Compared: The Best Roland Vinyl Cutters

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We’ve been on something of a professional vinyl cutting kick at the moment after reviewing the Graphtec cutters last week, and now it’s time to turn our attention to the big daddy…

The Roland vinyl cutter machines.

When it comes to commercial cutting, Roland are probably the best known name out there and are the go-to cutter for most professional businesses.

Expensive? Yes. High quality? Without a doubt.

You get what you pay for when it comes to vinyl cutting machines, and nowhere is that more true than with Roland.

We thought that today we’d review their three product lines so you can get a handle on whether they’d be suitable for your needs.

Roland: The Company

Before we get into the individual machines themselves, it’s a good idea to actually assess the company first.

What do we know about Roland — or, to give them their full name, Roland DG?

They’re really a household name when it comes to vinyl cutting and are routinely considered to be the manufacturers of the best machines on the planet.

Roland have been dealing in the cutting niche for well over 20 years now and their products are the machine of choice for numerous signage and graphics professionals.

They’re actually a Japanese company — although they have a huge distribution wing in the USA — and possess much of that Japanese technology innovation that we so admire. As well as Roland vinyl cutters, they also specialize in wide-format inkjet printers — another mainstay of the professional graphics industry.

Roland are know far and wide for their uncompromising high quality, combined with a reliability that’s pretty legendary in this industry.

The long and short of it is, you can trust them to create some of the best vinyl cutting machines on the planet.

Roland Vinyl Cutter Machines

There are three vinyl cutting machine product lines as part of the Roland inventory, and each of these three products are also available in a variety of sizes.

We’ll go into more detail on each machine shortly, but here’s a short introduction in the meantime:

  • GX Pro Series — the largest and most heavy duty Roland vinyl printer
  • GS-24 Desktop — the intermediate cutter that can be used with a stand or on desktop, cutting up to 24″ wide
  • Stika Desktop — the flagship affordable desktop Roland vinyl cutter, the smallest on offer

Here’s a quick look at how they compare against each other:

NameCAMM-1 GX-Pro SeriesGS-24 DesktopStika Desktop
Imageroland vinyl printerroland gx-24 vinyl cutterroland vinyl cutter
Sizes Available36" 46" 54" 64"24"8.5" 12" 15"
Max Cutting Speed33 inches/second20 inches/second1.6-4 inches/second
Contour Cutting Capability?YesYesYes
Warranty3 years3 years1 year
Prices on Roland Website$3995-$6995$1995$595-$1095
Prices on AmazonCheck Current PricesCheck Current PriceCheck Current Prices

Roland GX Pro Series

Let’s start off with a look at the largest and most expensive of the Roland vinyl cutter machines.

roland vinyl printer

Also known as the CAMM-1 Pro GX Series, these machines are really the crème de la crème of the vinyl cutting world.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Cutting speed of up to 33 inches per second
  • Mechanical resolution of 0.0005″
  • Equipped with a digital servo motor for ultimate precision and speed
  • Downforce of 350 grams and overlap function — great on thicker materials
  • Optical registration system for precise contour cutting
  • Includes stand
  • 3 year warranty

If you require a versatile machine that can cut a variety of materials, the Roland GX Pro is your man — it can tackle anything from sandblast to window film.

Here’s what Roland say it can easily handle:

  • Vinyl
  • Reflective vinyl
  • Twill
  • Paint mask
  • Heat transfer
  • Mylar
  • Polyester
  • Sand blast mask

The GX-Pro is available in 4 different sizes:

CAMM-1 GX-300

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roland gx 24 vinyl cutter

This is the 36″ model, weighing in at over 100 lbs.

CAMM-1 GX-400

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roland vinyl cutter

Again, this model weighs a little over 100 lbs and is the 46″ model of Roland GX-Pro vinyl cutter.

CAMM-1 GX-500

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roland vinyl cutting machine

This next size up is the 54″ model, which weighs 123 lbs.

CAMM-1 GX-640

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roland vinyl cutter

This is the largest in the GX Pro Series at a 64″ wide format.

It’s able to take media measuring up to 72″ wide and weighs a not-insignificant 144 lbs.

It’s the most technically advanced Roland vinyl cutter on the market and benefits from the following additional features over the other machines:

  • Quadralign optical registration system for contour cutting
  • 3 different cut modes
  • Front and rear media loading
  • Overcut and Autocut features

Roland GS-24 Desktop Cutter

roland vinyl cutting machine

The GS-24 is marketed by Roland as the ‘best desktop cutter ever’, and we’re inclined to agree.

This bad boy offers the same precision and accuracy as the GX-Pro Series above, yet on a smaller and more manageable scale — ideal for small businesses.

Although it’s designed for the desktop, it is available with a stand if you’re short on desk space.

Here are its stand-out features:

  • 10x overlap cutting and downforce of 350 grams — great for even very thick materials
  • Printer crop mark recognition by optical registration for precise contour cutting
  • Perforation and half function
  • Mechanical resolution of 0.0005″
  • Cuts up to 20 inches per second
  • Cuts up to 22.9″ wide
  • Accepts media from 2-27.5″ wide
  • LCD panel
  • Precise blade grooves for intuitive manual cutting
  • Included roller base to keep feeds straight
  • 3 year warranty

And here’s some of the materials it can work with:

  • Vinyl
  • Reflective vinyl
  • Paint mask
  • Twill
  • Heat transfer
  • Sandblast

The GS-24 is only available in the one 24″ size and weighs in at a little under 40 pounds.

