Say what? A glossary of Silhouette terms

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If you’re new to the Silhouette community – or even if you’ve been here a while but have decided to try some new techniques – there are many terms and abbreviations you might hear that cause you to say, “what in the world are they talking about?” Today I’ll take the mystery out of a few of them for you.

HTV – Heat Transfer Vinyl. Vinyl that is applied to a surface using either a home iron or heat press. Most commonly used on t-shirts, tote bags, or other fabric applications but can also be applied to wood, ceramic, etc. May also be referred to as “iron-on vinyl” or “t-shirt vinyl”. Comes in a variety of styles including flocked, reflective, glitter, holographic, glow-in-the-dark, stretch, etc.

631 (Oracal 631) – Removable Adhesive Vinyl. Most commonly used indoors on items that will not be washed. Has a matte finish designed to reduce glare. Because it is removable, it is safe to use on walls as well as glass. Available in a wide variety of colors.

651 (Oracal 651) – Permanent Adhesive Vinyl. Most commonly used in outdoor applications or on items that will be hand-washed such as ceramic mugs. Its glossy finish reflects light and is well suited for mailboxes, front doors, or anywhere that will be exposed to weather conditions. Available in a wide variety of colors plus matte black, matte white, and clear.

Stencil Vinyl (Oramask) – vinyl used to cut stencils for painting or etching. While Oracal 651 can also be used as a stencil vinyl, Oramask is a specialty product and comes in the following varieties:

Oramask 811 – designed for use with water based/latex paints. Solid white in color and most preferred for etching.
Oramask 813 – designed for use with water based/latex paints. Translucent blue in color and most preferred for use when creating painted signs.
Oramask 810 – designed for use with water based or low-saturation solvent based paints on flexible, uneven surfaces. 810S features a solvent-based adhesive for stronger resistance to solvents.

Siser – pronounced “Caesar”. Manufacturer of heat transfer vinyl.

Chemica – pronounced “Shemica”. Manufacturer of heat transfer vinyl.

Weed – the process of removing excess vinyl from a design so that only the area to be transferred remains.

Carrier Sheet – keeps a heat-transfer design in place so that it can be transferred to a garment or other object. Most often the carrier sheet is a clear backing that comes already adhered to the HTV. When cutting, the vinyl is placed with the shiny side (carrier sheet) directly on the mat. The image is mirrored (see below) and only the vinyl is cut through – not the carrier sheet. Note: When using printed vinyl, the image is NOT mirrored and a separate carrier sheet must be used. Carrier sheets may be either plastic or paper and pressure-sensitive or static.

Transfer Tape – pressure-sensitive tape that is used to transfer weeded adhesive vinyl from its backing (release liner) to another surface. Can be either plastic or paper and may include a grid for assistance with placement. Comes in sheets or rolls and in a variety of tack levels.

Mirror (i.e “mirror a design”) – flipping a design so that a reverse image of the design is cut. When using regular (not printed) HTV, the carrier sheet is placed face-down on the cutting mat and the vinyl is cut from the back. Once cut, the image is weeded and placed on the garment (or other surface) with the carrier sheet as the top layer, so that the design is oriented normally for pressing. In Silhouette Studio, you can create a mirror image by choosing Object > Mirror > Flip Horizontally.

Offset – creating an outline in order to thicken a font for better cutting or add texture/emphasis to a design. The distance of the offset and corner shape (square or rounded) can be specified in the Offset panel of Silhouette Studio. Internal offsets may also be created, which are more applicable to printed designs rather than vinyl cuts.

Knockout – the process of overlapping two designs and then subtracting one design from the other in order to make a combined design that appears to be layered but is not. Especially useful when creating multi-color designs using glitter vinyl. This technique can also be used in conjunction with an offset to eliminate gaps in the design. Also known as the “cookie cutter” method.

Screen Printing – a method of painting on fabric. A vinyl stencil is applied to a fine mesh screen that is attached to a frame. The frame is then placed on top of the fabric and paint is pushed through the screen by use of a squeegee. Great for creating multiples of the same design.

Freezer Paper Method – a method of painting on fabric. A stencil is cut from freezer paper and then ironed on to the fabric. Once the paint is dry to the touch, the freezer paper is removed. An economical alternative to vinyl stencils.

PVPP – Paint/Vinyl/Paint/Peel. Painting method typically used for wood signs. In this method, a layer of paint is applied to the base, then a vinyl stencil is added, followed by another layer of paint in a different color. With this technique, the “stencil” represents the actual design and covers the base layer rather than using a typical stencil in which the positive space is weeded away leaving open areas where paint is applied. Once the final layer of paint has been allowed to partially dry, the vinyl stencil is removed and only the painted layers remain.

PNC/P&C – Print & Cut. A design that is printed on a home printer and includes registration marks. Once printed, the Silhouette’s built-in optical scanner reads the registration marks and cuts the design.

SVG – a format for cut files that stands for “Scaleable Vector Graphics”. This means that the image remains intact (not pixelated) as it is enlarged. SVG files can be cut on the Silhouette as well as other digital cutters.

CU – Commercial Use. A licensing term that specifies how a file or design can be used. In a nutshell if any money will change hands between the purchaser of the design and the recipient of the product that includes the design, a commercial use license is required. License terms may limit the number of items that can be produced even when a CU license has been purchased, thus you should always read the licensing information that is included with a file and adhere to its terms completely. If no licensing information is included, it is highly recommended that you contact the designer personally before using the design in any commercial endeavor – and “when in doubt, don’t!”

I hope you found this information helpful. Are there other terms that have caused confusion as you continue to learn about your Silhouette? If so, leave me a comment below or post on my Facebook page and I’ll try to help. As always, I look forward to your feedback!

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  1. 810 is actually for more uneven surfaces and water based paints because it is even more flexible than 811. 810s is for solvent based paints.

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