Comparing Two Popular Die-cutting Gadgets
Fellow crafters, I’m back with another post that shares my experience about our favorite topic - DIY creations.
Today we will be covering machines from one of my favorite hobby spheres, die-cutting.
I love die-cutting because I’ve created literally hundreds of different projects for both myself and my friends and family, and I’ve yet to try many new ones.
For this reason, I feel like my possibilities are infinite, and there will always be many new die-cutting projects to work on.
Of course, to do all of this, I am constantly trying out new die-cutting machines, and, depending on the project, I use the one that will give me the perfect cut I need.
While I’ve lost count of how many machines I’ve tested, I keep the details about them and present my observations to you, so that you don’t have to try out that many possibilities before you find the ideal one.
Therefore, if you’re in two minds about Cricut Maker Vs. Silhouette Cameo 3 duo, scroll down and see which one fits you more.
Today, you will get to know each Cricut Maker and Silhouette Cameo 3 separately, and then we’ll deal with all their peculiarities side-to-side.
So, stay tuned!
Cricut Maker Vs. Silhouette Cameo 3 - Specification Chart
Before I get to the complete analysis, here are the main characteristics of these two machines.
|Feature||Cricut Maker||Silhouette Cameo 3|
|Dimensions||24 x 7.1 x 6.2 inches (58 x 24 x 15 cm)||22.5. x 6 x 8.5 inches (57 x 15.2 x 21.6 cm)|
|Weight||14 pounds (6.6 kg)||8 pounds (3.6 kg)|
|Downward force||4 kg||210 g|
|Software||Cricut Design Space||Silhouette Design Studio|
|Auto Blade System||No||Yes|
Although it is important to have a preview of the main features to make up your mind more easily, the characteristics are not worthy before they are put to the test.
And that’s exactly what I did.
Cricut Maker Vs. Silhouette Cameo 3: Establishing the Grounds for the Battle
While today’s competitors are not in the same category, I would not call them unevenly matched.
So, your initial reaction when you see their features on paper might be something like: “This is an unfair battle”, but I want to reassure you it’s not.
By comparing these two seemingly different options, I want to make sure that my readers are aware of what they need, save up, and most importantly, be happy with their purchase (and future creations).
Having that in mind, let’s see how these machines rank separately.
Cricut Maker - High Degree of Expertise
A titan among all die-cutting machines, Cricut Maker stands out as a remarkable machine on the market and is probably the most successful Cricut machine ever.
Here is the official Cricut Maker presentation:
This die-cutting tool, first released two years ago, offers a complete package in its recognizable and sleek design.
It is packed with exciting features, and what is more important, it comes fully functional out of the box, unlike some gadgets that seem to have so many possibilities, but they are underdeveloped.
This machine has just the right amount of every characteristic that you need.
Moreover, it is extremely easy to use; with this machine, I would say it is harder for your projects to turn out bad than to turn out excellent!
This machine can cut pretty much any material that you can imagine, thanks to its incredible 4 kilograms (~9 pounds) of cutting force.
The strongest feature that ensures the force is exerted in the right way is the quality Rotary Blade, which will allow you to cut through any material (or layers of material) that you want.
It is worth mentioning the cuts will not be just powerful but also precise - which is essential if you want to work with delicate and lightweight materials.
Other accessories that add to the value and functionality of this machine include:
- Knife Blade (something like the die-cutting sew, for very thick materials)
- Fine Point Blade (for delicate work)
- Deep Point Blade (for precise, 60 degree-angle cuts)
- Bonded Fabric Blade (the “default” blade, not specialized for any material)
My favorite accessories for most of the Cricut machines are the Cricut Pens, and I always struggle to choose the favorite variety. The top 3 would, perhaps, be:
- The basic Black Pen set, a must for all your projects
- The Cricut Gel Pen set, in amazing bright colors
- The Washable Pen, which is incredibly useful for marking stuff I make
The Cricut Maker is twice as fast than its predecessor, Cricut Explore Air 2, and it has the Adaptive Tool System that works as an adapter for all the Explore-series accessories; so, if you’re a longtime Cricut-enthusiast, don’t worry, you won’t waste your accumulated add-ons!
