What is a Card Cutter?
The card cutter uses a small knife, controlled by computer, to cut and score thin sheet materials such as card and thin plastics. The cutting blade is pushed into and then pulled through the material, just like cutting card with a knife by hand. A cut or a score is achieved by varying the force pushing the blade down on the material. Students are able to use this machine under supervision in the Forbo Model Making Space.
Our Card Cutter
We have a Graphtec FC4500 Series card cutter, ideal for high-precision and medium-heavy material crafting jobs and is suitable for cutting intricate designs on vinyl, photo-masking films, foam material, cardboard, oil board, and sandblast resist rubber.
- Materials: Card < 1mm (Less than and not including 1mm Boxboard)
- Cutting Area: 900mm x 600mm
Why use the Card Cutter?
The card cutter is able to neatly cut and etch thin materials without leaving undesirable burnt edges like the laser cutters. Incredibly interesting results can be achieved by scoring and cutting on both sides to produce inward and outward folding joints. The card cutter is able to cut through card with a maximum thickness of 1mm, the FabLab has several materials to choose from.
A detailed description of how to operate and get the most from this machine is provided in the Card Cutter Guidelines.
Please read the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) before operating the machine. This document is a laminated card attached to the machine and describes all the safety risks and procedures that must be followed during operation.
It is important you follow the safety information provided as hair and loose clothing can easily become entangled within the moving parts. Be aware the cutting arms will move as soon as the machine is powered on, so please do ensure all objects and materials have been removed from the cutting table before powering up.
If you have any further questions please talk with a FabLab technician.
To use this equipment you must complete the following:
The Card Cutting machine is located in the Forbo Model Making Space.
Please see a FabLab technician if there are any issues with the machines operation or if the blades need to be changed. Do not attempt to change the blades by yourself. Always follow the SOP provided with the machine, students will be asked to leave if they do not.
How to Operate
Download the Guidelines
In order to successfully use the card cutter, students must follow the guidelines. This is an outline:
- Check that all unnecessary geometry is removed from file.
- Convert all geometry to lines (cut and etch). No surfaces or polysurfaces.
- Remove any overlapping or duplicate lines.
Download the Template File
Prepared geometry should be imported into the Card Cutter Template File.
- Download Print Drivers from the Downloads section to connect laptop to card cutter.
- Turn on card cutter and tape down material to bottom left corner.
- Choose settings in accordance with Card Cutter Guidelines and SOP.
When the setup procedures have been completed click print. The card cutter will start cutting immediately. Make sure that nothing is resting on the table or could come into contact with the cutting arm as it moves across the table to cut out the job. The machine must not be left unattended, users should be prepared to hit the emergency stop button at any moment.
Please note you cannot use your own materials on the card cutting machine.
The card cutter is free to use and students will need to buy their material from the FabLab. Only material purchased from the FabLab can be used.
To make it as easy as possible for you to get a card cutter project underway we have collated download links to key resources needed to get started.
Can I walk away for a minute while my job is cutting?
No. You must never leave your card cutter job unattended and you must ensure throughout the job that no one comes into contact with the table or places any objects on the table.
The card cutter rips small pieces when going around corners. What should I do?
This is outlined in the Guidelines in Step B.07. You must convert some cut edges to etches in order to prevent the card cutter from catching on edges and tearing them.