KNK Zing Orbit Review
The brand new KNK Zing Orbit is a fantastic computerized cutting machine — the perfect stepping stone between an entry level machine and a commercial one.
It offers exceptional cuts, incredible Print & Cut function and there are some awesome accessories on the way too.
There is a learning curve to this machine, but it’s well worth investing your time and energy in.
It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of the KNK computerized cutters.
Our Zing Orbit has been ordered and will hopefully be on the way to our craft room shortly. We’ll spend a few weeks testing it out for you guys before we bring you an in-depth and impartial review of the cutter, to help you decide whether or not it’s right for you.
In the meantime, we thought we’d compile a guide to the brand new cutter from Klic-N-Kut USA to get you up to speed on the details.
UPDATE: Our Zing Orbit has arrived and we’ve been playing with it for a few weeks now. Head straight down to the Review section to hear our thoughts.
Let’s take it away…
- 1 KNK Zing Orbit: Features
- 2 Zing Orbit Software
- 3 Accessories for the KNK Zing Orbit
- 4 KNK Force vs Zing Orbit
- 5 KNK Maxx Air vs Zing Orbit
- 6 KNK Zing Orbit Review
- 7 Where to Buy the KNK Zing Orbit
KNK Zing Orbit: Features
The most exciting thing about getting to know a new cutter upgrade is all the new features included.
The Zing Orbit from KNK certainly does not disappoint.
Here’s what it’s packing.
1,000g of Cutting Force
One thing that’s always stood out among the Klic-N-Kut cutters is just how much more powerful they are than your average hobbyist desktop craft cutter.
With an upgraded 1,000 grams of cutting force, the Zing Orbit is seriously powerful.
KNK advise that it can tackle a slew of materials, including:
- Heat transfer vinyl
- Craft plastic
… And many more.
By way of comparison, the Zing Air enjoyed 750 grams of cutting force and hobbyist machines like the Silhouette Cameo have just 210 grams.
The Zing Orbit is still dwarfed by the power of the KNK Force, however, which clocks in with a massive 4,000 grams of force.
USB and WiFi Connectivity
Joining the ranks of most other hobbyist vinyl cutting machines, the latest KNK Zing can be connected to your computer via either USB cable or WiFi — goodbye, pesky cables!
One of the pretty cool things about the Zing Orbit is that you can choose to communicate directly with the machine in standalone mode or via your computer software with the WiFi connection.
Improved 2-Way Communication
Speaking of communication, another huge improvement the Zing Air is boasting is the fact that it now uses RTS/CTS flow control signals.
For those of us not fluent in computer lingo, this essentially means that jams, delays and overruns will become a thing of the past.
Where with standard communication protocols, the cutting software will simply send packets of data to the machine with no let-up, occasionally leading to the machine becoming overloaded and messing up. The Zing Air, on the other hand, will communicate with the software to tell it when it’s ready to receive data packets — ensuring faster and more consistent communication, even on the most complex jobs.
We’re looking forward to seeing how this plays out in practise.
Better Print & Cut
Thanks to its Automatic Registration Tracking (ART) system, the Zing Orbit promises to be much better and faster at producing print & cut projects.
Ensuring a high degree of accuracy, the ART system is powered by the machine’s optic eye and scans a total of four registration marks.
The optic eye is a fantastic feature that we love in other machines — it’s especially great for those of us who indulge in the odd bit of contour cutting every now and again.
Take a look at this awesome video from Cutter Punk showing how quick this bad boy works:
Fully Adjustable Pinch Wheels
When we initially reviewed the KNK Zing Air, we commented on how this was an artisan’s machine, best suited to someone committed to producing the best possible cuts for their individual circumstances and capabilities.
This is in contrast to many cutting machines these days that are designed to simply allow you to produce the same old designs in the same old way, in the fastest way possible.
The Zing Orbit is just as committed to giving you, the crafter, as much autonomy over your designs and projects as the Air was.
Not only does that mean that you need to choose the best pressure, speed and depth settings for your blade, but it also means that you have full control over the pinch feed assembly.
You can arrange the pinch wheels (3 for the 15″ model and 4 for the 24″ one) individually, as you see fit, to enable to most accurate and precise pinch feeding we’ve seen in a cutter at this price point.
There’s also a single pinch feed lever on the machine which allows you to raise and lower the wheels all together if you please.
Multi-Colored LED Lighting
We’re not sure how much of a draw this will be for individual crafters, but we have to admit that we like the look of the colored LED lights that come with the new Zing Orbit.
The extra lighting will certainly prove useful in shining a light on the pinch feed assembly.
Available in 2 Sizes
Klic-N-Kut are spoiling us with the Zing Orbit, offering two sizes up for grabs: 15 inches and 24 inches wide.
The Zing Air, on the other hand, was only available in a 14 inch configuration so this is yet another upgrade.