If these features intrigued you, read my full Cricut Maker review.
Wondering whether those boastful features live up to their expectations?
The answer is: Absolutely yes!
Silhouette Cameo 3 - Good Things Come in Small Packages
It is hard to find an adequate competitor to the Cricut Maker machine on the market, but today I chose to go with something that offers a little bit of different yet equally pleasurable experience.
Silhouette Cameo 3 may not be the richest in features, but those that it offers are developed to perfection and well-thought-out.
Cameo 3 introduced some useful and revolutionary features, such as the LCD screen. This machine remains the only one in the range of smaller cutting machines to be equipped with a screen, and this is a huge plus. Its interface is simple and straightforward (you will be able to use it without any instructions).
Also, it has the Auto-Blade feature, for the automatic adjusting of the angle and pressure of the cuts, which was not introduced until this version of Silhouette die-cutting machines came out.
Another eye-catching feature is the PixScan Technology, which allows you to turn any photo you scan or take with your smartphone into your design. I’ve created (and multiplied) a LOT of projects with it.
Here you can see the PixScan Technology in use:
The cuts are premium, though the cutting force of 210 g means that you’ll be able to cut only the basic materials with this machine. By “basic” I mean those that first come to mind when one says “die-cutting”: paper, vinyl, cardstock…
Moreover, it has a Vinyl cross cutter that serves to enhance the quality of your vinyl-based projects.
Cricut made a presentation on how it functions:
All these are a nice touch to the usual Silhouette quality, combined together to produce one of the best machines for beginners.
Is there a big difference between the Cricut Maker and Silhouette Cameo 3?
At first sight, these two machines have nothing in common.
While it is true that they are more different than similar, there are some consistent features and areas in which they can be compared.
Let’s start off with the most prominent differences:
|Main Differences||Cricut Maker||Silhouette Cameo 3|
|Dimensions||24 x 7.1 x 6.2 inches||22.5. x 6 x 8.5 inches|
|Weight||6.6 kg||3.6 kg|
|Cutting force||4 kg||210 g|
|Software||Cricut Design Space||Silhouette Design Studio|
Difference #1 - Versatility
This criterion has a clear winner: Cricut Maker.
Simply put, 210 g of cutting force that Silhouette Cameo 3 bears cannot come close to the amazing 4 kg that Cricut Maker offers - and this affects the materials that are at your disposal for the projects greatly.
Not only that - thanks to the advanced magazine of accessories that Cricut Maker has, four varieties of blades, and legendary Cricut Pens, each and every material is uniquely processed and cut.
As I mentioned, the Rotary blade is balanced with the powerful cutting force and can cut through any thick material, from leather to denim, and the Fine Point blade is there for thinner and more graceful materials.
If you are not sure about all the materials supported, check out this video:
On the other hand, with Silhouette Cameo 3, you can specialize in cutting paper and vinyl, but this puts it far behind today’s competitor when it comes to versatility.
These limitations, however, are not very significant if your die-cutting hobby is chiefly concentrated on the paper and vinyl projects - there are, nevertheless, endless possibilities.
Difference #2 - Physical Appearance
The factor of portability may be important to you if you’re carrying your machine on your work or travel, or you need a go-to for some fashion projects that take place outside.
While Silhouette Cameo 3 takes up almost the same space on your table as Cricut Maker, it is twice as light (it weighs only 3.6 kg).
I am not trying to say that Cricut Maker is bulky or heavy, as it isn’t; I’m just focusing on the fact that you are able to take Cameo 3 wherever you want with ease. It is only a little heavier than a bottle of water!
When it comes to design, I prefer the minimalistic design of Cameo 3. There are 4 editions, and the whole machine comes in the color of your choice (unlike with Cricut Maker, where highlights are colored and the base of the unit is white):
- Aqua Blue
- Classic White
- Slate Grey
- Mint Green (my favorite)
Cricut is not far behind with the options for Cricut Maker, and they include:
- Mint (again my favorite; I do seem to have a thing for the color mint)
Difference #3 - Acceleration
Your productivity is definitely going to be maximized if you purchase Cricut Maker, as it is at least twice as fast than all of its predecessors.
