The Best Silhouette Machine 2021

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  • Silhouette is known for exceptional design software and its range of cutting machines for crafters, makers, and small business
  • All Silhouette cutters have print & cut capabilities, most feature matless cutting and roll-feeders for vinyl
  • There are 5 current models: which is the best Silhouette machine for you?


Approx.

Retail Price

Cutting Width

Features

$299.99

12"

Advanced craft cutting, including fabric

$499.99

24"

Small business-friendly, especially for MacOS users

$399.99

15"

Advanced craft cutting in a wider format

$199.99

9"

Light and portable cutter for vinyl, paper, and cardstock

$249.99

8.5"

Embosses and etches, especially good for paper crafting

Are you looking for an electronic cutting machine geared toward designers and makers? A Silhouette may be the right choice for you! 

Using materials like paper, cardstock, vinyl, and even fabric, Silhouette machines can cut, write, and draw. The Curio can also stipple, etch, and emboss. The cutters pair with Silhouette Studio, flexible design software that is easy enough for beginners to learn, but with many advanced features that will be familiar to more experienced designers. Want lots of control over machine settings for different materials? Silhouette Studio puts you in the driver's seat.

All Silhouette cutting machines (except the Curio) can do matless cutting, an excellent feature if you want to load a roll of vinyl and cut large designs or lots of decals, stickers, or labels

Silhouette has released 4 new machines over the past year: the Cameo 4, Cameo Plus, Cameo Pro, and the Portrait 3, which join the Curio to complete their cutting machine selection. Each Silhouette cutting machine has unique strengths and capabilities; to help you choose, we've created this introductory guide to every machine in the Silhouette lineup.

Silhouette Cameo 4: Best for Advanced Craft Cutting

Silhouette Cameo 4 Specs

  • Cutting Size: Cuts on 12” x 12” or  12” x 24” mats, 12" x 60 ft matless cutting; cuts materials up to 3 mm thick
  • Machine Dimensions (l x w x h): 22.44" x 6.69" x 7.68"
  • Machine Weight: 10.4 lbs
  • Compatibility: PC and Mac
  • Connection: via USB or wireless via Bluetooth
  • Capabilities: cut, write/draw 

The Cameo, first released in 2011, is the flagship craft cutting machine of the Silhouette lineup. The Cameo 4 debuted in November 2019 with big improvements over the Cameo 3: the Cameo 4 has a redesigned dual tool carriage that allows carriage 2 to cut with up to 5,000 g of downward force. This is a huge upgrade from the Cameo 3, which had a max cutting force of 210 g. 

According to Silhouette, the Cameo 4 machines also outperform previous models when it comes to speed, cutting up to three times faster than the Cameo 3

What's Included with the Silhouette Cameo 4?

  • Cameo 4 machine
  • Power cord
  • USB cable
  • AutoBlade 
  • Adapters for legacy blades and Silhouette sketch pens
  • 12” x 12” mat (standard grip)
  • Free 1 month subscription to Silhouette Design store
  • 100 free designs

Silhouette Cameo 4 included tool

  • AutoBlade (Type B) for cutting paper, vinyl, and cardstock

Silhouette Cameo 4 optional tools

  • Rotary Blade for cutting thin fabric and felt
  • 3mm Kraft Blade for cutting thick fabric and balsa wood
  • Punch Tool for punching holes in vinyl to make weeding easier

Silhouette Cameo 4 Blades and Tools

The Silhouette Cameo 4 has a dual tool carriage. Carriage 1 (for AutoBlade and sketch pens) has a maximum 210 g force. Carriage 2 houses the Rotary and Kraft Blades and the Punch Tool. The Cameo 4 has Auto Tool Detect, which tells Silhouette Studio what tools are present in the machine to select the correct cut settings. 

Unlike old manually adjusted Silhouette blades, the AutoBlade is adjusted by the machine based on Silhouette Studio software settings. The AutoBlade can cut a wide variety of paper, cardstock, and vinyl including sticker sheets and heat transfer vinyl. Unfortunately, the AutoBlade only works in carriage 1, so  if you want to draw/write and cut, you must do your project in 2 steps (sketch pens also go in carriage 1). 

