Vinyl cutting has long been used to create signage for businesses, but it has also become a popular craft lately. Some people have even turned that craft into a small business, making t-shirts, tote bags, and other accessories that contain vinyl lettering. Whether you’re new to vinyl cutting or just need easy-to-use software, you may be wondering what the best free vinyl cutting software is?
The seven best free vinyl cutting software is:
- Easy Cut Studio
- Sure Cuts a Lot
- Vinyl Master Cut
- CorelDRAW Graphics Suite
- Adobe Illustrator
Some of this software is free forever, while others have a free trial period followed by a paid subscription if you decide you like the product.
Each software listed above has different features and is compatible with different machines. In this article, I’ll provide you with a rundown of what each software has to offer to make an informed decision about which one is going to work for your needs.
What is Vinyl Cutting Software?
Vinyl cutting software is a tool that allows you to create your own designs, graphics, logos, etc., for vinyl projects or small business use. The software usually works with a computer and vinyl cutter in some way, shape, or form to help you produce the designs and images you want to cut and the specifications for those images.
You use the vinyl cutting software to draw, upload, and/or create images. Then, you just export them to your computer or vinyl cutting machine so that the machine has a template to use to cut out the design. If you’re considering vinyl cutting as a hobby, then using free vinyl cutting software can also be a great way to practice creating designs before purchasing a vinyl cutting machine.
When it comes to vinyl cutting software, there are many programs out there that you can use. Some require you to pay and may or may not offer a free trial. Others are completely free. But the features, as well as the ease of use of each program, vary.
Do Vinyl Cutters Come with Software?
Many vinyl cutters do come with software. But, a lot of the software that comes with vinyl cutters isn’t as user-friendly, and some of them may not have as many features as some of the other free or paid software programs out there.
Some free software is often easier to use for beginners than the software that comes with the machine. Beginners can learn how to use the free software to do the basics and then continue using the free software or switch to using the one that came with the machine once they learn what they’re doing.
In some cases, you may have purchased a vinyl cutter secondhand that didn’t come with software or the machine just didn’t come with software in the first place. This is a case in which free vinyl cutting software can also come in handy.
7 Best Free Vinyl Cutting Software
Below is the seven best free vinyl cutting software that is available. They aren’t listed in any particular order as far as which one is the overall best or has the best features, but the completely free ones are listed before the ones that only have a free trial.
For each software, I’ll explain some of the key features and what sets each one apart from the other software. I’ll also list any downsides of each one so that you’ll be aware of all the pros and cons as you’re deciding which one to use.
1. Easy Cut Studio
Easy Cut Studio hails itself as the world’s most loved sign and vinyl cutting software. This software allows you to cut pretty much any font you can imagine, and it also supports SVG, AI, PDF files, and more. You can use it with your own original designs as well.
You can use Easy Cut Studio to vectorize your images or choose from a library containing hundreds of vectorial designs. This software is user-friendly for beginners but gives a professional look to your designs.
Other features include node editing to give you more control over outlines and it also has a feature where you can use multiple layers to create a more complex design. The Print and Cut option lets you easily print your designs and then cut around the image with your cutting plotter. This feature makes creating stickers super easy.
It works with both Mac and Windows and with a variety of cutters, including Cricut Explore and Cricut Maker, but it may not be compatible with all Cricut cutting machines. Another downside to the free version of Easy Cut Studio is that it won’t allow you to enter a cutting length longer than 72 inches, so it wouldn’t be beneficial for creating large vinyl projects. However, an upgraded “Pro” version allows you to input cutting lengths that are larger than 72 inches.
2. Sure Cuts A Lot
If you’re just starting out with vinyl cutting, then Sure Cuts A Lot is a great free software for beginners. It is perhaps one of the easiest to use and is compatible with both Mac and Windows. If you prefer to work on a tablet, there is an app available to download from both the Apple and Google Play store.
There is free technical support available, video tutorials on the website that cover installation and setup, how to use the interface, and more. Sure Cuts A Lot works with thousands of free fonts available online and with installed TrueType and OpenType fonts. It works with SVG, PDF, AI, WPC, and EPS file formats and PES, JEF, SEW, PEC, HUS and VIP embroidery file formats.
This software also has drawing tools to easily draw and edit shapes. It comes with 200 shapes already and others available in the e-store. There’s an auto-tracing feature that automatically traces images for cutting. Welding tools allow you to weld letters and shapes together and styles such as Shadow and Blackout allow you to easily change the look of your letters and shapes.
Sure Cuts A Lot works with Cricut Explore and Cricut Maker cutting machines, but it may not work with other Cricut machines. It works with Silhouette HD, Cameo, Portrait, and other vinyl cutters. One downside is that you can only download the software on two computers. This works well for most people but maybe not for people that use the vinyl cutting machine at home and elsewhere. There is also a Pro version available for those that want or need more features.
Inkscape is one of the best vinyl cutting software because everything is free and open source. Unlike other free vinyl cutting software, Inkscape does not charge for upgrades or additional features. It’s primarily a vector graphics editing software that can be used for artistic and technical purposes.
