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The best Silhouette machine makes it easy to cut out even the most complex of designs on paper, fabric, vinyl as well as a few other materials. As such, it would make an excellent addition to your arts and crafts kit.
Our team reviewed nine of the printer sized gadgets and, as a result, came to choose the Silhouette Portrait 2 as our top pick. A look through the features tells you why this is the case. One such feature is that the device is capable of cutting different materials whereby the autoblade can make auto adjustments depending on the material used. It also comes with a few designs to start you off. Nevertheless, if you discount the other four products without enough information about them, you might miss out on the ideal tool for your needs.
The criteria one would need to grade the various Silhouette machines in the market include the dimensions of the device as well as weight. Also, since the machines work with computers, what are the compatibility requirements? Other things to check are the functions of the device, warranty coverage, and any other features that would serve to propel the status of the gadgets higher. These factors tell the story of the usability of the devices. It is no wonder that with so many attributes to each product, our team spent a lot of time reviewing each item with information available on manufacturer sites. Below you will see a table ranking the nine total Silhouette machines on our list. Right after that, you can find all the details you would need on each product and an additional buying guide to follow as you choose the best Silhouette machine for you.
Job: cuts over 100 materials like cardstock, fabric, heat transfer material, transparencies, paper, vellum, adhesive vinyl and magnet paper
Size: 18 x 8 x 9 inches
Weight: 53 pounds
Software: Silhouette Studio®
Other features: compatible with Mac and PC, cuts up to 8 inches wide and 10 feet long, 50 exclusive digital designs, Bluetooth® technology, 2 mm clearance
From the outlook, this device has a rather sleek looking design and will likely fit perfectly next to your computer if you have enough desk space. It is also not likely to disappoint in terms of functionality. When you do buy the product, it comes with close to 50 digital designs exclusive to the brand. You can use these while you come up with patterns of your own for use at a later date.
This is not an independent tool and needs input from your computer to work. As such, it makes sense that the machine is both PC and Mac compatible. It also shows a bit of foresight from the manufacturer’s end to go ahead and include software to load onto your pc in the package.
Concerning connectivity, you don’t even need wires linking your computer to the Silhouette machine. You can rely on Bluetooth to send messages from your computer to the device and vice versa. This also makes positioning of the tool in your workroom easier even if you don’t have space on your desk.
One more noteworthy feature of the device is the autoblade. You won’t have to tell the device what material you put in. It can gauge the thickness and type of fabric and work accordingly to make the appropriate cuts. Speaking of materials, the fact that it can handle 100+ different ones likely elevates the device to a higher pedal stool.
Concerning the warranty, you will need to be content with the one year of coverage you receive with the purchase. Also, when compared to other devices of its caliber, you will note that this is one of the more affordable devices in the market. With all the features mentioned above, you can see that the tool offers tremendous value for money and should thus top the pecking order for your Silhouette machine wish list.
Why are we impressed?
Comes with 50 digital designs
Comes with a copy of Silhouette studio
Device is compatible with 100 different materials
What negatives must you be aware of?
For first-timers, it may be challenging to figure out how to use the software
Job: 3D printer, creates models out of PLA plastic filament (1.75 mm)
Size: 9 x 9 x 18.75 inches
Weight: 7 pounds
Software: Silhouette 3D
Other features: Delta Style, can print up to 120 mm tall and 116 mm wide, prints at low and high temperatures, USB 2.0 high-speed interface
Here we have a Silhouette machine that is different from the editor’s choice in a lot of ways. This is a 3D printer and thus can only be used to make 3D models of specific designs. The maximum dimensions for the models are 120mm tall and 116mm wide. Like its predecessor, it comes with the software to help you make full use of the device.
Once you have the machine on a desk next to your computer, you can pick out a design from the Silhouette design store and get to printing. However, if you have unique ideas, you can create and customize it before using the device to print it. You as well need to select the print color from the available selection before you can put the device to work.
Once you receive the tool, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that you are also given four different filament rolls. Blue, red, green, and yellow are the primary colors for these rolls, and they all measure 1000 inches. As such, you find that you can get a lot of designs and prints done before you run out and have to purchase other filament rolls.
