A vinyl cutter is an entry level machine for making signs. Computer designed vector files with patterns and letters are directly cut on the roll of vinyl which is mounted and fed into the vinyl cutter through USB or serial cable. Vinyl cutters are mainly used to make signs, banners and advertisements. Advertisements seen on automobiles and vans are often made with vinyl cut letters. While these machines were designed for cutting vinyl, they can also cut through computer and specialty papers, as well as thicker items like thin sheets of magnet.
In addition to sign business, vinyl cutters are commonly used for apparel decoration.
To decorate apparel, a vector design needs to be cut in mirror image, weeded, and then heat applied using a commercial heat press or a hand iron for home use.
Some businesses use their vinyl cutter to produce both signs and custom apparel. Many crafters also have vinyl cutters for home use. These require little maintenance and the vinyl can be bought in bulk relatively cheaply.
Vinyl cutters are also often used by stencil artists to create single use or reusable stencil art and lettering