Cricut Maker Vs Silhouette Cameo 3 The Unfair Comparison

Is it just all hype and no substance? Find out who’s the winner in this Cricut Maker Vs Silhouette Cameo 3

 

cricut maker vs silhouette cameo 3

 

The best way to illustrate this Cricut Vs Cameo post is like matching Mike Tyson against Average Joe.

Now don’t get me wrong Average Joe might get lucky and score a K.O. But and that’s huge, but I wouldn’t bet my life savings on it.

It would’ve been more evenly matched if it would’ve been a Cricut Explore Air 2 Vs Silhouette Cameo 3. But you guys asked for Cameo Vs Cricut. So I’m here to fill this need.

By reading this post till the end, you will know if Cameo or Cricut is the best choice for your DIY projects.

 

Machine Specs Side by Side

 

Take a look at the chart below, and you will see the clear difference between Silhouette and Cricut.

Cricut MakerSilhouette Cameo 3
Size10.2 x 25.8 x 10.4 inches22.5 x 6 x 8.5 inches
Weight23.08 pounds13.95 pounds
Cutting FeatureYesYes
Drawing FeatureYesYes
Transform Images to DesignCricut Design SpacePixScan Software
LCDNoYes LCD Touchscreen
Cutting force4000g210g
Cutting Size12 x 24 inches12 inches x 10 feet
Auto BladeNoYes
Cross CutterNoYes
Dual CarriageYesYes
EmbossingYesNo
ScoringYesNo
Max Material Thickness2.4mm2mm
Number of materials100+100+ ???
Noise LevelAcceptableNoisy
SpeedFastNormal
Accessory Costs$$$
Mobile Docking StationYesNo
Recommended Retail Price$399.99$299.99

This was the bird’s eye view. Now I will analyze both cutting machines in parallel, so you will know if the difference between the two is important or not.

 

Comparing the look and feel (size, weight)

 

Let’s look at their size first. It’s obvious that the Silhouette cutter is a bit smaller and a bit lighter than its counterpart. This can be good news and bad news as well. The good news would be that you can operate in a smaller space. And being lighter it means you can easily move it around.

The bad news would be they might have used lighter, more inferior materials in the construction. Luckily it’s not the case. Both machines are durable and real workhorses.

If you are only making a decision on the size and weight than factor this into the equation, are you moving it frequently? There are many crafters who attend tradeshows and fairs. My idea of fun isn’t hauling around huge and heavy machines.

Both cutting machines can cut and draw at the same time. Yes, the Silhouette family made a cheap shot with the Silhouette Curio (that machine can’t cut paper and vinyl, so it’s not the best vinyl option, but it can etch and emboss).

 

For what will you use these machines?

 

If it’s for paper and vinyl than both machines will work perfectly. The Cricut cutting machine goes above and beyond these simple tasks, and you can use it for more crafting ideas.

Both machines have the ability to transform pictures and drawings into designs. For both, you will need a smartphone or something similar to take photos. The rest is done in their software.

Here comes the biggie. Cutting force is just unmatched. Silhouette hasn’t updated its cutting force since the first generation came out. On the other hand, Cricut Maker has hit it out of the ballpark. There’s no way to compare 4000g Cricut versus Silhouette which has 210g.

Cricut Explore Air 2 had already 350g of cutting power. This means that the previous Cricut generation was 50% more powerful than Cameo. This is where I feel that Cameo is losing ground. Do you want to see what little brother can do against Silhouette follow this link.

They hype the machine to cut leather and fabrics, but with that cutting force, you can probably cut micron thick materials. Now don’t be discouraged pretty soon Silhouette Cameo 4 is coming out. It’s trying to level the playing field. The initial reports suggest that it will have 5000g cutting power.

This is why competition is great. It forces others to go beyond the limits when it comes to innovation.

Machine Specs:

 

Cutting size put to the test

The cutting size is decent for both machines. Cricut Maker’s standard cutting size is 12×24 inches. And Silhouette Cameo 3 can be upgraded with a feed roller to 10 feet. Yes, there’s no typo there I really meant ten feet.

Auto Blade

Now Silhouette has a nifty feature called Auto Blade. This is a great tool that helps you take out the guesswork from your cuts. The Auto Blade can detect on its own the material used so it will adjust the cutting force accordingly.

