So, you run a sign shop, huh? Well, in that case, you cannot make do without a vinyl cutter. Vinyl cutters are nifty machines that use a sharp blade to cut a sheet of vinyl into shapes or letters. The cutter does the work in such a precise manner that the paper backing is left untouched. The cut vinyl is then peeled out through a process called weeding and then transferred onto a substrate. However, the quality of the cutting has a lot to do with the kind of vinyl cutter you’re using. Plus there are other factors to be considered as well such as efficiency and what not. Fortunately, we’ve got this brief guide here to help you out.

Drive Motor

The drive motor is what “drives” the cutter. It’s the engine that powers the machine. Now, there are generally two kinds of motors that are used to power vinyl cutters – digital servo motors and mechanical stepper motors. The latter uses a “step-by-step” approach where movements occur in increments. The movements themselves are controlled via physical gears. It’s actually a conventional piece of technology and has been used for decades. The key benefit with this motor is the economy. However, they are noisy and often, not very precise. So, small graphics are a no-no on vinyl cutters run by stepper motors. Plotting lines accurately is next to impossible with this option.

As for the former option, a digital encoder does all the work. It translates the commands from software into binary code (1s and 0s). Plus, the consistent running of the motor allows for precise movement without any stopping and the lack of physical gears eliminates noise. Servo motors also track very well. On the whole, digital servo motors are the best option if you’ve got the money. Otherwise, you’ll have to settle for the stepper motor.


Now, vinyl cutters vary in size as well. So, you need to factor in the kind of cutting work you’ll be doing on a daily basis.  If your average project involves large signs or banners, then you will need a high width machine. The point is the size of your machine has to be in line with the work that you handle. However, a large cutter makes sense even for projects of varying sizes because they can accommodate most sizes.

Cutting Abilities

Go for a vinyl cutter that can handle most materials. Each material is different and you’ll probably handle quite a few varieties. So, it’s smarter to get a cutter that can handle anything. Laser or flatbed cutters stand out in this department.