Thursday, 18 April 2013

Silhouette Cameo - Electronic Cutting Machine Review

It's time for a mini-review, well more of a first thoughts on a product blog post, and the product I've been playing with is the Silhouette Cameo electronic cutting machine

If you haven't come across electronic cutting machines before, they work in a similar way to your home printer but instead of printing they are loaded with a knife and cut shapes out. Some machines come with cutting mats and some don't. Also some machines can stand alone to cut and some need to be plugged into your PC or MAC to cut. 


The Silhouette Cameo comes with a 12" by 12" cutting mat and can be plugged into your computer. But it also has a memory card slot and you can cut from the memory card using the LCD screen on the machine itself, I've not tried this yet, it is on my list!

I found the Silhouette Cameo easy to set up, and it come with the basic Silhouette Studio® software on a CDRom, but I also updated it to the newest version for free via the Silhouette America site

Now, I'm the sort of person that just likes to plug things in, press all the buttons and not read the manual and yes it has led to difficulties in the past. This machine wasn't quite plug in and go and I was very well behaved and worked my way through the very easy to follow set-up manual.

The machine itself measures 53.1 cm x 16.5 cm x 12.7 cm (20.9” x 6.5” x 5”) and weighs 2.96 kg, it can apparently cut as small as 1/4” and up to 12” wide and 10 feet long, another thing on my list to try. You can find the full specs in this PDF on the US website

The blade comes in a plastic housing not attached to the machine and you need to set the depth of the cutting blade manually with the supplied plastic ratchet before loading the blade into the machine, but this is all part of the set-up info you get.


As I said, the machine comes with the basic Silhouette Studio® software and if you want even more creative input you can upgrade, for around £30-£45 (UK) to the Silhouette Studio® Designer Edition. If you want a comparison of the features of the two Silhouette software then check out this PDF file.

With the Silhouette software you can access the online cutting files from the Silhouette America online store, you get access to some 51 free files but you will need to buy other files and I believe that most machines come with a $10 voucher to help start you off. You will also find free files each week in the online store, so keep your eye out for them.

The Silhouette Studio® software reminded me of using software like Inkscape (the open source equivalent to Adobe Illustrator). I love playing with creative software and if you do too you will take to it easily. If you aren't used to using this type of software you might find it a steeper learning curve than you would find with some of the competing cutting machine software, but stick with it as the flexibility and creative freedom it allows you is totally worth it!


One of the biggest advantages with the Silhouette machines is that you can design your own cutting files. But if you want to design and import your own SVG cutting files you do need to upgrade to the Silhouette Studio® Designer Edition *so on my wish list*.

You can, however, actually design some of your own cuts even with the basic software and the photo frame, tab and sentiment on the card below were made to my own simple design using the basic Silhouette Studio® software and cutting some Studio Calico paper from the Heyday collection. 


Hey not bad for a first cut. Obviously I've got loads more to learn about this machine (you should see the list of accessories!). But you can see that it cuts well, you can use the fonts already loaded on your computer with no hassle at all and even weld them together like I did for the sentiment on this make.


In the UK the Silhouette retails for around £269.99 and you can find it over at the Graphtec website, or at CraftsULove or at Create and Craft.

Don't forget to get yourself a free sign-in at the Silhouette America online store to access all the downloads.

So if you are thinking about adding an electronic cutting machine to your tool kit then I would give a HUGE thumbs up for the Silhouette Cameo, I LOVE using this machine. It cuts beautifully and there is a whole realm of creativity it opens up to you and I'm excited to explore this machine some more and hopefully share the results with you too.

But I would love to know what you think about the electronic cutting machines, do you have one? Do you want one? If so which one and why?

Thanks for popping by.

Kim


[Disclaimer Time: I wasn't paid to write this review, however, I did get a machine to review. But as with all my reviews I always try to give you my honest, unbiased opinion. (Prices correct for the date the blog post went live)]

11 comments:

  1. Hi Kim

    Love, love my Cammie. Wouldn't be without it now, really versatile machine and I find myself using it most days. Monday/Tuesday are great days as that is when the new files come out.

    Just to let you know you can get the DE version for just over £20 if you buy it from a certain US site. No postage as they send you the key by email.xx

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  2. Great review Kim - it is so at the top of my "wish list" - just haven't managed to purchase yet! still saving! More difficult to get here in Ireland. Must check out those links you put up.

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  3. Hi Kim great review and it seems very like the Craft Robo which I have in the way it cuts out.

    I haven't used any creative software to make my own templates and would be interested in what you would recommend I use. Thanks.

    :)

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  4. I recently became the proud owner of a silhouette camea and was interested to read your review (and links) only used it a couple of times but made a card (on my blog) I am a bit scared of it but thats because I'm a bit of a technophobe!! The potential is great and look forward to anymore info you post on this xxx

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  5. Just got mine the day before yesterday and I've been out all day, so virtually no time to play yet, but looking forward to that.

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  6. I love my Cameo too!!
    I use it for all sorts of jobs from cutting shapes to designing shaped cards and layers. I've recently bought a wi-fi printer and have started using the print feature, which is great for split letter type work.
    I know I don't use it to its full potential yet but I'm having fun along the way!
    PS there are lots of free sites offering free svg cut files - my favourite is birdscards.com
    Xx

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  7. Not completely happy with the cricut mini. Think I need a Silhouette, it sounds a lot more flexible and looking at your card the cuts are a lot neater!

    Thanks Kim x

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  8. hi kim, thank you for the review, hv u used more of your machine, im in a decision to buy a digital die cut machine that can cut cliparts etc. was looking at pazzles inspiration, but a few negative feedback and some recommended this. any thoughts? also if iam to use this machine to cut the image that has already been printed on a thick card paper, can it be done? pls advised as my sister in law currently in new york and will be going home soon by the 1st week of july (end), need to make decision quick so she can help me carry it (saves a lot on tax and freight as im in malaysia) thanks in advance :) Leni

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  9. Hi Leni,

    Thanks for the question. Well I'm afraid I've not yet used the Pazzle so can't comment on that. If you are looking to cut thick materials then you may need a machine like the Pazzle. Silhouette says that their machine can cut chipboard but I suspect that it is a thin chipboard / card but I have yet to try it myself.
    If you search for 'Compare cutting machines' you will find websites with benefit and function comparisons on various machines. Drop me an email if you need the direct link.
    Good luck
    Kim

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  10. Hmm. I'd never heard of this machine until recently. I've been seriously looking at the Cricut Expression 2 but I'm holding off because I think they're going to bring out a new machine now that they've stopped supporting their Imagine and the Expression 2 has been out a while.

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  11. I have the Craft Robo, which is put away in a box, I love it but it was frustrating that it didn't cut most of the card stock I had, which tends to be pick and mix.
    So I bought the eCraft, and occasionally have a fight with it, ruin a heap of cardstock and give up, very seldom do I end up with what I want it to cut! I have purchased SVG files and cannot use them. So I am interested in how thick this machine can cut, I know it says 300gsm, which sounds a bit more than the Robo. I don't know what to do for the best, I so wish I could get the eCraft to perform how it should.
    Carol

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