KNK Zing Orbit Review: What You Need To Know
Since its release, the KNK Zing Orbit has proven itself to be an outstanding die cutter. If you're thinking about buying one, though, don't go to the store quite yet. Die cutters are a big investment and you should know more about the machine before you place your order. With that, let's take a look at everything you need to know about the KNK Zing Orbit.
What Is The KNK Zing Orbit And How Does It Work?
The KNK Zing Orbit from Klic-N-Kut is a die cutter designed to provide maximum quality and control for a variety of projects. It's effective at cutting material like vinyl, HTV, chipboard, cardstock, fabric, plastic, and other materials that can fit through its opening. This machine comes in maximum cutting widths - 15 inches and 24 inches.
The most important part of the device, however, is its maximum cutting pressure. At 1000g, the KNK Zing Orbit is considerably more powerful than hobbyist machines like the Silhouette Cameo (210g). It's capable of cutting up to 30 in/sec diagonal, but most art projects will be slower because of their added complexity.
This cutter has both USB and WiFi connections for data. We recommend the former since direct lines are far more reliable. Less obviously, this machine uses RTS/CTS flow control to manage the packets of information it gets from computers. Most computers just send all the information at once, but with this system, the device signals when it's ready for more. That helps to reduce problems like delays and jams.
Of course, no machine is perfect. Despite its excellent cutting power and efficient systems, the KNK Zing Orbit is also fairly heavy. The 15-inch unit comes in at 21.16 pounds, while the 24-inch unit weighs 27.6. That's a little too heavy to move around on a frequent basis, and it's a point against an otherwise excellent machine.
(Note that the base unit weighs about 12.16 pounds, but there are some other important parts you'll need to carry.)
The KNK Zing Orbit has several optional accessories available. For most users, the important accessories are the additional tools, including a punch/piercing tool, an embossing tool, and an engraving tool. These considerably expand the number of things you can do with the machine.
KNK also sells a set of additional color-coded blade holders in case you get spare blades (and you should). These are split into red (standard), blue (thick materials), and yellow (fabric) holders. Aside from that, some buyers may be interested in the Orbit Stands that can elevate the unit and, more importantly, give it wheels. These are helpful if you need to move your die cutter around on a regular basis.
What Makes The KNK Zing Orbit Unique
The KNK Zing Orbit has several factors that set it apart from the competition. First, this model is distinctly better than its predecessor. From improved speed settings to adding a third pinch wheel (and a fourth on the 24-inch), it's a better unit overall.
The pinch feed itself is more adjustable than most machines. The wheels can be set to individual levels for non-standard items, and one lever can be used to raise or lower all of them. The multicolored LEDs are an amusing, if not particularly impactful, touch.
It also uses Automatic Registration Tracking, or ART, to work on print and cut projects. The optics inside the machine scan for registration marks to properly align the cutter, allowing for complex projects with minimal need for information from your computer. This is quite handy if you need to move your computer around and can't be by the cutter all the time.
The manufacturer sells the 15-inch model for $$ and the 24-inch model for $$$. These prices are well beyond casual hobby level - if you're not planning to get serious use out of your die cutter, you're better off buying another machine.
This die cutter can be hard to find outside of the manufacturer's site. At the time we checked, it was unavailable on major sites like Amazon.com and Walmart.com.
We did locate a few small resellers outside the big stores. A company named Imagine That (focused on scrapbooking and gifts) offered the models at $$/$$$, while a business named Skat Katz offered them for $$/$$$. That latter one is clearly marked up beyond any reasonable level, so we can't recommend buying from them unless the machines are sold out everywhere else.
It's probably easiest to buy straight from the manufacturer. As we'll explain below, this pricing does not include the software for the machine, and you can expect to pay another $-$$ based on the quality of the software you want to use. Businesses should expect to pay on the higher end.
Public Perception (Other KNK Zing Orbit Reviews)
Public perception of the KNK Zing Orbit is broadly positive.
In a review for TopTenReviews, Angie Parkinson gave it an 8.78/10 and put it second among all die cutters. In her review, she noted that this particular machine has a wide variety of modern features and conveniences that make it suitable for at-home crafting, but the size and bulk prevent it from being easily portable. We agree with that assessment.
She also pointed out that this machine requires the Sure Cuts A Lot software for maximum effectiveness, which is sold separately. That's another $$ to $$ for what's already a fairly expensive machine if you buy straight from the official site. This is a big enough difference to put the machine out of reach for some buyers. Fortunately, KNK sells the software at $ for the normal version. The Pro version is full price.
