Vinyl cutter user guide

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Shop Area: Rapid Prototyping

Tool: Vinyl Cutter

Requires in-person training: No

Procedure Number

UG 120-03, Rev. 1




We have a 28" USCutter MH721 and a Roland SV-8 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 in printing on shirts, hats, mugs, etc.

Vinyl Cutters.png

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 in Inkscape. 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.


  • Operation of this device requires use of sharp blades, caution should be taken to make sure that fingers do not get caught in moving gears during operation.
  • Disconnect power during assembly, service and maintenance. Vinyl cutters are subject to static build-up.



This procedure is written assuming the use of the MH721 vinyl cutter. The SV-8 works very similarly, and any differences can be found in the manufacturer's manual.

General Instructions:

  1. Lift the three roller levers on the vinyl cutter to open up the clamps.
  2. Load your sheet of vinyl into the cutter so that it overhangs the ruler located on the front of the machine. Set the clamp levers to the middle position, locking the vinyl sheet in place.
  3. Open Tuxplot
  4. Click File->Open and select the .svg file that you would like to cut. Loading the file can take a few minutes depending on complexity.
  5. Once the svg image is displayed in the preview window, you can do a preview run that will simulate the path of the cutter and vinyl without pressing the cutter down. This is done by click the top right icon which shows an eyeball.
  6. Start the cutting operation by clicking the SEND button at the bottom left of Tuxplot.

Preparing For Cutting: 1. Place the roll on top of the stand rollers.

  a. For heat press vinyl, please flip the roll.
  b. If cutting from a scrap or single sheet instead of a roll, skip this step on placing a vinyl roll. All other steps will be the same.

2. Release the pinch rollers release levers. 3. Feed the vinyl underneath the pinch rollers.

  a. Working from a single sheet instead of a roll, the vinyl can also be feed from the front.

4. Adjust the pinch rollers so there is one roller located on each side of the vinyl (and, on models with 3 or more rollers, one roller near the center). Avoid lowering a pinch roller to the gap between the two feed rollers. 5. Leave a gap of between 1/2”-1 1/2” from the edge of the roller and the edge of the vinyl on both sides. 6. Engage the Pinch Rollers by pushing down on the Pinch Roller Release Levers.

Changing the position of where the cut will be made: 1. Press the OFFLINE/PAUSE button to enter offline mode. 2. Adjust the vinyl to where the cut is to start by using the Up and Down arrow keys on the control panel. 3. Adjust the blade to where you want your cut to start by using the Left and Right arrow keys. 4. Press the Origin button to tell the cutter that this is the 4 location where you would like the cut to begin.

Key cutting notes: 1. When choosing a starting location, remember that the process will start in the bottom right area of the design. 2. Leave enough room to the left of and behind the starting location to finish the cut. 3. Now is the time to make other adjustments to the pressure, speed, or other settings. 4. If setting up for your first cut with the machine the default values are good starting points. 5. Upon making any adjustments to the cutter, make sure to return to the main screen before cutting.


  • Communication Error: If you're hitting SEND and nothing's happening, TuxPlot may be sending to the wrong port (/dev/null). Click "Profile" in the left column and check that the option "plot to CUPS printer" is selected.
  • Wavy Lines wavy lines and not cutting through all of design: check that the white wheels are on the track.  If not, see
  • Default Parameters 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 Then rerun TuxPlot.

A common mistake is having a black circle, filled with black. Tthe vinyl cutter will proceed to obliterate the entirety of the circle. To avoid, turn off the color fill, and turn on the stroke outline so that the design is just the outline for the path the knife to follow.

Vinyl cutter Troubleshooting 1.png

Vinyl cutter Troubleshooting 2.png

                                            END OF THE PROCEDURE