Having a hobby making T-shirts with a vinyl cutter and a heat press can be fun. It also doesn’t take much of a leap to figure out that this can be a handy way to start a small business. The problem is that the equipment you have will definitely need an upgrade, because what’s good enough for a newbie and a hobbyist simply won’t do for commercial use. You need to find the best vinyl cutter for small business if you’re serious about making money through making T-shirts.
Factors to Consider
If you’re going to go into business, then you can’t go cheap. You will have to invest a bit of money. The unit you will have to buy tends to be bigger too, so make sure that you have the space for it. Here are some other factors that should be considered as well:
Vinyl cutters for newbies aren’t all that good when cutting intricately detailed patterns and images. But for commercial work, you can’t just stick to simplistic designs. So you need a machine that can cut fine details off your materials.
Can you depend on the unit? Of course, Murphy’s Law is a constant problem, but you can’t have your work schedule derailed by too many breakdowns. Your customers are depending on you to finish making the T-shirts on time. So you need a cutting machine you can depend on to work well day in and day out, and provide you with consistently good results.
How quickly can your cutting machine do the work? For hobbyists, it doesn’t seem much of a difference when a job is finished in 5 or 10 minutes. But when you have a lot of cutting projects to complete each day, you can’t tolerate delays. The faster, the better.
If you’re starting a business, it makes sense if you get a cutting machine that’s good for many other types of materials aside from vinyl. After all, if you’re doing custom designs on shirts then it’s a small leap to other types of graphics work such as making stickers and banners.
These things can be expensive. So to make your investment worthwhile, you need a machine that can work for a long time without needing a major repair or a replacement too soon. You’re not a hobbyist anymore, so you need a machine that can handle a much heavier workload per week and per day.
For experts, often a standalone unit is enough. You can then pick your preferred additional tools to suit your commercial needs. But if you’re just starting your business then it’s more convenient to have your tools in just a single purchase. At least you know for sure that the various pieces of equipment work well together. It also helps a lot if the software is included as well
Best Vinyl Cutter for Small Business: Editor’s Picks
Now let’s take a look at some of the best options you have for vinyl cutters if you’re starting your own small business:
1. Roland Camm GS-24 Vinyl Cutter
Roland calls the GS-24 their “best desktop cutter ever”, and boy they’re not kidding. It offers considerable cutting power with 350g, which makes it suitable for use on thicker materials other than just vinyl. The speed is impressive as well, as it can cut 20 inches per second.
It also helps to speed up your work when you have an interface that’s very easy to use. The entire design is meant to provide stable and consistent results. You have a stand for the cutter that holds your media. The roller base makes sure that your feeds remain straight the whole day.
This thing is very accurate as well, and it offers features such as half or perforated cutting. It can even cut by line color and recognize desktop printer crop marks so that the media are always aligned for precise cuts every time.
Speed isn’t worth much without precise cutting, but with this, you get both. The whole cutting machine is designed to enable you to get consistent results each time. The accuracy is plus or minus 0.1mm (or even less). It can achieve a mechanical resolution of 0.0005 of an inch.
- This comes with the Roland CutStudio software, which is specifically made to work with Roland cutters.
- This can deal with thicker materials like card stock and magnetic materials, as the blade force is quite solid. With vinyl, you can go quickly so the work doesn’t take as much time.
- This can handle cutting projects that measure up to 22.9 inches, so you’re not limited to smaller designs.
- You can save up to 8 settings for media and blade combinations. This keeps you from having to enter the settings repeatedly for vinyl and other favorite media.
- It’s quite reliable, and it comes with a 3-year warranty that’s among the longest in the industry. It doesn’t need much in terms of maintenance, except for replacing the blades when they get dull.
- If you’re going to switch to this from a starter model, you may experience some sticker shock. This isn’t exactly cheap.
- This thing can be noisy when it’s operating. It can reach up to 70 dB, which is the maximum safe-noise level according to the EPA. This is comparable to the noise made by your vacuum cleaner or dishwasher.
While the Roland Camm GS-24 is a solid product (and the best in its class), its accompanying software, the CutStudio is quite difficult to use, especially when it comes to complex designs.
This isn’t a deal-breaker, but rather something to be aware of. If you’re using Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw, you can use to plugin to make it compatible. It is an added expense though.
2. USCutter SC Series 24” Vinyl Cutter and 15”x15” Heat Press Combo
Now, this comes with a more affordable price tag. What’s surprising is that you don’t just get a vinyl cutter, but you receive a heat press too. So this is a convenient package if you intend to work on custom T-shirts every now and then. It comes with 3 blades, a cutting blade holder, and a pen holder with blue ink cartridge for drawing jobs.