Cameo Specialty Blades for tough and delicate materials

The Rotary Blade is a new tool exclusively for the Cameo 4, and can cut fabric without a backing, as well as felt, crepe paper, and many other specialty materials.  

The 3mm Kraft Blade is also exclusive to the Cameo 4, and can cut thicker materials such as balsa wood, craft foam, and chipboard, and also denser materials such as acetate. Curiously, Silhouette recommends the Kraft blade for cutting thick fabric like burlap instead of the rotary blade. One downside is that this blade must be adjusted manually, and according to this Silhouette School Blog tutorial, it is tricky to set up and use. 

You can use the Punch Tool in carriage 2 while you cut vinyl with the AutoBlade in carriage 1. This tool makes every vinyl pattern easier to weed (removing the vinyl around your pattern) by punching small holes in the areas of your vinyl you will be discarding. 

Silhouette Cameo 4 Extra Features

One of the best features of the Cameo 4 is its matless cutting capability. The Cameo 4 can be loaded with a roll of 9" or 12" vinyl in the built-in roll feeder at the front of the machine. The built-in crosscutter at the back of the machine can be used to trim the roll as it exits. As long as the material has a backing, you can load it right into the Cameo 4 - you can even cut sticker sheets without a mat. 

Another cool matless cutting feature is Pop-out cutting using paper and cardstock. The Cameo 4 will cut your paper or cardstock project without a mat, using a special perforation cut mode. Simply pop out your design once your material is cut!

Print & Cut is a feature shared by all Silhouette machines, allowing you to print images on paper, cardstock, vinyl, etc. with your inkjet printer and then cut around the printed images with your Cameo 4. Silhouette Studio software loads images and adds registration marks for the cutter to read, and then sends to print. You can use Print & Cut to make stickers, decals, labels, gift tags, temporary tattoos, gift cards – the possibilities are endless.  

What We Like

  • Rotary blade for fabric
  • Kraft Blade for cutting thicker materials
  • Includes roll feeder for matless cutting with ease
  • Great workhorse cutter for paper, cardstock, and vinyl

What We Don't Like

  • AutoBlade fits Carriage 1 only
  • Manually adjusted Kraft Blade 

Two options to buy
the Silhouette Cameo 4:

The New Cameo Pro: Best Silhouette Machine for Small Business

Silhouette Cameo Pro Specs

  • Cutting Size: Cuts on 24" x 24” mat, 24" x 60 ft matless cutting, materials up to 3 mm thick
  • Machine Dimensions (l x w x h): 34.5" x 6.69" x 7.68"
  • Machine Weight: 19.4 lbs
  • Compatibility: PC and Mac
  • Connection: via USB or wireless via Bluetooth
  • Capabilities: cut, write/draw 

Are you ready for much bigger projects? The newest Silhouette machine has just been released as of November 2020: the 24" Cameo Pro! It has the same dual tool carriage and capabilities as the Cameo 4, but with a full 24 inch cutting width, this craft cutter is ready to compete with the pros.

If you are oriented toward cutting for a small business, the Cameo Pro offers the cutting width of more commercial cutters, which allows you to use 20" and 24" rolls of HTV and adhesive vinyl. As an added bonus, the Cameo Pro is one of the few wide-format cutting machines that is Mac-compatible for a reasonable price. 

What does the Silhouette Cameo Pro include?

  • Cameo Pro machine
  • Power cord
  • USB cable
  • AutoBlade
  • Adapter for Silhouette sketch pens
  • 24" x 24” Cameo Pro Cutting Mat (standard tack)
  • External roll feeder
  • Cutting mat support platform
  • Free 1 month trial membership to Silhouette Design store
  • 100 free designs

Silhouette Cameo Pro Included tool

  • AutoBlade for cutting paper, vinyl, and cardstock

Silhouette Cameo Pro optional tools

  • Rotary Blade for cutting thin fabric and felt
  • 3mm Kraft Blade for cutting thick fabric and balsa wood
  • Punch Tool for punching holes in vinyl to make weeding easier

Silhouette Cameo Pro Blades and Tools

The Silhouette Cameo Pro has the same basic design as the Cameo 4, but with a 24" cutting width. It has the same dual tool carriage: carriage 1 (max 210g force) holds the AutoBlade and sketch pens, and carriage 2 (max 5,000g force) is used for the Rotary Blade, Kraft Blade, and Punch Tool. Also like the Cameo 4, the Pro has Auto Tool Detect.

