I am going to write a full review of the new Cricut Explore when I have had some time to use it a bit more (so far, I really like it), but I wanted to show this off. This is an example of how intricate the cuts the new Explore makes are.
I would have never attempted thin lines like this on my Expression. I’m very impressed with the Explore. To be honest, if I did this project again, I would make the lines a bit thicker, but I’m pretty impressed with how well this worked.
This started because I saw a Pinterest project that was similar (actually, I just saw the oleic acid and sucrose, but they had labeled it “butter” and “sugar”). I decided to do one myself that was a bit more accurate (butter has so many compounds in it, come on).
I downloaded some various JPG and .SVG files from Wikipedia. SVG files are vector images rather than “photo” type images. They are rendered as lines, more or less. My cutting mat was a mess for SVG files. Above is actually two copies of the same (large) image. One was in JPG and one was in SVG, to show you what I mean. If I did the SVG, I would have to assemble the rings back together myself. Some files will be better served in JPG form!
After I downloaded them all, I just uploaded them with the upload took on Cricut Design Space. If your images are strong and contrasty, they won’t need much work. I didn’t have to do anything at all. Here’s what my file in Design Space looked like.
And here is the cutting screen. You can see, some of the words have moved about but that’s ok. I didn’t want them all to be “under” the molecule anyway. If you did want to cut them exactly how they were displayed on your file screen, you could move them around at this point. That is kind of a pain, but at least you can move them.
I cut these on some Oracal 651, which is an “outdoor” vinyl. The hardest part was weeding these intricate lines. They tended to fold in on each other and stick. What is weeding? To use complex vinyl decals, you need to remove all the stuff you don’t want (the negative space) off your design. So, I removed all the excess vinyl, leaving only the molecular structures.
After weeding the negative vinyl out, I put each molecule and name individually on transfer tape (Cricut transfer tape). Transfer tape makes using vinyl easier. It has a slightly sticky side that you lay down on your design so you can apply it all at once. You want to cut your transfer tape to size, remove the backing from your transfer tape and lay the sticky part on the side of the design you want showing (it shouldn’t be sticky). You normally have to rub the design in so the whole thing comes off when you peel the transfer tape back. Basically, you’re using tape to pick up your design so you don’t have to carry it piece by piece. Here are mine with transfer tape applied. The transfer tape has the grid. The “good side” (or the silver side) is facing up. When I peel these off, the sticky side will be exposed.
You just peel off the vinyl backing, and apply the transfer tape wherever you want your decal.
Easy, peasy! Oracal 651 is more waterproof than what Cricut sells. Cricut vinyl is closer to Oracal 631, which is an indoor vinyl. 651 is a bit glossier and stickier too. My mixer gets messy. It probably needs the 651!