If you’re using the Maker, you will have to set it up in the Cricut Design Space software manually. This point goes to the Silhouette machine.

Cross Cutter

The next feature which I will talk about is the Cross Cutter. Cricut doesn’t have this one either. This feature comes handy when you want to cut something down to size.  With the Cross Cutter, all you have to do is pull the blade horizontally, and you’re done. You don’t need scissors or anything.

Dual Carriage

The biggest feature which is present in both machines is the Dual Carriage. Once you get used to this feature, you just simply can’t live without it. It speeds up the production time. Plus it gives you free time, so you don’t have to babysit your machine.

The Dual Carriage features mean that the machine is capable of doing two steps at once. Sorry to burst your bubble it can only do it sequentially and not in parallel. You can set the machine to draw and then cut. Or use two drawing steps or two cutting steps. Once you programmed the machine, it will do its job while you don’t have to do any type of babysitting.

This is the point where the needle is starting to lean towards Cricut’s favor.

Embossing etching cutting stronger, more resilient materials?

Yes, it all can be done with Cricut Maker. This is where its 4000g cutting force really shines.

The Maker’s Knife blade looks like an X-Acto knife. This strong blade linked with the big cutting force leads to cutting matboard and balsa wood with ease. (Of course, the thickness shouldn’t be bigger than 2.4mm).

Can Cameo do all this? This is the place where the hype starts to fade. I mean it can cut a few thicker materials, but you need to do a lot of trial and error to get it right. Plus you need to do multiple passes just to get one simple design out.

For just a $100 more, you can do it without a huge learning curve if you pick the Cricut.

Multiple crafters have confirmed that Cameo is good at cutting paper and vinyl and that’s about it. The Maker is far superior when it comes to rougher or more delicate materials.

 

Rotary Blade

For example, Cricut Maker has the Rotary Blade. If you are working with fabrics, this is a must-have. It cuts through materials without damaging or wrinkling it. I bet you will be instantly hooked and will be wondering where this tool has been all your life.

Cricut Maker has a washable fabric pen. This means you can make markings on the fabric, and after you have done the necessary adjustments, you can simply wash it out with water.

 

Cutting Dept

When we look at the max material thickness that each machine can process, there’s a small yet big difference. Silhouette Cameo 3 can handle materials up to 2mm thick. But this is not the cutting depth. The cutting depth is around 1.2mm. The thickest material that you can work with is 2mm.

The Cricut Maker is different. It can cut through 2.4mm material. This means that it is 2x times better than Cameo.

Both machines brag that they can handle 100+ materials. I have no doubt about Cricut. And the Cameo doesn’t look so hot. It’s a really good machine when it comes to paper and vinyl and some other thin materials, but that’s about it.

When I reviewed the Silhouette 3, I mentioned that they have probably counted the materials the following way: 50 shades of gray than red paper, white paper … There’s a difference between probable and possible. Working with 100+ materials is more likely to be probable than possible.

 

Noise Levels Measured and Tested

Let’s switch gears. How loud or noisy are the machines? If you have heard one working Silhouette machine, then you have heard them all. Every machine in the family is loud. So forget about working through the night to finish a job if you have people sleeping around you.

With Cricut, things are slightly better. It’s not a loud machine, yet it has an acceptable noise level.

There are numerous speed tests done between Cricut Silhouette Cameo Machines. Each and every time Cricut comes out on top. It works at double speed compared to Cricut’s competitors. When you use the 2x speed, you are sacrificing noise levels.

Once you have tasted 2x, you can’t go back. This speed boost works perfectly with basic designs. It’s doable, with more intricate ones as well but it might mess up the cut. Test it out first before you commit.

Silhouette Cameo 3 cutting machine

Let’s talk about pricing and accessories as you can see Cricut costs more than Cameo by $100. But here’s the kicker. The accessories are cheaper.

This is an important point that many reviewers miss. I believe it was crucial to add in my Cricut Maker Vs Silhouette Cameo 3 comparison.

 

What’s the cost of ownership?

 

Blades go dull, and mats lose the stickiness, and they need replacement. By far, Cricut Maker’s accessories are the cheapest. Cameo’s are in the normal range. And if you have a Brother Scan and Cut machine, I feel for you (they have the most inflated prices among all the machines). I’ve recently done a comparison between Brother Scan and Cut Vs Silhouette Cameo 3 check it out here.

