Right now, there are two big names in the world of home craft cutting machines: Cricut and Silhouette. Each has a flagship model that are inevitably compared to each other: Cricut Maker vs. Silhouette Cameo 4. Both share many great features, and each machine has some unique characteristics.
There’s a lot of information to sort through when comparing these two machines, so we want to do our best to provide easy to read material for skimmers and more details for readers looking for more data. Behold: Cricut Maker vs. Silhouette Cameo 4: A Complete Guide.
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Silhouette Cameo 4
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12 x 12" or
12 x 24" cutting mat
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12 x 12" or
12 x 24" cutting mat;
12” x 60 feet matless roll cutting
(L x W x H in.)
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22.6 x 7.1 x 6.2 inches
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22.4 x 6.7 x 7.7 inches
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phone, email or chat
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email or chat
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Cricut Design Space
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Windows and Mac
USB and Bluetooth Compatible
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Windows and Mac
USB and Bluetooth Compatible
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Android and iOS
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Cameo Plus and Cameo Pro have entered the conversation
The Plus and Pro are 15 inches and 24 inches wide respectively and mark the first time either Silhouette or Cricut has entered into the XL vinyl cutter market. These two wide format cutters have the same toolsets as the Cameo 4, both perform matless cutting and print and cut, and both have the new, high pressure cutting carriage.
The Plus and the Pro are really big wins for crafters using MacOS that want to do cutting at a small business scale. Previously, if you wanted to do oversized cutting on a Mac, the cheapest cutter you could find would cost you at least $750, and even then you'd be sacrificing print and cut capability.
Upgrading to wide format cutting also lets crafters take advantage of cheaper materials in bulk, as well as cutting high volume projects, including t-shirt HTV, gift tags, decals, cards, invitations or stickers.
The Cameo Plus retails for $400, while the Cameo Pro sells for $500.
Cricut has yet to produce a wider format version of the Maker, and there have been no clues that a wider format competitor is on the horizon for the company.
Maker vs Cameo 4: Cutting Force
Silhouette Cameo 4
Cutting Force (right carriage)
Cutting Force (left carriage)
When the Maker debuted in 2017, the 4,000 grams of cut force generated by the redesigned Carriage B astounded the crafting community. Compared with every other vinyl cutter on the market, the Cricut Maker’s cutting force was unmatched.
That is until the Cameo 4 entered the market. Unveiled in late 2019, the Cameo boasted 5,000 grams of cutting force, greater than the Maker, but also dwarfing its predecessor, the Cameo 3 (which had 210 gf).
But what does increased cutting force in a craft cutter actually mean for the user? If you read a lot of blogs, most reviewers imply that the cut force is applicable for wood cutting projects, but according to Cricut and their material reference chart, the increased force is used almost entirely to cut fabric with the rotary blade.
Increased cutting force for the Maker or the Cameo 4 really only applies if you are interested in a wide range of sewing projects. Other product reviewers go on and on about the strength of these machines and their ability to cut balsa wood, when in reality, the Maker only applies 200 or 300 grams of force on balsa, depending on the thickness.
Bottom line: if you are not focused on sewing or fabric projects, don’t get distracted by the big cut force numbers being pushed at you. Both the Maker and the Cameo 4 will be plenty strong for your needs.
If you are interested in sewing projects, keep reading, there’s more to parse out.
Cricut Maker vs Silhouette Cameo 4: Cutting Speed
Both the Maker and the Cameo 4 are faster than older models produced by their respective companies. They are fast for craft cutters, but certainly not as fast as commercial cutters that cost over $1,000, like the Graphtec CE7000 series.
What is perhaps more important to consider is that each machine has adjustable speed settings, so the cuts remain high quality across a wide variety of materials and also when using the full set of cutting blades for each machine.
For example, the Cricut Maker has a “fast mode” that lets the user set speed to cut materials like vinyl and cardstock at twice the normal cutting speed.
Similarly, Cameo users can adjust cutting speed in the Silhouette Studio design software. In our opinion, it’s more important to be able to tailor speed to the project at hand rather than having a machine that just runs at full bore all the time with no way to adjust it. In this regard, both machines do well.