If you are using the Cameo Pro as a cutting machine for small business, you will probably be using the AutoBlade for most jobs, in carriage 1. Although we understand creating a series of machines based on the flagship Cameo 4, we think that carriage 2 is a bit of a waste if you want to use the wide format machines as workhorse vinyl cutters. In that case, you might want to use the Punch Tool to make weeding easier, but we can't see much use for the 3mm Kraft Blade or the Rotary Blade.

If you want to use Silhouette's older, manually-adjusted blades – basic, Premium, or Deep-Cut blades – you will have to buy an adapter set. These blades must also go in carriage 1.

If you are a crafter who wants to do bigger projects, however, there is some interesting potential for cutting with the Rotary Blade. You can cut much bigger pieces on a 24" x 24" mat, so not only could you cut much larger fabric designs (pattern pieces, quilting patterns, etc.), but you can also use the rotary blade to cut delicate paper projects, like extra large paper flowers. 

Silhouette Cameo Pro Extra Features

The key appeal of the Cameo Pro is obvious: this is a cutting machine for big projects, and it can be an affordable option if you're looking to move to small business cutting. The Cameo Pro can be used to cut big designs like: signs, banners, wall decals, vehicle graphics, or store signage or large amounts of stickers, decals, labels, tags, or T-shirt HTV. 

Although the price tag for the Cameo Pro might seem a little high, it is mid-range for 24" cutting machines, and it is the only Mac-compatible wide-format cutter for less than $750 (price of the US Cutter Titan Series 28").  

cameo pro vinyl cutter price comparison chart

Matless cutting is the heart of the Cameo Pro's small business appeal. There are plenty of options available for 24" adhesive vinyl; wider HTV is mainly available in 20" rolls. Imagine your ability to cut high-volume T-shirt designs, decals, stickers, or oversize vehicle graphics. And if you need to cut a long banner, super-size image, or lots of designs, the Cameo Pro can cut up to 60 feet!

The matless cutting options for the Cameo Pro aren't limited to vinyl, HTV, or sticker sheets, though - it can also do matless Pop-out cutting of paper and cardstock. The channel under the cutting blade allows the machine to make perforated cuts around your designs, which can then be easily popped out. Making dozens of gift tags, bookmarks, place cards, or invitations at a time without fussing with mats could be a real time-saver. 

silhouette cameo pro craft cutter

The Cameo Pro features an external roll feeder that is adjustable for rolls up to 24 inches wide.

The Pro comes with an external, not built-in, roll feeder, which is assembled in 3 sections that can be stored in the included cutting mat support platform. The platform prevents the 24" x 24" mat from bending or buckling during operation. The built-in crosscutter at the back of the machine trims your roll-fed projects with a clean-cutting blade.   

Does the Cameo Pro do Contour Cutting?

Since Silhouette is owned by the same company as Graphtec, we do wonder why the more business-friendly Cameo Pro doesn't incorporate Graphtec's optical scanning system, ARMS (Advanced Registration Mark Sensing system) to perform truly professional-level contour cutting. The Pro can still do Print & Cut with the same software settings as the Cameo 4, and users are limited only by the size of their printer when cutting projects up to 24" wide.

If you are an experienced designer and use Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw, you can purchase a Silhouette Connect license key which will allow you to send your designs directly to the Cameo Pro without using Silhouette software! (Silhouette Connect also works with the Cameo 4, Plus and Portrait 3). You can even add registration marks for Print & Cut. 

