Today’s tutorial is a design question that’s never come up before. Karen wants to create a swirling path of small rectangles resembling the path a bumblebee might take. 🙂 I had to think about this one for a while and finally came up with ONE method. I’m not sure it’s the easiest one in KNK Studio, but it will get the job done.
To create a complete site, I’m going to post the original reviews I wrote when the KNK was first released, as well as, the review of KNK Studio software. Again, the goal of this blog is to have as much information in one place, as possible. 🙂
Here is the initial review I wrote in December 2006 based on the original 13″ yellow Klic-N-Kut.
I’ve added some updated comments in blue. I also want to add one comment about the Klic-N-Kut line of cutters. They are production-quality machines and can be run all day long without overheating. This is not true of most other digital die cutters in the same price range or less. You will even find that some of these others are not warrantied for production use.
As many of you know, I was asked to be tester and reviewer of the new Klic-N-Kut. Below is my assessment of this new cutter which should begin shipping within a week or two. I’ve done my very best to present every aspect because it’s always been my goal to make sure every prospective owner of ANY cutter knows exactly what they’re buying. The new Klic-N-Kut Studio software is due to arrive in a few days, so I will be reviewing the software separately. I did my testing using Win PC Sign Letter 2005.
10 Reasons to Buy the Klic-N-Kut (KNK):
(1) The KNK cuts like butter! 🙂 Finally, I don’t have to worry about ANY of my Bazzill cardstock not cutting. I pulled out one particular heavy weave that I couldn’t even cut in two passes on my CR and it cut right through on the KNK.
(2) I can plop ANY of my scrapbooking papers or cardstock on the mat and not have to trim them first. I suppose if some company starts producing 18″ x 18″ cardstock, then maybe we have a problem. But I don’t see THAT happening, do you? The KNK will cut up to 13″ wide (the media can be up to 17.5″ wide). There are now four available cutting widths: 9″ Element, 13″ KNK, 15″ XL, and 24″ Grand. Refer to our web site, www.thatsscrapinc.com for pricing.
(3) I can get a lot more out of a sheet of cardstock or paper! The CR and WB restricts one to 8″ wide. But with the KNK and the ability to physically move the blade to the (0,0) orientation of choice, one can truly utilize every square inch of your 8-1/2 x 11 or 12 x 12 sheet of cardstock. It’s also much easier, for the same reason, to comfortably cut from a scrap of cardstock or paper.
(4) There’s a cool panel on the front of the cutter and I can set both the speed AND the pressure. You can even change these settings DURING the cut! Speaking of speed, the maximum setting is 24.5″ /sec which is about 6 times the speed of the CR or WB.
(5) There’s NOT a roller for inserting the mat. Instead, there are two levers on the back of the cutter to lift up and then you slide the mat into position and drop the levers to secure. This means you can place your media anywhere on the mat without having to align it at the edge and waste that first half an inch or so. The levers have adjustable springs to tighten for really thin materials and loosen when cutting chipboard.
(6) There’s a ruler built in on the front. Not only is it handy as a ruler, but I find myself using it to make sure my mat is parallel with that ruler (and thus the cutting strip) before cutting. Again, this helps one make sure you can cut up to the edges of your cardstock or paper. The ruler is no longer included on the KNK’s but alignment is just as easy using the horizontal indentations along the front of the machine.
(7) I LOVE the handle! Being able to simply lift this cutter by a handle to move it has proven to be a great feature! Even moving the CR and WB feels a bit awkward to me. I took the KNK to a crop and it was easy to get in and out of the car and to carry in one hand while pulling my scrapbooking tote with the other.
(8) The KNK has a built-in tool storage. While the CR and WB does have the little extra storage for one tool, the KNK can store up to FOUR tools. Additional tool holders are now available for purchase. Some of the KNK owners like having several bladeholders so that it’s not necessary to change out blades or drop-in accessories.
(9) It cuts chipboard! For the first time, I’ve been able to cut my own letters and shapes from scrap chipboard AND I did it using only 300 of the maximum 500 g of pressure! Granted it was thin chipboard, but it cut it in a single pass. The sliver blade, which was released in Fall 2007 allows for cutting thicker chipboards, although the chipboard still needs to be somewhat flexible.
