Does a Vinyl Cutter also Print?

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Not for less than about $8,000

Many people ask the question “Does a vinyl cutter print” when searching for product information about these machines. The short answer is “Not for less than $8,000”

There are integrated machines that can print on vinyl and perform cutting operations, but those machines are rare and expensive.

However, most vinyl cutters can both cut and draw. Machines like the Cricut Maker 3 or the Explore 3 have dedicated pen mounts in their tool carriage that let you draw, write or trace on paper, cardstock or vinyl.

In fact, Cricut has a wide selection of pens and markers in a rainbow of colors including metallic and glitter ink. There are even adapters for the Cricut pen holder that let you use Sharpies and other non-branded markers and pens.

But there is confusion when people on the internet carelessly use the terms “vinyl cutter,” “vinyl printer” and “vinyl plotter” interchangeably.

To put it simply as possible, cutters and plotters are the same machine.

  • cutting uses the blade tool in the carriage,
  • plotting uses a pen tool in the tool holder.

Whether the machine itself is twelve or sixty inches wide, it can be called a vinyl cutter or vinyl plotter.

A vinyl printer, on the other hand, can be any inkjet printer. Basic vinyl printing at home requires special printable vinyl that works in inkjet printers using standard ink. Professional and commercial vinyl printing jobs require specific ink and vinyl that work in a selected range of printers, however.

Professional shops often employ vinyl printers and vinyl cutters in tandem to produce large volumes of t-shirt transfers or decals. Sophisticated software can link graphic files to both the machines. The printer can include registration marks that the vinyl cutter scans and cuts a clean path around the printed area. This type of print and cut job is common in the commercial printing industry and machines that do it well are very popular.

2 thoughts on “Does a Vinyl Cutter also Print?”

  1. What do I need to buy to get started doing print and cut jobs? Can I use an inkjet to print, then laminate, then use a cutter (using registration marks to contour cut precisely around what I printed? I need to make stickers that are customized for each customer. These will be small stickers that that will be placed on a motorcycle wheel hub. Then clear coat painted. Can you help me?

  2. Hi Tom! Thanks for your comment. I recommend starting with our article “The Best Vinyl Printer-Cutter Options For Every Budget.”

    That article discusses integrated printer+cutter machines that are geared towards professionals, and also 2 machine printer and cutter combinations that work for small business and also home crafters.

    I am hesitant to give a lot of advice without knowing more about your situation, like is this a personal project, are you making a large quantity to sell, how durable does this product have to be, etc. There are many options available based on your needs, your budget and the project itself. Please check out the article and follow up if you have more questions.

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