Print and Cut on your digital cutter without using Print and Cut

Apr 22nd
Print and Cut photo featured photo

Print and Cut can save loads of time when you are making invitations.


Print and Cut Photo 1

Not Print and Cut front of invitation

How often do you make a card using your digital cutter, and then proceed to write in it by hand?  That works out just fine for one off cards, but what about when you are doing something like an invitation?  Before I started to understand how to play with both Adobe Illustrator and Make-The-Cut software together, I’d cut out my designs with Make-The-Cut and then print out my invitation text on another piece of paper.  Then I’d take that printed piece, cut it with my paper cutter and perhaps clip the edges, and glue it on the paper cut with the digital cutter.  Here’s an example of an invite that I made a couple years ago.  The card size was about 4 x 51/2.


Print and Cut Photo 2

Not print and cut, back of invitation

Now that I better understand MTC and AI, I can use them together to print and cut  to make a much more interesting card, and it is easier.  I create my design in MTC for the cut out, transfer it over to AI, insert my text into the design, bring it back to MTC, print it out in MTC and then cut it out in MTC (without using print and cut).  Let me walk you through the steps so you can do it, too, using the Nutcracker invitation to our annual holiday cookie party.

Since we hold this party annually, I kept the same Nutcracker Image, and modified the image size for this years party.  I made 50 of them.  Since I make about 2,000 cookies for the party, I wanted to spend my time baking, not making invitations.  They went quickly!  Key to them being made quickly was Printing and Cutting without using the Print and Cut feature.

 Print and Cut the easy way

  • I start with a design in MTC that I like.  I’ve used the Nutcracker design above, but this time modified it to make it bigger.  I am going to actually print the invitation information on the back of the nutcracker itself.  I size the design in MTC up to fit my envelope, creating a shadow layer that is solid and then a cut out layer that will go over the shadow layer.  Thus my design has to pieces, cut out and background piece.  My MTC file (at this point) for this design consists of two layers, the shadow layer and the image.
Print and Cut Photo 3

Print and Cut: Shadow layer and Cut layer


  • I make my matt size the same size as the paper that I am going to be cutting out from, in this case 8 1/2 x 11.
  • I export this file to AI format ( unlock layers and select all) and save it, exporting only the layers that I want to use.
Print and Cut Photo 4

Print and Cut: Export


  • I open the exported file in AI and create a two more artboards so they are the same size and orientation as the matt that I have in MTC.  I copy the image to the other two artboards, and then delete the inner image from artboards two and three leaving only the “shadow” layer from MTC visible.
  • Print and Cut Photo 5

    Print and Cut: Three Artboards

    Using the text tool, I insert text in artboard two.  It is easier to insert text within AI than within MTC when you are doing large amounts and formatting.

  • Print and Cut Photo 6

    Print and Cut: Insert Text with Text tool

    When the text is exactly as I want it, it is all selected and I turn the text into an object.

  • Print and Cut Photo 7

    Print and Cut: Convert Text to outline

    Optionally, you can delete the outline around the text, leaving only the text in its own art board, which will translate as its own layer when ported over to MTC.  It is however, helpful to keep the outline so you can proof your alignment.  Your choice.

  • Print and Cut Photo 8

    Print and Cut: Delete border from Text Artboard

    There may be many open paths.  To avoid this, I run a script within AI to close paths (you can google this as there are several).  Alternatively, I can use knife point tool to surround all of the text and this will close the paths.

  • I save the file
  • Import the saved AI file back into the MTC file as a new layer.  Import only the text art board.  Now actually, you don’t need to keep the three art boards in AI, but I like complete files in case I want to make a modification later.
  • Align all the layers by laying the shadow layer with text that you imported from AI exactly over the shadow layer in MTC.
  • Delete the shadow layer in the AI imported layer containing the text and shadow outline.
  • There will be many open paths (this seems to crop up with importation from AI to MTC).  To remedy this, select all text and do a “fuse and weld” from the advanced menu option.  Carefully check that all the letters are now closed paths by looking at the layer in  “print preview”.  You may need to increase the tolerance quite a bit to get some paths to close.
  • You may find that after your paths are closed, there may be some closed areas that are dark (think inside of o,a,b, etc.  They may not clean up with the blackout tool.  To further clean up the print, again do a select all on the text, and do a join from shape magic.
  • Double check your print by printing a test page, and clean up as necessary.

Now that you have your text cleaned up, check your alignment one last time in case something moved, and print out the text on your paper.  Take it to the digital cutter, and cut it out in MTC using the WYSIWYG option, carefully aligning your laser on the corner.  Make sure to use the “taped matt” trick talked about in this post so that your paper is perfectly aligned.  In this way you will not need to do the time consuming “print and cut” option, but you will still get the great “print and cut” results.  The image below is actually one of the sloppy ones (Do you always keep the sloppy one as your sample and give out the good ones?).

Print and Cut Photo 9

Print and Cut Invite, back

Here is what the final invitation looked like once it was assembled.

Print and Cut Photo 10

Print and Cut invite front

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