Graphtec Vinyl Cutter

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  • Owner/Loaner: LVL1
  • Serial Number: 20120801
  • Make/Model: Graphtec CE-5000
  • Arrival Date: March 2013
  • Usability: Yes
  • Contact: Brian W, Aaron V
  • Where: Main Room
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Basic Info

  • Located in main room next to bunker doorway
  • has computer workstation already hooked up to cutter.
    • Bring files to this workstation on a jump drive.
    • Vinyl Cutter 101 page teaches how to create and prepare your files
  • The vinyl use costs is $1 per linear foot of vinyl used (even if you don't use all of the vinyl in the piece you pay for.) The linear foot is measured from the edge of the vinyl towards the wall. Put your money in a black envelope on top of the safe by the front door and then drop the envelope into the safe. You can save unused vinyl for future use or place it with other scraps on the shelf to the right of the vinyl cutter for others to use.


  • The knife should not cut through the paper backing! A little scratching is OK, but if it's leaving holes in the paper you've got the pressure set too high.
  • 15 is a good pressure for the vinyl we have now. THERE IS NO REASON FOR IT TO BE SET TO 23! If it is not cutting well enough at 15-17. try holding the blade ( to the right of the moving cartridge)in place with your fingers and twisting the top of it to tighten the blade and twisting the knob on the side of the blade to hold it in place better. You may also want to switch the tool out of pen mode

Using the Plotter

Load Vinyl

  • Place roll on back rack
  • Put lever in down position to unlock
  • feed vinyl in from the back
    • it will get stuck on lips as you push it through. I suggest using a small tool to help lift it up.


Position Rollers

  • With the lever unlocked, slide the rollers into the appropriate spots
  • Rollers can only be placed underneath the blue lines
    • If you look closely in the picture, you can see the knurling on the bar beneath the rollers. This is how the machine moves the vinyl, if the rollers are not in these spots the plotter will refuse to run.
    • The roller on the right side of the plotter must be inside the rightmost blue area, the plotter will refuse to run if it is in any other region.
  • The plotter will only cut in between the rollers, make sure they are placed bigger than your cut.
  • Ideally the rollers should be as close as possible to make it less likely for the vinyl to fold up.


Lock Vinyl

  • Flip the lever in the back up (locked)
  • The plotter should prompt you "ROLL 1 PRESS ENTER"
    • Roll 1 will automatically calibrate itself to the very front edge of the vinyl
    • Roll 2 will not look for the edge, but will accept the place you have locked it in as the origin
  • If the plotter screen does not read "ROLL 1 PRESS ENTER", use the arrows on the plotter to cycle through the options until it displays the correct message.
  • Press enter
  • The head will move around, check roller locations, and then go to home.
    • (NOTE: If you do not select the correct message, the plotter may spit out the vinyl in the tray, if this happens, hard-reset the plotter by using the power switch on the left side of the device. Aim for it to not perform this action next time, so as to prevent excessive power-cycling.)
  • Once locked and homed do not manually move things! From here on, use the keypad for movement.


Position Head

  • Move head with keypad to desired origin
    • Your desired origin will be at the bottom right corner of the vinyl you will cut out.
  • Press Origin
  • This will set the home to wherever on the vinyl you've moved the head to.
    • This is handy for avoiding other peoples cuts


  • You're ready to cut!
  • In your print settings make sure you cut a box around the print (aka weeding)
    • NOTE: This option is the default option in the Inkscape software.
  • Print!

After your design is printed, use the letter opener to remove it from the end of the roll. Please do not use a knife or open blade to do this as that can damage the machine.

Vinyl remove 640.jpg

Remove Weeding

Weeding is the process of removing the unwanted portions of vinyl from the backing before transferring your design. It can be a tedious and time-consuming process. Weeding 640.jpg

  • Always remove your print from the machine before weeding.
    • Please do not do the weeding on the machine like this:
    • Removeweeding.jpg
    • Note that unused pieces of vinyl can be used only if they are wider than 12 inches. Plan your projects so that several smaller designs can be cut at the same time to avoid wasting material.
  • With an Exacto knife (or other small, sharp tool) carefully pull out the weeding.
  • Even with a properly adjusted plotter, a few things will stick. Don't expect the weeding to pull out perfectly without any finesse and mash the plotter knife down to compensate. Just go slow, and use your knife to either hold down pieces or cut stuck edges. Tweezers can also help to separate and remove small pieces.

