Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Paper Appears to be a Critical Factor and it's Puzzling

As I have stated before.  I have never used a Cricut nor most other cutters.  My only experience at all is what little I attempted with the Gazelle.  So, I don't really know how different papers behaved under the cutting blades of other digital die cutters.

But, I am learning this.  Different papers and materials do have a critical bearing on the success or failure of intricate cuts with the eCraft.  It's hard to know exactly why.  But, I'm determined to find out.  I will be attempting some high-speed photography this weekend to see if I can spot what is going on between papers that should not be all that different.

In this test I used paper from the same manufacturer at the same size and weight.  The two types of paper were: 

Paper #1

Michaels Recollections Cardstock Paper
South Beach (Colors)
83916 2010 05
UPS Code: 00100 62440
12" x 12"
65lb / 176 g/m2 

Paper #2

Michaels Recollections Cardstock Paper
83916 2010 06
UPS Code: 00100 62450 
12" x 12"
65lb / 176 g/m2

The test shape that I was trying to cut was from the Fundamentals #1 SD Card.  Tree #1 in the Nature category.  Since we wanted to push the eCraft, we were attempting to cut it at 3", the smallest size for this particular shape.

Tab Settings

Tab Density = 2
Tab Width = 1


I did not have a single failure with the South Beach (colors) papers.  Here is the demonstration of that success:  First the cut pieces.

 Click image to see larger version

 Now, the paper from which they were cut...

 Click image to see larger version

As you can see, I was able to repeat the success consecutively at all positions along the page.  But, I was NOT able to achieve that same success with the White version of that very same paper series.  This was the typical result using the white paper when I tried the very same exercise with the same settings above.

 Click image to see larger version

Not very pretty, is it?  In fact I was only able to cut one tree with this particular paper.  Here is that tree and the other shapes that I WAS able to successfully cut.  I put a piece of pink paper behind them so that you could see them more clearly.

 Click image to see larger version

Notice that I that the small heart is just 1/2" and it's just as clean as the 5" heart.  Both of the other cuts are 3" and seem OK.  But, the tree was NOT typical of the outcome with all my other attempts.  Once I'd tried the initial settings, I tried other setting with as little success as the first... except for this one lone tree.

What this tells me is that there might be a grain or texture issue with the white that is not a factor once the paper is colored.  This would explain why the hearts that put little pressure against the paper's grain turned out perfectly fine.  And, even the swirling shape doesn't put all that much pressure on the grain.  But, the tight turns in the branches of the tree DO put a lot of pressure on the grain of the paper.  I can actually see the paper being slightly lifted.  So, I'm trying to come up with a solution.

Now, I can't imagine that I would be cutting and THEN applying glue.  So, this issue may go away by simply using the Xyron to put an adhesive backing on the white paper as we probably would do in our primary applications/  But, not everyone is going to be doing that.  So, we have to do what we can to solve this issue.

And, I find the fact that papers with the same nominal specifications can behave so differently.  I KNOW it's some difference in the papers.  But, papers aren't going to be blamed by most eCraft owners.  The eCraft is the one that is going to be blamed and it's Craftwell and those of us that love experimenting that will have to come up with a solution so that the eCraft will NOT be blamed.


Pam said...

Tom, I love your blog & have to admit it is where I am doing most of the learning about my new eCraft! The problem you had with the white paper is what is happening to almost everything I put into my machine with the exception of a heavyweight card-stock, I am at this time finding it frustrating but don't wanna slate the machine as I think it is trial & error at this early stage, I am just thankful that I can check in here & learn from you so Thanks soooooooooooo much!

Tom Meeks said...


Please let me know the brand and weights of papers you are using.

Tonight, I will begin a rapid test of as many different papers that I have. I won't always have the weights of the papers. But, paper seems so critical that I think it has to be done quickly.

Pam said...

Tom I was using Papermania papers & they were 120 gsm, 160 gsm & the vellum was 135 gsm & all of these just crumpled in the rollers! I have been on to Craftwell & got an email back to say try layering the paper I want to cut on to some heavier card but as soon as it starts cutting the blade is dragging the paper IYKWIM! I will keep at it when I get the chance as it is just bugging me so much now.

Tom Meeks said...

Thanks for the additional information. I was interested in hearing about eCraft's response. And, your message prompts me to turn my attention to lighter papers and how we might be more effective at cutting them.

When I began this blog, I was hoping that the fact that I wasn't going to be concentrating on making things so much as testing things would be helpful to all of you that can make such beautiful projects. So, I'm glad to hear my contributions are helpful.

But, I continue to need people like yourself to prompt me in the most helpful directions. So, thank you for doing that!