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Plotter newbie looking for guidance

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  • Plotter newbie looking for guidance

    We picked up a used Mimaki flatbed cutter/plotter with the intent on using it for prototyping die cut work and some light packaging applications. I've got the machine, Illustrator and a print driver. Now what? I'm essentially looking for a few first steps to get me started. I tried Googling this but have come up empty. Any assistance is appreciated!

  • #2
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    • #3
      Hello stickman,

      Are you able to draw a basic shape in illustrator and send it to the cutting table ?

      Just need to understand if you are having trouble getting the table to work or do you just need some illustrator files to experiment with.

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      • #4
        Tim - Thanks for replying. I just got the plotter placed and was able to run some embedded test cuts, so I know it works. I have illustrator ready to go, but need to get the cabling from Mac to plotter done yet.

        what I'm really interested in is getting a hand with:
        - what file type should I be sending to the plotter, or will I be using the driver to "print" from illustrator?
        - how do I tell the plotter where to cut and where to crease? My plotter has 2 tool holders.

        I'm sure there will be more I'll be looking to learn.

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        • #5
          Hello Stickman,

          I know a little about the Mimaki CFL-605RT. I nearly bought one a year ago. Mimaki make a plug in for illustrator. You put your cuts on one layer and your creases on another layer. From there you send it to the table. Have a good look around the Mimaki website for software.

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          • #6
            Thanks again Tim. Layers makes good sense. I have briefly looked at Mimaki's Fine Cut software, seems they have a demo.

            Ink Man? deep breath...

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            • #7
              No problem. I think you have the option to use either layers of colour swatches. What ever works best for you. I believe the settings for each tool are set using the panel on the table. (Speed, offest, pressure etc). The sales guy I saw said keep a note pad nearby and jot down the settings for each substrate you use.

              If the table is still in production, hunt around for a reseller and pretend you want to buy one. That way you can get a demo at the showroom. You tube might help also.

              Good luck.

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              • #8
                Tim - Just returned from vacation, hence the reason for no reply from me.

                I've been trying to imagine the best way to make the data connection to the plotter. The plotter has a 25 pin serial connector. I would have to add a serial card to a workstation and connect the two with a cable obviously. Where I'm stumped is that most serial cards I've seen don't have Mac drivers. Most Illustrator work is still being done on Macs, is it not? I know this strays from my original line of questioning, but any assistance would be appreciated.

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                • #9
                  i think the problem is going to be like you said -- the parallel port connection. macs never really supported that well anyway; it was primarily a PC protocol when Macs when SCSI or serial or AppleTalk. there are some 25-pin to usb adapters on amazon and eBay, but like you said, check the driver situation for the *adapter* -- you might find that they're only available for legacy systems and you might be out of luck.

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                  • #10
                    mojo - this is what's stumping me. Is the 25 pin connector by default a parallel connection? The plotter's manual mentions neither parallel nor serial, only DB25. This is an area I have limited experience in.

                    My plan is to:
                    - try to find a 25 pin to USB cable/adapter that'll work with a mac
                    OR
                    - put Illustrator on a PC (with potential font issues to deal with)

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Stickman42 View Post
                      Tim - Just returned from vacation, hence the reason for no reply from me.

                      I've been trying to imagine the best way to make the data connection to the plotter. The plotter has a 25 pin serial connector. I would have to add a serial card to a workstation and connect the two with a cable obviously. Where I'm stumped is that most serial cards I've seen don't have Mac drivers. Most Illustrator work is still being done on Macs, is it not? I know this strays from my original line of questioning, but any assistance would be appreciated.

                      Hello Stickman,

                      Hope you had a good vacation. Mine starts Friday - whoop whoop!!

                      Plan to drink a lot of what D Ink Man has been having lately ;-)


                      Anyway ... A quick Google Search for "25 pin serial connector to usb" showed lots of adaptors. There is no guarantee any of them will work as this kind of lead is for very old tech output talking to quite old tech input. If you mac is really new, you might not even have USB 2.0 nowadays.

                      A quick look on Ebay will show that an old copy of Genuine Adobe illustrator CS2 WINDOWS - full version will cost you about 20 bucks.

                      You see you don't need the full colour artwork with all the fonts and text to cut. You just need the basic cutter diagram. Just a few lines. So any old PC with a parallel printer port connection and an old copy of illustrator is all you really need.

                      Hope that helps.
                      Last edited by Tim-Ellis; 08-09-2017, 07:30 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Tim - thanks for the plain talk explanation. It's really making sense to me now. Last question for now - will Illustrator alone allow me to operate the plotter, or do I need Mimaki's software (Fine Cut?) as well?

                        Have a great vacation...

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                        • #13
                          Fine Cut will convert the vector illustrator artwork into mechanical movement on the table. There maybe other ways to use the table with drivers but they might be user unfriendly. Go for the demo version of Fine Cut and see how far you get.

                          Good luck

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                          • #14
                            UPDATE - thanks to all who helped here, I am able to use the plotter for what it's meant to do. Through an ebay version of Illustrator and the trial of Fine Cut, I am producing live work. You have my sincere gratitude!

                            Next on my agenda is to learn some about box construction and how to translate that into an Illustrator die line from scratch. Unless there's some templates out there somewhere that someone knows about...

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                            • #15
                              Hello Stickman,

                              Send me a PM and I will share some files with you.

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