What We Like

  • Pro-level wide format cutting at a reasonable price 
  • Matless cutting of vinyl and paper 
  • Great price for Mac-compatible wide format cutter

What We Don't Like

  • Add-on roll feeder and mat platform not integrated
  • Large footprint for home use
  • Although good for crafters, high cutting force carriage 2 is a waste for high-volume vinyl cutting

Two options to buy the Silhouette Cameo Pro:

Silhouette Cameo Plus: Best 15" Cutter

Silhouette Cameo Plus Specs

  • Cutting Size: Cuts on 14.6” x 15” mat, 14.6" x 60 ft matless cutting, materials up to 3 mm thick
  • Machine Dimensions (l x w x h): 25.44" x 6.69" x 7.68"
  • Machine Weight: 11.9 lbs
  • Compatibility: PC and Mac
  • Connection: via USB or wireless via Bluetooth
  • Capabilities: cut, write/draw 

New in March 2020, the Silhouette Cameo Plus is the second machine released in the Cameo 4 series, with all the crafting capacity of the original but with a 15 inch cutting width. Before the Cameo Pro was released, this was our favorite pick for advanced crafters wanting to make the leap into small business. If you want a wider-format cutter but aren't ready to make the leap to a 24" machine, then this might be the right choice for you, at $100 less than the Cameo Pro. 

The Cameo Plus has the value of being able to cut 15" rolls of lined media like vinyl, which still means less wasted material and plenty of capacity for stickers, decals, and large designs for T-shirts, signs, and banners. Print & cut projects are limited by the size of your printer, so maybe a corresponding 15" cutter is the best choice for you: the Cameo Plus can cut jobs from standard size up to 13" x 19" printers. 

If you are a crafter who likes to use fabric, however, you might not like that the only mats for the Cameo Plus are 15" x 15" - there are no double-length 30" mats. With the rotary blade, you could be cutting much larger fabric pieces for bigger projects, like clothing, if Silhouette made a bigger mat.

What's Included with the Silhouette Cameo Plus?

  • Cameo Plus machine
  • Power cord
  • USB cable
  • AutoBlade
  • Adapters for legacy blades and Silhouette sketch pens
  • 14.6” x 15” Cameo Plus Cutting Mat
  • Free 1 month trial membership to Silhouette Design store
  • 100 free designs

Silhouette Cameo Plus Included tool

  • AutoBlade for cutting paper, vinyl, and cardstock

Silhouette Cameo Plus optional tools

  • Rotary Blade for cutting thin fabric and felt
  • 3mm Kraft Blade for cutting thick fabric and balsa wood
  • Punch Tool for punching holes in vinyl to make weeding easier

Silhouette Cameo Plus Blades and Tools

The Silhouette Cameo Plus is identical to the Silhouette Cameo 4 in terms of its toolset (see above). The Cameo Plus has a dual tool carriage; carriage 1 (max 210g force) accommodates the AutoBlade and sketch pens, and carriage 2 (max 5,000g force) is used for the Rotary Blade, Kraft Blade, and Punch Tool. Auto Tool Detect simplifies your projects by telling Silhouette Studio what tools are present in each carriage. 

Silhouette Cameo Plus Extra Features

Anyone interested in maxing out the capabilities of the Cameo Plus for small business will want to use it for matless cutting. A roll of 9", 12", or 15" wide vinyl with a roll diameter of up to 3" can be loaded into the built-in roll feeder for matless cutting of up to 60 feet

Matless cutting isn't just for rolled material, either - any material with a backing, like sticker sheets, can be cut without a mat.  And the Cameo Plus can also do Pop-out matless cutting for paper and cardstock projects, cutting perforated edges around your design for easy removal. 

Like other Silhouettes, the Cameo Plus can do Print & Cut, a staple for small business users. Print stickers, decals, or other designs on your inkjet, then load them into the Cameo Plus for contour cutting. Silhouette Studio software will place registration marks around your design to guide your cutter. The thing to remember when you print & cut with the Cameo Plus is that printer size will dictate the dimensions of your project.

