Understanding where shapes will cut is always a challenge faced by anyone with a new cutter. Our brains are programmed to expect one result and, unless you just get lucky, a different result is what you get. KNK USA has always provided a test pen with every new cutter so that new owners can draw on scrap paper for the first hour or two or three and avoid wasting material or cutting into the mat.

I want to emphasize that this lesson is based on how C3 works currently. At some point in the future, C3 will have more options. Also, I welcome questions, so don’t hesitate to post them here. All posts are moderated to prevent spamming so you won’t see your questions immediately appear nor will they be answered quickly. But I will answer them within 24 hours.

Let’s get started! As you work through this tutorial, click on the screen captured images, as needed, to get a larger view. The bounding boxes around the shapes in C3 can be difficult to see otherwise.

There are usually two orientations in a cutting program: Portrait and Landscape. Currently, C3 only cuts in Portrait mode. Thus, the way you see it on the screen in the design program, left to right, is the way it’s going to cut in C3: left to right, as you face the Force. Note that it doesn’t matter whether or not the design program has a portrait or a landscape setting. Therefore, if you have a design that is wider than 15″, you need to make sure it’s rotated before exporting as an SVG. For example, let’s say this is your design and it is 23″ wide:


This file cannot be cut in this direction. It must be rotated so that the 23″ side is running up and down on the screen:


Now the file will cut to the Force the correct way. Note that being able to rotate shapes before cutting is on the To Do list for C3, but not yet available.

The material to be cut can be located anywhere on the cutting mat:


Some programs use a virtual mat and users place the material on the actual cutting mat based on where the shapes are located on the virtual mat. In C3, there is no virtual mat. But the following steps will help you understand where you can expect shapes to cut based on how they appear in C3.

You always set an X,Y origin before cutting. This origin is typically in the lower right corner of the material, just a small distance from the outside edges. The tip of the left side tool is used for setting this origin.


The thumbnail image in C3 indicates where the image will cut relative to the origin you set on the Force. For example:


If you have several shapes, then those shapes maintain the same relative distance apart:


If you set the origin in a different location, such as at the “X” below, then the shapes will align with that new origin. For example:


To help clarify this, note the box that surrounds the thumbnail image. The lower right corner of that box approximates the location of the origin you set:


Depending on the program which exported the SVG file, you may find a situation where the thumbnail box around the shapes is much larger:


In this case, the thumbnail box indicates that the original software had the ability to store more information in the SVG file: specifically the size of the document area that was used in the software and where the shapes were located in that document area. The same alignment occurs in that the bottom right corner of that thumbnail box will align with the origin that is set. The origin is again set in the lower right corner of the material and the shapes will be cut in the location indicated by the thumbnail:


Some vector programs allow you to choose, during export, how the shapes will be located relative to the bounding box. In other words, you can decide if you want the bounding box to be just around the shapes themselves or around the document area that was set up in the original program. This will be covered, in the User Manual, for various common vector programs, such as Adobe Illustrator and Inkscape.

For programs that cannot export an SVG with information about shape location (e.g. Make The Cut), a quick work-around is to add a tiny shape, such as a small line, at the bottom right corner of the virtual mat or document area:


Without that small shape, the bounding box is around the other shapes:


However, by including that small shape in the lower right corner (which matches the location of the origin on the Force), the bounding box now extends to the origin and the shapes will cut in the same location on the material as they are positioned on the virtual mat in MTC:


The best way to master this topic is to play around with some shapes of your own, exporting them from your vector design software, predicting where the shapes will cut on the Force, and then verifying using the test pen and paper. You can’t get started quite yet! But soon you will and again, if you have questions, post away!