Submitted by The Sewing & Vacuum Center
For many people who like the look of sewn applique, want to applique non-fabric items, or craft paper items, the personal die cut machine is a handy addition to your sewing/craft room. There are many die cutting machines on the market with different features and prices. We’ll look at some of the features you may want to consider when selecting a die cut machine.
A die cutting machine is designed to cut specific shapes from a variety of materials such as paper, cardboard, fabric, or metal. These shapes can be used for a variety of things including scrapbooking, decorating mugs or insulated cups, t-shirts, and quilt pieces.
There are two types of die machines currently available: manual and digital. The manual die cutter works a lot like a cookie cutter. A hand crank moves the die and material through rollers that press again the metal blades in the die which creates the cut. Some manual die cutters will allow you to cut several layers of material at a time with the die. Dies for a manual machine are purchased separately. Be sure to use the die designed for your machine; dies may not be compatible with another machine.
The cost for a manual die machine will be cheaper initially than the digital machine. The cost of adding dies, however, will raise the cost of the machine. These dies are in specific sizes and cannot be modified. The manual machine, though, is easily portable if you need to take your cutting “on the road”.
The digital die cutter is relatively new on the market. This works similar to the way a printer prints. Some machines will have designs built in the machine or the designs can be added by plugging in a special cartridge, or downloaded from the computer to a stick drive that plugs into the cutter. Some of the digital cutters can draw, pierce, and emboss as well as cut. One cutter, the Brother Scan ‘n Cut can also scan designs directly into the machine.
The digital die cutter offers more flexibility in designs than the manual machine. It will be a more expensive initial purchase but may be cheaper to operate over the life of the machine. The digital machine will have designs built in, depending on the manufacturer, or you will have access to purchase additional design files. The digital scanner will also allow you to manipulate the design-you can resize the design, select certain parts of a design to cut, section large designs for cutting, and store your designs.
Several of the digital die cutter require either direct computer or WiFi connectivity to operate. The Brother Scan ‘n Cut can be used alone but does offer a USB port or WiFI connection as a way to access additional design files.
Most of the machines will handle a variety of materials for cutting including vinyl, fun foam, fabric, cardstock, paper, etc. Check with the machine specifics for any other types of materials that you want to use including heavy vinyl or metal for embossing.
At the Sewing & Vacuum Center, we carry the Brother ScanNCut and needed accessories including heat transfer vinyl and outdoor vinyl in a wide selection of colors. We would be happy to show you the features and some fun projects you can easily make! We offer a new owner class for anyone purchasing the machine from us. Come in and see how easy it is to make something special with a die cutting machine!