Having difficulty finding the best vinyl cutter? With so many different brands and models it might be difficult, regardless if it’s your first time buying or not.
Today we will look at Silhouette vs Cricut; two titans in the vinyl cutting machine space.
Vinyl Cutting Machine Criteria
To find the best vinyl cutting machine for you, it helps to make a list of all the things you expect your machine to do and on which point you can compromise. Depending on the vinyl cutter brand you buy from, features and price can change a lot. If you know what you don’t need you can save quite some money.
In this article we are focusing on Silhouette vs Cricut as both of them are well known to provide good product for a decent price. Additionally, if you are looking into vinyl cutters, you also might want to consider buying a heat press to make vinyl T-shirts.
The most important feature to consider in a vinyl cutter is the maximum cutting area width of you model. If you buy a small model the maximum width might become a limiting factor in your design. You can only make designs smaller than the maximum width of course.
Additionally, some models come with extra features. Think for example about an embossing option or a double tool holder that might be useful for certain projects. If time and speed are important, a double tool holder can be a valuable feature to have.
Vinyl Cutter making a rare appearance in the office today 👀🖨🔲 pic.twitter.com/bStenPh8gQ
— Made by Tone (@madebytone) 29 September 2017
Although today we are focusing on the best vinyl cutters, most of these machines are actually multifunctional and can operate with several different materials. If you are planning to use other materials such as canvas, fabric or iron-on, make sure to check if your machine is compatible with those materials.
If this is your first time buying a vinyl cutter machine it might be very overwhelming. Besides the machine itself, there are many different you will also need to buy such as tools, add-ons, sheets, transfer paper, cutting mat, etc. In this case we recommend you purchase a starter bundle. They offer everything you need without having to worry about what to buy and what not to buy.
When comparing Silhouette vs Cricut, it is important to not only look at the machines themselves but also the software it comes with. Most Silhouette and Cricut machines come with Silhouette Design Studio or Cricut Design Space respectively.
In general Silhouette Design Studio is the better among the two. It gives more freedom and you can create your designs from scratch. Additionally, the images available for purchase look professional compared to the ones available in Cricut Designs Space. Although the basic Silhouette software is free, if you upgrade to the paid version you even have the option to make rhinestone patterns.
— James @raspjamberlin (@monkeymademe) 11 September 2017
On the other hand, Cricut Design Space is easier to learn and better if you only plan to create simple designs. If you want to make a design from scratch, it’s better to do so in another program and then import it to Cricut Design Space.
Cricut Design Space supports svg, png, dxf, gif, bmp and jpg files while the free version of Silhouette Design Studio only supports jpg, bmp and png files. If you want to use svg files you need to pay a fee to upgrade the software.
Finally, the Cricut Design Space software requires a permanent internet connection. If you don’t have a stable internet connection it might be difficult to work with.
Silhouette Vinyl Cutter
Let’s take a look at the different Silhouette vinyl cutter machines out there. Silhouette is one of the best vinyl cutter brands and well known for their quality machines.
If you look around you will find that there are 4 different machines offered by Silhouette; Cameo, Curio, Portrait and the Mint. With all these different models you might have difficulty finding the best vinyl cutter for you. Don’t worry! We are here to help.
First of all, you might notice that the Silhouette Mint is considerably smaller than the other machines. In contrast to the other machines, the Mint is for making small tags and labeling and can’t handle vinyl.
The Silhouette Cameo 3 and the Silhouette Portrait are very similar. Their only considerable difference is the width of their cutting area. While the Portrait model has a cutting area width of a slightly limiting 8 inch, the Cameo 3 has a cutting with of 12 inches. In most cases, the Silhouette Cameo is the better vinyl cutter.
Finally, the Silhouette Curio comes with a cutting area width of a meager 8.5 inch. That is slightly bigger than a Portrait! The Curio is not completely useless though it has some features that can’t be found in the Silhouette Cameo 3.
The Silhouette Curio operate with much thicker materials with a maximum thickness of 5 mm and it can cut up to 2 mm deep. This makes the Curio much better at dealing with home décor products while the Cameo is better for simple vinyl cutting.
Additionally, the Curio has a special embossing function. With this function, you can easily add an extra dimension to your work or create foldable lines.
Overall we would recommend the Silhouette Cameo 3 if you mainly working with vinyl and looking for a personal vinyl cutting machine.
For a closer comparison between the Cameo 3 and the Curio look at the table below or check out this page.
|Silhouette Curio||Silhouette CAMEO 3|
|Goal||-Home Décor Products||-Scrapbooking and Cards|
|-Specialty Crafting||-Sign Making|
|-Multicolor Sketching||-Vinyl Lettering and Stencils|
|Dimensions||5.5 inch x 17.25 inch x 12 inch||20.9 inch x 6.5 inch x 5 inch|
|5.5 lbs.||6.5 lbs|
|Cutting Area Width||8.5 inch||12 inch|
|Max Cutting Thickness||2 mm||-|
|Max Cutting Force||210 gf||210 gf|
|Max Media Thickness||5 mm||0.8 mm|
Cricut Vinyl Cutter
Cricut is the second vinyl cutter brand we will look at. They offer 3 main options if you are looking for a home vinyl cutter; Explore One, Explore Air and Explore Air 2.
First of all, all three options can cut over 100 different materials, from vinyl to thick leather. Check out which materials you can use here. That means Cricut machines can be used as general die-cut machines and not just as a desktop vinyl cutter.
When comparing Silhouette vs Cricut, the Cricut machines are more versatile while Silhouette machine only focuses on doing a few things really good.
The Cricut Explore One is the oldest model and thus has fewer features than the Explore Air or Explore Air 2. The main difference is that the Explore One doesn’t have a double tool holder. It can cut and write, but in too separate steps. While the Explore Air and Explore Air can do it simultaneously.
Secondly, the Explore Air and Explore Air 2 both come with a build-in wireless Bluetooth adaptor. If you want to use your Cricut Explore one wirelessly you will have to buy a Cricut Wireless Bluetooth Adapter separately.
Although the Cricut Explore Air is an older version of the Cricut Explore Air 2, they can both still be bought commercially. The major improvement over the Explore Air is that the Explore Air 2 can cut and write up to 2 times faster.
This sounds great but maybe not completely necessary for most hobby artist. If you are trying to run a small business though, the Explore Air 2 can reduce precious production time. Keep in mind thought that the faster cutting and writing only holds if you work with vinyl, iron-on and cardstock.
Check out the comparison table between the different Cricut models below.
|Cricut Explore One||Cricut Explore Air||Cricut Explore 2|
|Precise cutting, writing, and scoring technology||yes||yes||yes|
|Cuts 100+ materials||yes||yes||yes|
|Easily design your project on PC, tablet or smartphone||yes||yes||yes|
|60,000 project and design ideas to kick start any project||yes||yes||yes|
|Upload your own design and images free||yes||yes||yes|
|Double tool holder for one-click cutting and writing||no||yes||yes|
|Works wirelessly via Bluetooth||no||yes||yes|
|Up to 2x faster cutting & writing||no||no||yes|
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I use the Silhouette Studio software to design my own patterns?
- Which heat press do I need to transfer my vinyl designs?
- How do I use a heat press machine to make vinyl shirts?
- How do I use a Silhouette vinyl cutter to make Rhinestone shirts?