Tips

Tips for Hard-to-Cut Heat Transfer Vinyl

Don't let these four heat transfer vinyl materials stump you

Even someone experienced with HTV (heat transfer vinyl) can be challenged by the full range of materials on the market. A great way to save time and money is always to perform a test cut and make sure the vinyl is cutting well before cutting the actual design. Here are some material-specific tips that will also help.

Stretchy materials

When cutting a very stretchy HTV, the cut corners may not meet up correctly, or the vinyl may snag and tear instead of cutting consistently.

A dull blade can cause this, which people are often surprised by because the material(s) before the stretchy one had no issues. Stretchy materials are much more sensitive to even a slightly dull tip, and switching to a fresh blade will often correct the problem. Set aside the blade for use on less sensitive materials.

Thick materials

This type of HTV is very bold and worth making a few adjustments. Cutting like a typical smooth material is only going to lead to frustration.

The best type of blade to use with thicker materials is 60 degrees, also referred to as a flocking blade. Otherwise, the sharp edge of the blade will not be tall enough to cut effectively.

Another critical step is to check the amount the blade is sticking out. It needs to be out about the same thickness as the material. If the blade is not out far enough, you will see marks on the back where the blade housing is hitting. You also don’t want the blade out too far, as that will cause too much inner friction and will wear out the blade housing more quickly.

Stiff materials (usually metallic)

If there is not enough downforce or pressure, the hot melt adhesive layer will often separate from the metallic while weeding, or the metallic layer will rip away instead of weeding in one solid piece.

These materials have no stretch and are deceptively thin for how much harder they are to cut through. Vinyl like this is better used in smaller amounts in the design or for faux rhinestones or spangle effect. The metallic layer is quite stout and will require much more downforce to cut through.

To make sure there is enough downforce, a good rule when test cutting is to look at it from the carrier side. You want to make sure there are clear lines you can see from the other side.

Glitter and reflective

Keeping tabs on the cut job is especially important with these materials.

These are easier to set up and cut than the previous ones mentioned. However, both types of materials can be extremely abrasive on the blade and will dull them out faster. When running large jobs with this type of HTV, test weed a corner every few feet to make sure it’s still cutting effectively. Increasing downforce every couple of yards will make the job weed smoother and will take less time in the long run than trying to weed poorly cut designs.

Keeping these tips in mind will make cutting any HTV easier to handle. Stocking up on extra blades and making regular use of test cuts will turn any cut challenge into a cut victory!

Liz Hood Specialty Materials

Liz Hood

Specialty Materials

Liz is the marketing manager for Specialty Materials. She’s been working with heat transfer vinyl for over a decade and has helped bring new techniques and technologies to the market. She’s a senior tech support specialist and helps test and market new products.

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