We just purchased a Panther plotter at my work and I've been designated to "figure it out".
I think part of it is the software...I'm used to all the Adobe products and the plotter software we have is Vinyl Express LXi MASTER edition. Just doesn't seem to do what you'd expect it to do. I'm about to do a trial run on a file that I've been 'fixing' all morning but it seems like its a lot of work and there should be an easier way. First off, if you make a file IN the VE software there are NO problems...but as soon as you start importing things (Vector art from a clip art library, or an Illustrator AI or PDF file are the ones I've tried so far) there are all kinds of issues such as
1) If you import any of the "supported files" the only way I've been able to get them sent to the plotter is by AUTOTRACING them and then I lose quality.
2) All of the lines cross over eachother rather than just outlining the objects from positive to negative. If you Autotrace the art, its OK but you lose any detail that was there including fine lines etc.
3) Imported art files cut deeper on the plotter than the ones created in VE. I thought it was just a wierd fluke so I created a new file that included an imported object and an object created in VE and sent the entire file to the plotter. Still, the imported art cut deeper (too deep) while the created artwork was fine. It's almost like SOMEWHERE within that import art it has a blade force setting...or somewhere in the software it has a blade force setting for imported art but I can't find it ANYWHERE.
For all I know it could be just crap software...its what we got in our bundle when it was ordered from SignWarehouse.com...but either way...there has GOT to be an easier way! Any ideas?
P.S. I'm really familiar with the all the adobe programs...this is just the first time I've ever tried to use a vinyl cutter and get vector files transfered to the plotter correctly.
Crap I have that exact same program and have no problems?
But also I have the last generation of cutter.
On the cutter does it have the ability to set up from its screen or the computer. I set mine to set at the cutter.
The only drawings that I ever tried auto trace on are bit map or jpg.
Find it easier to hand trace(some pics will generate way to many nodes and lock your computer)
(As I think about it sounds like the pictures are going in as pictures not vectors ,cause they wont auto trace as vectors)
On dxf ,or any other of the vector type sometime you have to rework them ( connect segments and screw with) to get them right .
I never had a vector self adjust the cut depth, do that in the tool settings on the machine , set it for different material thickness , that way just change the tool number when you change the material ( I use 2 one for vinyl one for sand blast mask, should use 3 a extra vinyl setting would be nice but I'm lazy and prefer to run the test cut first on every set up)
Keep in mind I am only a semi pro comp geek , with very little cad knowledge and zero on the corel or AI programs.
I picked up my cutter after I found out how much my company was paying the local sign company for sand blast mask . Now they pay me.
As a plus the dxfs it exports are compatible with sheet cam .
But like I said I'm no pro but still its not to hard to figure out.
Keep at it,and good luck
Oh yeah does the panther have the new auto material thickness detect?
I have a summicut plotter and had a roland. If you work with clip art it is often not going to work due to the methods that the design use to do their work. I use Coreldraw for my tracing which has a lot of control of the trace and reduce your problems. Also Corel has all the import and export you would ever need and many of the fonts that you would like to use. But buy version 9 or 10 or you pay for the fonts. Corel is available at Amazon at really good prices. If you have problems with handling the actual output you could get a copy of cocut pro a bit pricey but worth the money. If you have your graphic in corel and want to print it just select the cocut icon on the tool menu and you are ready to go.
I had the roland but the summicut has been really great. I can still suggest Coreldraw 9 or 10 great for graphics and makes life easy
good luck and happy plotting.
I'm interested in whether or not you found a solution to your Panther problem. I also just acquired a Panther cutter with the software you described. Since we bought it used - Signwarehouse will not help us AT ALL! Unless we pay them $250 for customer transfer of ownership.
The problem I'm experiencing is importing a design from Adobe IL 10. It's a decal for fuel tanks on an airplane. It's basically a circle with lettering contained inside the circle - (the center cut out) looks kind of like a donut with text on the "donut" part. It tells me that with the current settings it can't cut it out. I've looked thru the manual and can't find any reference to the error message.
If you've learned any tricks about importing from Adobe and would like to share them - I'd be very grateful. I'm new to vinyl cutters. We're primarily screen printers but purchased this like new - used machine for cutting out artwork to be used to make silkscreens. (saves us the chemistry of film and we can do larger sizes.)
I also have Corel X3, but haven't used it much yet so I'm not very adept at it.
the cutter is Panther GRC-61 (I think - that's how we set it up) and the software is the LXi
I don't claim any special expertise but I have used VinylExpress Lxi , Adobe Ilustrator and Corel for quite a long time. You are correct that they present the vector images a bit different. The first thing you should try when opening files in a non native format is to use EPS as a file structure. Most programs seem to handle this in the same way. Drawings made with Illustrator that have composited objects (something with a hole punched through) are often treated as just vector lines when they are opened elsewhere. Additionally, objcts seem to lose the layering order of what's in front and what's in back.
I don't know much about the Panther Plotter but have found Vinyl Express' latest release of Lxi to be very strong.
I've attached the file I've been trying to work with. This is how far I've gotten so far, The simple questions I can't find answers to are things like - how do you know what will cut out and what won't? It is red - or the faded image? I've spent so much time trying to figure this out - I'm cross-eyed.
I did convert text to outlines it AI and I did save as EPS vers 8. That helped a lot. These labels (I need 2) are supposed to be approx 6" in diameter. The background area (blue) is about 1-1/4" wide. could be bigger but the center needs to be a minimum of 3.75".
I know this is asking a lot, but if someone might like to play with this file and get it ready to cut out - and then tell me what you did to accomplish that - I would be very grateful.
I've been able to reach a point where I see the whole item in the prod mgr - but the lines on the inside and outside of the "donut" are dark blue - but the 100LL wording is light grey. That makes me think it won't cut out. I'm trying to get this right on my other computer at my home office and then take it to my office where I have the cutter to cut it out so I haven't actually cut it yet.
I would have sent the file in the LXi format to show what I had, but it isn't an acceptable format. I've sent it as PDF because at least that is importable into Adobe IL. Any and all help is greatly appreciated.
Since you attached this as a PDF file, I can open and look but not
really see the vectors. Everything comes as a single object.
Here is what I can tell you. To produce this image at all, you obviously
were doing text on a line in illustrator and if you converted this to
curves everything should be fine.
The circles will also work fine. Much of where this goes from here, depends
on how you select things in Vinyl Express. Once this diagram is opened in
VE, you will have a choice to select part or all of the drawing. If you
intended the letters to be cut out of the circle then select everything.
Anything you cut will then have all the vectors cut into it and you can
weed this appropriately by removing the vinyl where the letters are.
Bear in mind (I know this seems obvious) that the cutter doesnt know
what color you are cutting. The colors you get are derived from the vinyl and
the vectors you selected.
An example would be if you wanted a red donught shape and white letters.
Put red in the cutter, (the fact that you have blue in the drawing is irrelavent) select the inner and outer circles only and then hit
cut/plot. Production mager will show you what it is going to cut.
When this is cut, hit done, select all the letters, put white in the cutter,
and hit cut/plot. Weed the letters and apply them to the donught and
voila' you have your sign.
Of couse if the background was white, there would be no need to cut
white letter and you would simply have selected everything when the red
vinyl was in the machine.
I did manage to get the obect apart - here is what I found. The
letters were all doubled (same letter on top of each other) I've seen this
happen before and it seems to be caused by converting to curves and
going from illustrator to other programs. No big deal, just delete the top set.
I took all the color out of everything and added and outline black trace
so you can see it.