Which one you choose will likely depend on your budget and the size of projects you typically work on.
Here’s a table comparing the two sizes so you can see which is best for your needs:
|Zing Orbit 15||Zing Orbit 24|
|Max Cutting Width||15"||24"|
|Max Cutter Opening||19.5"||28.5"|
|No. of Pinch Feed Wheels||3||4|
|Metal Flatbed Tables||Optional, buy separately||2 included|
|Weight||21.16 lbs||27.6 lbs|
|Dimensions||5.75" x 6.8" x 26.5"||5.75" x 6.8" x 35.5"|
Zing Orbit Software
One of the more controversial aspects of the new KNK Zing Orbit is the fact that it doesn’t come with any software already included.
KNK have justified this by saying that the reasons they’re able to keep prices at the level they’re at is because purchasing software alongside the machine is optional.
While that means that you’ll need to fork out an additional $59.99 for Sure Cuts A Lot 4 (or $199 for the PRO version!), this is unlikely to be an issue for the many KNK customers that already have access to SCAL.
Early reports confirm that it’s very easy to link the Zing Orbit with existing copies of SCAL4 and we hope to confirm this once we’ve got our hands on the software!
We’re not sure about the Orbit’s compatibility with Make The Cut software, although again will report back once we know more.
Accessories for the KNK Zing Orbit
Klic-N-Kut have been teasing us since they announced the release of the Zing Orbit that this cutting machine would have — and we quote — ‘out of this world accessories’.
While we understand that the Orbit will be compatible with the normal KNK engraving and embossing tool, the main add-on that crafters have been getting excited about is the so-called Orbitizer.
This tool is the reason why the machine is actually called Orbit — because it will allow us to mark directly onto spherical objects like spheres and cylinders.
We can’t wait to find out what this means for our homemade Christmas and Easter decorations…
Unfortunately the Orbitizer attachment won’t be available for purchase until later this year — at least late Summer, the rumors are saying.
It’s a pity about the delay but something to look forward to nonetheless!
KNK Force vs Zing Orbit
Much of this Zing Orbit guide has focused on how the machine compares to its predecessor, the Zing Air — but how does it compare to the other KNK computerized cutters?
Let’s take the KNK Force to start off with.
In our view, this is one of the most innovative cutting machines on the market right now, thanks to its dual cutting heads with a true Z axis, incredibly precise camera alignment for Print & Cut and amazing 4,000 grams of cutting force.
This table is a quick guide to how the two compare.
|KNK Force||KNK Zing Orbit|
|Max Cutting Width||15"||15" or 24"|
|Cutter Type||Dual Heads with True Z axis||Solenoid|
|Max Cutting Force||4,000 grams||1,000 grams|
|Type of Registration Tracking||Camera||Optic Eye|
|Connection||WiFi & Ethernet||WiFi & USB|
|No. of Pinch Wheels||3||3 (15") or 4 (24")|
|Price||$629||$449 (15") or $960 (24")|
It’s impossible to compare how they fare against each other in reality without having tested the Zing Orbit yet although on paper, the Force still seems to have the edge over this new cutter — albeit at a more expensive price and with size restrictions.
KNK Maxx Air vs Zing Orbit
The other Klic-N-Kut product we want to compare against the Zing Orbit is the 24″ KNK Maxx Air.
Just like the Force, the Maxx Air is part of the KNK’s professional range of cutters so is more expensive although arguably offers a lot for its higher price tag.
Most notably, that includes a powerful Bluetooth connection (works up to 30 feet away) and a high top speed of 800 mm per second.
Let’s see how the two compare in this table.
|KNK Maxx Air||KNK Zing Orbit|
|Max Cutting Width||24"||15" or 24"|
|Type of Cutter||Solenoid||Solenoid|
|Max Cutting Force||1,500 grams||1,000 grams|
|Connection||Bluetooth, USB and Serial||WiFi and USB|
|Top Speed||800 mm/second||762 mm/second|
|Flatbed Tables?||Included||Included with 24" model|
|Adjustable Pinch Wheels?||Yes||Yes|
|Price||$1,199||$449 (15") or $960 (24")|
The benefits of one or the other over the Maxx Air and Zing Orbit are a little more subtle, although doubtless it will depend on whether you need the 15″ maximum cut width or the 24″ model.
KNK Zing Orbit Review
Exquisite Quality Cuts
The first thing to say about the KNK Zing Orbit is that this machine is capable of producing some incredibly high quality cuts.
Thanks to a combination of a sky high cutting resolution and a whopping 1,000 grams of cutting force, this machine is well equipped to not only cut intricate shapes, but also to cut them on a huge variety of different materials, including thick media like chipboard, mylar and craft plastic.
Not only that, but the Zing Orbit is one of those rare machines that just works.
There’s nothing worse than being halfway through an intricate cut only for it to become overwhelmed and jam, losing your work, or worse — tearing it.