The cutter works with designs that measure up to 24 inches with a max feed width of 27 inches. You don’t have to keep putting in your settings either, as its internal RAM automatically stores the settings of the last job.
This usually comes with the Sure Cuts A Lot Pro Design & Cut software, though you need to make sure that you get the full software without any time limits. If you own the software, then it’s a really good deal — buying it separately will cost you a couple of hundred bucks extra.
This also comes with a 1-year warranty, and you get free lifetime support over the phone as well.
- You don’t have to spend a lot on your initial investment. A single purchase gets you 2 key pieces of equipment for your custom T-shirt business. What’s more, you can be sure that the 2 machines can work well together. You can then just go over to the USCutter website for all your other supplies.
- It’s easy enough to use, once you figure things out.
- The free lifetime support is great as it’s over the phone. So you don’t spend time twiddling your thumbs waiting for a response to an emergency question. Unlike hobbyists, your business simply can’t just wait.
If the software included offers full ownership, then you can maximize the potential of the cutting machine without having to pay extra for the software.
- This may take a bit of time before you can fully learn how to use the vinyl cutter properly. It doesn’t help that often you may get this combo package without a manual.
- This doesn’t come with a stand.
- This is suited for just vinyl materials, so don’t expect it to work on thicker media like leather.
3. GCC Expert 24 LX Vinyl Cutter Plotter
GCC offers this VC-102-24 model as a way to enable hobbyists to enter the world of small business more smoothly. The specs are good enough at 250g of cutting force, with a maximum cutting speed of 15.7 inches per second. This machine also allows you to work on designs that measure up to 23.6 inches wide.
With this, you get excellent tracking ability plus precise cutting. You also get the high tech Automatic-Aligning System for automatic contour cutting. There’s USB connectivity, and you get full use of the GreatCuts 2 software.
It’s basically a no-nonsense cutting machine that’ll handle your vinyl cutting projects without any fuss. You can rely on it too, and it comes with a 1-year warranty.
- For vinyl projects, it sure is strong enough and fast enough so you don’t waste any time completing the work.
- It allows for larger designs.
- Contouring is also enabled.
- The software is included and it’s quite easy to use.
- It’s just meant for you to test the waters for your small business. It’s not meant for heavy duty jobs day in and day out.
- The cutting force isn’t strong enough for thicker materials.
- You have to get your own accessories before you can really start.
4. Graphtec CraftRobo Pro CE6000 Vinyl Cutter
The Graphtec brand is highly regarded in the industry for the high quality of its machines. You’d know this right away upon first look, but when you use it you’ll know it for sure. This is a very dependable vinyl cutter.
With a maximum cutting force of 300g, that’s more than enough to deal with vinyl and other types of media. With this, you can work on a self-adhesive vinyl film, heat transfer vinyl, and even 10-pt card stock. It’s fast enough to reach a speed of up to 24 inches per second.
The interface is quite easy to use, and it even supports 10 languages. This also comes with the Graphtec Studio software that’s specifically designed for Graphtec cutters. If you do use Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw, there are drivers for those programs as well.
With Graphtec, you can be reasonably sure that there won’t be any annoying breakdowns any time soon. You get a 1-year warranty at the start, but it becomes a 2-year warranty once you register.
- For various vinyl materials, it can work quickly.
- You can use this for a wide variety of media.
- It can produce very small cuts, so you can incorporate fine details into your designs.
- The setup and use are both simple and easy.
- The maximum cutting area measures only 14.76 inches (37.5cm) wide.
- You will need to tweak the machine parameters a bit so you can coax the optimal performance out of the machine.
5. USCutter MH-871 34” Vinyl Cutter Value Kit
This is what you call a bargain if you’re limited in your investment budget. That’s because this bundle comes with a stand for the machine, the appropriate software, and various media samples you can try out. Aside from the 3 vinyl-cutting blades, you also get a hobby knife and a squeegee for peeling off the unwanted cut areas. You get all these—and this is the most affordable item on this list!
The starter kit and the software in the bundle aren’t meant to make up for any inadequacy of the cutting machine. As a standalone machine, it can really impress you with its capabilities. The cutting force measures in at 350g, which makes it strong enough for vinyl, card stock, and paint mask. It can do the work quickly as its speed can reach up to 39 inches per second. The maximum cut width is also 30.63 inches.
- It’s perfect for simple jobs. This means working on basic designs, logos, and decals.
- The bundle offers a wide variety of materials, plus you get the software too.
- The setup is real easy.
- It’s fast and strong.
- You can work on larger designs with this.
- It’s extremely affordable.
- It doesn’t have any real memory, so it can freeze up on complex designs. To avoid this, you need to get a serial to USB adapter.
- The machine does take up a lot of space.
Make sure you keep the original box, or else you may void the warranty.