The introduction of small vinyl cutting machines into homes and schools in the past 15 years or so has raised a few eyebrows to the uninitiated. These desktop machines look like printers, and often are mistaken for them. Many people who have never used a craft cutter assume they also print, and that leads to a lot of confusion.
There are, however a few high, true vinyl printer cutter combinations that can help boost a small business producing decals and HTV transfers. If you have the budget, these machines can definitely speed up your productivity and help pay for themselves.
All of the popular personal and commercial vinyl cutters on the market (like Cricut or Silhouette machines) are capable of drawing with a pen or marker, but none of them prints like an inkjet or laser printer.
So, if you need print and cut solutions, we have advice for the best printer/cutter combos, plus workable solutions for your own inkjet printers that can be paired with vinyl cutters.
Best Vinyl Printer and Printer Combination Machines
Best Desktop Inkjet Printer/Cutter
Best Printer-Cutter for the Money
$12,995 to $18,995
Roland VersaStudio BN-20: Best Desktop Inkjet Printer-Cutter
Roland VersaStudio BN-20 Specs List
- Machine type: Combination desktop cutter and CMYK inkjet printer
- Capabilities: High resolution printing and contour cutting
- Media Size: 5.9 to 20.3 inches
- Cutting size: Maximum 18.9 inches (480 mm)
- Blade Type: Roland 45 degree Fine Point blade (deep cut blades available separately)
- Ink Options: Roland Eco-Sol MAX inks available in CMYK, Metallic and White
- Machine Dimensions: 39.2" W x 23" D x 11.5" H; 79.4 lbs (35 kg)
- Device compatibility: Windows 10/8.1/7; USB connection
- Warranty: One year warranty
- Software: R-Works design and cutting software and VersaWorks 6 RIP Software
- Support: Email, knowledgebase and user forums
The Roland VersaStudio BN-20 is a great addition to small businesses looking to produce fine detail images for on-demand apparel or decals . Home crafters looking to level up and start turning their hobby into a business should also consider the amazing printing quality and cutting precision of this Roland printer-cutter.
BN-20 owners use it to incorporate high-resolution images in their apparel designs, or to create high-end product labels and packaging prototypes. The high quality Eco-Sol Max ink works beautifully on heat transfer vinyl and adhesive vinyl by incorporating white or metallic inks to render colors vividly.
What can you make with a Roland BN-20 Vinyl Printer-Cutter?
- Short-run custom apparel (t-shirts, jerseys, hoodies)
- Custom full color decals
- Vehicle Graphics
- Custom labels
- Product packaging prototypes
- Banners and Signs
- Window and Wall Graphics
- Art and Photos
What comes with the Roland BN-20 Printer-Cutter?
- Power cord
- USB cable
- blade holder
- Roland software Package
- RIP Software (VersaWorks)
- User's Manual
Unfortunately, the BN-20 is only for use with Windows computers. Similarly, the only connection is via USB, not Bluetooth, meaning that tablet or smartphone users are unable to operate the BN-20.
Roland offers a “one year trouble free warranty” on the VersaStudio BN-20, and online support via email and forums in addition to an extensive knowledgebase and large library or training videos. If you’re not familiar with the design or printer management software that’s included with the BN-20, Roland offers tutorial videos on their YouTube channel to help you understand the basics and master them to achieve the best results without wasting ink and consumables.
The bottom line on the BN-20 is that it is a machine built to help you create beautiful products featuring the best quality images for short run orders. This is not a machine for mass production. It has a hefty price tag compared to home printers and dual carriage craft cutting machines, but if you have a business plan for selling limited edition t-shirts or one-of-a-kind decal designs, the BN-20 could be the vinyl printer and cutter combination machine to kickstart your business.
image credit: rolanddga.com
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Roland TrueVIS SG2: Best Printer-Cutter Combo for the Money
Roland TruVIS SG2 Specs List
- Cutting machine type: Combination vinyl cutter and CMYK inkjet printer
- Capabilities: High resolution (1200 dpi) printing and contour cutting
- Media Size:
- SG2-300: 7.6" to 30"
- SG2-540: 10.8" to 54"
- SG2-640: 12.4" to 64"
- Cutting size: 29 inches / 53 inches / 63 inches
- Ink Options: TrueVIS CMYK ink – 500 ml pouch
- Dimensions (incl. weight)
- SG2-300: 81.5 [W] × 28.8 [D] × 51.6 [H] inches (324 lbs.)
- SG2-540: 105.8 [W] × 28.8 [D] × 51.6 [H] inches (397 lbs.)
- SG2-640: 116 [W] × 28.8 [D] × 51.6 [H] inches (434 lbs.)
- Device compatibility: Windows 10/8.1/7;
- Software: includes R-Works design software and VersaWorks 6 RIP Software
- Warranty: Two year warranty
- Support: Email, knowledgebase and user forums
The Roland TruVIS SG2 printer/cutter series is truly a dream for creative professionals. Capable of printing vivid colors and true to life skin tones, the SG2 series can launch your business to a new level and render your clients and customers awestruck with the quality of your printed graphics.
