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Hi all, 

I'm totally new to vinyl cutting, but have purchased a cutter and heat press to create t-shirts for a Karate company I run. I just have a couple of questions that people maybe able to help me with. 

I'm struggling with software to create new design in, don't know where to start. Is there a simple programme anyone can recommend? I'm also using signcutter pro 2. What file format do I need top save my designs in for the software to recognise them?

Thanks

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The best software for the buck right now is vinyl master, comes in several versions depending on what functions you need.   Don’t save but export all of your work in .eps as most vector based software will allow you to import .eps files in case you change software down the road or someone tries to help you with a file they can also work with it.    Welcome from the USA. 

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That's an easy thing to answer. 

Download and install SignBlazer.

You can accomplish a lot with it.

Don't forget to Mirror your cuts for HTV

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while signblazer was way ahead of its's time it hasn't been developed in the past 8 years since the owner passed away unexpectedly.  if it had continued development I am sure it would be dominating the market as it was cheap and good - but if you want to futureproof your operation I still recommend vinylmaster as it is constantly updated and still supported.

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Traditional, cutting software cut.  You feed it a design.  It cut it out.  Lately, cutting software has been attempting to double as design software.  Signcut Pro1 had no design options.  Signcut Pro2 does, but I find them suboptimal.  Consider using dedicated vector design software to make your designs.  It is designed for design.  Free would be Inkscape, Gravit, or maybe Figma, (haven't tried that yet.)  Commercial would be Illustrator, CorelDraw, Affinity Design, (with Affinity Design being very cheap.)

Cutters require vector graphics.  Vector graphics are not, and may never be push button easy.  It takes some time, but not as much as initial frustration might suggest.  Give Inkscape a try.  It certainly is better than Signcut Pro2's design options and is free.  You make the design in Inkscape.  Export it.  Import into SCP.  There is also a plugin for Inkscape that puts an option in the Extensions menu to send your design directly to SignCut.   For free software it has plenty of horsepower.

As to file format, Signcut has a native file format you probably want to use.  However saving as any vector format is probably good enough, svg, eps, ai, pdf, ps and others.

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I use illustrator and since your use is going to be for your company I would totally recommend it. I believe I paid $200 for a year but I promise it’s well worth the investment. I use a graphtec and I can save my files right in AI and send it right to my software from my machine and it cuts beautiful. 

Definitely don’t forget to mirror your design, I learned fast after wasting some vinyl and now it’s just in my head permanently from preventing me from losing money hahah 

i heard that if you have the right transfer (for heat clearly) you can always lay it over your un-mirrored image and transfer like that but I never tried nor do I want to I rather do it right the first time but as you learn maybe it will save you vinyl if you make mistakes. 

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My trick is to actually save all my HTV cut files already mirrored so I have to remember to reverse them if I want to cut regular vinyl. It's much easier to catch that it's backwards writing than to remember that it needs to be backwards for shirt work.

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SignBlazer contains these items for Karate.

 

karate.JPG

 

 

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+1 on Inkscape here. It's a very powerful FREE vector design program. I use it for pretty much everything I do.

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