If you’re only looking at price, then yes Cricut is more expensive, and it enables you to unlock different materials without you needing to buy another machine. Also, accessories and supplies are cheaper. Thus, the cost of ownership is lower than any other Cricut competitor.

Last but not least, looking at both machines, the Cricut looks more stylish. The edges aren’t that sharp, and it’s slicker. Also, it has a mobile docking station. Here you can put your phone or tablet and watch something while the machine works and you can charge your device from the Maker’s USB port.

 

Design Software Face off

 

Before I get to the negatives, let me touch base on the software. Let’s see how Cricut Design Space and Silhouette’s Design Studio Software fair against each other.

First of all, let’s see the Cricut Design Space. It’s online only. This means you can access it from any device with any system installed. Secondly, you don’t have to update it ever. It’s simple and intuitive you can master it fast.

Silhouette Design Studio Software is free. As in free if you are not doing anything important. If you need to use SVG files, you need to get the paid version. The software arrives on a CD. Now you can use that, or you can download it from the web which contains the newest version.  This software has a steep learning curve. It’s much harder to master than Cricut’s

What Are the Shortcomings for Cricut Maker?

 

Now let’s talk about the negatives, first up it’s Cricut. The only negative thing that I can find with it is the software. It’s online only. Yes if you don’t have internet access, you can’t use your machine. There’s an offline version for IOS, but that is not doing justice.

If you are in a bad spot where the internet is dodgy, you might want to reconsider if you have opted for Cricut. If you are exhibiting in fairs and trade shows, make sure you have backups for the internet. There’s nothing worse than getting orders and the machine calls it quits because there are internet issues.

One thing left a bad taste in my mouth with Cricut. To get access to their design database, you have to pay a monthly fee. I know, I know $9.99 is not the end of the world, but still, something free is always highly valued by me.

 

What Are the Drawbacks of Silhouette Cameo?

 

Well, it’s a great machine for two materials which is paper and vinyl. There’s nothing innovative in their design or machine. They rolled out the Silhouette Curio just to keep pace with Cricut. But that means you will need two machines and two devices to manage them. The investment overshoots Cricut’s costs.

One of their major selling point is Bluetooth connectivity. Well Circuit has it as well, and they don’t advertise it, and it works. Cameo’s main feature is the cordless connectivity, but it doesn’t work. Countless crafters have complained that they gave up on it and they didn’t manage to configure.

It’s loud and hard to master. Silhouette Studio Software has a big learning curve. And if you want to use SVG files you have to upgrade from free to a paid account.

 

Which is better Cricut or Cameo?

 

It depends on what you are using the machine for. If you are only using for paper and vinyl and want to save a few bucks than Cameo is your best option.

If you don’t mind that extra $100 and want to expand from paper and vinyl than Cricut is your new best friend.

This about wraps up my Cricut Maker Vs Silhouette Cameo 3 post.

If you want me to compare other machines or review them, just ask me below. The main Silhouette Site has additional info if you need it.

Until then, Happy Tinkering!

 

Frequent questions from our readers (FAQ):

 

Which is better Cricut Maker vs Silhouette Cameo 3?

By reading my review you probably got to this conclusion. Cricut Maker is the better machine. It can do much more than the Cameo and it costs less to maintain even though the upfront cost is higher. Also from my perspective Cameo is half the machine than Maker is.

What is the difference between a cameo and a Cricut?

This is why I’ve created the review. The main difference is in cutting force which opens up a new world for Cricut. Then the lifetime cost which is lower if you choose Cricut. Finally, Cameo is way louder than Cricut.

Is the Silhouette Cameo better than Cricut?

If you refer to Cameo 3 than it isn’t but pretty soon Cameo 4 will be launched and it will force Cricut to innovate or lose their dominance.

Can you use Cricut design space without a subscription?

Yes, you can because it’s free. You only need a subscription if you want to use custom fonts and designs.

Can I use my own images with Cricut?

Yes you can use your own images with Cricut. Design space allows you to use your own images plus SVG files as well.

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Emily Weathers
Emily Weathers

Hi, Emily Weathers ex-corporate drone, full-time crafter and mother of three running this site. My passion is crafting, and I'm an early adopter. I'm testing many machines, so you don't have to. Since I get to play with these devices, why not write reviews for them? It's the reason for the site's existence, so you make the right choices and avoid money pits. If you want to know more…