If you are a new StarCraft Solo owner you might be looking for some tips and tricks for using your machine. This article will help you troubleshoot some common items you might come across. I am in now way a StarCraft Solo expert, but I will share everything I know and learn along the way!
There are two ladies that I would call StarCraft Solo Experts, and I am learning so much from them. They are Rhonda Mobley and Sandy McCauley. Both of them have helped me on my journey on how to navigate this new machine and software, and they help me Admin my StarCraft Solo Facebook Group. Here is where you can find the two of them, and their resources.
Rhonda Mobley on YouTube
Sandy McCauley on YouTube / Sandy’s Website and make sure to bookmark THIS PAGE. Sandy will also do Solo Tips of the Day, and you can find some of those HERE.
I know that when I see Rhonda and Sandy helping people online with troubleshooting they will often ask to see how much blade is exposed, and they will often ask to see a straight on picture of the front of their machine. This is because blade exposure and where you have your pinch wheels placed seem to be common issues for beginners. I will get into more specifics as I go along here, but I would highly recommend when you are looking for help to provide this information when you first reach out for assistance. It will make the process so much easier.
Activate your CREATE Software
Before you get started making anything with your StarCraft Solo, you will need to activate the CREATE software HERE. Rhonda has a great video that will walk you through the process HERE. If you do not activate the software, then you only have 15 days to use the free trial of the software. Additional you will get some random lines cutting through your projects, which we will talk about in the next section.
While I am talking about activating your CREATE software this might be a good time to mention that if you get a new computer, you will have to deactivate CREATE from that computer. While in CREATE, go to the Help button on the top of the screen and click on Deactivate. That’s it! Now you can go and follow the steps above to activate the software on your new computer.
StarCraft Solo Tips for Blade Exposure
As someone that started off with a Cricut and then moved to the StarCraft Solo, I feel like I really needed to look at my blade exposure and perfect that before I felt comfortable using the machine. You see, with the Cricut you just put the blade into the holder and you are done. We never adjust the amount of blade that is sticking out of the holder.
But with the Solo, since it is a professional quality machine, it allows you to do so much more. You can make adjustments and fine tune things to your exact needs. That was something that I really had to wrap my head around after years of not having to think about how much blade was sticking out. And the truth is, you really do not need very much blade exposed at all.
What really helped me is Sandy’s Blade Exposure Guide, which you can access HERE, and you will see in my TikTok video below. The blade should only be exposed to the thickness of the material you are cutting.
@shawnmosch StarCraft Solo Tip – Blade Exposure #starcraftsolo #vinylcutting #vinylcutters @mycraftsource.com @starcraftvinyl #craft #crafttok #craftingtutorials ♬ original sound – shawnmosch
Also, I highly recommend doing test cuts! This will help you see that you have your blade exposure, speed and pressure correct before you try cutting an entire project. There are some suggestions on speed and pressure that can be found HERE.
Troubleshooting Random Cuts
If you ever have issues with random cuts in your projects, here is a great little cheat sheet that will show you some of the reasons why to help you troubleshoot. The first example with the parallel lines going through your project simply means that you have not activated your software yet.
Shallow cuts between your shapes could be several different things. If you are using a cutting mat, that mat could be bowing. If you need a new cutting mat, you can get them at MyCraftSource.com and remember to use coupon code ShawnMosch at check out to save 5% off your order!
If the mat is not the problem, then it could be that your blade holder is mounted too low or you have too much blade exposed. If you look at the diagram below, specifically the second image with the blue lines, you can see that the shallow cuts would be going from the top of one shape to the bottom of the next shape, indicating that the blade is dragging on the material between the shapes.
The last example shows the most random of cuts, which are typically deeper. Again, this can indicate a number of different problems so make sure to go through each issue and verify that everything is correct.
StarCraft Solo Tips for Print Then Cut Projects
Print then cut projects are very popular. So many people are into making stickers and labels, so that is why one of the first videos I did with my Solo was about making stickers. There are some StarCraft Solo tips and tricks that are specific to print then cut projects that I will share here. Rhonda was nice enough to create the image below for things to check.
First, off is blade exposure. I know this was already mentioned, but it is that important so it needs to be mentioned again. In the image below you will see and example of both incorrect and correct blade exposure. To me, the one on the left looks similar to how much blade you might see exposed when using a Cricut machine. But remember, we are talking about a print then cut project right now, so that means you are probably cutting sticker paper or printable vinyl.