As well depending on the project, you may need to adjust speed parameters so you can get the best results. As such, you will be able to change the print speed from high to low and back at a moment’s notice. The tool can handle printing both in high and low temperatures and that these factors are unlikely to affect the integrity of the print. The package also includes a nozzle tip cleaner and a print removal tool.
Why is it special?
USB high speed interface for communication between the device and your computer
Comes with different color filaments to get you started
The device can work both in high and low temperatures
What are the flaws?
The device is only capable of producing 3D designs
Job: makes precision cuts in vinyl, cardstock, fabric, and more
Size: 2 x 11.8 x 9.2 inches (package)
Weight: 85 pounds
Software: Silhouette Studio®
Other features: built-in roll feeder and cross cutter, 3 mm clearance for thicker materials, tool detection, dual motor system, sliding lid and backlit touch panel, Bluetooth® connectivity, PixScan™ compatible
The Silhouette White Cameo 4 Starter Bundle is a great Silhouette machine for vinyl use. Even users who are new to design will have an easy time working with the tool. Plug the machine into a power source, connect it to your PC, load the software, and you are good to go. You would do well to note that this tool also has Bluetooth capabilities. As such, you don’t have to fill your workspace with cables to and from your computer. Nevertheless, a USB cable is included just in case you prefer to use Bluetooth.
To aid you in your design efforts, the package comes with a copy of Silhouette Studio software that you can easily install on your computer. One positive about the device is that it is capable of cutting precise designs into various materials that you may want to use. The manufacturers even account for the fact that there are thicker materials by including 3mm clearance.
The size of the device allows for the inclusion of a roll feeder. Also, you have a couple of accessories that you can purchase at a bit of extra cost. They include a rotary blade, pen holder, punch tool, and kraft blade. Of course, buying them will give you a bit of added usability with the machine. As to the warranty, you get one year of coverage from the day you receive the product from Amazon.
What are its best features?
Comes with a built-in roll feeder
The device works with other Bluetooth devices
Up to 3mm clearance for when you are dealing with thick materials
Optional accessories are available
Works with a large variety of materials
What could be improved?
Requires some time to get used to using the device as well as the software
Job: from cutting labels to creating custom stickers
Size: 17 x 5.5 x 4.25 inches
Weight: 3.5 pounds
Software: Silhouette Studio®
Other features: 8-inch cutting width, cuts up to 60 feet in length, matless cutting capabilities, automatic tool detection, Bluetooth® connectivity, PixScan™ compatible
Up next, we have the Silhouette America Silhouette Portrait 3, which is an impressive option from the manufacturer for the money. As a cutting machine, it comes with 50 exclusive designs that will help you familiarize yourself with the device as a whole before you move on to more challenging projects. In addition to that, you get one month of access to the Silhouette Design Store after registering your purchase.
The cutting length and width of the machine are nothing to scoff at either. This is especially true for a few select rolled materials that you can cut up to 60 feet. Additionally, since the tool features matless cutting capabilities, it is a little less complex to use.
Also, you’re not limited by the designs you create in the Design Store. This is because the PixScan compatibility allows you to use a camera or a scanner to upload cut designs to the machine.
Let’s not forget the 2mm clearance that lets you cut designs into thicker materials. It might be smaller than the 3mm option of the Cameo 4, but it is still impressive. Also, the Silhouette Studio app will need to be installed on your computer, after which you can connect to the Portrait 3 via Bluetooth or USB. Lastly, the machine’s automatic tool detection is a big help when you’re cutting up new designs.
Why is it special?
Automatic tool detection
One month-long subscription to Silhouette Design Store
Other features: 45 mm x 90 mm max. stamp size, two stamp kits, four ink bottles, power cord, USB cord, & quick start guide
This device is inherently different in design and function than all its predecessors on the list. The machine is compact and as such, will not take up a lot of space in your office. Its primary function is to create stamps, and hence the output designs can only reach a maximum of 45mm x 90mm in size. As such, this can also double as one of the best Silhouette machines for making stickers.
All you have to do as the user is select the image, text, or design that you would want to turn into a stamp and send it to the device. Once it is done cutting and printing, you then attach it to the stamp kit, add ink then use it to mark the design on any surface you want.
Information is transmitted to the device from your computer via a USB cable, and unlike most other options listed above, there is no Bluetooth capability with this purchase. However, it does come with a one-year warranty which should serve as more incentive for you to buy the machine.