Cameo 4 vs Maker Toolset comparison
Cricut Maker Tools
Included with purchase:
- Fine point Blade
- Rotary Blade
- Knife Point Blade
- Deep Point Blade
- Bonded Fabric Blade
- NEW Sept. 2020 – Foil Transfer Tool
Quickswap Tools: (Available Separately)
- Perforation Blade
- Debossing Tip
- Single Scoring Wheel
- Double Scoring Wheel
- Engraving Tip
- Wavy Blade
Silhouette Cameo 4 Tools
Included with purchase:
- Auto Blade
- Rotary Blade
- Kraft Blade
- Punch tool
Cricut Maker Tools
Cricut debuted two new important features when it released the Maker:
- the Adaptive Tool System (ATS)
- the Quickswap tool housing
The Adaptive tool system developed for the Maker links the gears of the drive housing to the gears of the ATS inside the machine, allowing the blade to lift and turn, controlling blade direction and cut pressure to match the material.
The Maker features two blades that combine this power and precision to get superlative cutting results:
- Rotary Blade for fabric and delicate materials
- Knife Point Blade for thicker, denser material like chip board, mat board or balsa or basswood.
The Knife Blade in particular uses the Adaptive Tool System to make intricate cuts in multiple passes, increasing cutting depth and adjusting cutting pressure as the job progresses to give clean cuts without destroying the cutting mat.
The Rotary Blade is a workhorse, capable of cutting with the full down force of the Maker across a really broad range of fabrics; from burlap (3,800 gf) and denim (3,200 gf) to crepe paper (958 gf) and nylon (684 gf), the Rotary blade and the ATS apply steady pressure to deliver clean cuts through most fabrics.
The Quickswap tools look similar to the Rotary and Knife blade because of the signature gear wheel on top, but the cool thing is that Cricut has made a system where a wide range of tool heads can pop on and off a universal body. This allows you to keep expanding your toolset as Cricut releases new tools and it allows you to switch tools quickly while you craft.
The Cricut Maker Quickswap tool line includes:
- Perforation Blade Tip: creates clean, easy-to-tear perforations
- Debossing Tip: lets you embellish projects in intricate detail
- Single Scoring Wheel Tip: allows for clean creases in a single pass
- Double Scoring Wheel Tip: makes clean creases on thick materials
- Engraving Tip: for professional-looking engraving
- Wavy Blade Tip: for decorative scalloped edges on a variety of materials
Silhouette Cameo 4 Tools
Silhouette also boasts new tools to go with the Cameo 4. It has an updated Auto blade similar to the blade included with previous models, plus:
- Rotary Blade for fabric projects
- Kraft Blade for thicker materials and tougher fabrics like burlap and denim
- Punch tool for creating punch holes in negative space to help you weed your projects
Both the Rotary blade and the Kraft blade are manually adjusted for depth, although their force and speed settings are set using Silhouette Studio software. One thing that should be noted about the Cameo 4 design, is that although it has a dual carriage, all of the new tools are only for use in carriage 2. That’s the carriage with the new, higher cutting force. The Autoblade and all sketch pens are reserved only for carriage 1.
That means that for projects where you want to write or draw and cut (like cardmaking), you have to swap back and forth between the blade and the pens in carriage 1 during the project. This lack of attention to detail is frustrating, as this is what having a dual tool carriage is supposed to solve, and it's doubly frustrating considering the Cameo 3 had this capability, but Silhouette chose to omit it in favor of creating the new, high force carriage (that doesn't have much practical application to most paper or vinyl crafts).
In the Maker, all tools and blades go in carriage B (including the fine point blade, deep point blade and bonded fabric blade) and carriage A is for the pens and markers. There is no need to swap pens and blades from the same tool holder.
Cricut and Silhouette Replacement Blades
Cricut machines use blades that can be replaced without discarding their original drive housing. The Fine Point, Deep Point, and Bonded Fabric blades are easily replaced in their drive housing, and you can buy multipacks of the blades for very reasonable prices – Cricut.com sells premium Fine Point blades in 5 and 10 packs, for example, and Amazon sells packages of 10, 20, or more.
