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When it comes to home hobby and crafting, there are a few different cutting machines on the market and I’d like to compare the: Cricut Explore Air 3 vs Silhouette Cameo 4. Both machines have their pros and cons, but which one is the best for you? Let’s break down the differences between them to help you decide which machine would be better for your needs.

cricut explore air 3 with smart vinyl

When it comes to cutting machines, the Cricut Explore Air 3 and Silhouette Cameo 4 are two of the most popular options on the market right now. Both machines can be used for a variety of projects, from making stickers and labels to cutting out vinyl decals and papercrafts.

When it comes to features, both machines have a lot to offer: they can both cut a variety of materials, including paper, cardstock, vinyl, and fabric, and they both have built-in Bluetooth for wireless cutting.

So, let’s break it down and see if you can make a choice.

Cricut Explore 3 Vs Silhouette Cameo 4 Cutting Machines: Which One is the Best for You?

I decided to grab the most pertinent information and toss them into a table so you can see just how they measure up.

Cricut Explore Air 3 vs Silhouette Cameo 4
Side by Side Comparison
Cricut Explore Air 3Silhouette Cameo 4
Size24 in. x 9.5 in. x 9.5 in.22.44 in. x 7.68 in. x 6.69 in.
Emboss?NoYes (see attachment)
Score?Yes No
Compatible MediaVinyl, Heat transfer material, Cardstock, Photo paper, Corrugated paper, Glitter paper, Bonded Fabric, and more (100+)Vinyl, Heat transfer material, Cardstock, Photo paper,
Corrugated paper, Chipboard, Fabric, and more (300+)
Mat-less Cutting?Yes, with Smart Materials (over 6″ in length)Yes
Cut SizeWith Mat: 12″x2′
With Smart Materials: 12″x 12′
(Plus: 15″x 10′; Pro: 20″ x 10′)
Fabric CuttingYes, bondedYes
Deep CutsYesYes
Bluetooth AccessYesYes
Internet Required for Cutting?YesNo
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Cricut Explore 3 Vs Silhouette Cameo 4 – Which Cutting Machine Is the Better?

Both the Silhouette Cameo 4 and the Cricut Explore Air 3 can cut a wide range of materials. And when I say a variety of materials, I’m not joking. The Cricut Explore Air 3, unlike some of the older machines in that line, can cut over 100 types of materials. The Cameo 4 on the other hand can cut a wider variety of materials (over 300 types), so that does bear mentioning.

We’ll explore each of these cutting machine’s materials a little deeper into that later, but there are definitely a lot of things each of these machines can cut.

Both the Silhouette 4 and the Explore Air 3 have the ability to be used via USB cable and Bluetooth, so you can print and cut super easily using a computer or a tablet (even if the tablet doesn’t have a USB connection). So you don’t even have to be corded, which is a giant plus for me.

And, both the Cricut and the Silhouette have excellent online libraries where you can grab designs to make your digital crafts, modify your own designs and send the files to the cutting machine with ease.

One, what I consider a minor, difference here is that Cricut Design Space requires an internet connection so you can send files to the cutting machine, while Silhouette Studio does not.

Another thing, too, is that the Cricut just has 3 buttons–Design Space walks you through everything else; while the Silhouette 4 has a touch panel that allows you to make adjustments to the machine, as opposed to making those adjustments on the computer. 

Let’s explore a few of these differences a little more deeply, shall we?

Which of the 2 Cutting Machines Use Cut Files?

Honestly, if you look into Cricut Design Space and Silhouette Studio, they both have the capabilities to cut SVG files. So, the full suite of Cricut machines (including the Maker and the Cricut Explore Air, and the Cricut Joy, all of them), and the entire Silhouette Cameo line take those SVG files and turn them into precise cutting lines perfect for sewing patterns, cut and emboss projects like cards, and it also cuts vinyl lettering or designs.

However, if you need some inspiration or free SVGs to use on your cutting machine of choice, you can check out my library here.

What are the Materials That the Cricut Explore Air 3 Can Cut?

The Cricut Explore Air 3 can cut a wide variety of different things. I have listed a few:

  • Paper
  • Vinyl
  • Iron-on Vinyl
  • Card Stock
  • Fabric, bonded
  • Posterboard
  • Sticker Paper
  • Craft Foam

In total, the Cricut Explore Air 3 can cut over 100 different materials, just highlighting above the few materials that are generally the most popular ones I’ve used on my own machine frequently.

