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.
[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)]