Warped Mats and Quickly Dulling Blades - I need help!

Warped Mats and Quickly Dulling Blades - I need help!

Postby ShannonRichard » February 20th, 2017, 3:45 pm

Hi there,

I suppose I am fairly new to using the Silver Bullet (24" model), as I purchased it in early November 2016, but I'd like to think that I caught on quickly and have experienced few learning curves along the way. Just to give some background, I bought this machine to cut and sell 7.5 mil reusable mylar stencils. I felt I had the V & F down fairly quickly (V = 450 & F = 205) and am familiar with when the mat needs to be "renu'ed" and blade needs changing, etc. (I use 60 degree blades only with the regular blade holder). I regularly cut 30-50+ 12" x 18" stencils on a weekly basis since purchasing the machine, so it gets a lot of use and my machine/blade settings never change because this is the only thing I currently use the machine for.

This weekend has been a tough one for me...

Roughly 2 weeks ago, I ordered a 5pk of 60 degree blades because the 2 I received with my original order were on their way out - again original order was roughly 3 months ago, so I'd say they last me on average 4-5 weeks each (December was a bit slow, so I was cutting less stencils at that time). It's been about 10 days since I opened my 5 pack - I'm already on blade # 3! My orders have been steady and consistent, so I would have expected a much longer lifespan like the original blades! From what I can see, they are not chipped or nicked, so I'm not sure what the problem is! Are they from a different manufacturer than the single blades? I assume not, but I can't figure out why there is such a difference! Has anyone else experienced this?

I also purchased a new mat when I ordered my 5 pack of blades, so I can be more efficient when cutting orders (removing the stencil on one mat, while I run the second mat through to cut the next design). 10 days later, the new mat is already causing issues - it is warping which is causing drag marks. :( I use my mats vertically and rotate the 2 ends very regularly. The original mat has been perfectly fine until this weekend - it started sliding on one end! I cleaned the rollers with goo gone, as I have read about. It wasn't the problem... I was told awhile ago that I should rotate all 4 ways, but my problem is that I have all my files saved in vertical format. It is just time consuming to re-adjust and re-save each one. And so far, rotating both ends vertically was working just fine. I guess I should just do it, but I've read about other users having issues with warped mats as well and I just think there needs to be a better solution than that... Thicker mats? Less pressure on the rollers? Something... anything really...

I take my business very seriously and the stress/frustration that builds when my machine isn't cutting the way I have come to know and love (and really I LOVE this machine!), it just gets to be too much! I'm just looking for consistency like I've experienced for the previous 2-3 months. Turn it on, load the mat, click cut, and all is good!

If there are any tips, tricks, solutions, recommendations, I would be forever grateful to anyone who shares! Thanks in advance!
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Re: Warped Mats and Quickly Dulling Blades - I need help!

Postby Gigi » February 20th, 2017, 4:21 pm

Yes you are a fairly new user and you have thrown a lot in one post! Will do my best to cover it and probably answer things out of order.

Sherri has not changed who she is ordering her blades from - she always gets the highest quality. But depending on the amount of plastic in what you are cutting , it will burn through blades....quite literally.

Rotating the mats only vertical isn't going to help because you are (I am assuming) running the pinch wheels on the same lines. That is why it is important to only use the outer pinch wheels as much as possible and rotate the mats. I try to position the outside wheels to cut on the border thus creating little if no warp on my mats. The thickness of the mat has been tested and this is optimal for these machines.

When you cleaned the pinch wheels, did you accidentally move them? Be sure they are over the grit shaft so they are catching the mat. If they move off the grit shaft, the mat will slip. The only reason for the mat to slip is if the pinch wheels are not over the grit shaft. How many pinch wheels are you using?

Your force is way too high for what you are cutting and is not advisable. You will have better results cutting at a lower force in multi-passes. That is better for the blade in the long run. I would also experiment with that even tho you are getting good results. I believe you will get better results with less wear with a multi pass cut.

And you are using the wrong blade for the thickness that you are cutting. You should only be using the 60 degree plus blade. Perhaps you are and just didn't add that in your description. That would also explain why you are needing to use such a high force and your blades are wearing out.

Back to turning the mats, just change your orientation from portrait to landscape. You don't have to do that every cut so it shouldn't be a big deal. I don't cut stencils that often (although I am working on doing more!) but maybe cut portrait one day and landscape the next.

I hope some of this is helpful.
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Re: Warped Mats and Quickly Dulling Blades - I need help!

