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Cricut Print then Cut Troubleshooting

I get a lot of questions from people about some of the errors and problems that they have with their Cricut Print the Cut projects, so I thought I would share my Cricut Print Cut troubleshooting tips with you.

First, make sure you understand the difference between a Cut only project and Print then Cut project in Cricut Design Space. If you are unclear about the difference, click HERE before going any further.

Print then Cut Size Limit

Cricut Design Space has a smaller image size limitation for the Print then Cut projects. The largest Print then Cut image you can do is 9.25 x 6.75. This is because the project needs to be printed from your home printer, and there has to be room for the black Registration Marks around the outside of the image.

The Cricut will then scan the registration mark to know where to place the cut for your project. If you ever get the error that your image is too large, check to make sure it fits inside a 9.25 x 6.75 space.

Here is a little Cricut hack for the Print then Cut size limit. You can slice your image into sections, as long as each section fits within the 9.25 x 6.75 size limit. Then when you make your project you can seam the pieces back together. This works much better on an image you uploaded and saved as a Print then Cut image, or a Print then Cut image created by Cricut. If you have a layered image and then use Flatten to change it into a Print then Cut image you might need to slice it by layers.

Failure to Detect Senor Marks

When you go to cut your Cricut Print then Cut project, the Cricut has to scan the registration marks in order to know where to start cutting. The registration marks are the black line or box around your printed image. If the Cricut cannot detect this registration mark you will get the Failure to Detect error.

Here are some of the recommended Cricut Print Cut troubleshooting items for this error.

  1. Make sure that the registration mark is fully filled in. If it is not, you can go over it with a black marker.
  2. Print your image on white or very light colored material/paper. The sensor is trying to pick up the color contrast between the registration mark and the paper. (Exception: The Cricut Maker can do print then cut on colored paper)
  3. On some models of Cricut machines, using glossy or shiny paper will make it harder for the Cricut to read the registration marks. Try using paper with a matte finish.
  4. Sometimes the amount of light in the room can make it harder for the Cricut to read the registration marks. Some things that people have tried to adjust this is to turn off the lights in the room. This allows the scanning light that comes from the Cricut to appear brighter on the paper. Another tip is to shine a flashlight over the scanning light, This is basically another way to make the scanning light shine brighter. One last tip is that you can close the lid of your Cricut machine.

Cricut cut line offset from the image

If your Cricut is cutting the shape perfectly, but it is just not lined up with the image this is a calibration issue. It is pretty easy to tell when the calibration is off since you have a perfect cut, but it is either slightly above or to the side of where you wanted it to cut.

To fix this, while in Cricut Design Space click on the three lines in the upper left corner of the canvas. A list of choices will pull down from there. Find the one for calibration. From there, the Cricut will prompt you on the directions to follow.

Design Looks Thick or Bold

Have you ever printed out your Print then Cut design and it printed a lot thicker or bolder than you expected? This is because you had the bleed turned on when you printed.

First, I think we should talk about what bleed is. In terms of a Cricut Print then Cut project, the bleed is the extension of the outline of the image.

Pretend your image is drawn with chalk on paper. If you took your finger and rubbed it on the outer edge of that chalk image it would become fatter and thicker. You would be extending the color out, almost feathering the color out from the actual image. This is what bleed does. It extends the color of the outer most portion of your image.

Now you might ask why would I want this? Because it gives you a bigger area for cutting. Let’s use my example of an image drawn with chalk again. If you do not extend that outer most edge of color, you have to be very careful while you are cutting so that you trim that image right on the line. If you are even slightly off, you will see some of the white of the paper. But if you feather that color out, now you could cut right in the middle of that area of color you extended. If you are off a little bit, no one will notice since there will not be an obvious white area.

I think a visual is the BEST way to explain this, so let’s look at the same image printed with both the bleed on and the bleed off in the next section.

Bleed On or Bleed Off?

For this Cricut Print Cut troubleshooting demonstration I am going to print the exact same image twice. Once with the bleed on, and once with the bleed off. The top image in the following picture has the bleed on. The lower image has the bleed off.

Cricut print then cut bleed on or off

The one with the bleed on looks a lot fatter and thicker. But let’s compare the two after they are cut. See how the one with the bleed on is cutting inside the colors area in the image below?

Cricut print then cut bleed on

The one with the bleed off is cutting right along the edge of the image, as you can see by the picture below.