Sandy once told me for vinyl I should not go by how much blade I can see. I should just barely be able to feel the tip of that blade. To me that just felt so odd, but she was 100% correct!
The next issue that a lot of people do not think about is the location of the pinch wheels. When doing matless cutting to have your pinch wheels positioned with one on each side and one in the middle is perfectly fine. But with a print then cut project, you run the risk of the wheel running over the top of your printed design, and ruining it.
Additionally, I have found that when I am cutting with a mat, if I have that pinch wheel in the center it tends to warp my mat. This can then lead to the problem we already discussed above about random shallow cuts in and around your design.
Another big issue is having the Microsoft driver installed for you printer instead of the ‘brand’ printer driver. This can cause the registration marks for the StarCraft Solo to not print properly. I highly recommend checking out Sandy’s Printer Tutorials that can be found HERE, under Section 5.
Speed and Force – Software or Machine
Did you know that when you cut something with the StarCraft Solo you can choose if it will cut using the Speed and Force indicated in the software, or you can set up the speed and force directly on the machine? This gives you even more flexibility, but it also adds another thing to verify when you are troubleshooting.
So if you find that your StarCraft Solo does not seem to be cutting through your material, no matter how much you increase the force make sure to go and look in the cut settings and see if you have the Use Software Speed and Force button checked. I have the button indicated with the yellow arrow in the image above.
Other Products for the StarCraft Solo
If you are looking for additional tools and accessories to go with your StarCraft Solo machine, you should check out the product line at R Squared Specialties. They carry an Extension Table so help guide your materials through the machine, and also help to reduce the bowing of your cutting mats.
If you are like me and you like to keep everything organized and in it’s place, then the StarCraft Solo Tool Holder is for you! If you find that you are switching between materials a lot, you can actually order additional blade holders from Sandy, and then you can set one for each material you are using. Then have your most commonly used settings saved and stored in this little holder!
They also carry an adapter plate for a machine stand. This would be perfect if you are doing a lot of matless cutting, so you do not run into the issue I had of running out of space for the material to go once it is cut when I did the video below.
@shawnmosch Matless Cutting! #starcraftsolo #vinylcutting #vinylcutters @mycraftsource.com @starcraftvinyl #craft #crafttok #craftingtutorials #matlesscutting ♬ original sound – shawnmosch
StarCraft Solo Tips for CREATE Software
If you are moving from using the Cricut to the Solo you are probably wondering how to achieve the same results with the CREATE software that you used to do in Design Space. StarCraft has a cheat sheet HERE to help you, but I also plan on making videos on these different functions.
The first function I decided to do a video on is the Slice function. First I will show you how Slice works in Design Space, then I will walk you through the new Subtract feature from Design Space, which is similar to Slice. Last I will show you how to achieve that same effect in the StarCraft Solo CREATE software.
One of the more recent updates to Cricut Design Space actually expanded on the Weld feature by adding the Combine button. Combine gives you a lot more options of what you can do with your projects. Ironically, the new Combine button works a lot more like the options that were already available in CREATE. My video HERE will show you each feature under Combine, including Weld and then show you how to do those same actions in CREATE.
StarCraft Solo Stops Cutting
If you are working on a project and your StarCraft Solo just stops cutting, there could be a few things that are causing this. For me when this happened I found that it was stopping in the exact same spot in the design every time. Typically when this happens it is due to the number of nodes in the path. Luckily you can reduce, or simplify the path. I will show you how to do that in the video below.
As I discover more tips and tricks I will continue to add them here, so make sure to bookmark this page. Also if you find a helpful tip or trick send it to me so I can add it here!
Hi Shawn, thanks for what you do. My shop is looking at purchasing the Solo cutter. I don’t see anyone talking about the actual blades that fit it. Do these use special blades, or are they effectively the same as other cutters. I do have experience with Cricut, but am not sure if those fit the Solo. If not, where do I get the blades for Solo?
Also, can you tell me if Create handles .dxf files. We have a CNC shop that utilizes drillers and routers. We operate in CAD files. We’d prefer not to convert to .svg. We need a vinyl cutter to cut some thin adhesive sheets, similar to vinyl. We believe the Solo will be perfect.
Thank you for your comment! You could use the blades that you use for other cutting machines, but you can also order items from Sandy McCauley at https://www.iloveknk.com/about-sandy-mccauley/
I just imported a .dxf file to the CREATE software to test it out, and it worked for me!