What We Like

  • Wide format cutting 
  • Same expanded tool set as Cameo 4, including rotary and Kraft blades
  • Included roll feeder makes matless cutting a breeze

What We Don't Like

  • No long mats for larger fabric projects
  • Small selection of 15" wide rolls of vinyl in the Silhouette store

Two options to buy
the Silhouette Cameo Plus:

Silhouette Portrait 3: Best Portable Cutter

Silhouette Portrait 3 Specs

  • Cutting Size: Cuts on 8" x12” mat, and matless cutting up to 8" wide x 60 feet, 2mm max material thickness 
  • Machine Dimensions (l x w x h): 16.2" x 5.5" x 4.4"
  • Machine Weight: 3.5 lbs
  • Compatibility: PC and Mac
  • Connection: via USB or wireless via Bluetooth
  • Capabilities: cut, write/draw

Would you like a take-anywhere cutting machine that allows you to make labels, stickers, decals, and banners with ease? The Portrait 3 is a capable little powerhouse, cutting paper, vinyl, and cardstock in convenient sizes.

This machine is small, but not too small – the maximum cutting width of the Portrait 3 is 8", but you aren't limited to 8" wide materials. It can load standard 8.5" x 11" pages, and it also loads rolls of vinyl up to a standard 9" wide.

The one downside is that the single tool holder means you must switch between the blade and sketch pens if you want to cut and write/draw on your design.

What's Included with the Silhouette Portrait 3?

  • Portrait 3 machine
  • Power cord
  • USB cable
  • AutoBlade
  • Adapter for Silhouette sketch pens
  • 8” x 12” Cutting Mat
  • Free 1 month trial membership to Silhouette Design store
  • 50 free designs

Included Silhouette Portrait 3 tool

  • AutoBlade type B

Optional Silhouette Portrait 3 tools and accessories

  • Deep-Cut Blade
  • 2mm Kraft Blade
  • adapters for Deep-Cut and 2mm Kraft blades
  • sketch pens
  • roll feeder

Silhouette Portrait 3 Extra Features

The Portrait 3 packs many of the best features of Silhouette's larger machines into a very cool-looking small package. Seriously, this thing looks like a giant pill, I love it. 

This sleek little cutter has Auto Tool Detection, which tells Silhouette Studio which tool is in the carriage in order to ensure the right settings for every project. Although the Portrait 3 only comes with the AutoBlade, it is also capable of using sketch pens and the Deep-Cut and 2mm Kraft Blades, which can cut thicker materials such as chipboard and craft foam.

Like the bigger Silhouette machines, the Portrait 3 can do matless cutting of lined media like rolls of vinyl or sticker sheets, and can do matless Pop-out cutting of paper and cardstock. And while it only cuts up to an 8" width, it can accommodate 8.5" x 11" sheets (like standard paper, but also standard stickers sheets, etc.), and even 9" rolls of lined media like vinyl. 

Unfortunately, this machine doesn't come with a built-in roll feeder, but if you do buy one as an add-on you unlock some major possibilities - the Portrait 3 can cut up to 60 feet! 

The Portrait 3 can also perform Print & Cut on designs printed on your inkjet printer.

What is the Cutting Force of the Portrait 3?

The carriage of this machine has a maximum cutting force of 210g, which you might have seen described as 'weak' - this is false! Note that the higher cutting force capabilities of the Cameo 4 are restricted to carriage 2, and only apply to the Rotary and Kraft Blades and the Punch Tool. The AutoBlade is NEVER used with more than 210g force in ANY Silhouette machine. The Portrait 3 can wield the AutoBlade with as much force as any Cameo! 

What We Like

  • Matless cutting
  • Light and portable, take it anywhere
  • Easy to make banners and big sets of decals and labels without reloading vinyl

What We Don't Like

  • Only 1 tool carriage
  • Narrow material width
  • Roll feeder sold separately

Two options to buy
the Silhouette Portrait 3:

Curio: Best Silhouette Machine for Embossing and Etching

Silhouette Curio Specs

  • Cutting Size: Cuts or embosses on 8.5” x 6” or 8.5” x 12” mats; etches, stipples, and sketches on materials up to 5mm thick, cuts materials up to 2mm thick
  • Machine Dimensions (l x w x h): 17.25" x 5.5" x 7.0"
  • Machine Weight: 5.33 lbs
  • Compatibility: PC and Mac
  • Connection: via USB
  • Capabilities: cut, sketch, emboss/deboss, etch, stipple 

Do you want to expand your crafting possibilities with more than just a cutting machine? The Silhouette Curio offers embossing, etching, and stippling along with cutting capabilities, and has a 5mm clearance so it can work on all kinds of thicker materials. 

