For designers who want to do their own die-cutting to create patterned fabric, vinyl or paper, there is an ongoing debate going on about which digital die-cutter is best. Some designers swear by the Cricut Explore Air, while others prefer using the Silhouette Cameo 3. Here is a look at the features of each and what people say about them, so you can decide what's best for you.
A die-cutting machine is first and foremost a piece of hardware, and the Cricut Explore Air and the Silhouette Cameo 3 have different hardware affordances that may affect your experience of using them. The Cricut Explore Air has a Smart Set Dial that allows you to adjust the machine's blade depth and pressure to suit the type of material that you are cutting. The Cricut Explore Air also has a Print and Cut feature that allows you to cut material directly from a design you've printed from your computer. Finally, the Cricut Explore Air can handle cutting a large range of materials, since it has a German Carbide metal blade for cutting.
The Silhouette Cameo 3 does not have the Smart Set Dial, but it does have an Autoblade feature, which is a blade that adjusts itself to the material being cut. And similar to the Cricut Explore Air's Print and Cut feature, the Silhouette Cameo 3 has a Scan and Cut feature that allows you to cut designs that you have printed out from your computer. The Silhouette Cameo 3 does not have as strong a blade as the Cricut Explore Air, so it can cut a smaller range of materials.
Both the Cricut Explore Air and the Silhouette Cameo 3 have dual carriages, meaning that you can keep cutting without having to stop to switch a blade or pen.
A huge factor in deciding which die-cutter a designer likes best is the type of software the machine runs and whether it suits a particular designer's needs. The Cricut Explore Air comes with a software called Design Space, and this software is praised by reviewers for being user friendly and easy for beginners to learn to use. It requires an internet connection, so the Cricut Explore Air must always be online in order to function.
The Silhouette Cameo 3 comes with a software called Silhouette Studio Designer that many users recommend because it is more powerful than the Design Space software that comes with the Cricut Explore Air. Tech savvy designers with a lot of software experience love working with the Silhouette Studio Designer software. However, users who are not as experienced with software may have a hard time getting up to speed with the Silhouette Cameo 3. Unlike the Cricut Explore Air, the Silhouette Cameo 3 works even when it is not connected to the internet.
Deciding Which Die-Cutter Is Best For You
If you are a designer who is looking for the strongest die-cutter on the market with the easiest software to use, the Cricut Explore Air is the die-cutter for you. Reviewers rave about the Cricut Explore Air's strength and ease of use. However, if you are a more advanced software user and want the freedom to be able to create your own designs using sophisticated design software, the Silhouette Cameo 3 is the one to choose.