eCraft came up with a novel solution to the fact that they wanted to create digital die cuts without the obligatory mat used with all other digital die cutting machines. They call their solution "TABS." But, already the craft community has relabeled them 'Chads."
Whatever the word used to describe them they are very important to the cutting strategy of the eCraft machine. They hold the cut piece in place while more of the shape is being cut.
Perhaps knowing that tabs might be off-putting to some, the eCraft designers gave us control of the tabs in two ways. First, we can control the DENSITY of the tabs (how closely they are created) and how WIDE each tab might be. Tab density can be set from 0 to 2 and tab width can be set from 1 to 3.
When a density of 0 is selected, then the shape will be cut with no tabs at all. So, yes, it is possible to cut a shape without a single tab. But, there are practical limitations. In order for a cut to be successful without using any tabs, there are some criteria that my experiments show must be met.
First, the thicker card stocks work best. I've had success with the DCWV Textured Mat Stack paper from Michaels.
Secondly, the path of the cut must not reverse direction and back into the piece. This means that the Tree Shape, with its small limbs would NOT be a good candidate for cutting without tabs. We want MORE and BIGGER tabs for something like the tree.
Thirdly, a new blade is going to create less drag on the cut piece. So, the newer the blade, the better.
Here is a very successful cut using no tabs at all. It was cut from a sheet of 5" x 7" DCWV Mat Stack Brights (Textured). I scanned this shape in at 1200 x 1200 to permit you to really check out the cut. This shape is just 2" in size.
Let's analyze why this shape did not need tabs to be cut successfully. First, the order of the cuts is an important factor. Each of the 4 empty areas were cut out first. And, at the critical areas where the blade drastically changed direction there was still a large uncut connection still holding the segment in place. There are two small cutouts and two large cutouts with relatively continuous paths. The piece itself was not cut free from the base paper until the inside areas where completely finished.
Had the paths been designed so that the outside was cut first, we could not have been able to cut this shape without tabs. We need to remember that when we get the software to design our own shapes. Cut order is critically important.
The next piece might look a lot more complex; but, in reality it is not.
It should be obvious why this last chadless example worked. So much of the piece was held into place by the uncut area until the very last cut. And, being 5", with the final cut near the base, both the piece and the base paper were in the grip of the primary rollers when the final cut was made. So, WHERE the path for the shape starts is also an important factor. Had the start been at the TOP of the piece, the cut might have been only 90% or so successful, since the rest of the piece would have been flopping around as it neared the final cut.