Friday, 1 March 2013

If I can replicate the problem...

I have a robot. It helps me to cut my cards. Most of the time. Today my Silhouette SD decided that it wouldn't cut through any card. 

The machine.
So I went through the motions to change the blade, then I realised this one's only a month old, they usually last me at least 6. I've done nothing different with this one. So I gave the inside as good a clean as I could (not easy) and had a look at the cutting mat. The mat has been well used but looks nowhere near as bad as my old ones did before they got replaced and again has only been in use about a month. Reluctantly I opened a new mat and tried cutting again, the same thing happened. Lacking a completely fresh blade I went through every single one of my slightly worn blades and got the same problem with all of them. I know for a fact at least one of them is only in my used pile because of a twisting fault, nothing to do with cutting depth. 

As a last resort I got out my oldest blade, it's the one that came with the Silhouette and has caps instead of the new ratchet system. If nothing else this blade is at least a different format - by this point I was convinced I'd somehow ruined the machine itself and that it wasn't holding the blade tight. I ran a test cut through. It cut perfectly. The crispest cuts I've had in a long time. 

The two blade types, photo from Under a Cherry Tree
I got on with my work and completed the cards I was working on (hurrah, there's a market tomorrow). Unfortunately the cap blade isn't as flexible as the ratchet blade and I'm not able to cut some of my thicker card with it. Reluctantly I got the blade I started the day with back out of its box and did a test cut, to see if I could spot any issues as it was cutting. Lo and behold it cut perfectly, crisp corners, tidy edges, the kind you hope every cut will be like. I don't get it.

Switching to the cap blade involves changing some settings in the Silhouette Studio software. The only thing I can think is that by switching those settings back and forth I somehow reset the pressure information, it's possible that it wasn't being transmitted to the machine properly before. After all, nothing else changed. 

On the blade cleaning front I was happy to see this post on Two Peas in a Bucket which suggests that problem is solved. Now if only I could replicate what went wrong with the machine today, I could prove or disprove that the switch fixed it. Maybe it was a fluke?

Have you had similar issues with your silhouette? How did you solve them?
Is it time for me to take the plunge and upgrade to one of these beasts? Or one of these laser based options?
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