KNK Studio and ACS Studio Users NEED to Read This!

*** UPDATE: If you’ve already read this post, check out the FAQ’s I’m adding at the bottom as I receive private emails. Your questions may have already been asked. 🙂

On April 16, 2018, KNK USA was informed by CADlink that they will no longer assist owners of KNK Studio 7 or 8 or ACS Studio with recovering registration files. This applies to both those with dongled versions and dongle-less versions. CADlink has also stated that those customers who suddenly have registraton problems, but wish to continue using KNK Studio for designing and/or cutting, will need to upgrade to Signlab 10 Cut Pro at a cost of $200 USD for the software plus shipping for the software CD and a dongle. The shipping cost to those in the USA is $30. It will vary in other countries.

Since that date, I’ve been working on a document called Surving Post-CADlink Support to help ALL of you… including those who are currently successfully using these older versions. Some basic things you need to know:

  • Windows 10 updates have been causing the non-dongled version of KNK Studio to lose use of the registration files. This is the reason CADlink is reluctant to continue assisting users by generating new files. So, if you are a Windows 10 user, your current working version is susceptible to suddenly failing. Note that you can try registering again if you’ve not registered in the past 12 months. Please read the document for instructions.
  • The Signlab 10 Cut Pro version works with the older KNK models and with Windows 7, 8, and 10. It also offers some additional features not present in KNK Studio 7 or 8 or in ACS Studio. Thus, the cost of upgrading may be well worth it. To learn more about this new version check out this product brochure.
  • The upgrade price is dependent on proof of ownership of KNK Studio or ACS Studio. Those with dongles will be required to return their original dongle within 30 days or the new registration files will expire. Those with the dongle-less version will be required to report their original Activation Pin. If you cannot prove ownership, then Signlab 10 Cut Pro will cost $500.
  • There are other software options that are less expensive than Signlab 10 and are covered in Surving Post-CADlink Support.
  • The document also covers various options to try in case you find you are unable to use KNK Studio. Please check out those options before contacting KNK USA or me for help.
  • The document is a bit detailed but I needed to cover all scenarios for owners of both dongled and non-dongled versions. I regret the hassles that this change is going to cause users of KNK Studio. However, note that I also can see CADLink’s side of this situation. This is not unlike other software companies needing to abandon support of older versions at some point. I personally went ahead and paid the $230 to upgrade and I’m glad I did because there are features, such as node editing, that I want to continue using. Thus, I will still be happy to answer questions about this newer version.

    Please feel free to post any questions here or you can email me at smccauley45@cox.net.


    FAQ’S

    Q: Do I really need to upgrade to use my KNK Studio?

    As long as KNK Studio is working, you’re good to go. This is just a warning that if you buy a new computer or you have certain Windows updates get installed or you have to reformat your hard drive, then your dongle-less registration files will become invalidated and you will no longer be able to use KNK Studio. That’s when you’ll need to make a decision. But it’s very important to also read the Surviving CADlink Support document to fully understand ALL of the options you have. For example, you MIGHT still be able to register your original Activation Pin and keep using KNK Studio.


    Q: Is the upgrade really worth the cost?

    That’s a personal decision for you to make after you read my document, understand your options, and then ask me additional questions, as needed.


    Q: Does this mean I can no longer use KNK Studio to copy and paste to MTC?

    As long as your KNK Studio remains registered, you’ll be fine. Once that registration is wiped out with a Windows 10 update (or you buy a new computer or you have to reformat your current computer), then you can still open a KNK file and copy/paste into MTC once or twice before KNK Studio will shut down. But then you can again reopen KNK Studio, open your file, and do it once or twice more before KNK shuts down. Obviously, it would make sense to select all shapes in a file and copy/paste just once but then you’ll have to reorganize shapes by color or whatever. If this is too tedious and you still want to be able to open your existing KNK files or use the same functions you like in KNK Studio, then you’ll need to upgrade to Signlab 10.

    Note also that you can copy/paste into Inkscape instead and it has the ability to select by color and assign to a new layer which would make large files easier to reorganize.

    And finally note that SignLab 10 opens KNK files so if you upgrade, you still have that option to use your original .knk files.


