How-To: Blade Alignment

Common issues we hear from our customers about the machine not cutting accurately, or “over-cutting”, are easily remedied with a combination of fine-tuning both blade alignment and the X,Y cutter offset. Continue reading to see example images of these issues and how to resolve them.

The Issue

When cutting two identical shapes, a common issue we hear from our customers is… “they don’t match”. Basically, one of the cut pieces is too big or too small when compared to each other resulting in what is typically described as an “over-cut”.

Below are examples of this issue when cutting a “P” shaped armchair pattern.

From these images you can clearly see that the patterns are “off” in areas, meaning they don’t match up, especially around the curves.

In another example we will look at an issue where the cut line is off from the plot line. This and the previous issue are actually the same but present themselves in different ways. The images below show a cut line that is off from the plot line when plotting, then cutting an 18″ long set of strips.

Not only are these strips not the same dimensions when compared to each other, but you can clearly see that the cut line does not fall on the plot line. Also notice in these photos how the cut line starts in the correct position but quickly veers off path. This should be a good indication of what is causing the issue.

The Solution

If you are seeing issues identical to or even similar to the issues above, the following steps will help diagnose and eliminate any misalignment while cutting.

1. Align blade

Inaccurate blade alignment is the overall cause of the above issues. A blade that is even slightly out of alignment can cause large differences in your cuts. Use the white marks on the front of the black motor plate and the cutting tool mount to get a good idea of where proper alignment is.

Here are two images of blade alignment, one good and one bad.

Remember that a properly aligned blade is not one that looks aligned, but one that cuts accurately!

2. Check physical components of the machine

  • Trolleys are adjusted and tightly secured to the machine. This may require unscrewing the trolleys and sliding them out from under the machine to ensure there is no play or wobble.
  • With the machine turned on, ensure the cutting head is tightly locked into it’s drive belt and the guide wheels are adjusted properly by grabbing the Y motor and attempting to move left or right and up and down. There should be no wiggle or slop.

3. Calibrate machine

An improperly calibrated machine will never cut or plot accurately. The most important calibration setting for this particular issue is the “X,Y Cutter Offset” calibration. If this test is accurate, then your cut will be accurate as well.

4. Properly secure your material

Whether you have a vacuum table or not, if your material is moving at all, your cuts will not be accurate. Vacuum, plastic bagging, tape and spray adhesive are all tools commonly used to eliminate material shift during cutting.