Beyond the basic Cricut blades, Rotary and Knife blades for the Maker can also be replaced without changing the drive housing, and so can all the QuickSwap tools, where users can simply buy new tips.
In contrast, blades for Silhouette tools cannot be replaced. If your blade becomes dull, then you must purchase an entirely new tool assembly, blade + housing and toss the old one. According to Silhouette, the average blade lifespan is about 6 months, so if you're into regular cutting projects, that is a lot of wasted tools and a lot of plastic in the trash!
Cricut and Silhouette Blade Price Comparison
Cricut Maker Blade Prices (approx.)
Knife blade + housing
Replacement knife blade
Rotary blade + housing
Rotary blade replacement
QS housing + 1 tip
$45 – $50
QS tip bundles
as low as $20 per tip
Fine/Deep/Bonded fabric blade + housing
Fine/Deep/Bonded fabric blade replacement
$8 – 17 each
5-pack fine point replacement blades
10-pack fine point replacement blades
Silhouette Cameo 4 Blade Prices (approx)
AutoBlade (Type A or B)
3mm Kraft blade
Standard blade (legacy)
Premium blade (legacy)
Deep cut blade (legacy)
Cameo 4 vs Maker: Paper Scoring Notes
Cricut Maker Scoring Options
- Quickswap single scoring wheel
- Quickswap double scoring wheel
- Scoring Stylus
Silhouette Cameo 4 Scoring Options
- Auto blade
- Ratchet blade
Papercraft is a big area of interest for crafters and makers, and I thought it was pertinent to point out the differences in scoring tools and options between the Maker and Cameo 4.
The Cricut Maker has both the single and double scoring wheel tips as part of the Quickswap tool system. Using a scoring wheel creates clean, crisp scoring lines and using the double scoring wheel lets you score heavy weight material. There’s also a scoring stylus you can use in carriage A like a pen to trace scoring lines in paper and cardstock.
The Cameo 4 does not have a dedicated scoring tool. Instead, the Silhouette Cameo 4 uses the knife blade to cut a score line in the material. Scoring is a separate action selected in Studio (in addition to cut and sketch), depending on the material you are using. Studio will let you score cardstock, but not paper.
Silhouette Studio also preselects the ratchet blade as the scoring tool; this blade is sold separately from the Cameo 4. Silhouette Studio preselects a cutting pressure and recommends a cutting depth, but craft bloggers usually recommend a knife setting of “1” or 0.1mm and minimal cut pressure.
Wheel scoring versus blade scoring is entirely subjective; the Maker and the Cameo 4 each present a different option.
Cricut Maker vs. Silhouette Cameo 4: Fabric Cutting Comparison
As I touched on earlier, the introduction of Rotary blades to the Maker and Cameo 4 greatly increase the fabric cutting options for users. Rotary blades let you cut fabric of all weights, from burlap and denim to silk. You don’t have to bond the fabric either, just adhere it to a cutting mat and you’re set to cut.
One puzzling aspect about the Cameo 4's new toolset is that Silhouette Studio preselects the Kraft blade for cutting heavy fabrics like denim or burlap instead of the rotary blade.
Both the Cameo 4 and the Maker have their limitations when it comes to sewing projects, however. As you can imagine, the projects available from both companies are geared towards quilting, fashion accessories, plush toys or children’s clothing. Neither machine is set up to cut full sized patterns for dressmaking or adult clothing.
The Maker does have an advantage over the Cameo 4 in one sewing area, however. Cricut has 12 x 24 inch Fabric grip mats available for larger sewing projects. Silhouette, on the other hand, only offers Strong Tack mats for fabric in 12 x 12 inches.
Software Comparison: Cricut Design Space vs. Silhouette Studio
Cricut Design Space
Download before you buy
Free to use
Requires Internet Connection
Import SVG Files
Save as SVG
Weld and Slice Tools
Use Your Own Fonts
Print and Cut
One of the hurdles people face when they are considering a craft cutter is their uncertainty about learning the software. Right off the top, I just want to reassure you, this is a totally normal way to feel, and we can help you get past that mental roadblock and master the learning curve of these design software apps.
