There are some who love to do a craft project now and then. And there are crafters. These are people who take their crafting very seriously. Crafters go beyond the occasional do-it-yourself project or holiday decoration. Crafters proudly use the tools of the trade, including personal electronic die cutting machines.
Tools of the Trade
There are two types of personal electronic cutting machines that compete for the attention of serious crafters: the Cricut and the Silhouette machines.
How do these machines differ? To find out, we did a little checking around to find out what others think of their Cricut or Silhouette machines, and for what sort of materials they're using the machines. We've summarized our findings here, in alphabetical order, starting with the Cricut.
Cricut's Explore Family
Cricut calls its cutting machine family "Explore." You have a choice of three versions: Cricut Explore One ™, Cricut Explore Air™ or Cricut Explore Air™ 2.
Cricut Explore One™ is offers precision cutting in a wide variety of materials. From paper to iron-on to vinyl, leather and felt, this personal machine cuts it all to your specifications.
Cricut Explore Air™ includes embedded Bluetooth capability for wireless cutting. It brags of cutting over 60 different materials for DIY projects from cards to party invitations and home décor.
Cricut Explore Air ™ 2 is the latest incarnation and boasts the ability to cut and write up to two-times faster. It includes leather, chipboard, felt and aluminum on its cutting materials list.
Silhouette's Family of Machines
Silhouette's die cutting machines family includes their Portrait®, Curio™ and Cameo® 3. They also have a small stamp maker they call Mint, which is not covered here.
Silhouette Portrait ® plugs into your PC or Mac via a USB cable. It uses small blades to cut materials that are up to 8 inches wide and as long as 10 feet.
Silhouette Curio™ also connects to your PC or Mac via a standard USB cable. It comes with software that lets you design your custom project.
Silhouette Cameo® 3 considers itself the ultimate DIY machine, capable of cutting over 100 materials up to 12 inches wide. It also boasts a Bluetooth feature and includes a dual-carriage for using two tools at once.
Cricut vs Silhouette
When reviewing Cricut's and Silhouette's machine families, one thing became clear: those who love their Cricut really love their Cricut, and likewise for those loving their Silhouette.
When comparing features, the differences do stand out, however. The following is a comparison of each of the latest machines only because they have the same features as their earlier incarnations, plus the company's latest improvements.
Silhouette allows for cutting without a mat.
Cricut is better at cutting, probably due to the rotating action of the blades.
The software included with Silhouette is dynamic, making for amazing personal designs.
The Cricut will cut thicker materials, such as balsa wood and thicker leather.
Both the Curio and the Air 2 have two cartridge holders, meaning you don't have to reload when sketching and cutting.
There is a hefty learning curve with the Silhouette software.
Cricut requires a high-speed internet connection to use its software.
Silhouette blades last longer than Cricut blades.
The Silhouette is much louder than the Cricut when cutting.