Postby ShannonRichard » February 20th, 2017, 5:13 pm

Hi Gigi,

Thank you for your reply.

I have not changed my stencil material, so the amount of plastic should not be an issue, as it never has been in the previous 3 months.

When the mat is vertical, I only use 2 pinch wheels and they are the 2 closest to the right side of the machine (near the display screen). As you said, they need to sit on the grit shaft, so I am limited to where exactly I can move them to...

I did not accidentally move the pinch wheels off the grit shaft. As new as I am to using this machine, I am very aware that each outer pinch wheel I am using needs to sit over a grit shaft.

I understand your reasoning of using less force and multiple cuts, but with the issues I have had with the mat sliding, I am worried the second cut will not line up properly with the first leaving me with wasted time and material. For over 2 months, I have been cutting the same designs using the same mylar plastic with the same machine/blade settings with the same degree blade with very little to no issues. I don't understand why it would not continue as such...

What specific velocity, force, and # of cuts is suggested for 7.5mil clear mylar plastic?

When I first purchased the machine, I sent Sherri an email with details of my intentions for the machine, thickness and type of material I use, frequency of cutting, etc... and specifically asked if I would need to order the 60 degree plus blade and was told no... that the regular 60 degree blade would be sufficient for my material, so that is what I ordered with my machine. I've been using the original blades just fine and they have lasted quite a long time, until this new order of the 5 pack. The blades are much too expense to be replacing every 5 days, especially since I know from experience that it shouldn't be necessary.

If the thickness of the mat has been tested, they should have found the same problem as I and many other users have experienced - the mat warps which causes sliding and blade dragging! I find it hard to believe that is considered optimal. I do understand how to change the orientation of my mat, but I really don't think I should have to. It's time consuming and the major reason I purchased this machine in the first place was to save time! It really doesn't sound like I have much of a choice other than saving each file in both vertical and horizontal formats and rotating accordingly, so that is what I'll do. I do strongly recommend to include this information in your tutorial instructions/videos, so "newbies" don't make the same mistake and ruin perfectly good mats.

I'm sorry that I am coming across like a negative Nancy, I do love my machine very much, but the ease of use needs some improvement. I heavily rely on this machine on a daily basis and like I had said, I just want a trusty machine that does what I have come to expect it to without any surprises.
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Re: Warped Mats and Quickly Dulling Blades - I need help!

Postby Gigi » February 20th, 2017, 11:02 pm

Shannon -

First of all, we have people running these machines constantly, on three shifts, 7 days a week since 2009 with NO problems whatsoever. If what you are experiencing was a major issue with the machine, we would be hearing about it a lot and would have dealt with it. These machines are workhorses and are designed to run and run and run.

When Sherri gets calls about cutting mylar, she usually says (I just talked with her so am clear on this) that the machine should be able to cut mylar with a 60 degree blade. 90% of the people cutting mylar ARE cutting it with a 60 degree, some even a 45 degree blade. But.... if she had been told that the mylar was as thick as yours, she would have definitely said the 60 degree plus blade.

You asked about our blades. The blades you recently received were from the same shipment as the blades shipped with the machine. That was a totally fair question. But since we know they are from the same run, we have to now look at what you might be doing. Is your mylar from the same manufacturer? Is it from the same run? Is there a chance that it is a different run and there is more plastic in this run of mylar than the previous mylar you had? I don't know - it's just one of the things to consider. Are you cutting the same design now that you were cutting when your blades were lasting longer? Another variable - if your designs are now more intricate, your blades are going to wear out faster because of the friction from the plastic. So there could be a lot of things at play here.

I am totally perplexed by your comment about the pinch wheels. How large is the material you are cutting? You said that you have both pinch wheels on the right of the machine by the display because there isn't room? There are 5 grit shafts on your machine - right? I am at a loss here. I have an 18" machine . I have four pinch wheels and 5 grit shafts that run the inner width of the machine. I have a lot of flexibility, so I don't understand why you think you don't. What am I missing? You HAVE to have a pinch wheel on the right and left side of your mat or of course it will slip. You have nothing to anchor the mat at all, especially if it is warped. You should be using the far right and far left or whatever will hold the mat and not run over your material. Without knowing which mat you are using and how wide your material is, I am at a bit of a disadvantage, so just trying to take what you wrote quite literally. If you are just using the two wheels to the far right by the display - as you stated above, your mat will skew.