This software works for Linux, Mac, and Windows operating systems. The main file format used by Inkscape is SVG, but it also supports AI, EPS, PDF, PS, and PNG. Inkscape is not fully compatible with many vinyl cutting machines, but supporting so many file formats allows you to easily export those files so that you can still use the non-compatible machines.
Inkscape is not only fairly easy to use for beginners, but it also has great user support. Users of Inkspace can get support from other users through the forums and chat feature. But there are also tutorials, detailed FAQs, and downloadable books and manuals to help you learn the features.
The downside to Inkscape is that Inkspace does not have as many features as other free vinyl cutting software. However, they are always growing their program and new features are being added and developed. And since everything about Inkscape is free, you won’t have to pay for any extra features when they are developed.
SignGo is perhaps one of the more popular and well-known vinyl cutting software. Don’t let the name fool you. It isn’t only for making signs but can also be used to create t-shirts, decals, stencils, and any type of lettering project. It’s great for projects that are small or large.
With that being said, SignGo is geared more toward people who will be doing vinyl cutting as more of a business than as a hobby. It may not be the best choice for beginners. There is a Lite and a Pro version, and of course, the Pro version comes with more features.
With the Lite version, you get features such as text editor, node editing, welding, and advanced cutting features such as color separation, rotation, and resize. With the Pro version, you get features such as image tracing, shadows, distortions, and gradient fills, among others. I should also mention that SignGo is only free for 30 days, and afterward, you must pay to continue to use it. And, it’s only compatible with Windows operating systems as well.
Since the Pro version has more features, it will cost more than the Lite version. However, even though you have to be, SignGo offers a longer free trial period than the software that follows it. It’s a great choice for your small business and the software supports over 500 cutter plotters.
5. Vinyl Master Cut
Vinyl Master Cut is another vinyl cutting software that only has a free trial period, after which you must pay to continue using it. However, the paid version of Vinyl Master Cut is considered by many to give you the best features for the amount of money you pay.
After the demo, the basic version is also pretty affordable compared to other paid software and you can pay a one-time upfront cost or pay installments. There are advanced versions that come with more features, but of course, these cost a little extra.
As for the basic version, it offers all you need for entry-level design and vinyl cutting. With the basic version, you get features such as Contour Cutting Wizard and you can print and cut from two different devices. There are also text and curve tools, over 250 clip arts, an online manual and FAQs, and over 200 free lessons and tutorials.
It supports over 500 vinyl cutters and supports the import and export of AI, SVG, EPS, and PDF files. As with other paid software, purchasing Vinyl Master Cut after the free demo only grants licensing and use to one person.
6. CorelDRAW Graphics Suite
The CorelDraw Graphics Suite is another vinyl cutting software that has a free trial, after which you have to pay to continue using it. However, 15 days should give you plenty of time to learn the ins and outs of the software and decide whether or not it is worth the money for you to purchase it.
Even though it costs after the free trial, this is the software that you may want to consider purchasing if you’re serious about vinyl cutting and want to do it as more than just a hobby. This software has tons of graphic design and vinyl editing and cutting features. Many professional vinyl cutters and those that do graphic design use this software.
Because this is a graphics suite, you get several graphics programs for the price. Vector tools, typography tools, font managers, and photo editing are all features that are included with this software. There’s also cloud collaboration that makes it easy to connect with others in the graphic design and vinyl cutting world, including clients.
Although this software is a bit pricey compared to others on this list, you have multiple payment options if you decide after the free trial that it’s worth purchasing. You can pay a one-time price that is more expensive upfront but cheaper in the long run, or you can pay an annual fee or a monthly subscription price. Whichever fits your budget. It’s also compatible with both Windows and Mac.
7. Adobe Illustrator
Last on the list, but certainly not least, is Adobe Illustrator. Adobe Illustrator has what many consider to be the best quality of any vinyl cutting software and the software touts itself as being industry-leading. It offers a seven-day free trial, after which you can pay monthly and cancel anytime. Adobe Illustrator works with both Windows and Mac operating systems. Purchasing it after the free trial gives you access through both a desktop computer and iPad/tablet access.
The Adobe Illustrator website is not super forthcoming about all features this software is capable of. You may have to sign up for the free trial to play around with it and decide if it’s right for you.
The good news is that being such a popular program, there are many resources available online for assistance, including YouTube videos, forums, etc. You can use these resources to see what the software is capable of before signing up for a free trial, or you can use them to help you get a feel for the software once you sign up for the free trial or subscription.
What Is the Best Free Vinyl Cutter Software?
Now that you’ve seen the best free vinyl cutting software, you may be wondering which one is the best overall. There is no one true best, it just depends on your needs and what you’re going to be using it for. You’ll also need to consider what features you’ll need and your experience level.
The good news is that with most of these being free, or at least offer a free trial, you can always try out more than one of them. That way, you can find the one that works best for you. Or, you can try out one that is free until you get used to some of the features and then switch to paid software, especially if you’re considering starting your own business.
Although some of them do cost, the paid versions often are better for vinyl cutting businesses due to the extra features that you get. Overall, though, the best depends on what you’re willing to pay for and how comfortable you are with using the software. If you found this article helpful, please share it with others. Thanks for reading!