Approximately 6 months
According to Silhouette, the average blade lifespan is about 6 months, but can vary widely by usage. The range they give as an example is that a blade could last anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year.
Blade life is decreased by:
- frequent use
- high number or length of cuts made
- detailed cutting requiring many blade turns
- cutting dense materials or materials with embedded particles like glitter vinyl, paper, or cardstock
The information provided appears to apply primarily to the basic tungsten alloy blades sold by Silhouette. The older Silhouette blades include:
- Basic blade
- Premium blade
- Deep-cut blade
The Premium Blade, which Silhouette says is made of “high-performance” tungsten alloy. It is supposed to last up to 3 times longer than the basic cutting blade.
The newer Silhouette machines (Cameo 4, Cameo Plus, and Portrait 3) mainly use the AutoBlade (Type B), which is also labeled as “high-performance” tungsten alloy. Two other new blades for the Cameo series machines – the Rotary Blade and the Punch Tool – also appear to be made of the same material.
The 2mm and 3mm Kraft Blades are made of stainless steel. Because of the denser, thicker materials typically cut using the Kraft blades, especially things like wood or acetate, you might find that these blades dull faster than an AutoBlade used for vinyl, paper, or cardstock.
When do you need to replace a Silhouette blade?
You will know that your blade needs to be replaced when it is no longer cutting cleanly. If you start to see ragged edges or small tears in your cut lines, the blade is too dull. It is best to replace a blade at the first signs of trouble rather than waste costly materials.
If your Silhouette blade becomes dull, then you must purchase an entirely new tool assembly, blade + housing. This is because the blade alone cannot be replaced.
How do you care for your Silhouette blades?
Silhouette’s basic guide to blade care is short on detailed information, but it does show you how to remove the end cap of your blade (basic, Premium, Deep-Cut, and AutoBlade only) for cleaning.
It is good to clean off any small bits of paper, cardstock, vinyl, or adhesive stuck to the blade. To clean, remove the cap of the blade housing and carefully wipe the debris using a soft cloth or Q-tip.
Another way you can clean debris off your blade tip to poke it repeatedly into a ball of aluminum foil (this is the way I like to clean mine between paper projects). Be careful! Avoid touching the blade with your fingers, and make sure not to poke the blade through your foil ball. Try this and do a test cut before replacing your blade – you may be able to extend your blade life.
Some people claim that aluminum foil will sharpen your blade – this is a myth! Drag knives like your AutoBlade are made of tungsten alloy, which is nearly as hard as diamond – these blades can’t be sharpened by soft metals like aluminum! It’s a good thing, too, because you don’t want to mess up your blade’s perfectly cut angle.
Pro Tip: Designate one blade for vinyl and a separate blade for your paper and cardstock projects!
Paper is made with minerals like clays, talc, titanium dioxide and calcium carbonate, all of which dull blades very quickly. In contrast, a dedicated vinyl cutting blade will last a very long time (cutting many hundreds of feet of material), unless you use it to cut a lot of glitter vinyl.
Click here to learn more about the entire lineup of Silhouette machines, their tools, and capabilities.