A cutting plotter works like a plotter, except that it moves a knife instead of the pen. Depth of the blade is adjusted to the material.
“Cutting plotter knives cut into a piece of material (paper, mylar or vinyl) that is lying on the flat surface area of the plotter. It is achieved because the cutting plotter is connected to a computer, which is equipped with specialized cutting design or drawing computer software programs. Those computer software programs are responsible for sending the necessary cutting dimensions or designs in order to command the cutting knife to produce the correct project cutting needs. In recent years the use of cutting plotters (generally called die-cut machines) has become popular with home enthusiasts of paper crafts such as cardmaking and scrapbooking. Such tools allow desired card shapes to be cut out very precisely, and repeated perfectly identically. They are output devices.” (Wikipedia, retrieved 14:13, 17 February 2012 (CET))
Cutting plotters are very easy to use. Basically one has to load a vector drawing into the machine code generator (which also can include a drawing tool). Then tell it to use either all or selected lines (strokes) as cut lines. Then send it to the machine.
Therefore, a cutting plotter is the most easy to use fab lab tool and the probably the cheapest too.
- Silhouette Cameo (cutting plotter we acquired on Feb/2012)
Cutting Plotters probably cost between $200 and $2000 and can be be bough in hobby shops, online places like Amazon, etc.
A good entry model is the Silhouette Cameo ($269)