It proved once again when I compared it with its counterpart for today - Cricut Maker needed 1’30’’ to complete my test project, and it took me 4’30’’ for the same project with Cameo 3.
Take a look at the direct comparison of the speed and noise when these two machines work, side-by-side:
There are two tips I have about acceleration with Cricut Maker, though:
- Using it with the Knife blade comes at the expense of speed (it will be much slower)
- The speed mode comes at the expense of quietness (but it won’t be too loud)
More about the Knife Blade here:
Difference #4 - Software
Here comes the biggest con of Cricut Maker - its software, the Cricut Design Space.
If you’re using a desktop platform, you’re stuck without an offline mode, and with a pretty underdeveloped user-interface of the program compared to the Silhouette alternative, the Silhouette Design Studio.
A custom T-shirt is one of my favorite projects to make, and here is a handy tutorial on how to do that in the Silhouette Design Studio:
However, we can give credits to the Cricut company for developing an Android app so that now you can access your machine from both iOS and Android phones.
In this video, you can check out the possibilities of the Cricut Design Space:
Additionally, Silhouette offers the PixScan technology and the convenient little LCD screen that enhances software options with Silhouette Cameo 3.
I believe Cricut will soon upgrade all the other areas concerning their software. Until then, points go to the Silhouette Cameo 3 here.
Not Everything is Different: Common Threads between the Cricut Maker and Silhouette Cameo 3
Now that you know what distinguishes these two excellent machines, we can proceed to the similar features.
|Main Similarities||Cricut Maker||Silhouette Cameo 3|
|Quality of the Cuts||5-May||5-May|
Similarity #1 - Connectivity
Both machines support the wireless system via Bluetooth, or a USB connectivity if you’re not a fan of cable-less connectivity.
It is important to note here that there were no problems or bugs during my thorough examination of the machines and their methods of connectivity.
You can see how simple it is here:
Simply put, you do not have to be tech-savvy to use these features, and yet they mean a lot.
Similarity #2 - Ease of Use
Tired of complicated, unlabeled buttons and non-intuitive interface?
Both Cricut Maker and Silhouette Cameo 3 offer the complete opposite: the former in the form of labeled buttons, and the latter in the form of touchscreen features.
What fascinates me is how Cricut Maker remained so easy to use, although it has a million new features. And a little bonus to them for providing you with some ideas for your beginner projects, while Silhouette does not.
Overall, setting up both machines is simple; you just need to activate your account, choose the place in a room dedicated to the machine, and you’re ready to go!
Here is a handy tutorial on how to set up Silhouette Cameo 3:
Similarity #3 - Dual Carriage
Another common feature of Cricut Maker and Silhouette Cameo 3 is the dual carriage system.
In one word, this equals productivity.
More precisely, both machines can be employed to do two actions at the same time (e.g., cut and write).
Although the systems themselves differs a bit, and the accessories that can be attached to the dual carriage adapter vary, the purpose is the same, and it delivers effectiveness.
Similarity #4 - Performance
If you ask me, this criteria is the most important and the fundamental base for our comparison for today.
The quality of the performance of both Cricut Maker and Silhouette Cameo 3 is flawless.
Therefore, even if they are not in the same category if we speak about the cutting force or the range of materials, they are definitely in the same circle as the most reliable and problem-free machines.
Here is a video that shows how Cricut Maker performs with chipboard:
Here’s a video on performance of Silhouette Cameo 3:
Now that you’re assured that both of the machines put in an excellent performance, you are ready to make up your mind about the purchase.
Cricut Maker Vs. Silhouette Cameo 3 Clash - My Conclusion
In this case, I cannot claim that one is better than the other.
You first need to understand what is your main goal for the die-cutting machine and then opt for one of these two, as they perform different services.
If you want to become an expert in cutting vinyl and paper, Silhouette Cameo 3, with a lower price and everything you need for successful projects, should be your pick.
On the other hand, if you’re eager to start up your business, or simply want to dabble into work with thicker materials and you need a serious cutting force, Cricut Maker is likely a better choice.
Meanwhile, the most important thing is that you won’t make a mistake, no matter which one ends up on your table.