(10) The price is great! Okay, it is $850, but this is amazingly cheap compared to buying the equivalent functionality in the Pazzles Mighty at $1500! As of Spring 2008, the 13″ KNK retails for $749.
There are only a couple I’ve run into.
(1) The cutter comes with a RS232 serial cable, rather than USB, so you’ll need to see if your computer has the appropriate serial port in the back. As it turns out in our family, every computer BUT mine has one. So I needed a converter. Of course, this can be a real plus for someone who does have that port but not enough USB ports for all of their peripherals. The Klic-N-Kuts are now direct USB machines and ship with a USB cable versus serial. There is still a serial port available on the KNK for those owners who want to connect that way.
(2) I wasn’t able to cut thick chipboard scraps that were also in my “junk pile.” I’m sending samples to Accugraphic so they can see what kinds of chipboard we scrapbookers manage to collect. The limitations may be based on blade length, however. I will be working with Accugraphic to understand more exactly how to identify several good chipboards to use. As mentioned above, there is now a sliver blade available for cutting thicker materials such as chipboard, Grungeboard, foam board, stiffened felt, etc.
(3) The following isn’t really a negative, but rather a warning to the prospective buyer. These heavy-duty cutters like the KNK, the Craft Robo II, and the Pazzles Mighty are substantially larger than the Craft Robo and the Wishblade. In fact they dwarf them in size. So, before purchasing make sure you have the desk or table space available. The KNK is 8.75″ x 24″ x 9.5″ and, of course, you need additional room in the back if cutting longer materials than normal. With the handle, however, it would be easy to store elsewhere and simply pull it out as needed. These are the dimensions for the 13″ KNK. The 9″, 15″, and 24″ all have the same width and height. Their lengths deviate from the 13″ based on the cutting width. In other words, the 9″ is ~20″ wide, the 15″ is ~26″ wide, and the 24″ is ~35″ wide.
(1) I’m still hoping for the “perfect pen holder” which will hold a Marvy Uchida marker. I have a whole set of those scrapbooking markers that I like using to add “detail” to my die cuts. I also like using a silver gel pen to write on dark cardstock. The new multi-purpose pen holder has a larger opening and will hold a wider range of pens. It was also discovered that the Foohy Elements pencil grips will hold larger pens in the holder on the KNK itself.
(2) The KNK arrived without a mat since I was a tester. I made my own 12″ x 18″ using quilter’s plastic and Krylon spray and it worked well. But Accugraphic is currently working on a new mat to ship with the KNK’s, thus I can’t provide a review on their new mat yet. Currently, the KNK’s ship with a styrene mat and a can of Kyrlon Easy Tack.
(3) The KNK Studio software should arrive this week and I’ll spend at least a week playing with it and learning how to do a print and cut, how to auto-trace, connect letters, etc. Then I’ll review it. I’m very eager to check out the functionality as Accugraphic is very excited about this new program. The review of this software is in the next post.
I LOVE the Klic-N-Kut! It solves all of the problems I’ve had with the Craft Robo, namely the inability to easily cut through certain cardstocks and the limitations on width. I can now cut certain chipboards! Additionally, it’s far easier to know where something will cut. I will keep my Craft Robo because I teach WB and CR students using it, but I haven’t used it for my own personal use since the KNK arrived.
Prospective buyers should feel very comfortable purchasing from Accugraphic. This company is experienced in industrial cutters and committed to their customers. We’ve received terrific feedback from members at the Wishblade Venting Yahoo group and buyers can be worry-free about after-purchase support. 🙂
Let me know if you have any questions or comments! I’m eager to discuss. You can also email me privately at email@example.com
PS Please feel free to share this review elsewhere. I plan to post at quite a few groups and forums, but I’m not a member of every cutter group or forum. 🙂
This review was posting in December 2006, long before I discovered the many hidden treasures within KNK Studio! At the time of this writing, I was so very impressed with what this program had to offer paper crafters wanting to design their own files. If I were to write this same review now, it would be three times longer. 🙂 I have added some updates in blue below to make the review more current based on changes.
