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.

KNK Studio versus KNK Studio Element

On May 1, I posted the differences between the regular KNK Studio and KNK Studio GE. Now the question has arisen about the differences between regular KNK Studio and KNK Studio Element. It’s my understanding that the Element version only installs the drivers for the KNK cutters and it’s the version that ships with an Element and the 13″ KNK. Now that all the new KNK’s are direct USB, it doesn’t matter if you pick Element or Klic-N-Kut as the driver in this or the other edition… they both will work the same. The Element edition, however, does NOT contain the drivers for the Craft Robo/Wishblade/Silhouette nor for the AC40/KNK Pro/Pazzles Pro.

Now that I’ve THOROUGHLY confused you, if you have KNK Studio Element and you really need to cut to your 8″ Graphtec cutter or to an AC40/Pazzles Pro from it, then there’s a way to do that, too. If you’re one of my customers, just email me and I’ll help you with that. If you purchased your KNK from another dealer, then let them know you want to be able to cut to your 8″ Graphtec cutter and they should be able to assist you. 🙂

To Swap That Axis or Not!

One of the most confusing issues for new users of KNK Studio is what to do about the Axis Swap setting under Cut>Plotting Defaults. And to add to the confusion, that setting works differently in regular KNK Studio versus KNK Studio GE.

For users of regular KNK Studio, you control Portrait vs Landscape cutting by having that parameter checked or unchecked. In my video on “Understanding the Sign Blank”, which was created over 6 months before GE was released, I instruct the user to make sure Axis Swap is checked in order to have a Portrait orientation when cutting. If a Landscape orientation is needed, then UN-check that box.

However, GE was devised to work like RoboMaster and Wishblade Advance. You control the Portrait vs Landscape orientation from within Layout>Blank Size. Simply check whichever one you want. And under Cut>Plotting Defaults, leave Axis Swap UN-checked ALL the time.

Another recommendation involves opening .knk files from other users. Because the owners of KNK cutters have larger cutters, it’s not unusual to open up 12″ x 12″ layouts and some of the settings from that user’s KNK Studio will be sent with this file. To avoid having so much to verify or having to troubleshoot why your file won’t cut as it should, use File>Import versus File>Open when loading these files. You will retain YOUR Sign Blank settings! And, to keep the same image sizes, just left click once when you see the “L” cursor appear, rather than dragging your mouse to create a box. For some projects, it’s often important to keep the exact dimensions that the designer used.


Hi all,

Today’s post is about the differences between Regular KNK Studio and KNK Studio GE. I get asked this question about three times a week by members at the various boards. Below is a list I compiled to explain the technical differences but we’re also being asked, based on what cutter you own, which software would be the best choice. Here are the guidelines:

(1) If you own an 8″ Graphtec cutter (blue WB, pink WB, blue CR, new CR, Silhouette), then you want GE. Again, read the differences below.

(2) If you own a KNK, then you would have received KNK Studio with your cutter and you can also cut to a CR Pro, AC-40, Pazzles Pro, and any of the above 8″ Graphtec cutters. However, unlike with GE, you cannot do a print and cut using the built-in optic eye on a Graphtec cutter.

(3) If you own another cutter, such as the Pazzles Inspiration, you may want to buy KNK Studio for the additional features. Fore example, we’ve sold a number of copies to those who want to import vector PDF files and then save in a format that will import into other software programs. In this situation, you should just buy GE because it costs less. 🙂

Now… onto the differences between regular KNK Studio and GE:

(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).

Be sure to let me know if you have any questions! Oh… and I own a Yahoo group just for KNK Studio GE. It’s at