Print then Cut calibration for Cricut machines

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You have to calibrate your Cricut machine before you can make a Print Then Cut project (and you will have to re-calibrate from time to time). This guide will walk you through this very simple process that only takes a few minutes.

All you need to do is print out a test pattern, put it on a mat and feed it into your Cricut. The machine performs a series of test cuts, and Design Space will ask you to give it feedback to assess the accuracy of the machine.

This guide uses screenshots of Print Then Cut calibration for the desktop/laptop version of Design Space (Windows/Mac). The steps for calibrating from a mobile device are exactly the same, although your screen instructions may look slightly different.

Open the Settings menu

In Design Space, open the pulldown menu next to your profile picture in the top right corner. Select the Settings option.

In the Settings menu, select the Machines tab.

In the machines tab, there is an option for Machine Calibration, and a pulldown menu. Select your machine type from this list. Press the start button to begin calibration.

For Maker or Maker 3 machines, there are 3 calibration options:

  • Print then cutSelect this option
  • Rotary blade calibration
  • Knife blade calibration

Print the test pattern sheet

At the next prompt, select your printer from the pulldown menu and print the test pattern sheet. You can print it on regular copier paper using default settings.

The test sheet looks like a bounding box containing a series of numbered/lettered horizontal and vertical lines and two inner squares.

Apply to Cricut mat and load into the machine

Design Space will prompt you to place the test cut sheet on a cutting mat. Align it to the top left corner of the mat and load it into your machine. Do not unload the mat until the entire calibration is complete!

Basic calibration assessment

The machine will scan all four outer corners of the printout, then it will cut out the smallest box in the center of the sheet. Design space will ask you to evaluate the quality of the cut. Specifically, DS asks:

Without unloading, examine the cut line in the small square in the middle of the calibration sheet.
Does the cut line touch the printed line all the way around?

Yes – Proceed to fine calibration
No – Let’s do a basic calibration

If the first cut touches the black outline of the square on all four sides, click “Yes” to proceed to the fine calibration. You can peel up the cut square with a weeding tool if it helps you make your assessment.

You can also use a magnifying glass or use the zoom function of a smartphone camera to see clearly.

photo of first test cut step for Cricut Print then cut calibration, where the small middle square is cut out of the test sheet

Fine calibration assessment

The next step in the process is the fine calibration assessment. The machine will make vertical and horizontal cuts along the printed lines on the page. Design Space will prompt you to select the line number/letter where the cut line is most closely centered on the printed line.

You can once again use a magnifying glass or use the zoom function of a smartphone camera to see the details more clearly.

In practice, your sheet will look like this:

closeup photo of test sheet cuts in second step of cricut print then cut calibration, showing cuts over vertical and horizontal printed lines

This requires a judgement call on your part. You can see that I could choose either 12 or 13, and either K or L, for ‘most centered’ here (I ended up choosing 12 and K as my best-centered cut lines).

It is a little different every time you calibrate, and usually there are a couple lines that are very close. Just do your best and see how the rectangle cuts out in the next step!

Once you make your selections, click Continue.

Final confirmation cut

Design Space will make one more confirmation cut around the edge of the larger rectangle. If the cut is centered within the black outline, you can confirm the cut is OK, which completes the calibration. (You can remove the cut rectangle from the mat to help with this assessment)

photo of final test cut for cricut print then cut calibration, where middle rectangle is cut out

If you are not satisfied with the cut, just re-start the calibration process with a fresh test sheet. If your first calibration attempt doesn’t work, a second attempt will usually produce better results. I haven’t had any trouble getting my machines cutting accurately with just 1 or 2 calibration attempts.

After you have completed the final step you will get a confirmation that the calibration process is finished. You can continue on to the canvas a start your Print Then Cut project!

Next steps and project ideas

Now that you’ve calibrated your Cricut, you might be looking for inspiration and ideas for Print then Cut projects. Check out our tutorials for making 3D Inflated Christmas sticker sheets or our tutorial demonstrating the Create Sticker function to make easy peel 3D Easter stickers.

Looking for more tutorials on using the basic functions of Design Space? Try our tutorial for Design Space beginners.

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