About Me

I am a techno/gadget freak. I love almost anything that has to do with computers and software. I have an engineering background, but I haven't worked in that field for over 10 years. I married my wonderful husband in September 2004 and look forward to spending every single day of the rest of my life with him. I love cats and even call myself "Cat".


Saturday, October 13, 2012

How to Compensate for Silhouette Print & Cut Inaccuracey

Hello!  I have some exciting news for Silhouette Studio users that have been pulling their hair out, like me, and can't get the print & cut to work properly. Silhouette Studio's calibration doesn't work worth beans. For almost a year now, I haven't been able to use my Craft Robo for print & cut because the cut never lines up with the printed image. See here in this image (click images to see them full size):

As the cut gets deeper into the page, the cuts get further away from the printed image in the length, but is fine in the width.  I tried using the software's calibration tool, but it didn't solve the issue.  So, seeing that the scale is off, I developed this method to compensate and I now get almost perfect cut & prints.  I've prepared this tutorial for you so you can get your print & cuts to line up too.  I will note that I'm not going to go into detail about where things are in the program.  I am assuming you know how to use the Silhouette Studio software and I won't be giving you the path or button locations to activate the various functions we'll be using.  Also, I am using 8.5" x 11" paper for those of you trying to follow with a Cameo.  My cutter only takes up to an 8.5" wide paper. I also suggest you use regular copy paper and print in draft mode.  You don't want to waste cardstock or ink.

The first step is to find out what percentage your cut image is out compared to the actual printed image.

1. Open a new blank document in SS with the registration marks showing.
2. Go into your preferences, then to measurements, and select  "dimensions on".
3. Make a 2"x2" square and fill it in with a colour (your choice - I used grey). Use the Scale setup to get your square exactly 2"x2".

4. Go to the line style setup and make sure that the print cut lines is not checked (at the bottom).

5. Use the fill page to duplicate the squares and fill up the page (for some reason mine doesn't show up on the screen, but its at the very bottom of the Replicate setup screen).  You must do this so you can get a better measurement of how much you need to shrink/stretch your print image.

5.  This is now your "cut file".  Use file -> save as and save it in a folder you'll be able to find easily and put "cut file" at the end of the file name (eg. SS calibration - cut file).  This will make it easier to differentiate this file from the next one we're going to create.

6. Now use Ctrl A to select all the shapes and group them together. If your page is in portrait (like mine) write down the height of the shapes (along the left side).  If your page is in landscape, write down the width (along the bottom).

7. Send this to your cutter using the print & cut and follow the prompts on the screen. Don't take it off the mat when its finished cutting.

8. Once cut, take a ruler and measure the actual cut length of the images.  I actually measured mine in millimeters because I could get a more precise measurement that way and just converted it back to inches (to 3 decimal places).  SS said my image was 9.315" tall but when I cut it, the final cut was 9.251" tall.

9. Now, we're going to calculate, what I call the "shrink factor".  Here's the formula:
           actual cut height divided by SS image height.
           So mine is 9.251 divided by 9.315 = .994***

*** keep this number handy - I have it on a sticky on my monitor.  This is the only time you'll have to calculate this number***

10. With your all your squares still grouped, go into the Move screen and write down the W & H numbers under "Move corner to". (You may have to either close your cut file and re-open it or shut down SS and restart it at this point.  For some reason, mine just had a big blue square over where the numbers were, but it worked on other files I tested).

Once you have your cut height measured, you can take your paper off your cutting mat.

11. Now go to the Scale screen and under "specify dimensions" type in your cut length in the field beside "H" (height) and click the "apply" button.  This will shift your image slightly on the screen.  Leave everything still grouped.

12. Go into the Move screen again, and type in the W & H numbers you wrote down in step 10 and then click the "apply" button.

13. Go File -> save as and save this file with the changes in the same folder you saved the previous folder and put "print file" at the end (eg. SS calibration - print file).

Ok now we are going to check to make sure our measurements and calculations are right and see if our cut lines up with our printed image.

14. Send the "print file" to the printer using the print button (or File -> print) and NOT the send to cutter button.  Once its printed, close the file and put your paper on your cutting mat.

15. Open up the "cut file" and send it to your cutter.  Skip printing and continue with the screen prompts for the rest of the print & cut.

If everything went well your cut should look like this:

Its pretty much dead on.

So now, if you want to print & cut images other than these squares :), you just follow these steps:

1. Open the file(s) you want to print & cut
2. Arrange on the page making sure they all fit within the cut area
3. Group all the images together & make a note of what SS says the height is.
4. Make a note of the "move to corner" H & W measurements.
5. Save this file as your "cut file"
7. Multiply your SS height by your "shrink factor"
8. Go into scale and change the height to your new calculated number
9. Go into move and change the H number back to the number your noted down in step 4.
10. (optional) File -> save as your "print file"
11. Print it with the print button (not send to cutter).
12. Close the print file, open the "cut file", load your print out, and send it to your cutter, skipping the print part.

You could copy and paste the images/cut lines onto another open document, but personally, I find it easier to keep track of what page I'm on by saving the files with the "cut file" & "print file" in the names because this shows up on the tabs of the open screens.  That way I'm less likely to get the files mixed up and cut the print file and print the cut file - know what I mean?? :)

Well, I hope you were able to follow along with this tutorial.  I know I'm delighted with the results I'm getting now that I know what my "shrink factor" is and won't be wasting anymore cardstock & ink or going bald from pulling my hair out.

If you come back tomorrow, I'll have another tutorial on how to "export" your Studio files to svg files so that you can use them in other software, like Make The Cut or Sure Cuts A Lot.  I will be buying a Zing cutter (yay!) early next year and it uses MTC, so I want to still be able to use my Silhouette files to cut out of the heavier materials the Zing is capable of handling.

So that's all for today.  Let me know what you think of the tutorial.  And if you notice or find any glitches, please use the contact me form on the right-hand side of my blog to let me know.

Talk to you later...



Anonymous said...

I'm having some trouble with step 10 of the guide, when I go into the move tab the two figures under 'Move corner to' are 0.000. I have tried restarting the software but it still shows the same figure. Hope you can help! Thanks.

Lisbeth K said...

Hi, I have the same problem. It just shows 0.000..... Hope you can help, thanks :)

Sara said...

if it shows 0.00 make sure your object/image is selected.

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