The MUSE M60 is the newest vinyl cutter from SIGNWarehouse. It’s a 60-inch vinyl cutter that is the perfect size for lots of large-format applications. Lots of customers have bundled it with a large-format printer. But the MUSE M60 is versatile enough for vehicle graphics too. It’s also a great choice for automotive applications including cutting window tint and paint protection film.
Since the films used for these applications present unique challenges, we thought we’d offer up this little article and share some tips for using your MUSE M60 for cutting window tint and paint protection film.
Why Use a Vinyl Cutter for Custom Automotive Film
Tech-savvy installers have been using vinyl cutters for custom automotive work for years. Cutting and installing film by hand has unnecessary risks, including damage to expensive vehicles and inconsistent cutting quality. A vinyl cutter removes the risk of damaging a customer’s Corvette by cutting film on the glass. And a vinyl cutter never has a bad day that results in poor quality.
Why the MUSE M60 Works for Window Tint and PPF
But not all vinyl cutters are up to the challenge of cutting window tint and paint protection film. These films are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of demands placed on the equipment. It takes a unique plotter to cover them both. The MUSE M60 is just such a machine. Its feature set includes a wide array of cutting tools, eight, individually actuated pinch rollers, and up to 2,000grams of cutting force.
M60 and window tint film: Window tint film is very thin. The thinnest sign vinyl most people use is 2-mil cast film. Many standard window tint films are only one mil thick. You can see now why cutting window tint film with a vinyl cutter can be challenging. The standard 45 and 60° blades used for cutting sign vinyl are too deep for this material. The MUSE M60 also comes with a 30° blade that is more suitable for window tint.
But cutting is only half the battle. Many vinyl cutters don’t have the media handling finesse to cut the film without causing wrinkles and ruined templates. The M60’s pinch rollers can be raised and lowered individually. This means you can place them only where you want to apply pressure to the film. This helps manage window tint film without excessive force that causes problems with some other vinyl cutters.
And did we mention, it’s really big? Expert tint installers – and their discriminating customers – insist on a seamless application on rear windows. This requires a vinyl cutter that can cut templates at least 40 inches wide. The M60 has a maximum cutting width of 60 inches, so it’s more than capable of cranking out seamless, full-size window tint patterns.
M60 and paint protection film: Automotive paint protection film is used to harden the grill, hood, and other forward-facing areas against road debris. The clear paint protection film is much more attractive than the old “le Bra” fabrics that debuted in the 80s. These unsightly add-ons protect the paint but mar the vehicle’s aesthetics. Clear PPF products like ORAGUARD 270 StoneGuard film are a much more elegant solution. They’re also used to protect other high-contact surfaces like sport helmet decals, motocross bikes, automotive fenders, mirrors, and rear bumpers.
But a film tough enough to repel rock chips can’t be cut with just any vinyl cutter. The MUSE M60 has up to 2,000 grams of cutting force! You won’t need all of the force, but it’s more than enough to cut your PPF templates efficiently and cleanly.
So the MUSE M60 is precise enough to manage and cut window tint film and tough enough to cut PPF as well. It’s the perfect vehicle for upgrading your custom auto film business. But there are a few important tips and tricks you’ll need to know to make a smooth transition to plotter cut templates. Here are some suggestions based on our testing with EnduraTINT and ORAGUARD media.
Cutting Window Tint Film with a MUSE M60 Vinyl Cutter
The suggested settings below are offered not as absolutes, but as a starting point. These are based on our testing with standard and high-performance EnduraTINT window tint film. Keep in mind that standard and high performance metalized films have different properties that may affect the optimal force setting.
With EnduraTINT Standard, the film’s VLT is partly a reflection of its thickness and density. A low VLT film like enduraTINT STD 5 has a thickness of 1.5mil. As thin as that sounds, it’s 50% thicker than all of the lighter VLT films, which are only 1 mil thick. . So, if you set your force for STD 5, you should reduce the force setting for the lighter standard films. All EnduraTINT High-Performance films are 1.5mils thick, so there is less variation in force required from one to another. With that in mind, here are our suggested settings for cutting EnduraTINT window tint film with a MUSE M60 vinyl cutter.
Blade: 30° MUSE plotter blade. Start with a fresh blade to be sure you’re setting up the cutter under optimal conditions. As you cut more film, the blade may become dull and require more force but your preset should be based on a fresh, sharp blade.