The improved 2 way communication on this machine ensures that this simply doesn’t happen, and it works efficient and fast to boot.
In comparison to other personal die cutting machines — and even compared to the Zing Air — the Orbit is seriously impressive in the cutting stakes.
Flawless Print & Cut
In addition to the above, we’ve also really relished using the Print and Cut function which we’ve been doing through the Sure Cuts A Lot software.
It’s probably fair to say that there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to PNC with the Zing Orbit — be prepared for lots of practice (and maybe even hit up the guys on the KNK Zing Facebook group if you want some tailored advice).
But once you do get the hang of it, we’re not sure that you’ll be able to stop playing with it. Cuts are accurate and fast, thanks to the Automatic Registration Tracking System, with its optic eye and 4 registration marks.
Perfect Step Between a Personal and Commercial Cutter
If we could recommend the KNK Zing Orbit to anyone, it would be the person who feels like they’ve grown out of their Cricut and Silhouette desktop machines but isn’t quite ready for an expensive commercial cutter either.
Not only is the Orbit an exceptional cutter, it also allows you plenty of control and creative freedom as you cut.
We really feel like we’re increasing our crafting skills as we use the machine, instead of having settings and designs spoonfed to us like you do with many of the smaller, cheaper machines.
You’re really in control with the Zing Orbit: the fully adjustable pinch wheel system allows you to arrange each wheel individually as you see fit. If something isn’t cutting exactly as you’d like, you’ve got the power to experiment and change that.
Of course, this means that it probably isn’t a good machine for cutting beginners.
Some Awesome Accessories
We actually couldn’t decide whether to put this point in the Positives or the Negatives section — there are some really cool accessories promised with the Zing Orbit, but they hadn’t yet been launched by the time we wrote this review.
The latest rumors are still maintaining that we should see them some time in the late Summer… we can’t wait!
The biggest stand-out looks to be the incredibly named Orbitizer (sounds more like a superhero, huh?!) which will allow users to draw on spherical objects.
We’re just imagining the slew of Christmas decorations now…
It Can Be Overwhelming
One of the criticisms we’ve heard a few times from friends and other people testing out the KNK Zing Orbit is that it’s pretty overwhelming as a machine.
And we’d have to agree. At least at first.
We’ve had the Orbit for almost a month now, and we’ve only really felt ready to write a review on it in the last couple of days.
There’s a lot to process and a lot going on. Sure, it’s a fantastic machine — revolutionary, even — but you’re going to need to be patient with it to really master it.
Don’t expect to jump into this Orbit with no learning curve if you’re coming straight from a more entry level machine like the Cricut Explore or the Silhouette Cameo.
You’ll need to read the manual, talk to people in the Facebook group and on the forums and — most importantly — keep experimenting and testing.
This is a true craftsman’s machine. It will help you become a better crafter. Just give it time, energy and patience.
Some Would Still Probably Still Choose the KNK Force
One of the things we were wondering before we got our hands on the Orbit was how it would compare to the KNK Force.
And honestly, we’re still not really sure now.
There’s no denying that the KNK Zing Orbit is a fantastic cutter — a cutter that we think will appeal to lots of people across the board.
But for just $629 on the KNK website< — just under $200 more than the Orbit — you could go for the Force machine, which truly is revolutionary.
We’re talking 4,000 grams of cutting force, a true Z axis and camera registration tracking. This won’t tickle everyone’s pickle, but for those with some extra cash and a wish to experiment far and wide with their cutting, it will be worth it.
Just something to consider before you buy.
We can’t recommend the KNK Zing Orbit highly enough — it’s a fantastic cutter, with remarkable cutting specs and potential, that’s well made and available for a very reasonable price.
It’s the perfect stepping stone between an entry level cutter and a commercial model, and will allow you to develop into a true cutting craftsman.
There is a learning curve, and you may find it overwhelming at first, but with lots of practice and reading, we think you’ll be able to master the Zing Orbit in no time.
UPDATE: How Does It Fare In 2019?
If anything, we love the Zing Orbit even more now than we did when we first reviewed it!
It’s the one desktop cutter that we think has the chops to rival the more popular Cricut Maker 3 and, in our minds, is a criminally underrated machine.
The Zing Orbit is priced at the higher end of the market for a desktop cutter, but this reflects its quality. It’s more demanding on the user than Cricut and Silhouette’s machines, but it allows you more creative control as a compromise.
Where to Buy the KNK Zing Orbit
You can buy the Zing Orbit directly from Klic N Kut’s website.
There is occasional availability on Amazon, but stocks appear to be running low and the cutter is frequently listed as unavailable.
Have you tried this popular KNK machine yet?
Want to see how the KNK Zing Orbit compares to other top vinyl cutters? Visit our buyer’s guide revealing the best machines on the market today. Also, be sure to visit our Reviews section for other machines from KNK.