So you're thinking of buying a die cutting machine but are overwhelmed with all the choices out there. Which one will work best for you?
Let's start with the various options!
Silhouette CAMEO 1, 2, and 3, Silhouette Portrait, Silhouette Curio, Cricut Explore Air and Air 2, Cricut Maker, Brother ScanNCut, Sizzex Eclips2.
The 2 big brand names most people know are Silhouette and Cricut. They both offer several different machines. We'll start with the Silhouette line:
Silhouette CAMEO 1, 2 and 3: They are all essentially the same machine but the higher you go in the numbers the more features and advances you'll get.
The original Silhouette is going to be hard to find unless you buy a pre-owned version at a garage sale. It will cut and sketch but there aren't any Bluetooth or touch screen features.
Silhouette CAMEO 2 has a touch screen for the controls but that's the main upgrade from the original.
Silhouette CAMEO 3 is the latest and greatest version. This one has Bluetooth for wireless cutting, dual blade carriage, Autoblade, and has added storage compartments. They also literally raised the bar so you can cut thicker materials too. If you're going to buy a new Silhouette machine, this is the best bang for your buck. They also come in several colors now too!
Silhouette Curio is more of an add on type of machine if you already own a CAMEO. Curio is the only machine that can unlock stippling, etching, debossing, and embossing features in the powerful Silhouette Studio design software.
Silhouette Portrait is a smaller version of the CAMEO. It was recently redesigned so it now has Bluetooth and the Autoblade. The widest material it can cut is 8" vs the 12" for the CAMEO. If you're tight on space this might be a great option for you.
Ok moving on to Cricut!
Cricut Explore Air and Air 2 are essentially the same machines. The main difference between them is that the Air 2 can cut twice as fast. Air 2 also comes in multiple colors so you can match your craft room! Both have Bluetooth and dual carriages so it's up to you if you want to save some time and add some color.
Cricut Explore One is their more budget-friendly machine. It only has one blade and doesn't have Bluetooth, but if you're just starting out and don't want to spend a lot of money this would be a great machine for you.
The newest Cricut machine is their Maker. This is their most powerful cutting machine yet. The biggest selling feature is you can use their rotary and knife blades to cut fabric without a backer, leather, even wood! The options are nearly unlimited for what types of materials and projects you can make. This is a game changer for people who sew. Having precisely cut pattern pieces will help create professional looking finished products. The main downside is the cost, at nearly $400 this is not for everyone.
Let's talk about the Brother ScanNCut now. This is a machine I haven't personally used so I can't speak of personal experience. It looks like this is one of the only machines that you don't need a computer to create projects with.
The secret to ScanNCut's amazing versatility lies in the 300 DPI built-in scanner, allowing you to take your scanned images, photos or hand-drawn sketches and turn them into unique cutting designs, without the need or expense of a computer, software, or pricey cartridges.
They have a few different versions so you can research which one would be best for you on their website.
Last but not least there is the Sizzix Eclips2. With no cartridges required, the newly redesigned eclips2 DIY Electronic Cutter contains an enhanced motor with industrial-strength gears for speed, reduced noise, efficiency, precision cutting and more. In addition, the eclips2 is accompanied by eCAL software to create your own designs, plus cut, score and draw/edit unique shapes for beautiful customized projects from the start. You can weld multiple shapes and letters into one cut. Use Appearance Styles, like Shadow and Blackout, to quickly change the look of letters and shapes. You can also access TrueType, OpenType and fonts currently installed on your computer, including Dingbat/Wingding fonts.
They have 3 different machines so you can choose which one works best for your budget and project types. This is another one I've personally never used so I can't give an opinion on.
Essentially every machine works in the same way. You tell it what you want to cut or draw and it uses an electronic cutter to create your beautiful projects. Pick the one that you feel most comfortable with and start making!