Blade Depth: Before adjusting the force, set the blade in the blade holder so that the tip is barely visible outside the blade holder. Set the blade on the film on a flat surface and draw a box manually, then weed it. You should be able to weed away the film from the clear release liner, without cutting through the liner. If you can’t weed the film, expose more of the blade tip and try again until you have a good clean cut that’s fairly easy to weed. Now you’re ready to adjust the force.
Force: Start with the force at 17 on the MUSE speed and force window. Perform a test cut and adjust as needed.
Speed: The cutting speed settings on the MUSE control panel are displayed on a scale from 1 to 13. The VS setting is the cutting speed. The US setting is the carriage speed while the blade is raised (also referred to as ‘up’ speed). Set the VS between 2 and 4. Lower speeds are recommended because of the challenges of cutting such a thin film noted above.
Cutting Paint Protection Film with a MUSE M60 Vinyl Cutter
As with the window tint film, the suggested settings below are offered as a starting point. These are based on our testing with ORAGUARD StoneGuard paint protection film. Keep in mind that PPF products vary widely in thickness and density; some are as thin as 6mil and others as thick as 15mil. Some are PVC and others are Polyurethane. These differences affect the film’s density and therefore, the amount of cutting force required. Our recommendations are based on testing with a 6mil PVC film. Your mileage may vary.
Film: ORAGUARD StoneGuard 270
Blade: MUSE 60° Plotter Blade
Blade Depth: Before adjusting the force, set the blade in the blade holder so that the tip is barely visible outside the blade holder. Adjust it outward a bit to account for the thickness of the material. PPF face film may be up to 5 times thicker than sign vinyl, so a little more blade exposure is good here. Set the blade on the film on a flat surface and draw a box manually, then weed it. You should be able to weed away the film from the clear release liner, without cutting through the liner. If you can’t weed the film, expose more of the blade tip and try again until you have a good clean cut that’s fairly easy to weed. Now you’re ready to adjust the force.
Blade Force: Start with the force 20 – 24 on the MUSE speed and force window. Perform a test cut and adjust as needed.
Speed: The cutting speed settings on the MUSE control panel are displayed on a scale from 1 to 13. The VS setting is the cutting speed. The US setting is the carriage speed while the blade is raised (also referred to as ‘up’ speed). Set the VS between 6 and 7.
Overcut: In addition to setting the correct, speed, force, and blade depth, there’s one other critical setting when cutting thick media. The thickness of the face film affects the default offset of the plotter blade, resulting in corners that may not be cut all the way through to the bottom of the film. To correct for this, adjust the overcut setting in your software. This will guide the blade past the end of a path so that the film is cut all the way through from top to bottom. The recommended overcut setting for 6-mil PVC film is .3-in to .5-in (.75-cm to 1.25-cm).
Window Tint and Paint Protection Software
Speaking of software, you may be wondering what software supports the MUSE vinyl cutters, and includes vehicle templates for window tint and paint protection film applications. The standard software solutions offered with MUSE vinyl cutters are LXI 19 and Create Space. Both included MUSE drivers and support a wide range of vector and raster applications. However, neither product comes pre-loaded with vehicle templates. You can purchase vehicle template libraries and import these files into LXI or Create Space. But there’s another option that may be more efficient.
TintTek 2020 is designed specifically for these applications and comes pre-loaded with the industry’s most extensive window tint template library. TintTek 2020 also includes windshield, and paint protection Templates. It’s the final ingredient in the complete MUSE M60 custom automotive solution. TintTek doesn’t include a MUSE vinyl cutter driver, but it can be installed using the same driver patch that works for Flexi 19 and LXI 12. You’ll find it here.
MUSE M60 Window Tint Starter Bundles
To make things easier for aspiring custom auto entrepreneurs, we’ve created some MUSE M60 starter bundles. The MUSE M60 Window Tint Package starter bundle includes the M60 vinyl cutter & stand, Tint Tek 2020 templates, EnduraTINT window tint film, and some basic application tools. At $3,499.00, it’s a great value. For those who aspire to add custom vinyl graphics like window decals and monograms to their product offerings, we offer the M60 Tint & Vehicle Graphics Package. This package includes LXI Master 19 sign software and is just a tad more at $3,999.00. Both are great options for a startup tint shop, or old-fashioned installers looking for a modern, efficient digital upgrade.
The MUSE vinyl cutters have proven to be a big hit with lots of customers. The M60 is especially popular because of its size and versatility. Because of its width, force, and unique media handling properties, it’s a great choice for custom automotive applications such as window tint and paint protection film. Cutting and handling these films can be a challenge. Please use the recommended settings above to shorten the learning curve. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to drop them below in the comments section.