As promised, here is my initial assessment of Klic-N-Kut Studio. It took me longer to review than I expected simply because I kept finding new features to write about. This program has it all.
To get you cutting right away, Klic-N-Kut Studio software comes with a clipart collection of over 3900 ready-to-cut .knk images sorted into 29 themed subfolders. While a lot of these categories are oriented for the business world, there are individual folders of interest to scrapbookers, such as food, holidays, sports, animals, people, borders, music, and household objects. There are also over 1300 free font files that can be used in this program. Of course, your own ttf fonts will work, too. The KNK’s now ship with another CD containing 174 .knk files from 20 file designers. These files are designed with paper crafters in mind and the response to this CD has been very favorable.
A tool bar along the left side contains all the most commonly used functions. It reminds me a bit of the tool bar in Photoshop Elements. Clicking on any icon will pop out a row of nested tools from which to select the function needed. When the function is selected, all available settings are then displayed at the top of the screen.
As anticipated, you can readily create welded-letter titles with mats and also readily weld letters and images to each other and/or weld to custom-designed frames. Auto-tracing imported black and white and colored clipart requires just a few clicks of the mouse. You can then ungroup the tracing and remove entire internal traced parts that may not be needed. What makes this program REALLY stand out is the node-editing capabilities. Right click on a node and a little box of 8 icons pops open. You can easily break a node into two disconnected nodes or provide a new path between two nodes. You can change straight-line paths into curved paths and vice-versa. You can also erase entire sections or duplicate sections of a path. If a path is wobbly, you can smooth it out.
KNK Studio has a Print and Cut function different from the optic eye method, but definitely precise (see method description below). I also successfully setup and cut dashed lines (called pouncing). The geometric shapes and welding functions allowed me to custom-design a flower and then I used the multi-pass function to cut my flower from chipboard! Cool!
I tested KNK Studio with my Craft Robo and found that it cut quite successfully directly from the software. Instead of using the regular CR Controller window, KNK Studio has its own window where you can set the speed and the pressure. There is a controller window for the Craft Robo Pro, as well. In November 2007, KNK Studio GE was released and this version is designed specifically for the 8″ Graphtec cutters: Craft Robo, Wishblade, and Silhouette. It utilizes the existing controllers for these machines, thus the users see the same window for inputting their speed, paper thickness, media types, etc. Further, it will communicate with the optic eye on these particular cutters.
There are so many miscellaneous goodies, I decided to simply list a selection of them at the end of the review. This is NOT all of them. I keep finding new things every time I explore the program. So be sure to check out this list and watch for future announcements about other features of interest to scrapbookers.
Because of my commitment to “tell it all”, there are a few negatives that I will share. First, the security on the software is REALLY tight. In the initial weeks of release, Klic-N-Kut Studio could only be installed on one computer, much like Windows XP. Thus, for the scrapbooker who owns both a desktop and a laptop or, perhaps, has a vacation home with a second computer OR even just one computer upstairs and one computer downstairs, this was posing a BIG problem. Fortunately, Accugraphic negotiated with the software provider to change this security to instead use a security key or dongle. This is a device that must be plugged into a USB port on whatever computer is running the software at any given time. While this solves the situations listed above, it does present one negative… YOU MUST NOT LOSE THE DONGLE! In the 18 months since KNK Studio was released, I only know of 3 cases of lost dongles and, fortunately, the dongle was found in one of them. The owners are being VERY careful and this has not been as big of a problem as I first feared.
Another negative is that while the Help files are extensive and detailed, it’s not always clear to me how to find the menu choice or function to reach that item. Several times I searched on a particular topic, found exactly what I wanted, but still didn’t know where to click on the screen to find it. But just as with Wishblade, RoboMaster, WinPC Sign, Illustrator, and Inkscape, there are step-by-step tutorials being written for scrapbookers, a support site has been created at www.scrapbookdiecutter.com, and Yahoo groups have already formed to help answer questions. The User Manual I wrote for the KNK’s is now over 100 pages in length and has received favorable feedback from KNK owners. I continue to write updates as new discoveries are found in the software. Also, I have created a series of downloadable videos, some free and others to purchase. If you decide to buy a KNK, be sure to watch this blog to obtain regular tips and techniques. Additionally, there are quite a few Yahoo groups and message boards devoted to the KNK, thus getting help with the KNK or just answers to software questions is available at all times.
