Five Best Silhouette Machines Reviewed and Compared

Five Best Silhouette Machines Reviewed and Compared

There’s something about working with your hands to make crafts that is very calming. But if you have a lot of projects in mind that you want to make, using just your hands will slow you down quite a bit.

Silhouette America manufactures some of the best die-cutting machines in the market, along with a handful of other machines that allow you to get your projects done faster and without as much hassle.

Whether you love crafts and want to get your kids involved, are a hobbyist and have a lot of projects you want to get done, or are a professional crafter and want to boost your productivity, there is a Silhouette machine out there that’s perfect for your needs.

That said, researching the best Silhouette machines and comparing them can take a lot of time and effort. 

In this post, we review the best Silhouette machines that you can buy, weigh their pros and cons, and compare them so you can find the right tool in minutes. 

Best Silhouette Machines Reviewed

We’ve reviewed Silhouette machines in their order of impressiveness.

#1 Silhouette Cameo 4

Among Silhouette America’s most impressive offerings, the Cameo 4 is an improved version of the Cameo 3, boasting 20x more power than its predecessor. Be it vinyl, cardstock, wood, leather, or metal, it will cut impeccable straight and curved lines without scruple.

The included rotary blade allows it to make precision cuts with cardstock, vinyl, and fabric of all types. It will slice through leather, felt, and wool without needing a special stabilizer. 

While it can cut with precision right out of the box, the company recommends that you use the tungsten carbide tack cutting mat when working with tough material.

Cameo 4 is compatible with both 2mm and 3mm Kraft blades, enabling the machine to cut burlap and craft foam. It has 3mm clearance, increased from 2mm in the Cameo 3, allowing it to cut thicker material.

When coupled with the free Studio software, it suggests cut settings depending on the material type, which you can alter if you see fit. If you prefer using Adobe’s Illustrator or Corel Draw to make your designs, you can use Silhouette Connect to integrate it with Studio and work with materials just like you envision.

The software makes it easy to use the included auto-blade to its full capacity. Since the blade is made out of sintered alloy, you don’t have to worry about it being too delicate to handle tough cuts.

A cross cutter is also built into the machine, which makes for effective vinyl trimming and heat transfer. If you work with vinyl a lot, purchasing the punch tool for the Cameo 4 will help you create weeding points on your vinyl without any hassle.

With the Studio software, you will be able to pick between weeding the positive and negative spaces, and the machine will do the rest for you. 

The built-in roll reader removes the need for a cutting mat when working with vinyl. You can feed vinyl material of your choice straight into the machine. Further, the roller also allows you to make long cuts without much trouble.

Access to the Design Store gives you a choice to pick from over 100,000 designs. There is no subscription, and you can pay for just the design you like.

The backlit touch panel ties all the features together and makes operation a breeze. If you’re a professional, this is the best Silhouette machine for you.

Pros

  • Easy to use vinyl feeder
  • Fast and precise cuts
  • It cuts a variety of materials
  • Dual-motor build
  • Tool detection

Cons

  • It is not compatible with the previous version’s tools
  • Smaller storage capacity compared to older models

#2 Silhouette Portrait 3

The Portrait 3 is an impressive machine for the money, allowing you to cut rolled materials up to 60 feet. It also has a roll feeder similar to the one on the Cameo 4, enabling you to make matless cuts. The resulting reduced complexity of working with various materials counts for a lot for a hobbyist. 

You get access to 50 exclusive designs right out of the box, which will allow you to familiarize yourself with how the machine works. Registering the product with Silhouette gives you month-long free access to the Design Store, opening you up to thousands of crafting opportunities.

But what’s most impressive about the Portrait 3 is undoubtedly the PixScan feature. You can use a camera or a scanner to upload designs into the machine and get right to cutting. 

Once you install Silhouette Studio on your device, you will be able to connect to the machine via USB or Bluetooth. Since it has the automatic tool detection feature, you will be able to work with all types of materials without needing to tweak the software much. 

With the 2mm clearance, you can work with most thicker materials, but its smaller size and clearance are mainly what makes it unsuitable for professionals. That said, its impressive cutting power and max cutting length make a world of difference for a hobbyist.

Pros

  • Automatic tool detection
  • PixScan compatible
  • It can cut without a mat
  • Very versatile 
  • Excellent value for money

Cons

  • Has a challenging learning curve

#3 Silhouette Curio

The Curio is the only die-cutter on this list that can handle hard materials. From balsa wood to plastic, its powerful precision cutting capabilities make it a compelling option. 

Many professionals use it as an accessory to the Cameo 4, but if you want to upgrade your crafting possibilities as a hobbyist, the Curio leaves no room for disappointment.

In addition to cutting and sketching, the Curio can also stipple, emboss, score, and etch – making it the jack of all trades of Silhouette products. It’s undoubtedly the most versatile Silhouette machine you can get your hands on.

It does not support an auto-blade, but the included sintered tungsten alloy blade is durable and versatile. It can cut anything from the most delicate of fabrics to something as tough as wood. 

The boxy design of the Silhouette Curio makes it look a little out of place with the rest of Silhouette America’s lineup. But it boasts a lot of the most sought after features that the best Silhouette machines offer. 

The dual carriage enables the machine to multi-task, so you can score and emboss simultaneously, for example. The Curio has a 5mm clearance – the largest of all Silhouette options – which enables it to work with materials like chipboard, wood, and metal.

