Cricut and Silhouette are some of the big names that dominate the die cutting niche nowadays. The former recently made headlines with its latest invention, the Cricut Maker, while the latter lays claim to the Silhouette Cameo 3 model. In this review, we will focus on the Cricut vs Silhouette Cameo 3 battle so we can help you understand which one of the two offers the best value for money and why.
Cricut Maker – Brief Overview
The Cricut Maker is one of the many awesome units to have come out of the famed manufacturer’s warehouses. The die cutter cum vinyl cutter brings with it unique rotary and knife blades which are meant to make cutting through tough materials a breeze. So, whether you’re thinking about taming balsa wood or leather material, this cutter claims to wield enough power to get the job done. Its rotary blade operates with rolling and gliding action and that makes it a perfect choice for making cuts without backing material. Looking to undertake a quilting project? The maker’s ability to produce intricate cuts makes it probably one of the best cutters in town all thanks to its ability to combine speed and precision.
To top it all up, this machine comes with simple design apps that empower you to adjust your designs either on your computer or mobile device. This is a major plus especially if you want to conserve material since you can weld different designs and cut them at once.
Silhouette Cameo 3 – Brief Overview
The Cameo 3 stands out as a sleek machine that’s easy to carry around and also friendly to beginners. For this reason, it remains incredibly popular among folks who take die cutting as a hobby or small business owners who mainly deal with paper and vinyl arts. One thing that makes it a darling to many people is its Bluetooth functionality which eliminates the need for cables. You only need to pair the device with either your mobile phone or computer in order to send images and designs across. This is a major win especially when portability is concerned since you can leave the cables home and carry only the printer and a smartphone with you.
Another awesome aspect of this machine is that it features dual carriages. These make feeding new materials and implementing cuts much easier for you. We also think that this could be a major win in as far as productivity is concerned. Another major highlight of the Cameo 3 is that it comes with an AutoBlade which automatically adjusts itself and lets you make awesome cuts without having to go through the stress of manual adjustments.
Cricut Vs Silhouette Cameo 3 – Comparing Their Unique Features
The Cricut Maker is without a doubt, considered to be a feature-rich machine. It comes with a rotary blade which is a big win for anyone who might be planning to cut fabric. This blade is quite powerful and certainly welcome for anyone who desires additional freedom to explore with their line of work. Therefore, if you’re looking for a machine that is designed to keep you going for many more years – even as you scale up your operations – the Maker offers a fantastic deal for you.
The Silhouette Cameo 3, on the other hand, is not a weakling at all and this is because it comes with a Deep Cut blade which you can rely on to make deep-reaching cuts of up to 2mm in depth. In addition, it comes with an AutoBlade which effectively eliminates the need for manual adjustments during the cutting process.
If you’re wondering which one of the two is the best die cutting machine for beginners, then perhaps UX is an area you need to critically think about. The Cricut Maker seems well-thought-out and well presented. It is computer operated and its user interface is quite interactive and friendly. However, like all recent Cricut machines, it uses Design Space software which is web-based. So forget about using this if you don’t have a good internet connection. However, please note that you can still access the Design Space software offline but that can only happen through their iOS iPhone app – sorry Android guys.
The Cameo 3, on the other hand, seems to capitalize on Cricut Maker’s weaknesses by providing a hassle-free access to its core features. It runs on the manufacturer’s very own Silhouette Studio software which enjoys positive reviews as far as user-friendliness is concerned. In addition, this machine comes with a full-color touchscreen which is quite interactive. You only need to touch a few buttons to scan photos, zoom-in, zoom-out and even re-arrange your designs. So as far as UX is concerned, the Cricut vs Silhouette Cameo 3 title belongs to the latter.
Access to Additional Resources
There are times when you have to meet tight deadlines and this is where ready-made designs come in handy. The good news as far as these two machines are concerned is that they both offer a bunch of free designs. The Cricut Maker offers 50 free templates, 25 of which are for sewing projects. In addition, to allowing you to easily upload some of your ready-made designs or even your own handwriting which you can use as your unique font. So we find that the Maker encourages originality but at the same time offers you the backup support you may need in case you do not have time to come up with your own designs.
The Silhouette Cameo 3, on its part, offers limited access to 50 designs. You would have to part with a small fee to access more premade designs from their online store which is loaded with thousands of such templates. This battle of access to additional resources was bitterly fought but the Cricut Maker seems to have a slim advantage over its rival.
