We have a 28" USCutter MH721 vinyl cutter. It's used to cut adhesive-backed vinyl for stickers, sign making, and screen printing. It can also cut heat press vinyl for use with our vinyl heat press.
We also have a Roland SV-8.
TuxPlot is the software used to control the vinyl cutter. It is installed on the computer in the rapid prototyping area, which is connected to the vinyl cutter. TuxPlot only works with vector format files, so the general workflow is to design something in Inkscape, save it as an .svg, then import that svg in to TuxPlot where it's sent to the cutter.
The vinyl cutter will press the knife into any location that isn't white. This leads to a common mistake for new users, which is that they'll draw a black circle, filled with black, and the vinyl cutter will proceed to obliterate the entirety of the circle. What you need to do is turn off the color fill, and turn on the stroke outline. This way your design is just the outline, which is the path that you want the knife to follow. The picture to the right shows what your design should look like.
Placement and Orientation
At it's fundamental level, the vinyl cutter speaks HPGL. You can therefore use Inkscape to create a vector image or convert a bitmap into a path Save as *.hpgl From the terminal, cat file.hpgl > /dev/usb/lp0
Converting bitmap to vector
Select the object, then choose Path > trace bitmap
If you're hitting SEND and nothing's happening, TuxPlot may be sending to the wrong port (/null). Click "Profile" in the left column and check that the port is set to /dev/usb/lp0
wavy lines and not cutting through all of design: check that the white wheels are on the track. If not, see http://Www.USCutter.com/static/PDFs/carriage_off_track.pdf
Suggested parameters for vinyl are cut speed of 200mm/s and cut press of 200g.
Cut Already in Progress
If you shut off the vinyl cutter in the middle of a cut, everyone gets confused. When you try to start a new cut, TuxPlot may give an error saying that it's already cutting. Close TuxPlot and run the script on the desktop named cleanTuxPlot.sh. Then rerun TuxPlot.