And a third rather strange function is how the program handles fonts. Rather than just reading all of the .ttf fonts currently installed in Windows, one must “select” fonts to install into KNK Studio. Now there are some positive advantages to this: if you decide to use a font after opening the program, then you can just double click the font in Explorer or My Computer and then it will show up in the list of fonts you can then install in KNK Studio. Still, this is so inconsistent with how most Windows programs handle fonts that it will take some time for new users to become accustom to it.
In summary, this is a fully-functional, exciting, and fun program for hobbyists and scrapbookers to use! If you love bells and whistles, this is the program for you. In spite of having so much functionality, I have found it fairly easy to remember where I find features due to a well-organized main screen and very useful pop up windows. It takes some time to get used to the differences in terminology after spending a year learning RoboMaster, but in time they will become second nature! The challenge now is grasping the many more features I have at hand! I need more hours in the day!
Miscellaneous Features You’ll LOVE (in no particular order)
* Using the scroll button on the mouse, you can zoom in and out as needed! How I do love that! Pressing the middle mouse button toggles you into the “hand mode” where you can move the document around to find the part of the image you need. There are also icons for zooming in on the currently selected object and to zoom back to see your entire document area.
* It doesn’t matter where the images reside in the main document screen or how large the document size was set by the creator or even how large the image is itself! When you click on cut, the image is immediately placed in the lower left hand corner. In this cut screen, YOU then specify the dimensions of your media and you will see where the image will cut. You can then move it away from that corner, as desired. You can resize the image to what you need. You can also rotate and mirror you image in the cut window without disturbing the original image. On the other hand, if you DO want your image to be cut exactly where you have it on the screen, this is simply a setting to change… either as the new default or only as needed in the Cut Preview window.
* There are several ways to fill your screen with the same image. You can use an array function in your main document screen to simply click and fill rows and columns of the image and adjust the space between each one. Better still, let’s say you only want to make multiples one time and leave your file with just one image. After going into the cut function, you can then specify the number of repeats you need and it will show how many will fit based on the media size you specify and the spacing. After cutting, you return to your original window with only one copy of the image.
* You can specify what order you want the various colored lines in your image to cut. You can also set the KNK to pause between each color to change out the media or just check which colors to cut, as with the Wishblade or Craft Robo.
* You can label the colors in your image with specific names. For example, in a tracing of a doll, you can label the brown lines as “Hair”, the pink lines as “Face”, the black lines as “Shoes”, etc. Then, when you go into the cutting window and pull up the list of colored lines to check off, it will have those names listed by the colors.
* While in the main document window you can “turn off” images based on color. Let’s say you have a bunch of images in four different colors on your screen and you want to only work with the red items. By holding down the Alt key and clicking on the red color on the screen’s palette, all the non-red items will be converted to a dashed outline leaving just the red ones for you to select. You can no longer work with the other colored items. Similarly, holding down the Ctrl key and clicking on the red color will convert all the red items to a dashed outline, leaving the other colored items visible and selectable. You can also double click any color on the job palette and all items of THAT color will be selected.
* The print and cut capability doesn’t involve using an optic eye as with the Craft Robo and Wishblade. Instead, the user draws a rectangle to encompass the image(s) and clicks on three corners of this rectangle to “plant” registration marks. The image and registration marks are then printed and the printout placed on the mat. The software then directs the user to move the blade (using the keyboard) to each of the three registration marks and clicking on a “set position” key. Based on these positions, the KNK will then accurately locate and cut the image. Note that on the newer Maxx and Groove models, there is a laser light or alignment pin (respectively) used to make the process easier and quicker.
* The program will tell you how many inches and seconds it took to cut a particular image. It also has a built-in clock if you want to time how long it takes you to complete a project. This would help store owners and those who “cut for money” have a very accurate and fair way to price their work.
* There is a “banner fill” function which will “color in” your images. Thus if you are using a gel pen to draw letters rather than cut them, you can have the interior of the letters filled with the ink, as well. You can also choose to just outline instead. Note that this “banner fill” will be used for embossing once the multi-purpose tool is available for the Klic-N-Kut. Testing of embossing/engraving on craft metal, vellum, cardstock, etc have yielded some beautiful results. Photos of these projects are show in laster posts on this blog.