First thing, kudos to both Cricut and Silhouette for making their design software free to download and try before you buy. This is a big help to people with different confidence levels regarding learning new software. You can install either software on your computer, watch tutorial videos and experiment with your own designs without ever having to own a machine!
Second, there are many outdated reviews of the Cricut Maker that say that Cricut Design Space is a web-only app. This has changed! As of December 2019, Cricut made Design Space a downloadable desktop app that can be used without an internet connection.
Cricut Design Space: Do a lot with the Basics
Cricut Design Space is a really basic graphic design program that doesn’t feel intimidating to new users. You can create new designs, as well as import files you have downloaded from the internet or created in other applications.
As far as design tools go, Design Space lets you create shapes and use text. There are also “weld” and “slice” functions so you can create more complex designs beyond squares and circles. I was disappointed there is no option for freehand drawing, but you can import SVG files from other apps like Inkscape or even Adobe Illustrator where you can make much more intricate project designs.
What I think is a really great feature for new users is that there is only one version of Design Space that covers every Cricut machine. That means that every software tutorial is accessible and relevant.
Silhouette Studio: Made for Designers
Silhouette Studio is a beginner-level design software that is surprisingly feature-rich. Thanks to many tutorials from Silhouette and other experienced crafters, first time users should be able to quickly master the learning curve so you can cut with confidence. Unlike Cricut Design Space, you can draw freehand lines in Studio, plus there is an eraser tool and a vector point editor tool. In addition to welding and slicing functions, I liked that you could trace images as well.
The free version of Silhouette Studio has its limitations, though. You cannot import SVG cut files using the basic version (the paid upgrade is required.) Likewise, you cannot save your designs as SVG files to share or sell.
And unlike Cricut, Silhouette’s tiered software packages means that tutorial videos may exclude some users. For those curious, the different tiers of Silhouette Studio are:
- Silhouette Studio – free
- Designer Edition – $50
- Designer Edition Plus – $75 (or $25 to upgrade from Designer Edition)
- Business Edition – $99 (or $25 or $50 to upgrade from Designer or Designer Plus)
On a side note – for experienced designers considering the Cameo 4, Silhouette offers Silhouette Connect, a paid plugin that allows Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw users to directly connect and send projects to the Cameo 4 without using Silhouette Studio.
Silhouette Studio vs Cricut Design Space: What files can you use?
Cricut Design Space import files
- SVG (vector)
- JPG (bitmap)
- PNG (bitmap)
Silhouette Studio (Free) import files
- DXF (vector)
- JPG (bitmap)
- PNG (bitmap)
If you are importing designs or images you've downloaded from the web into Design Space or Silhouette Studio, you need to be aware that each software program allows only certain file types.
Both Cricut and Silhouette use bitmap images like JPG and PNG. These are basic image types that include pictures you get with a camera and most graphics used in web design. Before you can cut or draw these images in Design Space or Studio, you will have to trace these images to get cuttable shapes, otherwise, the software sees these images as just an area to be cut around.
Design Space and Studio are really intended to cut vector images. Vectors are images that combine points, lines and curves and can be scaled up or down without losing any sharpness or definition to the lines. There are a lot of different file types that are under the umbrella of "vector" but when discussing Silhouette and Cricut we only need to worry about two.
Cricut allows users to import SVG vectors into Design Space. SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphic and it's the most widely used vector graphic in crafting circles. There are many sites where you can download them for free and use them in personal or commercial project. (Cricut does not let you save your finished designs as SVG files from Design Space, however. You must save your artwork in a proprietary Cricut file format.)
Silhouette Studio Basic Edition (Free) only allows users to import bitmap (JPG and PNG) images, but there's a loophole. Silhouette wants users to pay to upgrade the software before you can use the common SVG file format, but because Studio itself is built on a programming foundation similar to AutoCAD (a really old Computer Assisted Drawing software for architects and drafting, dating back to the early 80s), the is an CAD vector file type called DXF that works in the free version of Silhouette Studio.
DXF (Drawing eXchange File) vector files are not great to work with in Silhouette Studio, especially when you've converted another type of vector file into DXF. but if you have patience and expect to see your image do a few weird things, you should be able to use these files.
