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Archive | July 22, 2010

So What Is The Cricut Imagine?

As noted in our previous article, Provo Craft has filed for a trademark on the term Cricut Imagine and the filing indicates that they plan to use the trademark for a machine that both prints and cuts. The timing of the trademark filing is highly suggestive that the Imagine is the big release that Provo Craft has been hinting at for CHA Summer 2010 next week.

A recently published patent application by Provo Craft may shed even more light on the features and capability of the rumored machine. Patent application number 12/504,651 was filed on July 16th, 2009 by attorneys representing Provo Craft but not published (made public for comment and review) until May 13th of this year. The application is titled “System And Method For Printing And Cutting”.

Look familiar? This is the “perspective view of an apparatus for printing and cutting” from the application.

The drawing is probably generic and not a detailed representation of the actual machine’s body design.

For a possible hint at what the machine’s body looks like, though, check out this article in the Deseret News about the new Martha Stewart Cricut Cake machine. One of the accompanying pictures was taken in the product development department at Provo Craft and clearly shows a machine with what appears to be a Cricut logo on the end of it (where the machines usually have one located) that is much bigger and more square than the current machines are. What appears to be test print/cuts are sitting on the table behind it. In all likelihood, that is the printing/cutting machine that is referenced in the trademark and patent filings.

So what does it look like inside? The patent filing offers some intriguing clues.

Like the trademark filing, the patent filing references the use of cutting mats. There is also reference to an LCD touch screen:

[0043] An alternative to the keypad and overlay 49 may include a LCD touch screen capable of rendering the font or image set. To select a particular shape, the user may push on the shape directly as it is shown on the LCD touch screen and the system recognizes a selection from the touch screen.

There is also reference to the machine being able to weld images together. The printing system described in the patent application is a four-cartridge inkjet CYMK system, that requires Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black cartridges. The cutting head and inkjet ride together on the same carriage to maintain “registration” with each other.

One major departure in this patent from previous Cricut machines is that the floor of this machine (the area that the mat floats over) is described as moving up and down so that the material can maintain the correct distance from the print head no matter how thick it is.

Other mentioned capabilities of the machine include cutting three-dimensional shapes and cutting or printing borders around items. The concept of using the machine to create large images through tiling (cutting/printing on multiple sheets and then assembling them together) is also discussed. A brief reference at the end of the filing may be one of the most exciting to Cricut users – a description of a new use for a Gypsy-like device:

In another example, printer/cutter 10 may include a peripheral interface allowing for a tablet-input by the user. The user may then ‘draw’ the cutting boundary or make edits to the image or cutting path using the tablet. The tablet may also be used to generate a free-hand cutting path that is stored or cut in real-time.

To view the patent in its entirety, click here.

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