The Cricut Maker is no doubt a workhorse and, therefore, a safe bet for anyone looking to handle an overwhelming flow of work. On its part, the Cameo 3 is still a fantastic option but calling it a workhorse would be a bit of an overstatement. To put this into perspective, consider the fact that the Cricut Maker provides you with 4KGs worth of cutting force while the Cameo 3 offers a paltry 250Grams. So, if you’re after a machine that offers you great variance as far as cutting pressure is concerned, the Maker might just be the right catch for you. Add that to the fact that it is quite fast and precise and it’s obvious that this cute little cutter has the power to keep a business going for the long haul. But don’t let the Cameo 3’s weak muscles fool you. If your projects mainly include paper cutting and stuff, this cartridge-free machine would be your best bet especially if you’re operating on a limited budget.
Well, the awesome additional features and power of the Cricut Maker come at a cost, no doubt. In fact, it costs close to 33% more than the Silhouette Cameo 3. Pundits categorize the Maker as the most expensive cutter in the Cricut family. But considering it comes with a rotary blade and that it can make your sewing experience a breeze, we genuinely think it’s worth the price. That said, if you’re really on a limited budget and sewing isn’t your thing, then we think saving up for a Silhouette Cameo 3 would still be a prudent idea. As far as value for money is concerned, the Cricut Maker offers a much better proposition especially in the long-term all thanks to its future-proof design.
Portability is such an important feature when it comes to die cutting. Unfortunately, most people tend to overlook it. Well, basically, the question of portability arises when one is planning to leave their desk e.g. for an outdoor event or for a crafting competition out of town. If you’re here looking for the most portable vinyl cutter to settle for, then the Cricut Maker will disappoint you because it weighs close to 24 pounds.
That’s quite heavy and we, therefore, think that it is best reserved for indoor use only. The Silhouette Cameo 3 offers a much better deal as far as crafting on the go is concerned. It weighs a paltry 9 pounds and you can reduce that weight further if you decide to leave the cables and some of its additional accessories behind (thanks to Bluetooth technology which allows you to operate it without cables). That said, we think you might need to fit it in a special bag while transporting it – its special bag, however, comes at an extra cost. It would have been much better if the Cameo 3 came with a handle as that would make handling and carrying it around town much easier.
The Kind of Materials You Can Cut
We have already seen that the Cricut Maker is the stronger one of the two in terms of cutting power. So, the question is what materials work best for which machine? Maybe you’re looking to cut some moderately tough stuff and as such would like to know if the Cameo 3 is up to the challenge or you should just stick with the pricier Cricut Maker. Below is a run-down of the material options falling under each cutter.
Note that none of the Cricut machines are food safe and the Maker is not any different.
- Acrylic felt
- Adhesive foil
- Aluminum Foil
- Bamboo Fabric
- Burn-out Velvet
- Adhesive-backed cardstock
- Basic cardstock
- Crepe-back Satin
- Leather 1.4 mm, 2mm and 8mm
The list goes on and on for the Cricut Maker.
Silhouette Cameo 3
Note that the Cameo 3 is food safe and, therefore, can be used to cut fondant among other food crafts.
- Cardstock up to 350 gsm
- Tissue paper
- Craft foam
- Rhinestone template material
- Super light fabric
- Iron-on transfer
Considering the kind of materials each one of these machines is capable of dealing with. It is crystal clear that the Cricut Maker is the undisputed king here. So, not unless you’re looking for a food-friendly, lightweight, easy-peasy machine to use at home, we’d recommend going for the Maker over Silhouette Cameo 3.
The results are in. The Cricut Maker dominates as far as features, access to additional resources, performance and material flexibility are concerned. The Silhouette Cameo 3, on its part, commands a strong advantage in user-experience, pricing, and portability. So 4 points in favor of Cricut Maker and 3 points for Cameo 3 bring us to a score of 4-3 in favor of the former.
However, it is worth noting that the score above might mislead you into thinking that the two machines are almost equal. As we have seen in the review, the two seem to work best under different conditions. The Cricut Maker, for instance, seems like a fantastic choice for small business owners who would like to enjoy long-term value and growth flexibility. The Cameo 3, on the other hand, is way smaller and less versatile and we think it would prove an awful companion for commercial entities with dynamic workloads. That said, its pocket-friendly price and awesome UX make it a beginner’s best choice.
Which One Should You Settle For? – Our Final Verdict
The decision on which of the two to go for is purely personal. It all boils down to your unique preferences and long-term goals. If you’re a hobbyist whose portfolio of crafts is dominated by stuff like greetings cards and food art, then we’d recommend you settle for the Silhouette Cameo 3.
On the other hand, if you are really not sure what the future holds for you and maybe you often experiment with leather and jute, don’t take chances; the Cricut Maker would be your best pick. The manufacturer of this machine has outdone themselves by introducing the adaptive tool system which ensures the cutter remains compatible with all other tools that might come up in the future. This provides you with the assurance that the machine will not end up obsolete after another newer, cooler cutting technology takes over the markets.