The Curio can create a stippling effect using either sketch pens or the stippling tool, and can etch thin metal sheets. Planning a wedding? The Curio's debossing and embossing functions can create beautiful invitations, place cards, and other paper and cardstock projects. No other Silhouette machine has as many different functions as the Curio. 

What's Included with the Silhouette Curio?

  • Curio machine
  • Power cord
  • USB cable
  • Cutting blade
  • Fine embossing tool
  • Wide embossing tool
  • 8.5” x 6” base (including 3 spacer platforms)
  • cutting mat (8.5" x 6")
  • embossing mat (8.5" x 6")
  • Free 1 month trial membership to Silhouette Design store
  • 50 free designs

Included Silhouette Curio tools

  • Cutting blade
  • Fine Embossing Tool
  • Wide Embossing Tool

Optional Silhouette Curio tools

  • Stippling and etching tool 
  • Deep-Cut Blade 
  • 2mm Kraft Blade
  • Premium Blade 

Optional Silhouette Curio accessories

  • 8.5" x 12" base kit (large base, 3 platforms, 8.5" x 12" cutting mat, 8.5" x 12" embossing mat)

Silhouette Curio Blades and Tools

The Curio has a dual tool carriage and comes with Silhouette's basic cutting blade and the Fine and Wide Embossing tools. Because it is an older Silhouette machine (released in 2015) the Curio is also compatible with a number of classic blades: the Premium Blade (which Silhouette says should last 3 times longer than the standard blade), the Deep-Cut blade, and the 2mm Kraft Blade. Both the Deep-Cut Blade and 2mm Kraft Blade can cut thicker materials such as craft foam, thick cardstock, and other thick (but not too dense) materials. 

The Curio's dual tool carriage means that you can use 2 different functions for the same project without changing tools, like doing score & emboss, or using 2 different colors of sketch pens at once. 

Unfortunately, the Curio cannot use the AutoBlade, and all of the blades used by the Curio must be adjusted by hand to achieve the desired cutting depth. The Silhouette Studio software will tell you what blade settings to use given your choice of blade and the material being cut. Also, unlike the newer machines, the Curio does not have Auto Tool Detection.

Silhouette Curio Extra Features

The Silhouette Curio is described as the "Swiss Army Knife" of Silhouette machines, and is quite a crafter's companion. It can use the most different tools of all the Silhouette machines, and has a unique multi-platform setup with very high clearance (5mm), allowing for much thicker materials to be used.

The Curio can cut materials up to 2mm thick using the Deep-Cut Blade, and can etch, stipple, and sketch on materials up to 5mm thick. 

This machine only has a maximum 210 g of downward force, which is fine for cutting paper, cardstock, and vinyl but we do wonder how good the etching and embossing functions can be. Silhouette recommends using score & emboss/deboss to get a more pronounced embossing or debossing effect. Likewise, the metals etched by the Curio must be soft enough, and the metal etching sheets sold by Silhouette primarily produce a nice effect by etching through the anodized (colored) top layer of the metal.

silhouette curio engraving tool example

Source: youtube.com

Like other Silhouette machines, the Curio is capable of Print & Cut projects, where you can cut out images printed by your home printer. But the Curio can also do Print & Emboss, to add beautiful texture to printed paper and cardstock projects.  

Can the Curio Do Matless Cutting?

Unlike other Silhouette machines, the Curio cannot do matless cutting of roll-fed vinyl or Pop-out cutting of paper and cardstock. All Curio projects require that you use the bases and mats, so you are unfortunately limited in the size of your projects (maximum 8.5" wide x 12" long, using the sold-separately large base kit). 

Another downside to the Curio is that this is the only current Silhouette cutter that has no wireless connectivity - you must connect to your computer via USB cable. 

