Silhouette vs. Cricut

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Executive Summary

Precision


Speed


Ease of Use


Versatility


Price

After comparing these two powerful machines on the five most important metrics, the Cricut Explore Air proves more versatile, more powerful, and thanks to German engineering, more precise than any other cutter in its class.

Introduction

Any experienced crafter can tell you that finding the right tools for the job makes all the difference. If you’re interested in upping your game and exponentially expanding your ability while saving time and energy on the manual work, you might want to consider investing in a CNC (Computer Numeric Control) machine. These cool little pieces of technology allow you to make complex patterns in seconds by preprogramming that design into your appliance.

Whether you’re just jumping into your newfound hobby or you’re an experienced crafter, DIY crafts have never been easier than they are today. But which machine should you get? There are several to choose from, and it can be hard to spot the difference. If you do much browsing around, you’ll see that two of the most popular CNC machine manufacturers are Silhouette and Cricut.

The most comparable models will be the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Silhouette Cameo 3. But if you’re not sure which of the two will work better for your needs, or you want to know how they perform against each other, look no further. We have compared these two crafting powerhouses on 5 of the most important qualities for the CNC machine of your dreams.

Precision

One of the first qualities you will want to compare the two on is precision. And when it comes to precision cutting, nothing comes close to the calculated clean cuts of a Cricut Explore Air 2. Its German-manufactured carbide blades are up to the task of slicing intricate designs into things like cardstock, iron-on materials, and even vinyl.

The Cameo, on the other hand, performs a bit less precisely. On small and intricate designs, it doesn’t perform as well as the Cricut and it also lacks for ability to cut some harder materials. While it’s still a great CNC machine, the Cameo just can’t compete to the Cricut’s ‘shear power’.


This round goes to the Cricut Explore Air 2, the most precise slicer around.

Our pick

Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine

$249.00

“As an adult I don’t think I have ever had anything that felt like my favorite toy and I can’t stop playing with it. Love LOVE all of the things that you can create.”
-Cynthia K.

Our pick

Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine

$249.00

“As an adult I don’t think I have ever had anything that felt like my favorite toy and I can’t stop playing with it. Love LOVE all of the things that you can create.”
-Cynthia K.

Speed

Another quality you will want to take note of is the general performance of the machine. How quickly does it cut?

The first thing to note about the Cricut, as far as speed it concerned, is that it comes with a ‘Fast Mode’ that does exactly what the name suggests; it will get your job done more quickly than you may have thought possible. Also, it is equipped with a dual carriage for simultaneous writing and scoring or writing and drawing in one fluid motion.

The Cameo also has a dual carriage, but it still performs a bit more slowly than the lightning-fast Cricut. All in all, it’s another victory to the Cricut Explore Air 2.

Our pick

Cricut Tools Craft Basic Set

$17.15

“Every single time I use my Cricut Explore, I have to use at least one of these tools.”
-C. Rushing

Our pick

Cricut Tools Craft Basic Set

$17.15

“Every single time I use my Cricut Explore, I have to use at least one of these tools.”
-C. Rushing

Ease of Use

One of the most important aspects of using a CNC machine is the user-friendliness of the interface. A key element of that is always going to be the software.

The Explore Air 2 comes with Cricut Design Space, Cricut’s proprietary software. It’s very intuitive and easy to use, but the simplistic nature of the software also means that it has limitations. This can be worked around by creating designs using more powerful software and then uploading or converting your designs, which is free to do. In addition to this, you will have access to a fairly extensive design library with flexible payments options. You can either pay a monthly subscription of $9.99 for unlimited use or pay $0.99 per download. There is an app for compatibility with iPads and iPhones, as well.

The Silhouette Cameo 3, on the other hand, uses Silhouette Studio. This software is much more powerful and advanced than Cricut Design Space, but that means it is less easy to use for beginners and has a much steeper learning curve. Silhouette Studio also has an app, and it is compatible with both Apple’s iOS and Android.

All things considered, the Silhouette Cameo 3 takes the cake for user convenience and compatibility options. More powerful software, while more challenging for new crafters, will ultimately be a great convenience and the fact that the app works on Android phones is a huge help to people that don’t use iPhones.

Our pick

Silhouette Cameo 3 Bluetooth Starter Bundle with 24 Oracal 651 Sheets, Transfer Paper, Guide, Class, 24 Sketch Pens

$269.99

“Beyond glad that I bought the bundle instead of just the cameo 3 by itself. This comes with every thing you need to get started.”
-Jacqueleen Anderson

Our pick

Silhouette Cameo 3 Bluetooth Starter Bundle with 24 Oracal 651 Sheets, Transfer Paper, Guide, Class, 24 Sketch Pens

$269.99

“Beyond glad that I bought the bundle instead of just the cameo 3 by itself. This comes with every thing you need to get started.”
-Jacqueleen Anderson

Versatility

If you are an avid crafter, you are likely to use more than paper in your projects. That’s why it’s so important to compare which materials each CNC machine can cut and what the maximum print size is.

While both of these machines are considered personal desktop cutters, there is a clear winner in terms of print size: the Silhouette Cameo 3 can cut 12 inches by 11 feet long. The Explore Air, on the other hand, can only cut 12 inches by 2 feet. Both of these machines will get the majority of jobs done just fine, but if you have something grandiose in mind you may lean slightly towards the Cameo.


And while both of these machines can cut over 100 different materials, we know that the Cricut Explore Air 2 does a much better job of cutting harder materials vinyl and cardstock without error.


If you need the CNC machine that is going to be more reliable when cutting a wide variety of materials, definitely go for the Cricut. If you plan to do a lot of rather large projects, you may want the Cameo for its much larger printing and cutting capabilities. A little goes a long way, in the world of crafting.

Our pick

Cricut Explore Carry Bag, Slate Gray

$11.50

“Traveling with it is super easy now and so glad that I got the bag. For $8, you can’t beat it!”
-Nicole Schluep

Our pick

Cricut Explore Carry Bag, Slate Gray

$11.50

“Traveling with it is super easy now and so glad that I got the bag. For $8, you can’t beat it!”
-Nicole Schluep

Price

While all of the above features are extremely important towards making your decision, the final thing you’ll want to know is what the price tag will be.


Fortunately, this is where the two machines are most similar; both the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Silhouette Cameo 3 have a recommended retail price of $299.99. If you make the purchase on Amazon or another similar website, you’ll be likely to find them both at a discounted $249.99.

This means that they are in a dead heat tie when it comes to pricing, so you should base your decision solely on the features and specifications of each cutter.

Our pick

Silhouette Portrait

$145.99

“When I saw that the Silhouette had come out with a smaller, cheaper version that did the same things as the Cameo, I knew I wanted it.”
-Elena

Our pick

Silhouette Portrait

$145.99

“When I saw that the Silhouette had come out with a smaller, cheaper version that did the same things as the Cameo, I knew I wanted it.”
-Elena

Conclusion

Now that we’ve compared the features and price tag of both of these crafting powerhouses, it’s time for the ultimate verdict. Because of its superior function and performance, the winner today is the Cricut Explore Air 2. While it doesn’t excel in every category, it does a much better job when you need it most. It is the most versatile and physically powerful machine, and many of the drawbacks and be worked around. With a Cricut, you know you’ll be able to get the job done.

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Executive Summary

Precision


Speed


Ease of Use


Versatility


Price

After comparing these two powerful machines on the five most important metrics, the Cricut Explore Air proves more versatile, more powerful, and thanks to German engineering, more precise than any other cutter in its class.

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