Finding correct cut settings for materials (Test Cut feature)
You may use the Test Cut feature in the Silhouette Studio® software program to find the proper settings for any material type that falls into the range of cuttable materials.
If running Silhouette Studio® version 2.9.45 or lower:
To perform a test cut, go to the Silhouette Cut Settings option located in the upper right-hand corner of your software screen.
This will bring you to the screen where you may adjust your media type and use a test cut feature found at the bottom of the panel.
Using the blue arrows will allow you to move the blade over your material and then try out your settings to cut a very small square and triangle using the Test Cut button. This helps you to know if the selected settings are correct for your material type, or if you may need to select a different media type setting or manually adjust the settings.
If running Silhouette Studio® version 3 or higher:
The Test Cut button is found once you select the desired material type in the Silhouette Cut Settings panel. It is located below the material settings.
IMPORTANT: It is important to use the blade position arrows prior to pressing the Test Cut button in order to move the blade into proper position over your material in the desired position.
In regard to the blade and finding the correct settings to produce a clean cut, there are two things to take into consideration:
The blade level
The Thickness setting
The blade level controls how far the blade is exposed in 0.1 mm increments. This accommodates for how thick the material is. For example, a blade level of 1 = .01 mm, a level of 2 = 0.2 mm, etc. If you have a material such as cardstock where the actual thickness is 0.3 mm, setting the blade to a higher exposure (such as 0.6 mm or a setting of 6) would mean you are exposing the blade beyond the actual depth of the material. This does not allow the blade to cut better. It just exposes more of the blade and if extending beyond the actual thickness of the material can dull down the blade tip much more quickly (or in extreme cases break off the tip). This would then result in ragged cutting results. From that point on, you would then have to expose the blade to a higher level because a setting of 6 would actually be only exposed 0.3 mm since you had worn down the excess tip beyond the material's thickness. We would thus discourage attempts to overexpose the blade to try and get a "better" cut.
The Thickness setting from the software controls how hard the blade is pressing down. This accommodates for how dense the material may be. For example, a sheet of paper that measures a 0.3mm depth versus a sheet of denser cardstock that measures the same 0.3mm depth would require the blade to be pushed down with different Thickness levels.
If you feel that the material in question may be slightly deeper than the recommended blade setting recommendation, we would recommend that as you raise the blade level, you also in turn lower the Thickness setting in the software so that the blade if overexposed is not still being pressed down with the hardest force possible and potentially harming the tip. You may then gradually increase the Thickness according to further test results.
The key to successful cutting results is to find the lowest level (blade setting and thickness setting combination) where the Silhouette is still able to cut your material successfully. For example, if a specific material is able to be cut with a blade setting of 3 or 4, you should opt to go with the lower setting that is still allowing you to have a clean final cut. Likewise, if the Thickness setting works at 28, it would likely also work at 30. However, the lower setting should be selected to avoid over-exerting the blade beyond what is necessary to achieve a clean successful cut.
The Silhouette Cut Settings also includes a Speed level to control the speed at which the job is cut. The speed is generally only necessary to adjust for specific materials that may require the blade to move at slower speeds around corners or intricate detailed parts of the image. Faster levels are available to enable the overall cutting process to go faster. You may wish to slow down the Speed level if you are finding that certain parts of the design at corners are not cutting as well, if the material is being lifted from the backing during the cutting process, or if the start/end point of an image is not matching up exactly.
If the test cut works but you find there are areas not giving a clean cut on denser materials, you may wish to slow down the Speed and select the Double Cut option. Doing this will have the Silhouette cut your image twice, thus ensuring any problem areas are given an extra pass during the cut job.