Stika Desktop Cutter

roland vinyl cutters

The small and mighty Stika is the most accessible of the Roland vinyl cutter machines and the one that we have sat on our desktop right now, in fact.

While it may not have the horsepower and size of the GS-24, let alone the GX-Pro Series, this is a cracking little desktop cutter that will blow your Silhouettes and Cricuts out of the water 😉

These are still reasonably expensive, so we tend to recommend them to serious hobbyists and small Etsy-style businesses who aren’t yet ready to graduate to huge vinyl cutters, but need the precision and accuracy of a company like Roland.

Anyone making…

  • Stickers
  • Small decals
  • T-shirt iron-ons
  • POP displays
  • Labels
  • Scrapbooking

… will be a good match for the Roland Stika cutter.

Here are it’s stand-out features:

  • USB port to ‘plug and play’
  • Recognizes print registration marks for precise contour cutting
  • Available in three different sizes
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Sheet guide included for easy media loading
  • 1 year warranty
  • Affordable

And it works with the following types of material:

  • Vinyl
  • Twill
  • Paint mask
  • Heat transfer
  • Reflective vinyl
  • Etching materials

The Stika is available in three different sizes:

Roland Stika SV-8

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This is the smallest and cheapest of the Roland vinyl plotters with a maximum cutting width of 6.25″. It has a maximum cutting speed of around 1.6 inches per second and weighs in at a tiny 4.9 lbs.

Roland Stika SV-12

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The next size up has a maximum cutting width of around 9.8 inches and a maximum speed of 1.6 inches per second. It’s only slightly heavier than the SV-8 at 6 lbs.

Roland Stika SV-15

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The largest of the Stika cutters is this, the SV-15. It has a maximum cutting width of just under 14 inches and a maximum speed of almost 4 inches per second. It’s slightly heavier still at 7.3 lbs.

Roland CutStudio Software

Regardless of which Roland vinyl cutter you buy, you’ll receive the Roland CutStudio software included.

Users seem to be divided on the quality of this software but in our opinion, it’s solid, reliable and great for print and cut functions.

roland vinyl plotter

We always like to design in Illustrator — it simply allows much more creative freedom — and then we upload our designs from there into CutStudio by using the Roland plug-in for this very cause. There’s also a plug-in for CorelDraw although that’s only compatible with PC, not Mac.

For more basic design, CutStudio is perfectly adequate and reasonably intuitive to use. It’s great for TrueType fonts (will cut them without you having to go through the painstaking outlining process) and offers basic editing in terms of resizing, positioning and importing files.

It supports BMP, JPG, STX, AI and EPS files.

Here’s a good video tutorial on how it works:

Signage makers who prefer to use professional signmaking software will also be satisfied as it works with all programs, including WinPCSign and SignBlazer.

Annoyingly, CutStudio is only compatible with Windows 7, Vista and XP — Mac users may have to seek an alternative solution.

Criticisms of Roland Vinyl Cutters

This isn’t a fully fledged review of each individual Roland vinyl printer, but we think it’s worth offering a balanced view of these machines.

While the Roland products are undoubtedly at the top of the market, offering powerful and precise cuts, they’re certainly not immune from criticism.

Let’s have a look at some of the more common issues users experience:

They’re Expensive

Without a doubt, the first criticism that most people can come up with against Roland is that they don’t do things cheaply.

These machines are expensive. There’s no getting around it.

What you need to decide is whether or not they’re fairly expensive, and whether you think their quality is worth that initial outlay.

Honestly, we think that if you’re serious about vinyl cutting and want to produce the best cuts you possibly can, then the Roland vinyl cutter machines represent great value for money.

Even if you can’t afford the flashy GX-Pro Series, there are affordable options for the more budget conscious by way of the GS-24 and Stika desktop cutters.

roland cutter
Via Roland DGA/Facebook

There’s Not a Lot of Community Support

Although there are plenty of loyal Roland customers, the fact is that a large bulk of these are commercial organizations and professionals — people less likely to bond together as a community than the strictly hobbyist machines attract.

This isn’t necessarily a huge downside, but it’s certainly obvious for all would-be buyers of the Stika desktop cutter, for instance. If you compare the amount of support and community available with that for the KNK-Zing, which is around the same price, it’s clear that there’s much less available with the Roland products.

CutStudio Not Mac Compatible

One of our pet peeves with cutting software is when it’s only available for PC. This is especially galling as so many creative people will be using Macs! Certainly not the best way to encourage crafters to use your software.

Plus, a number of people have noted how confusing it is to actually install the correct driver for the software on your computer. Roland certainly aren’t making it easy for people to start off straight away with their machines.

Overall Verdict on Roland Vinyl Cutters

Having said that, there’s no getting around the fact that to cut with a Roland vinyl cutter is to cut with probably the best machine on the market.

The cutting is always precise and accurate, and it’s easy to upload your designs from Illustrator. Contour cutting and print & cut are just as easy and intuitive — the perfect marriage between design and cutting prowess.

Expensive? Yes. Worth it? You bet.

Do you own a Roland vinyl cutter? What’s your opinion on it?

Still can’t decide which cutter is right for you? Be sure to check out the rest of our detailed machine comparisons, as well as our complete guide to the best vinyl cutters.

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