Pick up design with transfer tape

  • Get some transfer tape and place it over the design

Transfertape.jpg Transfer tape 640.jpg

  • With the design face-down, gently peel the backing away. Some pieces may stick to the backing instead of to the transfer tape -- go slowly and use the point of an X-acto knife to gently press them into place before proceeding.

Peel backing 640.jpg

Clean Target Surface

  • Remove old, inadequate labels made by people without awesome vinyl cutters
  • Clean surface


Spray Transfer Solution

  • Put a light misting of transfer solution on either the target object or your design
    • Lighter will stick faster
    • More will give you more time to place your design, but it can be hard to keep the design in place once you want it to stay
    • I prefer to hold the design at a distance and give it a light misting


Place Design

  • Place your design on the target surface.
  • With the solution it should be able to slide around easily
  • When in its final location, use a squeegee to work out some of the transfer solution. Be sure to work from the inside out.
    • On small things like this text, it's not going to do a lot
    • On big things it's easy to leave pockets of transfer solution under the vinyl. Be more diligent with larger designs.


Let Dry Some

  • Ugh. I hate this part.
  • You don't have to let it dry all the way.
  • The vinyl needs to sit for a bit to adhere to the target surface. If you're impatient like me, you can spray a little transfer solution onto the transfer tape to wetten it and weaken its hold on the vinyl.

Peel off Transfer Tape

  • Test a corner, then carefully peel off the transfer tape.
  • Depending on how early you peel off the transfer tape you might be able to move things around a bit. Fix any small things like punctuation, the dots above i's, etc.


  • Admire your work and don't touch it for awhile so it can dry completely.


Setting up Linux

  • Hook up to USB
  • Install printer in CUPS
  • Choose Raw Queue as driver
  • Maker sure plotter is in HG-GL mode
    • Hit pause
    • Page Next until you see command
    • Enter
    • Arrow over to HG-GL
  • The best way to plot in Linux is with the Inkscape plugin, InkCut
  • Install inkscape
  • Download InkCut here:

mv InkCut-1.0.tar.gz ~/.config/inkscape/extensions/
cd ~/.config/inkscape/extensions/
tar -xf InkCut-1.0.tar.gz
  • Configure InkCut
    • Extensions -> Cutter / Plotter -> InkCut v1.0
    • Properties
    • Interface: Printer
    • Name: Graphtec_CE5000
    • Test Connection
    • You should hear the fans spin up and the vinyl cutter will cut a small box.
    • Save

=Using VinylMaster= We now use VinylMaster to send cuts to the printer

  • There are video tutorials below to learn to design and prepare file in Vinyl Master or you can follow these steps to import an image that is already a vector and ready to cut:
    • Click File>New to create a new document. Then click the gear icon in the toolbar across the top to access settings. Here, you will want ***to set the dimensions of your document.
    • Click file>import and browse for you file and import. Place your image within document boundaries.
    • Click the blade tool in the toolbar across the top. It looks like a cylinder with a blade protruding from bottom.This will open the CutFile manager where you can see a preview of how your file will be placed on the vinyl and allow you to adjust vinyl cutter settings.
    • Make sure the settings on the plotter/cutter screen are correct as outlined above. Pressure should not be above 15-17.
    • You can click test area in the vinyl cutter manager to ensure your cut won't be over the boundaries of cutter
    • when ready, click Cut Now

Vinyl Master Tutorials

You may find these tutorials useful for learning how to use Inkscape:


  • If your cuts do not go deep enough, then it is possible the cutter thinks it is in PEN mode. Press the Cond. key on the cutter and then choose the 09U cutter by using the arrow keys and enter.
  • You may also want to try tightening the blade, by turning the top of the blade while holding the bottom tightly
  • If the cutter feeds a seemingly endless amount of vinyl before finally beginning to cut, it may have ended up in "Center Origin" mode.
    • In order to work properly, the cutter must be in "L.L" or Lower Left cutting mode.
    • To fix this, press, "Pause", then press "Next" until "Command" is selected. Hit "Enter," and select "HP-GL". Hit enter, and select "L.L" mode.
  • When all else fails - RTFM -