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


    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.

    All Sort of Tidbits

    I’ve had a number of items on my To Do list for a few weeks and today was a great catch up day for making some miscellaneous videos.

    Item Number 1: I’m going to once again BEG all of you to change a particular setting in Windows which hides your files extensions. Trust me… your “computer life” will be improved if you can see those little letter combinations which follow the name of a file. Sometimes, in a folder, you might find 5 files or more ALL with the exact same name! But they are vastly different files and even though you can usually figure out the type of file by looking over at the Type column, it’s MUCH faster to just see that file extension in the file name! In a prior post from almost two years ago, I explained how to do this in XP. But it’s a little bit different finding the setting in Vista or Windows 7, so I’ve made videos for both:

    Showing File Extensions in XP

    Showing File Extensions in Vista or Windows 7

    Item Number 2: For those of you who haven’t back up your ACS/KNK/DM/GE license files, here’s a quick video to show you how to do it. For those with a dongle, it’s a good idea to have them backed up on a flash drive and even on a different computer, although you should be able to pull them from your installation CD. However, on ACS Studio, I believe the license files are now stored on the dongle itself. For those with dongle-less versions of the software, backing them up to another location on your C Drive is important in case you install an updated version of the software, which will wipe out your license files!!! If you don’t have them backed up, then it could be a 1 – 3 day wait (more over the winter holidays) before they can be regenerated if you lose them! So, make sure you copy them into a back-up folder. Again, I have made videos showing this for the different Windows operating systems:

    Backing Up License Files in XP

    Backing Up License Files in Vista or Win 7

    Item Number 3: Now for something more fun! I recently read about a way to freeze raster images so that they cannot be inadvertently selected or moved. This is useful when you are manually tracing an image or editing a vector image that it still on top of the original raster. I made a quick video showing how to do this:

    Freezing a Raster Image

    Item Number 4: This is something I’ve been aware of since writing the first KNK User Manual, but somehow then forgot about it. In many of my videos you’ll see me select all images of a particular color by double-clicking the color on the Job Palette. It works fine… most of the time! But sometimes, for whatever reason, I will double click and it will just not select anything. There’s another short cut key which does the same thing: hold down the Shift key and click on a color on the Job Palette… same result. All images of that color will be selected. This is the new way of selecting by color I plan to always use.

    Item Number 5: Another recent discovery that I think I already knew but had forgotten. Most of you know the usefulness and, in my opinion, the necessity of using a mouse with a middle scroll wheel for zooming in and out in the software. However, you may not have realized that pushing that middle scroll wheel will put you into the Panning mode so that you can pan around on your screen as necessary. Pushing it again will turn panning off. VERY handy!