* For those designers who like to include instructions, labeling, and even dimensions in their files, it’s a cinch to do it all. One particular feature that will be so cool with patterns and templates is the ability to highlight the image, click on Object Dimension and when you drag the marker on any side of the image and let go, the length of that side is automatically added along with the arrows extending out to the boundaries of that side. You can also drag an arrow away from any spot and add a label such as “Fold along this line.” (Hope this makes sense!)
* An Undo Navigator tracks every move made during image design and editing so that you can go back and click on each step to review the changes that were made and decide at which point you wish to revert.
* The Weed feature will instantly add a box around your image and cut it out. This will be handy for designing greeting card fronts. There is also a Power Weed function where the user can add more cuts within that rectangle. This feature is used by owners cutting vinyl as it makes it easier to remove the waste around the cut image.
* The Multi-pass function allows the user to specify how many times to repeat the cut. This is important when cutting thicker chipboards where more than one cut is usually necessary to completely penetrate the material.
* If an auto-tracing yields more nodes than needed, you can highlight any section and then delete half of the nodes used and repeat, as desired. Of course, the Klic-N-Kut’s speed is so much faster that I tend to just leave the nodes in place.
* You can import dozens of different file formats including .bmp, .jpg, .dxf, .ai, .eps, .gif, .tif, .pdf, .png, .wmf, .psd, and more. You can also export in many formats, including .dxf, .pdf, .ai, .eps, and .svg. The import of vector PDF’s has especially been a great feature to utilize as there are some real treasure troves of vector pdf’s on the Internet to download and cut!Note that the software developers are working on .gsd import and export functionality for those KNK owners who have an extensive gsd collection or want to share their KNK creations with Wishblade and Craft Robo owners. KNK Studio now imports some GSD files and there are several easy methods to convert others.
The following review was written on March 30, 2007, a few months before the Elements was actually released. The review was written based on knowing the capabilities of the 13″ KNK and the changes that were being made to the Element. I’ve added some updated comments in blue. I also want to add one comment about the Klic-N-Kut line of cutters. They are production-quality machines and can be run all day long without overheating. This is not true of most other digital die cutters in the same price range or less. You will even find that some of these others are not warrantied for production use.
Onto the review….
10 Reasons to Buy the Klic-N-Kut (KNK) Element
(1) The KNK cuts like butter! 🙂 Finally, I don’t have to worry about ANY of my Bazzill cardstock not cutting. I pulled out one particular heavy weave that I couldn’t even cut in two passes on my CR and it cut right through on the 13” KNK. The Element has the same 500g of cutting force and uses the same blades.
(2) I can plop ANY of my scrapbooking papers or cardstock on the mat and not have to trim them first. I suppose if some company starts producing 18″ x 18″ cardstock, then maybe we have a problem. But I don’t see THAT happening, do you? While the Element is limited to a cutting width of 8.5”, the cutter itself will have an opening wide enough for 12” wide cardstock. Note: there is no limit on cutting length. The KNK Element will hold a 13″ wide mat and will cut up to a full 9″ on the left side of 12″ x 12″ cardstock. Thus you can more efficiently utilize a sheet of cardstock compared to other similarly sized cutters, such as the Wishblade, Craft Robo, and Silhouette.
(3) Because of the way you set the origin at an EXACT corner, I can get a lot more out of a sheet of cardstock and know precisely where an image will cut. Further, the software has settings to allow a WYSIWYG approach, so that the way I see it on the screen is the same orientation as how it will cut on the mat as I face the cutter! (No more upside down cutting, as with the Wishblade and Craft Robo!)
(4) There’s a keypad on the front of the cutter where you set both the speed AND the pressure. I can even change these settings DURING the cut! Speaking of speed, the maximum setting is 24.5″ /sec which is about 6 times the speed of the CR or WB.