I understand your confusion about why things are not staying the same if you are cutting the same designs. But. your mat is warping, your pinch wheels are not in the right place (I don't think they are based on what you said) and even though you think the plastic is the same, it could be from a different run. There are three variables right there.

Many other users are NOT experiencing the same issues you are. Some have had warping and once they learned to adjust where the pinch wheels run, there was no more warping. You want the pinch wheels to be tight to prevent the mat from slipping, and honestly I have heard very little about slipping mats unless the pinch wheels have slipped off the grit shaft. I have done it myself when I get busy and don't pay attention. But slippage is not a major issue nor is blade dragging. Are you using the setting tool? If the outside edges of your mat are curling, you can easily roll them backwards, rubber band them overnight, and then unroll and you should have a flatter mat. Some have even ironed them or put them out in the sun to soften them so they flatten out. But the pinch wheels still need a new path so they wont rewarp the mat.

Would you consider uploading a picture of your mat with the material on it so I can see how it is placed, and also show it with the pinch wheels holding it if you can? That might help me and others see your situation better.

I am just trying to look at all of the variables involved.
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Re: Warped Mats and Quickly Dulling Blades - I need help!

Postby ShannonRichard » February 21st, 2017, 8:01 am

Hi Gigi,

Is it possible to email you? I will forward the email I received before purchasing my machine and also send you photos. I know this machine is terrific - trust me I love it and I'll never say otherwise, but I clearly need help.

My biggest problem is lack of time. I work full time through the week and run my stencil business out of my home on the side. My time is limited to after 8:00pm when my boys are in bed, so when I do get a chance to work on cutting orders, I can't afford to troubleshoot issues, etc. And that's where the major frustration and stress comes into play.

I appreciate you taking the time to respond. I am hoping with your help, I can run my machine like a workhorse with NO problems whatsoever just like so many others.
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Cutter: 24" Silver Bullet

Re: Warped Mats and Quickly Dulling Blades - I need help!

Postby Gigi » February 21st, 2017, 8:47 am

Hi Shannon -

Yes you can email me at admin@silverbulletcutters.com. I don't need to see the email - but I would like to see the photos so I can better understand what you are saying.

I have meetings all morning but will look at your photos as soon as I can (this is not a job - I just help Sherri when I can).

I am confident we can figure this out and have you happily cutting again. Will wait to hear from you!
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Re: Warped Mats and Quickly Dulling Blades - I need help!

Postby pigtailpat » February 23rd, 2017, 4:16 pm

I have the older machine, the cougar, and I mostly differ from everyone wherein I believe that the more rollers to hold media the better. Warping doesn't scare me, but I firmly believe that stabilization from above and below - with as many pinch rollers as possible - is necessary. Dawn has corrected me in the past that my belief system isn't always correct - especially when dealing with fragile media - so that would be my only exception. I purchased an extra pinch roller and I am much happier with the way my cutting goes with it. I still haven't added that 5th roller - I will get to it sooner or later.

Pat
New owner of an 18" cougar and the gazelle...still a newbie at the cougar and will soon explore it............
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Re: Warped Mats and Quickly Dulling Blades - I need help!

Postby Janet486 » February 26th, 2017, 4:36 pm

Hi Shannon and Gigi,
Any resolution on this question? Enquiring minds want know!

I have had some problem with warped mats as well. Even minor warping can cause issues when trying to draw with the machine.
I have issues with drag marks near the edges. I have to be careful with my paper placement on the mat. This example was from placing the paper on the lower right edge of the mat (I had not done any drawing for a while and totally forgot I should have gone for the center, away from the warped edges. (The example is 3" x 4.5" and cut after drawing.)

Thanks,
Janet
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Re: Warped Mats and Quickly Dulling Blades - I need help!

Postby Gigi » February 26th, 2017, 6:23 pm

Well you shared part of it - you do have to watch the placement of your paper if the mat is warped. I keep my pinch wheels on the outer edges and do not have an issue with my mat warping. You also want to be sure your paper is well brayered down and can even tape the edges down if you are drawing/writing near the edge. Be sure to use the setting tool.

Some of the issues had to do with placement of the pinch wheels and also the setting of origin etc. When someone is used to a different cutting machine it can take a little getting used to - what works for one machine does not necessarily work for another.

I will sometimes run the pen offline over the area that I am going to write or draw to be sure it clears the area if I have not done any drawing in a while. If it is something really important, you can test it on copy paper first to be sure it will come out clean.
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