It integrates with Silhouette Studio seamlessly, allowing you to make all the designs that the Cameo 4 can.

Silhouette provides two embossing tips with the Curio: a wide tip and a fine tip. This enables you to make strong or gentle indents depending on what suits your project best. 

Professionals love having the option to pick between tips since it allows them to give business cards and invite cards elegant faux-letterpress effects.  

Curio’s stippling capabilities make it easier to produce original art. It works with felt pens, foils, and metals, so you can give your creations the perfect pattern it deserves.

If versatility is what you’re looking for in your Silhouette, the Curio is the best Silhouette machine for you. 

Pros

  • Dual carriage makes for faster results
  • 5mm clearance
  • Performs four different functions
  • Deep clearance
  • You can plug in flash drives 

Cons

  • No Bluetooth connectivity
  • Stippling and etching tools not included

#4 Silhouette Alta Plus

3D printing is a step up from craft cutting, and getting the Alta Plus is the right way to go if you’ve never incorporated 3D prints into your projects before.

Compact and portable, the Alta Plus is perfect for printing smaller objects. While it’s not the most powerful 3D printer you can buy, it’s among the best you can get for the price. 

The Alta Plus only prints with 1.75mm PLA filament, so it’s not ideal for professionals. But the advantage is that you don’t have to buy proprietary filament to use it.

But it can print at two high and low speeds, taking between 20 and 40 minutes to complete a print. Two temperature options are also available. Since it can print objects up to 116mm wide and 120mm tall, you should be able to incorporate its prints in most DIY projects. 

You get access to Silhouette 3D, and the bundled software enables you to create designs for your projects. In addition, it is compatible with two other popular 3D printing software, removing the need to switch to the bundled software if you’re accustomed to one of them.

The printer comes with an Allen wrench, two Hex keys, and a 10-pack of build plate tape. You can begin testing it out right out of the box since there is no assembly required. You get access to 25 3D designs, which is a bonus.

Pros

  • Surprisingly lightweight 
  • Portable
  • Easy operation makes it perfect for 3D printing beginners
  • Silhouette 3D design software included
  • You can import designs you made on other software

Cons

  • Limits you to using PLA filaments

#5 Silhouette Mint

Fitting in the palm, the Silhouette Mint is the smallest device the company makes. Price-wise, it’s pocket-friendly. 

It’s a portable stamp printer that uses thermal printing technology to create 3D designs that you can use to stamp cards for any occasion. With it, you can create a custom stamp in minutes.

You can create designs for it using the bundled Silhouette Mint Studio software. You don’t always have to customize since you can import images to make stamps with the software. While the free version of this software comes with most features you will need, you will need to pay for the premium version to use the Mint to its full capability.

The printer mints the stamp in a matter of minutes, and then you can use it like any other stamp by applying the ink of the desired colour on it. Because of how the ink is applied, the stamp works 50 times before the ink needs to be reapplied.

The best thing about the Mint is that you don’t need a lot of wires to power it or use any complex system. It’s quiet, and every user gets access to 50 free designs, enabling them to get used to the process right after unboxing.

It comes with four bottles of ink and two stamp blanks. You will need to buy more to make more stamps.

Overall, the Mint is handy and equipped for everyday use. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a small business owner, the Mint is the best Silhouette machine to buy for printing stamps.

Pros

  • Portable
  • Fast and precise
  • Convenient bundled software
  • Reusable base
  • Frequent ink application not required

Cons

  • No Bluetooth connectivity

Comparing the Best Silhouette Machines (That Cut)

Silhouette America’s Alta Plus and Mint are made for specific purposes – making 3D designs and stamps. But the main lineup of the company comprises die-cutting machines. 

Here’s a table comparing the best Silhouette machines side-by-side for your convenience.

 

Silhouette Cameo 4 Silhouette Portrait 3 Silhouette Curio
Max cutting depth 3mm 3mm 5mm
Max cutting thickness (with cutting mat) 12 in. x 24 in. (30.5 cm x 61 cm) 8 in. x 12 in. (20.3 cm x 30.5 cm) 8.5 in. x 12 in. (20.3 cm x 30.5 cm)

with large base

Max cutting thickness (without cutting mat) 12 in. x 60 ft. (30.5 cm x 18.3 m) 8 in. x 60 ft. (20.3 cm x 18.3 m) Does not cut without a mat
Bluetooth Yes Yes No
Autoblade compatible? Yes Yes No
2mm Kraft blade compatible? Yes (with the included adapter) Yes Yes
3mm Kraft blade compatible? Yes No No
Rotary blade compatible Yes No No
Print and cut Yes Yes Yes
Kiss cut Yes Yes No
Pop-out cut Yes No No
Emboss/etch/deboss No No Yes
Crosscutter Built-in No No
Navigation Backlit touch panel No No
Roll feeder Built-in Add-on accessory No

 

Conclusion: Which Silhouette Machine is Right for You?

The Silhouette machines on this list make use of the latest technology, allowing them to meet all of your crafting needs in full. That said, if you’re a beginner, the Portrait 3 is the right machine to buy.

It’s less advanced and more budget-friendly than the Cameo 4, making it right for hobbyist use. 

The Curio is one of the most impressive embossing machines on the market, so if you’re looking for a machine with that application, you can’t go wrong with the Curio. 

The Cameo 4 is Silhouette America’s top-drawer offering, boasting power and features that make it the best Silhouette machine for small business owners.