printable area can extend into. 

3. The Black cube in the corner and the two 90 degree black angles in opposing corners must be able to print completely with your printer and not extend beyond your printer's maximum printing area. 

All of this is key to the success of your print and cut, and the reason of my many failures with this seemingly simple design. Let's just say I learned a lot--so much so, that I knew I needed to explain all the registration markings to you.

After creating the registration marks I printed my design with my printer, and placed the printed design onto my cutting mat and was confident that I had done everything right.


Here's were I ran into issues:

Mistake 1:

Do you see how the words of my invitation extend into the cross hatch area? It isn't by much, but they do cross the boundary. If you try to print and cut set up like this, then send your design to the cutter, you will receive a message in the studio software that says, "Silhouette registration failed." If you don't change something, then it will keep giving you that message--no matter how many times you try to realign the paper on the mat--because that isn't the issue. Just sayin' I may have gotten stuck here for a while.

Fix for Mistake 1:

Now if you move EVERYTHING printable out of the grey cross hatch will have success with the cutter reading your design. So I shrunk the words in my invite slightly to move them out of the cross hatches.

Mistake 2:

However, I ran into this same issue again, but this time because my cutting lines extended beyond the red boundary.

Fix for Mistake 2:

After a little playing in the Silhouette Studio software, I discovered that I could change the registration boundary a little bit by changing the inset numbers. I was able to bring my cut lines within the red cutline boundary in the registration marks dialog window.

See below...everything is within it's respective boundary.
Finally, my Cameo recognized my registration marks...Success!



I now ran into issues with the design not cutting properly.

Mistake 3:

My design was skewed. It looked awful! When I folded my card, it was more parallelogram shaped than rectangular.It was a mess. Nothing lined up. I thought I wouldn't get beyond this, but had to find a way. (see below)

Fix for Mistake 3:

Then I noticed something...something about my printed design. The lower right registration mark wasn't fully printing. I discovered that the bottom portion of it lay just beyond my printers maximum printing area. (see image left below, where I circled the issue in red.)

So...know your printer's printing area. Every printer is different, and this is going to make a big difference in the maximum area that you can choose for your registration marks to print.

Since my design was already pushing the boundaries of the red line area and cross hatches, the only way that I would be able to fix this issue was to shrink my 5x7 card slightly.

So I scaled my design slightly so that it stayed within boundaries and brought up my bottom inset on the registration marks to be within my printers maximum printing area. (See picture at left for registration marks dialog box, I changed the "bottom inset.")

I printed the design...I held my breath...and presto! The bottom of the lower right registration mark now appeared in whole on my printed design.  (above right) I placed it on my cutting mat, and sent the design from the Studio software to my Cameo.

Voila! It read the registration marks, and it cut out the design perfectly.

9 tries later, I finally...had the print and cut I desired.

Here's what the finished card looks like. I made 25 more.

Now, if you have checked all of these things, and everything appears to be within their respective boundaries, and you still get a "registration failed" message, reload and retry. Make sure that your mat is aligned with the furthest line on the left. It is shorter than the other lines. If you have done all of that, call Silhouette support, and they'd be glad to walk you through.

I tell all of this to you in detail so if you run into any one of these issues, my failures will help you troubleshoot what is wrong with your print and cut.

I hope you will try doing a print and cut with your Silhouette.  If you've read through the entire post, you are now well equipped to get it right the first try. If you run into any different issues and discover a fix for it, please feel free to share!

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