Cricut print then cut bleed off

They are both actually being cut in the same place, it is just that the COLOR is extended in the one with the bleed on.

Once you remove the two of them from the cutting mat let’s see if you can tell which one had the bleed on and which one had the bleed off.

print then cut bleed on bleed off

Can you tell which one had bleed on?

The top thanks is the cut that had the bleed turned on. The lower one had the bleed turned off. I actually like the way the one with the bleed on turned out better, because you don’t see that thin white line of the paper it was printed on around parts of the image. Below are some close up images. The first one is the bleed on, and the second is the bleed off.

Turning Bleed On and Off

So now that I explained what bleed is, and how the image looks different when you print it but once you cut it they do not look that different, let me show you were the bleed on and off setting is in Design Space.

After you hit Make It for a Print the Cut project you will see a preview screen that looks like this. This is where the bleed on/off option is. I circled it out in blue in the image below.

print then cut bleed on

Print then Cut Tags with Text

I saved the best Cricut Print Cut troubleshooting tip for last. This is the thing that I see the MOST people struggling with when it comes to using their Cricut for Print then Cut projects. Typically I see this when someone is trying to make a product care tags. They print out a design and the words in the design look thick or bold. They get all worried that they did something wrong, and post a picture like the one below to a Cricut Facebook group asking how to fix this.

Most people will tell them to turn off the bleed before they print their image. This is not the right answer!

The Bleed is not the problem

Remember, we already talked about how the bleed will show you where the Cricut is going to cut. So in this example the project is set up to cut out all of the words inside of the care instructions tag. So this is not a case where you want to turn the bleed off. What you really want to do is tell the Cricut to cut in a different area. You want to tell it to just cut the care tag shape. I did a short tutorial on this HERE, but I am going to go into a lot more detail here, and use the example of the care instruction tags.

Remember, this is a Print then Cut project. There are two parts to that.

  • Part One: The print
  • Part Two: The cut

So first, let’s tell the Cricut what part we want it to cut, the tag shape. Now, it does not matter if that tag shape is a heart, a coffee mug, a shirt or a label. What is important is that the tag shape is a solid shape. Look at it in Design Space. Can you see the gridlines of the Design Space canvas through the shape like in the image below? If you answered yes, then the shape is not solid.

cricut print then cut set up the wrong way

So many people will set up there Cricut Print then Cut projects like the picture above. But remember that the Cricut is going to cut every place it sees a black line. Now we will look a the RIGHT way to set up your project.

Make sure your shape is solid

You need to make the tag a solid shape. To do this, click on the image and use Contour. This will open up a new screen, and you can click the Hide All Contours button to quickly and easily make this image a solid shape.

If you are going to print this on white paper change the color of the tag shape to white. By doing this it will not print the image of this shape, since our printers do not print white. It will only cut the shape.

Now you can click on the Text button, type up the text for your care tag and place it over the top of the solid shape. I also like to use my Align button to make sure my text is centered inside my tag. Then select the shape and the text and click Flatten. This will flatten the words to the solid shape. It will now print just the words, and cut just the shape. Your images should look like the ones in the picture below.

print then cut care tag

If you printed this image with the bleed on, the outer most part of the image (where the Cricut will cut) is the white shape so you would not see the bleed. Let me show you. You can see in the print screen preview below that it is going to print all of the words, but we do not see any of the tag shapes. Remember, they are white so we do not see them when they print. I also have the bleed on for this print just to show you again that the bleed is not the problem . . . it is that the tag was not a solid shape.

print then cut bleed on

Once I print this out it will look like the picture below. The words are nice and clear. We do not see any of the tag shapes.

print then cut

When we cut this with the Cricut is when we see the tag shapes.

print then cut care tag

Print then Cut Project Ideas

I have included links below to some of my print then cut projects for you.


If you found this helpful, you should join my Teach Me Cricut Design Space Facebook Group. You can ask me questions and I will share all of my best tips and tricks with you.

I also have a lot of great resources on my Classes page of this website including my Teach Me Cricut Design Space Online Course. In this course I take you step by step through how to use every button and function in Design Space. I have compiled the most frequently asked Cricut questions along with the answers to those questions into one online course. This is my most in depth and detailed Cricut resource ever! It contains over two years worth of Cricut knowledge and research in one course!

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