We think that the Curio is great if you want to make a lot of different paper and cardstock projects or do some metal etching, but if vinyl cutting is your main interest, the other 3 Silhouette machines are superior. 

What We Like

  • Dual tool carriage
  • Etching, embossing and debossing
  • Print & Emboss/deboss can make beautiful paper projects

What We Don't Like

  • Small working area with included 8.5" x 6" base kit
  • No AutoBlade
  • No wireless capability

Two options to buy
the Silhouette Curio:

Is a Silhouette machine worth it?

Silhouette: made for Makers

Silhouette America is owned by Ai Holdings, which also owns Graphtec America, which makes commercial cutting machines. Graphtec machines are known, in part, for their advanced optical scanning and precision contour cutting (print-then-cut) capabilities. Unfortunately the Graphtec ARMS (Advanced Registration Mark Sensing System) optical scanning isn't available in Silhouette machines, but Silhouette machine design still benefits from the relationship to their commercial cutter cousins. 

For the lower cost of a home craft cutter, the new Silhouette Cameo and Portrait machines offer advanced software, roll-fed vinyl cutting, and a channel under the cutting blade that allows matless cutting of even paper and cardstock. These features are typical for much higher priced commercial cutting machines. For example, the approximate retail price for a Silhouette Cameo 4 is $300, the 15" Cameo Plus is $400, whereas the 20" Graphtec CE Lite-50 (the cheapest Graphtec desktop cutter) retails for about $800.

Another attractive feature of Silhouette machines is that they are compatible with both Windows and Mac computers – most commercial cutters are not Mac OS-compatible. 

Silhouette Studio: surprisingly sophisticated for a free tool

All Silhouette cutting machines use Silhouette Studio, a program that is easy enough for beginners to learn, but loaded with lots of advanced features. Silhouette Studio works on Windows and Mac computers, but not on mobile devices, although the Silhouette Go app for iOS and Android devices can be used to send saved designs from your library to your Bluetooth-enabled cutting machine (Cameo 4/Plus/Pro, and Portrait 3). 

For those who already use either Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw, you can also buy the Silhouette Connect plugin ($40) that allows you to directly connect and send projects to your Silhouette machine without connecting through Silhouette Studio. 

Silhouette Studio: features of free and paid versions

It is very common to hear users say that they choose Silhouette machines because of Silhouette Studio. Even the free version of this software offers a lot of design options that anyone who has used Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw would recognize.

You can design using shapes or freehand drawing, you can trace images, and there is a point editing tool to easily reshape images in addition to all the basic manipulation (rotate, align, replicate, etc.) and modification (weld, crop, divide, etc.) tools you would expect. The basic version also allows you to easily create pop-up images for cards and do color bleeds so that images have color all the way to the edge of the cut line. 

Silhouette Studio Pricing and Features

The basic version of Silhouette Studio is free (for Mac or for Windows, download here), but there are also paid upgrades available:

  • Silhouette Studio Designer Edition – $50
    • allows you to import svg and pdf files
    • can use layers (including cut by layer)
    • easily convert designs for rhinestone templates
    • loads of advanced tools (shadow, eyedropper, knife, eraser, shear, warp...)
  • Silhouette Studio Designer Edition Plus – $75
    • import embroidery files (pes, dst, exp, jef, xxx)
    • flexishapes
    • puzzle generator
  • Silhouette Studio Business Edition – $99 
    • import Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw files (.AI/.CD/.EPS)
    • multi-cutter support (cut with multiple machines at once)
    • tiling
    • barcodes
    • export svg, jpg, pdf
    • font creation (digital and handwritten)

If you have specific features in mind, I recommend checking out this detailed comparison of the different Silhouette Studio versions. 

Try before you buy: You don’t have to wonder how Silhouette Studio works before you buy a machine. You can download Silhouette Studio for free here, and see how you like it before you purchase a Silhouette. 

Conclusion:

Silhouette offers machines with some very cool features in lightweight, maker-friendly packages. Built-in roll feeders and crosscutters make high-volume cutting easy in regular, wide, and compact formats. Advanced design software makes every Silhouette machine an attractive choice whether you are a beginner, small business cutter, or advanced crafter. 


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