Monday, November 4, 2013

US Cutter Laserpoint Repair Sloppiness

When I decided to get into vinyl cutting, like many people I didn't want to spend $2500+ on a machine to find out if I liked it or not and if I could make money using it. So I started searching and found several companies marketing Sub $1000 machines that all claimed they could do everything the Graphtec's could do. So I finally decided on a Us Cutter Laserpoint 24" With a stand and catch basket it only set me back about $500 and it looked pretty good in red too.


USCutter 31.5-inch LaserPoint II Vinyl Cutter Contour Cutting w/ Stand & SCAL Pro


Problems
One issue that always seems to come up when buying Chinese import equipment is that they are poorly assembled, calibrated and aligned. But if you take a little time and set the tings up and maybe even upgrade a couple things, you can have a very nice long lasting piece of equipment that will pay for itself over and over. I bought this machine 4 years ago with the intention of upgrading later and never did. I took some time and set the machine up right and took care of it and have cut literally thousands of yards of vinyl on this machine.

When I got my machine it worked as described, but had a couple of issues. The most noticeable was not closing all the cuts it made, especially on very small text less than about 3/8". Also, no matter what I did it would not make perfectly square corners, they over or under ran depending on direction. regardless of blade offset etc. So I started inspecting and found some play that I thought I could fix. So I wrote this article and posted it in the forums, but I thought I should post it up here in case it gets lost in forumville.

Sloppy Bearing Repair.
When I first got my machine I went over it with a fine tooth comb adjusting, dialing and just basically getting it cutting as good as I could for a Chinese machine. I got it close but I still wasn't 100% satisfied, I'm kind of a perfectionist in that respect.

So while I was installing my blade holder I noticed a little front to back slop in the carriage the blade holder is mounted to. What I mean is, you grab onto the blade holder bracket after you have a blade in place and lightly pull back and forth on it from front to back of the machine.

After studying the machine for a little bit I saw that on the left side of the cutter head are two roller bearings that are screwed in the head, there are spring like bars running up and down that keep these bearings in line and prevent the lower cutter head from rotating on the solenoid shaft. This may sound a little technical but it's not that hard to fix. The way this works is there is a threaded screw that runs through one bearing, a nut to lock that bearing in place. then another bearing gets tightened against the nut when you tighten the screw, The first bearing on mine was a little loose, allowing the cutter to slop back and forth. I  removed the screw, placed a piece of paper underneath it, there are several tiny little washers in there.  I removed the inner bearing and the nylon washers on either side of it. Then tightened the jamb nut tight up against the outer bearing. then I put the washers and inner bearing back on, then reinstalled the whole assembly and tightened the screw back down.
Results
 First off I noticed a huge improvement in the corners and I got rid of most of the little pig tails it was leaving at the start of a cut. Almost all of the play I had is gone and it seems much tighter.

Hope this helps someone else with similar problems. What it does, is show that sometimes even though a machine is inexpensive a little ingenuity can make it work like a much more expensive piece of equipment. I have been cutting letters even smaller than 1/4" and have very little if any flaws.

Disclaimer
This fix was done on the first generation of LP cutter. They have released a newer version of the cutter and I have no experience with it all. So if you can find one of these version cheap you could possible get a great cutter for very little money.

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