Cameo 4 vs Maker: Connection Options
Both the Cameo 4 and Maker have USB connections for desktop and laptop computers, as well as wireless Bluetooth connections. Very handy options for being able to move your cutter anywhere in your crafting room, and not just next to your computer.
Where these machines differ is mobile device connectivity. The Cricut Maker can connect wirelessly to tablets or smartphones and communicate using the Design Space app. You can get the same functionality and features on your mobile device that you do on the desktop version of Design Space.
The Maker also has a USB charging port for tablets and mobile phones, however it is not for data transfer.
The Cameo 4 does not offer compatibility with tablets or smartphones at this time. Silhouette offered a mobile version of the Studio software but discontinued support for it in 2019, before the release of the Cameo 4. Silhouette has commented that a new version of the app could be in the works, and if it becomes available, we will be sure to update this information.
Maker vs. Cameo 4: Cutting Space
One feature that the Cameo 4 has but the Maker lacks is the ability to perform matless cutting from a roll. So while Maker users are limited to cutting on 12 x 12 or 12 x 24 inch mats, Cameo 4 users can cut certain projects (like vinyl with adhesive backing) up to 60 feet long.
For other projects where a mat is needed, users may prefer the Cricut Maker. Cricut has four different mat types, and each are available in 12 x 12 or 12 x 24 sizes, and even available in multi-packs (3, 15, 25 or 30 count options for some mats).
- StandardGrip Cutting Mat
- LightGrip Cutting Mat
- StrongGrip Cutting Mat
- FabricGrip Cutting Mat
The Cameo 4 has a similar selection of mats, but the size choices differ.
- Standard tack mat – 12 x 12 or 12 x 24 inches
- Light tack mat – 12 x 12 inches
- Strong tack mat – 12 x 12 inches
- PixScan mat – 12 x 12 inches (for scanning images)
Maker vs Cameo 4: What Looks Better?
Cricut Maker Color Options
Silhouette Cameo 4 Color Options
Note: Cameo Plus and Cameo Pro are available in White only
After all of this discussion of the features and benefits of these fine machines, it might seem a little crass to mention looks. Nevertheless, crafting and making is all about aesthetic choices, and it seems relevant to talk about what machine looks better.
The Cricut Maker has a polished look: rounded corners, a polished finish and a hit of color in the brushed metallic cover. The Maker comes with five different color accent options: rose, champagne, lilac, blue and mint. It has a nice heft that conveys quality.
The Cameo 4 has a different aesthetic: more defined angles, a matte finish and cool integrated, backlit touch panel. Personally, I think the black or white models look futuristic, but the Barbie pink model looks unsophisticated.
Price and Value Comparison
Suggested Retail Price
This comparison is straightforward. The suggested retail price for the Cricut Maker is $399.99, while the suggested retail price for the Cameo 4 is $299.99. There are many outlets selling these machines however, and it’s not unheard of to get considerable discounts, either on the machine itself or on accessory and material bundles.
Speaking of bundles, the Cricut store offers two bundles options for the Maker – the Essentials bundle and the Everything Materials bundle. Silhouette does not offer bundles through its own store, but Swing Design offers some amazing value bundles for the Cameo 4 and Maker that really boost your savings and value.
Cricut Maker vs Silhouette Cameo 4: Bottom Line
This is where we’re supposed to say the choice is up to you depending on your needs. After comparing machines and software, there are good points for each machine, and also room for improvement. Overall, the Maker has the widest range of tools, but is limited in its capacity to cut only to the size of the mat. The Cameo 4 is powered by more sophisticated software and is capable of matless cutting, but it has fewer tools and accessories.
For me, the true edge goes to Cricut, because of the better support options offered and for the huge community of Cricut users out there. Cricut has a bigger library of support videos and a much larger online community than Silhouette. As time goes on, Cricut seems to be getting bigger and bigger. When you’re stuck, or have a question or just want to show off the cool thing you made, there’s a huge community of fellow Cricut users out there for feedback.
So, our bottom line, if you want a machine with more specialized, user controlled software, go for the Cameo 4. If you want an easier learning experience and a big user community, go for the Cricut Maker.