A Quick Introduction to Silhouette’s Cutting Machines

Hi guys! I figured I’d get things started with getting right into one of my favorite ways to craft: using a cutting machine. I know people have strong opinions about whether Cricut or Silhouette are better (I’m a Silhouette gal myself) but I wanted to go into some detail about the different types of machines which are available, what they’re used for most often, and what kinds of crafts work well with each.

Silhouette has quite a few different machines you can purchase, and it might be tempting to just get the most expensive one, but each one actually fulfills a different role in the crafter’s arsenal.

They all for the most part use the same software, which means if you start on a less expensive model, even if you upgrade later on all of your designs will still be available and you won’t have to start from the beginning with learning a completely new interface (except for the one on the machine itself).

First up, there’s their latest machine, the Silhouette Cameo 4.

Silhouette has a pretty good introductory video:

The Cameo 4 is the closest vinyl cutter to being an ‘all-in-one’ model, it does basically everything you could want, some of them better than the rival Cricut Maker.

Cutting vinyl. This is maybe the most common thing people associate Silhouette with because for a personal vinyl cutter they let you make the largest cuts. This means you can make bigger signs, larger decals, and REALLY BIG stickers.

Cutting through thick materials. The Silhouette Cameo 4 is the most powerful machine I’ve seen. They’ve completely redesigned its cutting interface to make it a lot stronger, even stronger than the Cricut Maker, its rival machine. If you want to cut through wood, metal, leather, or thick fabrics, the Cameo 4 makes it a lot easier than their other machines.

The Silhouette Cameo 4 also comes in a Pro and Plus model, these are both larger machines that let you work with larger materials.

Next up is the Silhouette Curio.

This machine can be summed up pretty quickly: it’s designed for etching and embossing. You can still cut all of the same materials that the Cameo can, but it’s less powerful, smaller, and a bit slower.

As you can see in the chart above, the clearance for materials is a lot thicker, so you can work with wood and metal a lot more easily. It also uses a different kind of mat, an embossing mat, which you need to be careful with because they’re easily damaged.

Next up is the Silhouette Portrait.

The Silhouette Portrait is designed to be a smaller, more portable version of the Cameo. It’s great if you don’t have much space, and it’s a lot less expensive too.

If you’re looking for something lightweight or not going to be making large cuts and you want to learn Silhouette Studio software, the Portrait could be a good choice for you.

I spend most of my time working with quilting patterns, sewing, and cutting out paper designs. The Silhouette Cameo 4 has a few new tools which make that much easier for me, so that’s the one I picked.

If you guys need a hand picking out your own Silhouette cutting machine, just leave me a comment here and I’ll try to recommend the machine best for your style of crafting.