Making Die-Cutting Easy Again
Have you heard about die cutters?
Do you consider yourself a DIY person?
If you’ve answered negatively to the first question, you’re definitely missing out – die cutters are adaptable, able to cut almost any material and can make any design you like.
If you are already familiar with die cutters, you probably heard about the brand named Silhouette and their excellent machines. But, have you heard about their latest offering, the Silhouette CAMEO 3?
It’s definitely among their best products to date, and it’s what we’re talking about today – warts and all.
Stick around and see why this new die cutter is definitely a cut above the rest!
Silhouette Cameo 3 Overview
The Silhouette CAMEO 2 was one of the most popular die-cutters on the market, and during its time, it was truly amazing.
However, after so many years and different iterations on it, the time has come for an upgrade – and the Silhouette CAMEO 3 is definitely a worthy successor.
The CAMEO 3 can cut wider and longer pieces of materials; it can use two different tools at once, it can cut thicker stuff and, best of all, it has wireless capability, allowing you to use it without the need to keep it next to your computer.
It also features the latest version of Silhouette’s trademark software, the Silhouette Studio 4, which is both PC and Mac compatible and can interact with programs like CorelDraw and Adobe Photoshop with ease.
You can cut over 100 different materials with it, and it can cut materials like vinyl without needing to use a mat, allowing you to cut pieces larger than ever before.
Does that sound good?
If it does, keep on reading and see what I think about this handy cutter that’s full of useful features.
Silhouette Cameo 3 Grades Table
Let’s talk specs - the essential, yet most important aspects of a product. Here I showcase my personal opinion on this cutter’s main features, on a scale from 1 to 5. If you know what you’re looking for, this table will be more than enough for you.
|Silhouette Cameo 3 Review|
|Ease of Use||5/5|
If you’re, on the other hand, here to learn about all ins and outs of Silhouette Cameo 3, please continue to read - my in-depth review will teach you all about it!
What’s in The Box:
- CAMEO 3 Cutting Machine
- Silhouette’s AutoBlade
- Silhouette Studio software disk
- Power cable
- USB connector cable
- 12-by-12-Inch Cutting Mat
- Vinyl Crosscutter
- Blade Adjustment Tool
- One-month subscription to the Silhouette Design Store
The Most Crucial Features:
- Dimensions - 22.5 x 8.5 x 6 inches (57.15 x 21.6 x 15.25 cm)
- Weight – 12 pounds (5.44 kg)
- Cutting Size – 10 feet in length and 12 inches of width.
- Usable Materials - Vinyl, Cardstock, Paper, Fabric, among over 100 others
- Dual Carriage – You can place two different tools into the machine at the same time, allowing it to perform two functions at once.
- Matless Cutting – Due to being able to cut materials like vinyl without a mat, the CAMEO 3 is easily able to cut these materials up to 10 feet in length.
- Software – It uses Silhouette Studio 4, which allows for countless ways to edit your projects, and it works with Silhouette’s online shop implemented entirely, which allows for easy access to thousands of designs.
- Wireless Capability – You can interface with it using Bluetooth, allowing you to use it without tangling yourself in extra cables.
- Full-Color LCD Touch Screen – Easy to use control screen that allows you to choose the designs you want and can be used by anyone.
- Built-in Storage Compartment – A small compartment made for storing accessories and built into the machine itself.
- Compatibility – It can be used with the Print & Cut and PixScan technologies, and it is compatible with the self-adjustable AutoBlade. It can be used with both PC and Mac.
The Silhouette CAMEO 3 In-Depth Review
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for – this is where we do a deep dive into the most important features of the CAMEO 3 together and list all good and all bad details. Let’s get straight to it!
The Design & Cutting Performance
This is definitely a slick-looking machine, there’s no doubt about that – but it’s got more than just looks.
It takes up minimal space – only 22.5 by 8.5 inches in total with a height of 6 inches, and it is fairly lightweight, so you can put it almost anywhere. It weighs only around 12 pounds – basically, nothing compared to most other die cutters.
But, does that mean it’s less powerful?
In some ways - yes, definitely.
While it can cut over 100 different materials, it won’t do too well when cutting some tougher materials, including things like vinyl and certain fabrics and the cutting will be inconsistent.
When I tried cutting some thin leather with it, for example, it ended up all torn and I was quite bummed out about that since I had a great idea but it’s just not doable with this machine.
It does do well when cutting lighter materials like paper or cardstock, and if you intend to use it for such projects, it works marvelously. I’ve had a blast using it for various projects with my kids and making some cards with their favorite cartoon and game characters.
Important notice - it is quite loud when it’s working, even with lighter materials, so don’t just go around and put it near the bedroom or anything. Just keep that in mind.
The overall build quality is great though, and better than the size and weight would suggest. It’s definitely a machine that’s going to last for years, as long as you don’t abuse it. Both the insides and the outsides are sturdy and well-made.
The Special Features
Upgrading from the CAMEO 2 to this machine, a lot of extra features have been added, and while some of them work great, others are spotty at best. Let’s take a look at them.
