Sunday, November 14, 2010

The eCraft arrives...with a slew of problems.

The eCraft electronic cutter that I won at the CHA Summer 2010 Super Show finally arrived at the very end of October just as I was leaving for my 24th anniversary weekend so I wasn't able to put it through its paces until after I returned.

The machine comes with a power cord, a USB cord for connecting to a computer, a proprietary SD card with a set of images, a paper tray and a roller assembly to accommodate rolls of paper for creating banners. For more information on the eCraft's features and capabilites, visit the Craftwell USA website.

To be honest, I think this machine has been putting me through my paces and trying my patience in the bargain. The downloadable software that allows the machine to communicate with my computer and cut my own .svg images is buggy...VERY buggy. To say that there are a few glitches is to be kind. Craftwell, the makers of the eCraft, are well aware of the issues and is scheduled to release an update to the software on November 19th. (The original release date was Nov. 12, pushed back at the 11th hour.) I was so annoyed and frustrated by the problems I was encountering that, after three days and untold sheets of cardstock, I disassembled it and put it back in the box, fully prepared to relegate it to the status of expensive paperweight. By way of the eCraft Facebook page as well as a user-created Yahoo group that I have joined, I have discovered that not only am I not alone in my frustration but I am not experiencing the worst of it. Many other users are experiencing worse problems with the machine and its software.Non-communication between computer and cutter, windows asking for drivers that have already been installed, ripping, tearing and shredding paper...all sorts of problems are being reported. Yet others are reporting perfect cuts and wonderful results. Apparently there are those who have been unduly blessed by the electronic crafting angels. I, however, am not among them.

After a couple of days, I took it back out of the box and began again from scratch, uninstalling and reinstalling the software and rebooting my computer a number of times before it and the eCraft were able to communicate. My euphoria at this progress was short-lived because of the glitches inherent in the software. It performs well enough when cutting directly from the images provided on the SD card but PC-to-eCraft communications remain somewhat sketchy. Still, I was able to successfully create and cut some of my own images, albeit extremely simple ones. Anything complex and eCraft has a hissy fit, cutting random circles, stuttering in one place and likewise exhibiting ill-tempered behavior.

In spite of it all, I was able to cut one perfect project and created my son's name for his wall. All the layers of this image were created in a drawing program, saved in .svg format, imported into the eCraft software and sent to cut. I stamped the topmost layer with Versamark watermark ink and dusted it with PearlEx pigments.

In the course of my travails with the machine, I think I may have stumbled across the reason for the stuttering while cutting imported image files. I have posted my theory on my Facebook fan page under the discussions tab (click here if you're interested) and am waiting to hear if anyone else tests my hypothesis. In the meantime I, like dozens of other eCraft owners, am a lady-in-waiting...waiting for the promised update that is supposed to address all software issues known to date. I've got projects in the pipeline waiting to be cut so this update better be all it's cracked up to be. I'll keep you posted.

Ballo ergo sum - Gitana, the Creative Diva Design team member for About Art Accents


  1. Got the ecraft like over a month, my first ever cutting machine and i have never had any serious problems except for the software that recently gives an annoying "software has stopped working" message now and then.

    I have done a number of beautiful projects with ecraft which i consider a marvel.Well i seem to have "mastered" the ecraft...most problems are due to unsuitable cutting depth (try test cutting a small piece like a small circle), leading to squeezes of paper and i recommended using of stabilizers when cutting not too-thick material.

    Maybe am damn lucky cos i am using ecraft down here in Africa which is outside the warranty cover!

    1. Agacheta, thanks for your comment. The good people at Craftwell have worked diligently on their software and have improved it tremendously since it was rolled out two years ago. Furthermore they have been more than generous with any warranty issues that I had with my machine. It has been quite some time since I have experienced any major problems that weren't due in some part to user error (that would be me). I'm glad you didn't have to experience the horrors that we early pioneers of the eCraft did. Keep crafting!!

      - Gitana, the Creative Diva