07 November 2016

Silhouette Cameo: Usage and First Impressions

So I recently got a Silhouette Cameo, and have started to go through the trials and tribulations of using it. This will both be a pros and cons list, as well as some suggestions for using it if you are also just starting out using a Cameo for Papercraft.

Starting off with the pros/cons list:
 Relatively fast and accurate 
Far less work intensive 
Makes clean up easier 
Allows for easy use of larger pieces/less split for parts 
Saves an incredible amount of time
 Can be tricky to setup the first time 
Needs specific Pepakura/Cameo Design settings to work optimally
Cutting mat is way too sticky on first use 
Requires good lighting 
Have to be careful removing pieces from mat

The big thing that makes or breaks the Silhouette Cameo is the settings it needs. 
Pepakura actually has a specific program and guide for porting your unfold from Pepakura into the Cameo design program, and it's pretty solid all around: 

The program is $15 to use the full version, so by no means does it break the wallet. The guide gets you going without any frilly settings (which in my opinion are necessary, but more on that later). The guide simply states what you need to start off opening the files in the design program, which is perfect to dive in and start fine tuning things. 
If we make packs with the files needed for use with the Cameo, they would not include a need for the Pepakura Cameo viewer - the files output from just using it forego the need for the program once they're exported. More on that later, too. 

Now here's where the new information comes in - my troubleshooting with the program has, in my opinion, found the best setting to use with this. 
The first thing, and possibly weirdest, is making the cutting mat "usable". Out of the package the cutting mat is exceedingly sticky, and absolutely will ruin a piece of paper if it's placed on the mat. I found this out by diving in with an extra print of the 6th page of the work in progress that is Camerupt, and it was an expected and necessary crash course. In this, I found out I neglected the Invert option of the Registration lines, and also learned the lighting was most definitely not suitable as well. My setup was over in a corner, with the only light being in the center of the room. 
The fix here was to take a scrap piece of paper and press it on the mat and pull it off repeatedly. This ruined the paper, but it took enough of the sticky layer of the mat off that it would hold the desired pages without ripping them when removed. I then setup a small desk lamp directly next to the Cameo, with the light pointed directly on the cutting area. And last but not least, I was sure to absolutely double check every single circled setting outlined in the PDF guide linked above. 
Another setting I never used, but some could find useful, is setting the blade to score pieces for folding when cutting. It's an option on by default in the Cut options in Cameo's Design program that I turned off by simply unselecting all of the non-black cut color options. 

MUCH BETTER. It still wasn't perfect by any means, but it produced a completely usable result on the second attempt. More fine tuned settings from here include changing the tab fill in Pepakura to the standard of overflow paint (tab fill is my default when cutting by hand, but overflow definitely helps more in this situation) and changing the Cameo Design "Cut" depth to be maxed for the selected paper option (this produces much cleaner cut pieces). Those 2 simple settings, which weren't mentioned there, are necessary to get the clean results that will keep me using my Cameo. While I have tested the cut setting to success, I have not yet tested the overflow paint setting - it seems a simple enough fix that it doesn't need particular testing just yet, though. Here's an example of why overflow paint is needed:
The edges come out with a bit of white without the overflow paint - easy fix for this one, I just have to use scissors to trim a few pieces, but definitely avoidable for future cuts. 

The pieces by default come off the mat curled, since the mat does still have to hold them on a bit, for example: 

In summary, modified options: 

~Take the stickiness off the mat before use by pressing a piece of scrap paper on and off repeatedly

~Use overflow paint in Pepakura when printing 

~Max out cut depth in the Cameo Cut options 

~Be sure to follow every single option laid forth in the PDF Guide provided, especially inverting the registration lines

~Have proper lighting 

After I experiment more and complete more crafts cut out by the Cameo I'll certainly condense these points into my own guide, but for now I'm just going to try and get finished with Camerupt. It was a rocky start, but it can only get better from here. Once I've fine tuned all this and find the best way to release packs for the Cameo, I'll certainly start doing that as well. 


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