Cameo 3 comes with a big and useful LCD screen for easy and convenient usage. In the Silhouette family of product of this size, this is the only machine with this functionality.
You can choose between languages, set the sleep timer, change the color scheme of the interface.
Besides using it to operate the machine, it will display useful mini tutorials which will help you if you get stuck. With help icons showcased everywhere, you just touch to see the additional info/tutorial.
One of the most-vaunted added features is the wireless connectivity via Bluetooth, and it’s a much-needed addition as well.
So, is it all it’s cracked up to be?
Well, not quite.
You see, setting up the entire thing can take ages and even when it’s all set up, it doesn’t work consistently even if the machine is right next to your computer.
The promise of this sort of technology is that you can have the machine on the other side of the room without needing to worry about unnecessary cables. The reality here is that it won’t work half the time.
I did investigate the situation with the verified customers online, and Cameo 3 does seem to work better for some people than others, so you have a fifty-fifty shot of it working out well for you – good luck with that! For me, it didn’t work at all most of the time and I’ve had quite a horrible time with it, so I’m disappointed.
The other much-advertised feature and one that lives up to the promise is the dual carriage, which allows you to use two tools at once with this machine.
For example, you can attach a blade and a sketch pen at the same time, allowing you to do twice the work in the same amount of time. It’s a real time-saver, and it does its job without a hitch.
Setting things up in the Silhouette studio is easy as well, you just need to make a few clicks and it’s all good.
Speaking of that…
Silhouette Studio 4
The new version of Silhouette’s signature software is better than ever. It allows you to edit your designs as well as you could in any other professional photo-editing software.
It’s also easy to use, which was a pleasant surprise - I thought it will be difficult to master it.
In addition to that, it can directly interface with photo editing software like CorelDraw and Adobe Photoshop via a plugin called Silhouette Connect, allowing you to do your work faster than ever.
Here’s a very handy video that will guide you through the system:
This was an unexpectedly great addition to the machine and one that can help you a lot with custom designs.
This is an innovative feature of the Silhouette cutting system that allows you to place cut lines in a precise location on the material using a camera or your scanner. The use of a smartphone or a tablet is also supported.
The machine will recognize the marks placed and cut around them.
This turned out to be great for turning hand-drawn designs into digital files ready for cutting. I rendered some of my kid’s drawings and easily turned them into stickers that could be put on the fridge door which was both cute and useful.
Silhouette Cameo 3: The Accessories
There’s not too much in the way of accessories here, but what is there is quite good. Let’s take a peek into the toolbox:
This is definitely the standout here, and it is the most heavily-advertised of all the extras included in the package. It can be used with a few different Silhouette machines as well.
The name is a bit deceptive – it’s not completely automatic, you still have to make some adjustments in the software before you turn on the machine. If you’re expecting to just press a button and have the blade do its magic, it’s not like that.
However, it is definitely useful, and it can automatically adjust to the material that you choose which does save time, but it’s not as great as you might expect it to be.
I didn’t have high expectations of it and, because of that, I was quite satisfied with how it performed, especially when used in the dual carriage along with another tool.
Blade Adjustment Tool
This is a standard tool that does the job - you just put your blade inside, and turn it to reach the desired depth of cutting. It’s not going to break after a few uses, but it’s nothing special either – just standard to be honest. I’ve usually seen worse tools than this one included with machines like this, so it’s not bad.
Again, this is a rather basic tool, used for fine cutting after the main cutting process is done. The Cameo 3’s crosscutter is about the same as the one that came with the CAMEO 2 with no major differences that I could notice. It performs well and cuts vinyl as good as any other.
Silhouette Cameo 3 Breakdown
- Able to be used wirelessly
- It has a dual carriage for using two different tools at once
- Compact size and low weight
- More than 100 different supported materials
- Extremely easy to use without any prior knowledge
- A new, convenient blade holder design
- Well-made with durable materials
- It can cut vinyl and similar materials without a mat
- The ability to upload and use your own designs
- There’s an expansive built-in storage compartment
- Comes with a 1-month subscription to Silhouette’s online store
- Not as powerful as other machines
- It’s a bit too loud
- Using the Bluetooth feature can be difficult
- The cutting isn’t consistent, especially with tougher materials
- The initial set up process is difficult
Silhouette Cameo 3 Review: My Final Thoughts
The CAMEO 3 is quite a slick and modern die cutter with a lot of useful extra features that you need in a machine like this, and it’s a definite improvement over the previous model. However, it’s definitely not perfect.
It is a reasonably affordable machine, and it can cut over 100 different materials, which is a great value proposition, but it doesn’t cut all the materials equally well and definitely struggles with some tougher ones.
While all the compatibility options are great, and the software is good, the much-touted wireless connectivity feature struggles to get off the ground. Setting it up is difficult, and you’ll struggle to get a clear connection even if it’s right next to your PC.
Still, these flaws might not bother you too much, depending on what you want to use the machine for.
If you are looking at a versatile die cutter and you don’t need it for some heavy-duty work, you’ll probably find that the CAMEO 3 is more than up to the task.
I’d definitely recommend it, even with all the flaws I mentioned.