After 40 years of using old school ways to make things I finally took the plunge into high tech and built a router cnc machine.All I can say is wow,I'm loving it.In the spirit of making it more versatile I came up with a vinyl cutter hack to create stickers graphics etc.
Step 1: DIY CNC Graphics cutter hack
After looking at many variations of router mount swivel cutters I came across this deepcut blade and holder assembly made by Cricut model 2001401.After watching many videos of watching the machine in action I thought I could make it work and best of all only 32 bucks CDN.Check out cricut.com.I purchased mine from a Michaels craft store.
Step 2: DIY CNC Graphics cutter hack
The first step was making a bracket to adapt the blade holder to my machine.I chose Delrin as it is easily cut with hand or power tools and is very strong.I cut and drilled the bracket in one piece and cut off the clamping part at the end with my bandsaw witch reduced the 9/16 diameter hole just enough to provide clamping pressure on the cutter holder.The other dimensions are adaptable to my machine but I'm sure yours will vary.All fasteners are 10-24 drilled with a 5/32 drill bit and tapped.The holes in the clamping part were enlarged to 3/16 to allow the clamp to tighten around the cutter holder.
Step 3: DIY CNC Graphics cutter hack
For the best results the cutting surface should be extremely level as we are dealing with material thicknesses of .003 or less.First I machined the entire surface of the spoiler board with a 1/2 inch rabbeting bit and then secured a 1/16 cardboard mat with double sided carpet tape and some masking tape around the perimeter.Then I cut a piece of graphics film to a suitable size for my cutout.In this case I used MacTac much cheaper and good enough to practice on, any film with a removable backing will do.I then sprayed the vinyl backing with Easy-Tack from Krylon to secure it to the cardboard mat carefully removing any bubbles.The cardboard backing provides a fudge factor for the blade as well as holding the cut together should the blade run too deep in places.
Step 4: DIY CNC Graphics cutter hack
Next I created a simple text graphic in CamBam and used the engraving machining operation setting the depth of cut to -.002.I set the feed rate at 10" per/min and plunge rate at 2" per/min.for the test run.You can go much faster once you get comfortable with the process.With the blade on the number 3 setting place a scrap piece of paper on top of the film and lower the Z axis until you cannot remove paper without it lightly cutting it.Okay run your program.If it starts cutting to deeply or not enough you can try changing the cutting depth on the fly with the knob on the top of the cutter head,ther are 6 settings with 1/2 steps in between.
Step 5: DIY CNC Graphics cutter hack
Once the cut is completed you then apply transfer tape over the cut, rubbing on firmly.The transfer tape comes in rolls but I have used low tack painters tape as well it all depends on the size of your graphic.Slowly peel back the transfer tape making sure the graphic is coming off the film backing paper.Turn over and remove all cutouts you do not want to use and apply the graphic to the target surface.Then slowly peel off transfer tape making sure graphic doesn't come away from the surface.