If you’re interested in arts and crafts and are looking into home cutting machines, you’ll soon run into two major brands: Cricut and Silhouette.
Cricut is the major brand in the field, with Silhouette leading the pack to challenge their dominance.
Both brands manufacture excellent cutting machines with top of the range software. So you’re probably wondering, which brand is best?
Luckily for you, that’s where we come in! We’ll compare the two brands like for like by focusing on the brand’s respective most recent, top-end models: the Cricut Maker 3 and the Silhouette Cameo 4.
We’ll be looking at key metrics like cutting power, cutting speed, and cutting space, as well as software, usability, and more to compare the two machines.
But first, a brief overview of the Cricut Maker 3 and the Silhouette Cameo 4.
The Cricut Maker 3 is Cricut’s latest and most technologically advanced cutting machine. It’s got plenty of features that make this, according to some, the best machine on the market.
It can cut over 300 different types of material, ranging from quite literally paper thin to leather and even wood! It can also engrave, emboss, and perform pen-work with ease.
With Cricut Smart Materials compatibility it can also perform mat-free cutting.
The Maker 3 is also extremely versatile, with a range of compatible tools and accessories for performing specific tasks like rotary blades and single and double scoring wheels.
- Extremely versatile with a range of compatible tools and accessories
- Can cut 300+ types of material
- Excellent cutting power
- Accompanying App for Design Space software
- Design Space software requires an internet connection to function
- The most expensive machine on the market
The Silhouette Cameo 4 is Silhouette's answer to the Maker 3.
It is Silhouette’s most powerful cutting machine and has a bunch of features that make it a real competitor to the Maker 3.
Traditionally, Cricut machines were preferred for their unmatched cutting power whilst Silhouette’s design software was preferred, but the Cameo 4 has really helped change that equation with its enhanced cutting power.
The Cameo 4 can cut up to 100 materials and includes a built-in cross cutter and roll feeder for cutting vinyl.
It’s also quite a hands-on machine, with plenty of buttons to control the machine if using the accompanying app isn’t for you.
- Excellent, improved cutting power over previous models
- Built-in vinyl roll feeder and cross cutter
- Easy to use touch interface
- Well priced
- Silhouette’s basic design software requires additional payment to import some designs.
Obviously, a cutting machine’s cutting force is one of the most important things to consider when buying.
Historically, Cricut machines had a massive edge in sheer cutting power, meaning anyone who wanted to cut through thicker materials used a Cricut by default.
That’s now changed, Silhouette dramatically increasing the cutting power on their latest model.
In fact, the Cameo 4 has now surpassed the Maker 3 in terms of raw cutting force, with 5kg of cutting force, whereas the Maker 3 has only 4kg.
We’re not sure how much practical difference the extra 1kg of cutting force makes, though.
The Maker 3 can still cut through even the thickest materials, and most of the time you’ll be using thin materials anyway. It’s not just cutting force that is important, either.
Of course, you’ll naturally be wondering what size a machine has the capability to cut up to.
Whilst you’ll probably be mostly making smaller things, having the ability to cut out something much bigger never goes amiss.
This is an area where the two machines are almost neck-and-neck, with both machines having a maximum cutting width of 12 inches and a maximum cutting length of 24 inches.
That’s with a cutting mat, though. What about without one? With its built-in roll-feeder, the Cameo 4 claims to be able to cut certain materials up to 10ft in length, whereas with compatible Smart Materials the Maker 3 claims to be able to cut 12ft.
Honestly, there’s not much in it, and you’d have to ask yourself how important being able to cut 10ft+ is to you.
It might be something of an afterthought, but not all cutting machines were made equal when it comes to cutting depth.
On this front, the Cameo 4 edges out the Maker 3. The Cameo 4 has a cutting depth of 3mm, whilst the Maker 3 has a cutting depth of 2.4mm.
This ultimately comes down to the clearance of the machine and the Cameo 4’s slightly stronger cutting force.
A surprisingly important factor in your decision will be the software that comes with both machines. Why? Well, you’ll be spending a lot more time using the design software than the machine itself.
Cricut has Design Space, whilst Silhouette has Silhouette Studio. In truth, neither can compete with specialist design software like Adobe Illustrator, but there are some important differences between the two.
If you’re looking for simple, easy to use software that works best on the PC, Design Space will probably work better for you.
It’s beginner-friendly and minimalistic, meaning you won’t get bogged down in technical details.
On the other hand, Silhouette Studio has a much better reputation for IOS and is more complex, with more capabilities and tools that allow you to make your own designs.
One thing that the Cricut Maker 3 can do that the Silhouette Cameo 4 cannot is import SVG design files for free, meaning that you can choose to do the majority of your work in another program like Illustrator and then simply import the file to cut.
Silhouette Studio, unfortunately, does not have this capability unless you upgrade from the basic software you get with your Cameo 4 purchase to the premium version.
That being said, if you’re really serious about design, Silhouette Studio emerges a comfortable victor over Design Space.
As you learn the system and improve as a crafter, Silhouette Studio has features you can use to continue to grow, whilst Design Space is more limiting.
Silhouette Studio can also be used offline, whilst Design Space can be a bit of a nightmare to use if your internet connection isn’t great, since you’ll be doing most of your designing in a web browser.
Compatibility And Versatility
Now we’re going to answer the question ‘what can I do with my cutting machine?’. The Cricut Maker 3 races into a clear lead over the Cameo 4 in this category.
Where the Maker 3 can cut 300+ different types of material, the Cameo 4 lags behind, able to cut just 100 types of material. Having said that, 100 materials is still an awful lot!
Furthermore, the Maker 3 is very compatible and versatile. It can be used with lots of different blades, tools, and accessories, like a fine-point blade, rotary blade, scoring wheel, fabric blade, debossing tip, engraving tip, and more.
In fact, there are 13 different optional accessories! The Cameo 4 lags behind, with just four different tools available on top of the standard Autoblade.
These are the rotary blade, Autoblade 2, Kraft blade, punch tool, and pen holder.
General Ease Of Use
We’ve alluded to it elsewhere, but there really is only one option for beginners and that’s the Cricut Maker 3.
The accompanying Design Space software, whilst too simplistic for some more experienced designers, is minimalist enough that you can jump right in and get designing.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Silhouette Studio is very hard to use. Think of it like this: the Maker 3 does more of the work on its own, whilst the Silhouette needs more input and allows you to fine-tune more.
Honestly, both are excellent machines, and which one you pick may well come down to personal preference.
If you’re new to crafting, or not particularly invested in complicated designs, we would suggest that the Cricut Maker 3 is the machine for you.
It’s also very versatile, if that’s what you’re after.
On the other hand, for its more affordable price, the Silhouette Cameo 4 packs one hell of a punch.
It’s the most powerful machine in terms of cutting power on the market, and Silhouette Studio gives you a lot more freedom to create your own bespoke designs.
Don’t forget though, importing SVG files costs extra!
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