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 dedicated machines that have inkjet printer capabilities that can print on paper or 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, or the Explore Air 2 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 to make your projects bright and unique. 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 rightly be called either 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 print shops often employ vinyl printers and vinyl cutters in tandem to produce large volumes of stickers, t-shirt transfers or decals. Sophisticated software can link graphic files to both the machines so that the printer can include registration marks that the vinyl cutter can scan and cut 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.
Read our reviews of the best vinyl cutters that can both cut and draw here.