What makes it stand out?
Silhouette mint software is included
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Can only be used to design stamps
Stamp refill kits can be quite expensive
Things to Consider
When buying a Silhouette machine, you need to have your needs in mind. You also need to know the features that make this possible and this way, you end up buying the product that would be most useful to you. The information below is meant to act as a guide, so you don’t make any significant purchase blunders.
Features to consider before buying a Silhouette Machine
There is a lot you need to know before you can take up any item in the Silhouette lineup as a tool you use. This includes computer requirements for software, materials the device can cut, software, what comes in the package as well as any extra information that might be of use to you. This information is given below so you can have a much easier time shopping for the Silhouette machine that you most fancy.
You may have concluded from the list above that there are three main types of Silhouette machines, mainly in terms of their output. The most common are for cutting designs onto various materials. An example of such is Silhouette America Portrait 3. Another type of machine produces 3D prints, and the only example we have of such is the Silhouette Alta 3D Printer Bundle. Of course, this will be different in design from most of the other options. The stamp making machine is also another variation of the Silhouette machine. It comes as no surprise that this is the smallest of the bunch, given that it only makes stamp size cuttings and designs.
Dimensions and weight
The dimensions as well as weight affect where you can place the device as well as the size of materials it can handle. The Silhouette Mint Custom Printer, for instance, can only make stamps that are a maximum of 45mm x 90mm, and this is because of its dimensions. On the other hand, Silhouette Portrait 2 has a maximum cutting area. This is made possible by 18 x 8 x 9-inch dimensions
Fortunately, you don’t need high-end computers to link with a Silhouette machine. However, for the computer to be compatible, it needs to fulfill some requirements. First, you need at least 1 GB of RAM which isn’t much in this day and age. Second, you need windows seven or later for the PC and OS X10.7 or higher for the MAC. A USB 1.1 port or faster is as well necessary in addition to at least 2 GB of space on your hard drive. Lastly, the processor speed also comes into play with 2GHz speed being the minimum requirement. Most modern computers fit these criteria, and as such most people will not need to buy a new computer to use the Silhouette machine.
Also noteworthy is the fact that different gadgets will require different software for optimum usability. An example of such is that the Silhouette Alta 3D Printer Bundle requires a copy of Silhouette 3D software to work on your computer. However, the same software cannot be used with the Silhouette Mint Custom Printer. Other software includes the Silhouette studio, Silhouette connect, Silhouette model maker, and Mint Studio. Each of these will have a device that they are most compatible with, and you should make it a point to have this information even before buying the Silhouette machine.
The wise shopper knows exactly what will be in the package in addition to the Silhouette machine. An example of such is that the Silhouette Alta 3D Printer Bundle comes with four filament rolls that will help provide the building blocks for your first few designs. Others come with software, as well as a few free designs.
You may as well do yourself a favor and check the materials the device uses. If the project you had in mind requires the use of a specific type of material, you can gauge its suitability even before making the purchase.
The warranty is a common factor to check on with any purchase you intend to make, including that of the Silhouette machine. Other extra features you may want to check on are whether the device supports Bluetooth, the clearance as this allows the use of thicker materials as well as anything else that may add value to the device.
More often than not, you will find that Silhouette machines come with a free version of Silhouette Studio. In fact, most people can freely download the software. However, you can upgrade to a different version for a price. Of course, the upgraded version will come with more functionality.
The Silhouette Portrait 2 is a well designed, inexpensive device and overall an excellent Silhouette machine for beginners. Bear in mind that you will likely go through an extended learning curve as you figure out how to use the tool. Next up, the Silhouette Alta 3D Printer Bundle is also great for the unique function of making 3D models. As such, it is uniquely qualified for specific projects that other devices will be unable to handle.
If you know your way around various Silhouette machines, the Silhouette White Cameo 4 Starter Bundle should be your next purchase. It should be able to help you work through more complex designs, fabric, and materials that you may encounter. What’s more, it is upgradable with various optional accessories. The other two may serve specific needs as well so you shouldn’t count them out of the running. Nevertheless, you can now tell which device would be of most benefit to you and why. As such making, your purchase should more or less be a piece of cake.