File Preparation: Cut Vinyl

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The following data sheet explains how to setup files for Cut Vinyl applications in the DOC. Cut vinyl is a 2-step transfer process that requires the user to “weed” or remove the vinyl occupying the negative space in the design before the transfer tape can be applied by an Output Center employee.

Step 1: Create a new Adobe Illustrator document.

Select “New” from the File drop down menu. Set the width of the document to 23” wide. This is your cutable width. Set the height to x number of inches (in this case, I set it to 12” to represent one linear foot). The “Advanced” section of the dialogue -- the document color and resolution settings -- is immaterial in this process.

Screenshot: File > New
Screenshot: New Document Dialogue Box
Step 2: Design or place your image/layout.

All elements of the image must be vector objects in order for the machine to see a cut line. All cuts are one color only. If you wish to combine multiple colors in a vinyl application each color must be set up on separate layers or separate files. Each color will then be cut and finally applied one color/layer at a time.

If you make your design too small, the vinyl cutter may not be able to cut the design as precisely as you would like. This can result in the blade getting damaged and/or the blade damaging the print as it tries to cut smaller than it is capable of cutting.

Screenshot: Design
Step 3: Convert type to outlines.

Select all editable type in the document. From the Type drop down menu, select the “Create Outlines” function. All type will be converted to vector objects with a wire frame.

Screenshot: Type > Create Outlines
Screenshot: Outlines Created
Step 4: Outline strokes.

In order to cut a stroke it must be converted to a solid shape. Select the stoke(s) to be outlined and click on the “Outline Stroke” function in the Object > Path drop down menu.

Screenshot: Stroke 1
Screenshot: Object > Path > Outline Stroke
Screenshot: Stroke Outlined
Step 5: Merge overlapping shapes.

If there are overlapping shapes they must be merged to avoid cutting into a solid shape. Open the “Pathfinder” window and then select your overlapping objects. In the pathfinder window click the “Unite” function button.

Screenshot: Window > Pathfinder
Screenshot: Unite
Screenshot: Objects United
Step 6: View document as outlines.

Select “Outline” from the view drop down menu. Confirm there are no overlapping shapes and that all type and strokes have been outlined.

Screenshot: View > Outline
Screenshot: Outline View
Step 7: Save file in “EPS” format.

Select “Save As” from the file drop down menu. Name your file and select “Illustrator EPS” format in the save as dialogue box. Leave settings as default in the EPS dialogue box and click “OK” to save.

Screenshot: File > Save As
Screenshot: Save As Dialogue Box
Screenshot: EPS Dialogue Box

Complying with recommended file types will greatly reduce the likelihood of issues that may delay the production of your work.

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