    Q: Is there a way to batch convert .knk files into a different format, such as SVG or PDF?

    No. I’m not aware of a batch converter. But also consider just converting on an as-needed basis. Even if your registration no longer allows you to cut or design using KNK Studio, you can still open a KNK file and copy/paste the contents over to Inkscape or MTC.


    Q: Is Windows 7 safe from this?

    Yes and no. It should be as long as you don’t have any updates get installed AND you don’t do a reformat of your hard drive or reinstall KNK Studio. Sometimes doing a Restore can also invalidate the registration files, so be cautious.


    Q: Is the Signlab 10 cut pro similar to Studio? I know Studio so well and I’m worried I won’t have time to relearn a new program.

    Yes, Signlab 10 is essentially KNK Studio with some additional features. It will open any existing KNK files and you can do all the same things. There are some noticeable changes such as an improved Layer panel. But otherwise, I’ve not seen anything missing. For example, I immediately checked node editing and all the same tools were there plus a new one! With time, I’ll be checking these things out but transitioning should be fairly easy for people, if people choose that route over MTC or SCAL.


    Q: I’m very interested in SignLab 10 if it opens more design files.

    I’ve not yet done a side-by-side comparison but I did check and it can now open SVG files.


    Q: Does SignLab 10 only have a dongled version?

    Yes. There is no longer a non-dongled version. That being said, dongles are VERY precious… if you lose it, you have to pay full price ($500) for a new one. So you should treat it like a piece of jewelry! And, if you plan to pull it out of your computer frequently, then it’s best to use a USB hub or extender instead so that you’re not frequently tugging on the dongle.


    Q: I have only ever used SCAL (or MTC) with my cutter. Does this change affect me?

    No, it doesn’t. KNK Studio and ACS Studio are separate programs from SCAL and MTC.


    MTC vs SCAL: Which is Better for You?

    Make the Cut and Sure Cuts A Lot are two popular choices for designing and cutting files to digital die cutters. In the past year, I’ve been frequently asked which better. The answer is, “They’re both good programs, similar to one another with different strengths and weakness. So it depends on what you need.” Thus, it’s important for customers to understand the differences so that they can pick which one is best for them.

    I recently published a post at Personal Die Cutting which outlines these strengths and weaknesses, listing the assets of each program in various areas, such as text, designing, user interface, cutting, etc. I urge you to read this article in order to understand what the two programs offer and where they are lacking.

    I then came up with the idea of a checklist for users based on their specific needs and planned applications. The lack of a smiley face doesn’t necessarily mean the program is incapable of handling that particular function. It just means that the other program is better suited.

    Application MTC SCAL4 SCAL4 Pro Comments
    I own a Mac   The MTC version for a Mac, which runs via a Wine emulator, has restrictions: cannot change printer settings, only cuts to a few types of cutters, requires tweaking a throttle setting to prevent stops during cuts.
    I prefer to work in metric units   SCAL’s options are mm, cm, and inches. MTC main display, including the virtual mat is only in inches. You can enter settings in metric units, but the main display is always in inches.
    I cut lots of different materials   SCAL offers the ability to add presets for storing settings on both materials and blades.
    I design and cut stencils SCAL has a Stencil Bridge function for easily connecting child shapes to the outside area. In MTC, one can use the Erase tool.
    I design and cut rhinestone templates   MTC comes to a crawl if editing rhinestone patterns with more than a few hundred circles.
    I design and cut HTV projects   SCAL has a Knockout function for quicker designing of projects where layers cannot overlap.
    I cut small designs from vinyl SCAL4 Pro has cut by color and the ability to assign a layer to cut with every color and be used for aligment.
    I cut large designs from vinyl   Regular SCAL4 is limited to 72″ long cuts and there is no tiling option. You would need either MTC or SCAL Pro for these capabilities.
    I do print and cut applications   In SCAL layers can be assigned as Print-Only or Cut-Only. SCAL also offers customizable registration marks and Scan to Cut for some cutters.
    I make boxes and other score and cut items   SCAL works with dual head cutters and has a prompt option to allow tool changeout on single head cutters
    I design and do engraving patterns   SCAL has a Line/Hatch Fill option for filling in shapes.
    I draw with pens in the cutter   SCAL has a Line/Hatch Fill option for filling in shapes. It also has a prompt option to allow tool changeout, if needed.
    I prefer to design my own files Both programs have excellent designing capabilities.
    I prefer to buy cutting files or find free ones Both programs import a wide range of file formats.
    I design in KNK Studio     You can copy/paste directly from KNK Studio into MTC. Using SCAL means you’ll need to export as AI, EPS, or PDF from KNK Studio and then import.
    I design in Inkscape     You can copy/paste directly from Inkscape into MTC. Using SCAL means you’ll need to save as SVG in In kscape and then import.
    I like to freehand draw     MTC offers fat path (versus thin line only) and you can draw with various patterns of dots and dashes
     