(5) The Klic-N-Kut Studio software is LOADED with all the features a scrapbooker can ever dream of using. I can easily make welded titles with mats, fill a page with identical images and “scrunch them” to save on cardstock, and auto-trace images imported from my scanner, hard driver, or even the Windows clipboard. Please refer to my separate review of the KNK Studio program. This review is in the blog just posted before this one.
(6) With the optional engraving tool, the Element can emboss on paper/cardstock and not just do outlines! The KNK Studio software has “color fill” functionality, thus one can emboss back and forth across an image to give a true raised look. I created beautiful embossed images on vellum, too!
(7) I LOVE the handle! Being able to simply lift this cutter by a handle to move it has proven to be a great feature! Even moving the CR and WB felt a bit awkward to me. I’ve taken the 13” KNK to crops and classes to teach and it was easy to get it in and out of the car and to carry in one hand while pulling my scrapbooking tote with the other. The Element will be even easier. And this has proven to be VERY true. I always take the Element, rather than my 13″.
(8) The KNK has a built-in tool storage. The new CR II’s and WB II’s no longer have the little extra storage for one tool… what’s up with that? The KNK can store up to FOUR tools. The Element will have at least this much storage also available. You can purchase additional tool holders, as needed. Some crafters like to have several bladeholders to hold the new drop-in accessory tools and various types of blades.
(9) These cutters cut chipboard! For the first time, I’ve been able to cut my own letters and shapes from scrap chipboard! The software has the built-in capability of doing multi-pass cutting to make it easier for thicker chipboards. I found that thin chipboards cut in one pass at only 300 g of pressure. The thicker chipboards took several passes at 500 g. There’s a new sliver blade that improves the cutting ability of thicker materials, such as chipboard, Grungeboard, foam board, stiffened felt, etc.
(10) The price is great! Okay, the Element IS $549, but with the added functionality and amazing software package, it is worth the extra $100 – $200 over either Wishblade, either Craft Robo, the Silhouette, or the Pazzles Mini.
There are only a couple of disadvantages I see:
(1) You still won’t be able to cut ALL chipboard. If it’s thicker than the maximum blade length or really stiff chipboard, then forget it. On the other hand, I’ve had no problem finding suitable samples from my stash and I’ve located a terrific on-line store for buying a reasonably thick, acid-free chipboard that cuts beautifully in two passes. Note that NONE of the other cutters, even those in the $1000-$2000 price range, will cut all chipboard.
(2) The following isn’t really a negative, but rather a warning to the prospective buyer. The Klic-N-Kuts are heavy-duty cutters and are not light weight and compact. They are made of metal and have far fewer plastic components compared to the cheaper cutters. Again, they come with a handle to make them easy to move, but if you’ve seen the cheaper cutters, realize that the KNK’s are substantially bigger. The KNK Element is 8.75″ x 19.5″ x 9.5″ and weighs ~20 lbs.
I LOVE the Klic-N-Kut! It solves all of the problems I’ve had with the Craft Robo, namely the inability to easily cut through certain cardstocks and the limitations in software capability. I can now cut certain chipboards! Additionally, it’s far easier to know where something will cut. I will keep my Craft Robo because I teach WB and CR students using it, but I haven’t used it for my own personal use since the KNK arrived.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments! I’m eager to discuss. You can also email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS Please feel free to share this review elsewhere.
KNK Studio GE was created for the owners of 8″ Graphtec cutters, specifically: Craft Robo’s, Wishblades, and Silhouettes. The difference between the GE version of the software and the regular version is minimal… but still it’s worthy noting:
(1) GE utilizes the Controller window you are already used to seeing in RoboMaster or Wishblade or Silhouette for setting the Speed and Pressure.
(2) In GE you can switch to Landscape cutting by just changing the document to landscape (like in RoboMaster). In regular KNK Studio you have to turn off Axis Swap in the defaults.
(3) GE will do print and cuts… a window was added to turn on reg marks like in RoboMaster or Wishblade or Silhouette and you switch to a Knife with reg marks tools and that tells the Controller to do the search using the optic eye. Regular KNK Studio is not designed to utilize an optic eye.
(4) Regular KNK Studio has the drivers to cut to all KNK’s, AC40/Pazzles Pro, CR Pro, and WB/CR/Silh (but without the features in 1, 2, and 3).