Silhoutte Portrait - Print and cut

I have spent over 3 years trying to get to grips with getting my Silhouette Portrait cutter to do what I want with my own designs.  I am sure if you buy purpose made = svg designs things are much easier. but  as an artist that is not the way I want to work.   Anyway recently I have been literally wrestling with Pixscan and Print and Cut.  Even with online support from Silhouette America over 2 weeks Pixscan never worked and the software would not even recognize my scanner (although strangely it will print with it? ).

 At Last a perfect cut on a scruffy old mat
I have dumped the  Pixscan method as a complete waste of time, even the mat does not stay sticky very long.   SO ....... I  have now spent the last 2 months screaming and shouting at the machine over  'Print and Cut' .  Eventually reaching the point of hanging over the recycle bin with the machine.  But as always I give it one last go trying something different.  (The combination of variables is so immense that the odds for failure are stacked against you). Also the instructions are totally inadequate.  Many support websites and blogs help a bit but do not cover all permutations. It was a huge gathering of maybe ideas that eventually gave me the  breakthrough above which I intend to share with you now.

Please let me know if the following helps :

Create and load your image -

The first thing to do is to create your image and design that you want to print and cut.
This can be produced using silhouette or any other graphic or photo software. Make sure the image is not larger than the area allowed on your cutting mat usually a bit smaller than A4 on the Portrait.  (Obviously if you have a bigger machine and mats you can go larger.)

Save your image as a JPEG  and be careful not to make the file size too large otherwise the silhouette software becomes sluggish. Also do not rotate the image in silhouette as this can cause a registration problem later.

Setting up your Silhouette Page -

This part of the process is very important and needs attention to the detail outlined. Any slight deviation as I found  will result in disappointing failure.

In the Design part of the software set up printing selections as follows as you will be printing a picture of your image plus registration marks.  

It is vital you print the right Marks for your cutter.

Below is what your screen page should look like.  Load your image into the white space well inside the hatched area and solid registration marks.

Then using the silhouette software - print the  image  using any quality settings that you would usually use on your printer. (The better the quality the more likely the scanner on your cutter will 'SEE' the registration marks later.)

From this point on it can get seriously problematic if just one parameter is not quite right, but the following instructions should cut down on the number of failed cuts.

Placing print (to be cut) on cutting mat -

Place your print with the edge  lined up on the top line of  the mat and  up against the outside line on the left edge (as red arrows)

Feed the mat into your Silhouette cutter  (in this case Portrait) as shown in the photo.  As an aid to being able to see the markings on the feed  tray I have enhanced them with black and white markers.

                                    In this case I use the outside marker of the 2 parallel guides

Scanning and setting up the cutting software -

This section is worth checking over a couple of times before committing to a cut on your print.

Select settings for  your machine in this case 'Type 1'
Select page setup to scan for 'registration marks.'

Scanning is where most problems arise of  'failed registration'.  It turns out that unlike main stream scanners that we are all used to using employ a scanning light.  The Silhouette machine does NOT HAVE A LIGHT SOURCE to scan with.  The user has to make sure there is enough light for the machine to see what it needs to do.  If like me all peripheral equipment like printers and scanners etc are tucked away in corners or shelves under the computer you may never understand why the cutter constantly fails to find the registration guides.

You will need to provide extra light from another source, in this case a table lamp. It also helps to open the lid... BUT.... this can cause a fail as well so once the machine looks like it is accepting  scanning the registration markings, close the lid until it finshes cutting.

Set up the cutter in  the usual way for cutting and material selection.... BUT double check before pressing the SEND button  that the settings on 'Page Setup' have not gone back to a default status. This can sometimes happen for any number of unknown reasons.

Finally make your own detailed notes as you go. Once you get a successful Print  and Cut the first time it will be worth the effort, so make sure it happens every time.  Good Luck