VinylCutterGuides broadly concurred, giving it a final score of 4.7/5. Most categories got full marks on their review, but they docked a few stars in the User Experience and Ease of Use areas thanks to some less-than-perfect issues. Notably, this review felt that the KNK Zing Orbit is a good stepping stone between an entry-level option and a full commercial cutter.
Our team felt they had a point there. If you want to get much better than this cutter, you'll need to open up a whole room and prepare to spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. There's only one genuinely better die cutter currently on the market, and even that machine, the Silver Bullet, costs nearly twice as much. In the practical sense, the KNK Zing Orbit is as good as it gets at this price.
BestVinylCutterReviews.com generally agrees with the other reviews but placed this machine a little lower at 4.4/5. They were most impressed with the accuracy of the cuts but felt that the ease of use, speed, versatility, and value for the money could have been improved a little more. Keep in mind that they aren't complaining in any of these categories - it's the difference between good and great.
Their biggest point - and one we've seen echoed in other reviews - is that this is not a machine for beginners. Some of its features, like adjusting blade depth, cutting force, and the number of passes, are intended only for people who know exactly what they're doing. If you don't know those things, you won't get the full value of this machine.
PersonalDieCutting.com did not provide a star or numerical rating but had a generally positive reaction to this machine. Overall, they felt that the KNK Zing Orbit is capable, attractive, and a good choice for enthusiasts and small businesses. Larger businesses, of course, may need a full-on commercial cutter, and that's outside the range of this review.
This review noted some surprise with how quiet the unit is. Many other cutters have grinding and beeping sounds on a regular basis, but this machine is fairly quiet even when cutting at high speeds.
The one major drawback they noted was the single cutting head. Some other machines (including the KNK Force, from the same manufacturer) have two heads so they can perform complex actions without additional user work. Since the Zing Orbit only has one head, you'll need to interact with the machine for actions like score and cut. Fortunately, changing things is straightforward.
How It Compares
The KNK Zing Orbit compares well to the competition. Let's take a quick look at the stats.
The most important consideration is the machine's cutting force. At 1000 grams, this machine is well above the industry average of 710 grams. However, it's not the most powerful unit around. That honor actually belongs to the Silver Bullet, whose 1250 grams of force are enough to work with almost any material.
Next is the maximum cutting width - how wide the machine can actually go. The KNK Zing Orbit is actually the winner here, with a standard width of 15 inches. That's not only above the industry average of 12.06 inches, it's above the Silver Bullet (13 inches) and the Pazzles Inspiration (12 inches). As far as cutting width on hobby machines go, this is about as good as it gets.
Unfortunately, the machine only has three rollers on the 15-inch version. These help to hold the cutting mat in place and ensure the smoothest, most accurate cuts. The industry average is 3.11, but since you can't really have part of a wheel, the consideration is really just "good" or "great". The 24-inch cutter, incidentally, is great. The Zing Orbit isn't in a bad place, but the smaller unit could be better.
Finally, with a base weight of 12.16 pounds (not counting certain other parts), this machine is heavier than the industry average of 10.89 pounds. It's also a little lighter than the Silver Bullet, which weighs 13.5 pounds. Lighter is generally better here because that makes the machine more portable.
Overall, this machine isn't the best unit in every category, but it's well-deserving of a place just shy of the summit. Since the only better machine for most households is considerably more expensive, the KNK Zing Orbit is the best choice for most buyers.
What We Think
Overall, we were extremely impressed by this die cutter. As specifications go, it's not quite the best machine on the market, but the lower price (compared to the Silver Bullet) make this a great option for most households.
That said, while it's more affordable than the best unit, it's also more expensive than many other die cutters, and that's before you consider the cost of the software. Some options on the market cost less than $$, though they're usually less accurate, smaller, and capable of working with fewer materials.
This is one of the reasons many reviews feel the KNK Zing Orbit is a machine for experienced users. If you've never done die cutting before, it's better to start with a small unit and try a variety of projects. Once you're used to the process, you can move up to an advanced machine like this one.
If you decide that die cutting isn't for you, you can return, resell, or donate your machine without taking a smaller machine. If you know you want to keep cutting, the KNK Zing Orbit won't turn into a wasted investment. As the market is now, this is as good as you're likely to get.
Coupons And Deals
The lack of resellers makes it hard to find coupons or deals on this product - you should expect to pay full price.
That said, if you're looking for a small discount, Klic-N-Kut sometimes sells Scratch and Dent units for around $$$. These are usually brand-new or refurbished units that suffered minor errors in the manufacturing process. This doesn't impact the functionality, but the blemishes make it a little less attractive than normal units.
Since these are only sold when manufacturing problems occur, the stock is highly irregular, and the manufacturer can't tell if or when more will be available. You can check for these on their official site, but don't expect to find them.
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