    I also made a printable version of this table. Further, you can check out the user manuals for either program by visiting the Zing Air user manual page. The software part begins with Chapter 3.

    Please feel free to post any questions you might have about these programs! I’m always happy to answer.

    Next KNK Retreat Announced!

    The next KNK Retreat will be held May 26 – 28, 2017 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada! Liz Ackerman, who has taught at prior KNK Retreats and seminars will be hosting this one and I recommend her highly! She’s energetic, experienced, smart and fun to be around! For more information, visit the page linked below and feel free to post any questions you might have.

    2017 Wild Rose Retreat

    Review of the KNK Force

    Recently I was asked to review the KNK Force for an online site called Personal Die Cutting. If you are interested in learning more about this incredible one-of-kind machine, check out the review here.

    A detailed comparison to other KNK cutters is presented in the comparison tables here at my site.

    To check out the resources available for the KNK Force, visit a dedicated support page I set up, as well as Cutterpunk’s support page.

    Many KNK Force owners have created some absolutely amazing things! If you are a Facebook user, visit the photos section of the KNK Force Facebook Group

    To see KNK Force pricing and available accessories, click on the following links:

    KNK Force digital die cutter

    KNK Force accessories

    KNK Force blades

    Finally, if you have any questions about the KNK Force, please feel free to post them here or you can contact KNK USA directly by calling 800-268-3672 or you can use their contact ticket system at this link.

    Happy Cutting!

    Free Popup Gift Tag

    tag1

    I love Popup Card Studio SOOOO much that after signing up for a Christmas-themed gift tag swap, I immediately decided to design a gift tag that would also be a popup card:

    tag2

    I wanted a whimsical design and easily located a free Rudolph image using Google and traced it in MTC. I employed my usual approach of starting the design in MTC where it always seems easier to visualize the final product. I used a free font called Christmas Light Indoor for the To and From elements. Then I copied and pasted those into Popup Card Studio and created the popup design for the inside of the tag. I exported this popup as an SVG file to reopen in MTC. It’s important to note that if you are a KNK Force owner, you need to do this so that the fold lines can be broken and rejoined before the file is exported and opened in C3 for cutting to the Force.

    I used both the Maxx Air and the Force to cut all parts. Because the Force has easy and accurate PNC, I used it for the colored To/From pieces and for the Merry Christmas greeting. I also used it for the popup insert because the Force has dual heads, thus capable of scoring and cutting the popup all in one step. Given that I was making 16 of these tags, I needed efficiency!

    While the Force was doing its cuts, the Maxx Air handled the cutting of 16 sets of red, white, green, light brown, dark brown, and black pieces used in these tags. Now, if only KNK USA would come up with a machine to do all of that tedious gluing it took to create Rudolph’s head! LOL When I started organizing the file to share with everyone, it occurred to me that some crafters might like Rudolph to also be a single PNC element so that the tedious gluing of small pieces would be eliminated. No problem! I added several variations to the file that I’m sharing here.

    The file contains an MTC format file, a SCAL format file, and individual SVG files for those cutting with the Force or importing into a different program. Also, for those using other design software, the PNC elements have been included as individual PNG files. To verify sizing, the tag should be 4.75″ in height.

    If you’re into popup cards, think about buying Popup Card Studio. It takes a little practice maneuvering in the software but there are lots of free videos to help you learn it:

    PCS Demo

    Intro to PCS

    Two Line Card in PCS

    and dozens of other PCS videos here: Susan Bluerobot

    If you have any questions, please post!