The SG2 series features three models:
- 30” – SG2-300
- 54” – SG2-540
- 64” – SG2-640
Each printer/cutter in the series is capable of printing graphics up to 1220 dpi resolution using Roland TR2 ink. The combination of SG2 printing and TR2 ink is such high quality, that 3M and Avery Denison both offer warranties for artwork printed on their media by the SG2 series. TR2 ink is amazing for signs, displays and public art prints, as it is exceptionally scratch resistant and durable for up to three years outdoors without lamination.
What can I make with the Roland TrueVIS SG2 printer & cutter?
It’s become a cliché, but the phrase “the only limit is your imagination” best describes what you can make with SG2 series. You can print miles of stickers and t-shirt graphics, wall sized illustrations and photos, complete vehicle wraps and more. Here’s just a short list of the many applications you can produce and offer customers with an SG2 printer/cutter:
- Die-cut labels and decals
- signs, displays and posters
- Window and wall graphics
- Heat transfer graphics
- Art and Décor
- Large format displays and banners
- Vehicle graphics
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Plan B: Best Vinyl Cutters for Print then Cut projects
So, what happens if you can’t afford the $9K price tag of the BN-20 printer-cutter? There are many options that will produce very good results using a two-device solution. For example, home vinyl cutters like the Cricut Maker and the Silhouette Cameo 4 are both designed to perform contour cutting for a range of materials including permanent vinyl and HTV, and both are reasonably priced and have detailed instructions for doing print and cut projects.
The key to making high quality print-then-cut projects on a personal craft cutter is mastering the software. Both Cricut Design Space and Silhouette Studio design software have print then cut options, and both companies offer step by step tutorials to make the perfect cut on your printed project.
Vinyl Cutting Machine Capable Print-then-Cut
- Cricut Maker
- Cricut Explore Air 2
- Silhouette Cameo 4
- Silhouette Cameo Plus
- Silhouette Portrait 2
- Brother ScanNCut2 350e
- Graphtec CE-7000 series
- Roland CAMM-1 GS-24 Vinyl Cutter
- US Cutter LaserPoint 3 series
Read more about these machines in our review of Best Vinyl Cutting Machines.
Printable Permanent Vinyl for Inkjet Printers
If you already have an inkjet printer at home, there are printable vinyl options you can use with standard ink and then cut them with your desktop vinyl cutter.
The most common and straightforward printable vinyl option is printable permanent vinyl. The maker of super popular Oracal651 permanent vinyl also offer a product called Orajet 1917, a white, matte printable permanent vinyl that’s great for stickers and decals.
All you need to do is load your printable vinyl into your home desktop printer and print the design from your vinyl cutter software. Then, you can load the finished sheet onto a cutting mat (or right into your cutter, depending on your machine) and your vinyl cutter will cut out the design. Apply with transfer tape to your project, and you’re done.
Orajet 1917 is not the only printable vinyl available. Both Cricut and Silhouette sell their own printable permanent vinyl for inkjet printers.
Top 5 Permanent Vinyl Options Available for Inkjet Printers:
- Orajet 1917 Permanent Vinyl (8.5 x 11”) sheets, available at Swing Design
- Cricut Printable Vinyl/Printable Sticker Paper (8.5 x 11”), 10 count, available at cricut.com
- J and J Packaging Printable Vinyl Sticker Paper (8.5 x 11”), 20 count, available at Amazon.com
- Expressions Vinyl Printable Vinyl Sheets (8.5 x 11” / 12 x 12” or 8.5 x 24”), sold individually. Available at Expressions Vinyl
- Avery Printable Sticker Paper, (8.5 x 11”), 20 count, available at Amazon.com
Printable Heat Transfer Vinyl for Inkjet Printers
Iron-on transfer sheets has been a craft-store mainstay for years, and while most people usually eye it as an option for low-quality one-offs, the quality of printable heat transfer vinyl has greatly improved and there are quite a few good options available.
Using printable HTV is relatively straightforward. First, mirror your design and print on the sheet according to instructions, then load it into your vinyl cutter to cut out the design. Then you apply it to your garment with a home iron or heat press, and then it’s finished.
When selecting printable HTV, pay attention to the washing instructions, and look for user photos in the comments.
Top 5 Printable Heat Transfer Vinyl for Inkjet Printers:
- Avery Printable Heat Fabric Transfer Paper – 5 count (8.5 x 11”), available for dark or light fabric at Amazon
- Starcraft Inkjet Heat Transfer Sheets, available for light or dark fabric – 10, 25, 50 and 100 count available at Swing Design
- Expressions Vinyl Printable HTV sheets, sold individually by Expressions Vinyl
- NuFun Activities Inkjet Printable Iron-On Heat Transfer – 5, 25, 50, 100 or 500 count (8.5 x 11”), available at Amazon.com
- PPD Inkjet Iron-On for black or white shirts – 10 pack (11 x 17”), available at Amazon