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Which Silhouette Cutting Machine Should I Buy?

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I love crafting and one of the best tools in my craft room is a cutting machine. And, if you’re anything like me, you need to know ‘Which Silhouette Machine is best for me?’

I want to be as helpful as possible to those new to digital crafting out there, just deciding which cutting machine to buy. So, I’ve laid out everything I wish I’d known before I bought my first cutting machine so I could choose the best Silhouette for my needs.

collage of pink silhouette cameo 4, silhouette curio and silhouette portrait cutting machines

I have used Silhouette cutting machines and Cricut machines like the Cricut Explore Air and the Cricut Maker, as well as some others. So I have quite a bit of experience with all the tricks and tips for cutting machines. If you want to compare the Cricut Maker to the Cameo 4 then you can check that out at this link Silhouette vs. Cricut | Comparing The Cameo 4 & Maker

But that doesn’t mean I know everything. Not by a long shot. So, if you have additional questions of tricks I need to know about, be sure to drop them below in the comments.

What are the different Silhouette machines?

Silhouette is most well known for their easy to use and intuitive cutting machines that can bring so many previously only imagined projects to life with clean sharp cuts.

The Silhouette cutting machines you can currently purchase from Silhouette include:

  • Cameo 4
  • Curio
  • Portrait 2
pinterest To be as helpful as possible to those new to digital crafting out there, just deciding which cutting machine to buy, I've laid out everything I wish I'd known before I bought my first cutting machine so I could choose the best Silhouette for my needs.

In addition, Silhouette has some other DIY machines that do not qualify as “cutting machines” but are still great tools to have in your craft room, if you’re interested in expanding your crafting toolkit.

We won’t go into the capabilities of these two machines in this discussion, but, needless to say, they both have some interesting features and can do things that really will supplement your capabilities.

Back to those cutting machines, though.

pink silhouette cameo 4 on a table with red roses in the background

What are the differences between the Silhouette cutting machines?

Cameo 4

  • The latest in the Cameo series line, this is the latest-and-greatest of Silhouette America’s basic cutting machines.
  • Comparable to the Cricut Maker, if you’re familiar with that machine’s capabilities, the Silhouette Cameo 4 machine cuts a variety of materials, and can even cut thicker materials, up to 3 mm thick with different interchangeable cutting blades.
  • The cutting area is 12-inches by 10-feet, dependent on the material being that long and wide, obviously.
  • Although you can use a cutting mat with the Silhouette Cameo 4, the design of this model allows for mat-free cutting, and even direct-from-the-roll cutting.
  • Cutting software: Silhouette Studio Software, a free software platform that will process your designs from SVG file types on your computer to the cutting machine.
  • Allows print and cut projects where you print your design on a paper and cut it using the Cameo 4.
  • This model of the Cameo series allows cutting fabric using a rotary blade. So, sewing patterns that fit the cutting area can be produced quickly and with more precise cuts.
  • As long as you have an internet connection and a device that accepts USB or supports Bluetooth capabilities, like a PC, Mac, iPad or Android device, you’ll be able to operate the Cameo 4 with it.
silhouette curio in white

Curio

  • This device is intended to add more cutting options to your craft room. So, while the Silhouette Cameo 4 cuts, the Silhouette Curio, on the other hand, does stippling, etching, debossing, embossing and dual carriage (allowing you to do two actions at once like drawing and cutting), in addition to working with some materials with a thickness of up to 5mm.
  • The Curio executes it’s actions up to 8.5-inches by 6-inches on a cutting mat or embossing mat of the same size.
  • As long as you have an internet connection and a device that accepts USB like a PC or Mac, you’ll be able to operate the Curio with it.

Portrait 2

  • The Silhouette Portrait 2 machine cuts a variety of materials, and can even cut thicker materials, up to 2 mm thick with different interchangeable cutting blades.
  • The cutting area is 8-inches by 10-feet, dependent on the material being that long and wide, obviously.
  • Cutting software: Silhouette Studio Software, a free software platform that will process your designs from SVG file types on your computer to the cutting machine.
  • Allows print and cut projects where you print your design on a paper and cut it using the Portrait 2.
  • This model of the Portrait series allows cutting fabric, as with the Cameo 4.
  • As long as you have an internet connection and a device that accepts USB or supports Bluetooth capabilities, like a PC, Mac, iPad or Android device, you’ll be able to operate the Cameo 4 with it.

Comparing Silhouette Cutting Machines

All of that being said, let’s get a chart going, because really, that’s where it’s at when you want to compare things, right?!

Silhouette Machine ComparisonCameo 4CurioPortrait 2
Size24.8″x 10.3″ x 8.8″5.5″ x 17.25″ x 7″16.2″x 5.5″ x 4.4″
Weight13.7 lbs.5 lbs. 5 oz.3 lbs 8 oz
Can it cut?YesYesYes
Draw?YesYesYes
Emboss?NoYesNo
Etch?NoYesNo
Score?NoYesNo
Compatible MediaVinyl, Heat transfer material, Cardstock, Photo paper,
Corrugated paper, Chipboard, Fabric, and more
Vinyl, heat transfer material, cardstock, photo paper, copy paper, rhinestone template material, fabric, foam, some varieties of metalVinyl, heat transfer material, cardstock, photo paper, copy paper, rhinestone template material, fabric, and more
PixScan Tech?YesYesYes
Cutting ForceCarriage 1: 210 gf
Carriage 2: 5 kgf
210 gf210 gf
Cut Size12″x10′8″x6″8″x10′
Auto BladeYesNoYes
Cross CutterYesNoNo
Dual CarriageYesYesNo
Max Thickness3mm5mm2mm
PC/Mac NeededYesNoNo
Fabric CuttingYesYesYes
Deep CutsYesYesYes
Retail Price$299$249$199

Do you need all of the Silhouette machines to craft?

No. Absolutely not. I mean, if you plan to open a craft business and want to build a full menu of offerings, sure, you might eventually need all of these machines.

But the deal is that you should always go into a large purchase like this by weighing all the options (which is why you’re here, right?!) and determining what it is that you REALLY want to make. So, if you plan to make leather earrings on a mass scale, you probably want the Cameo 4.

But if you want to make a single embossed card once a month for a friend, then maybe the Curio is for you.

Just think about your goals for the machine and then go from there.

Which Silhouette Cutting machine is the best?

For each person, that answer is going to be different. You have to decide what is going to work best for you and your goals for this purchase.

And I’m not going to tell you that I prefer one over the other, because that’s not the truth. The truth is, if I have an embossing task, I grab the Curio. If I need a big cut that’s best done on a roll of vinyl, I’m hitting up my Cameo. And if I want to make something small and quick (or even on the go at a friend’s house), I grab my Portrait.

Because really, the best Silhouette machine is the one that will serve you best for the project you’re making.

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