What Are All Of The Blades That the Cricut Explore 3 Can Use?

Firstly, both the Cricut Explore Air 2 and Explore Air 3 machines can use the same 6 tools. Therefore, they are interchangeable between the two machine models and, frequently, interchangeable with the Cricut Maker and Maker 3, as well. So if you have any of these blades, they are upward compatible.

  • Deep Point | For more intricate cuts when working with thicker materials, including magnet, chipboard, stamp material, thick cardstock, stiffened felt, foam sheets, cardboard, and some fabrics.
  • Bonded Fabric | For use when making more intricate cuts on bonded fabrics or fabrics with an iron-on backing. 
  • Foil Transfer Tool | For use with Foil Transfer Sheets to add a foil effect to projects on a variety of materials. There are 3 sizes of foil transfer tools.
  • Scoring Stylus | For creating scored fold lines for cards and envelopes, boxes, 3D projects, and more.
  • Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing | Comes in the box with the Cricut Explore Air 3.

Which Blades Do The Cricut Explore Air 3 Come With?

  • Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing

Other Items in the Box with Your Cricut Explore 3

  • Welcome card
  • USB cable
  • Power adapter
  • Free trial subscription to Cricut Access™ (for new subscribers)
  • 100 ready-to-make projects online
  • Material for a practice cut

What Can the Silhouette Cameo 4 Cut?

As I mentioned before, the Silhouette 4 cuts over 300 different materials, and here’s a brief list:

  • Balsa Wood (or Bass Wood) 
  • Felt
  • Fabric
  • Craft Foam
  • Paper
  • Chipboard
  • Leather
  • Poster Board

With a downward cutting force of 5kg, the Silhouette Cameo 4 can cut materials of up to 3mm thick material. Just another thing that makes the choice between Cricut Explore 3 Vs Silhouette Cameo 4 a difficult one.

Additionally, the Silhouette Cameo 4 (base model) is limited to 12-inches by 10-foot long cuts, while the Silhouette Cameo 4 Plus allows a little wider cuts at 15-inch by 10-foot long, and the Silhouette Cameo Pro allows for cuts of up to 20-inches by 10-foot long.

What Are All of the Blades the Silhouette Cameo 4 Can Use? 

Currently, there are five blades available for use with a Silhouette Cameo 4. Each blade is a standard size, meaning that you can generally use the same blade in a Silhouette Curio as you do in a Silhouette Portrait or Cameo, making them upward compatible just like the Cricut machines.

  • Rotary Blade | They offer a rotary blade that will cut through fabric that is unbonded. That means you don’t need a stabilizer as the older Silhouette Cameo machines require. 
  • Deep Cut Blade | This blade is hand-adjusted for depth and can cut things like craft foam up to 2mm thick.
  • Knife Blade | You can use this to cut thicker leather and even items like balsa wood, which is, as I said before, incredible for crafting.  
  • Punch Blade | Marks your vinyl or heat transfer showing you which sections to remove, to help cut down on the time you need to weed.
  • AutoBlade | Comes in the box with the base package.

What Blades Does The Silhouette Cameo 4 Come With?

  • AutoBlade

What Items are in the box in addition to the Silhouette Cameo and AutoBlade?

  • Power cable & USB cable
  • 12-inch Cutting Mat
  • Silhouette Studio® software (download)
  • 100 exclusive designs (download)
  • 1-month Silhouette Design Store subscription (available with tool registration)
  • Adaptor Set (for use with tools from older machines)

So, In the Cricut Explore 3 Vs Silhouette Cameo 4 race, Who Wins??

After comparing the Cricut Explore 3 Vs Silhouette Cameo 4, I am still really torn about which one is “best” because they are such great machines.

Really, for me, the only thing that stands out is that the variety of materials that the Silhouette cuts is much wider in the Pro and Plus versions. A wider cut area might not seem like a big deal to you now but, it may become one, so it’s a consideration that you’ll need to think about.

In conclusion, if you found this Cricut vs Silhouette cutting machine comparison helpful, be sure to pin it. You’ll want to come back and make sure before you make your purchase.

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