Silhouette vs Cricut Machines Compared

Silhouette vs Cricut Machines Compared: Which Has Better Features?

We are living in a crafters paradise today. With easy access to all the best crafting materials and the best crafting tutorials, crafters can begin and finish project after project with little to no difficulty. But there are times when multiple new tools or techniques are popular, trending, and competing for pride of place. That is when it can be slightly confusing for crafters trying to stay organized, keep a budget, and work efficiently.

One such trendy and competing tool is the die-cutting machine and here we have Silhouette vs Cricut machines compared on the market are highly respected and prized.

But crafters want to know which one they should purchase before they turn over their well-earned money. With that in mind, let’s take a thorough look at these two stalwart brands, and discover their high points and their low points. Then, you will be able to make an informed decision when you purchase a die-cutting machine.

Main Differences Between Silhouette vs Circuit Machines

The main differences between the Silhouette vs Cricut machines are:

  • Silhouette design software allows users to work on more than one project at a time, whereas the Cricut design software does not.
  • Silhouette design software downloads to your computer and can be accessed without an internet connection, whereas Cricut design software is web-based and requires an internet connection to use.
  • Silhouette machines are a little noisier, whereas Cricut machines cut projects faster and quieter
  • Silhouette machines work better with thinner materials, whereas Cricut machines can cut thicker materials
  • Silhouette machines can be used without a mat, whereas Cricut machines are not designed for this and can be damaged if used without one.

Key Features

The best way to decide between two brands is to examine their key features, as well as, their pros and cons. Let’s take some time now to discover what the Silhouette and the Cricut brands offer.

Design Software

Each of these brands offers its own design software for users to access when creating projects.  This is the feature that allows users to create and cut or print their projects.

Silhouette Design Software

The Silhouette brand calls their design software Silhouette Studio.


  • Allows users to purchase pre-made designs
  • Allows users to create their own designs from scratch
  • Pre-made designs are concerned more professional looking than those offered by competitors
  • The software can be used without an internet connection
  • Allows users to work on more than one project at a time
  • Allows users to size the cutting mat to their preferences


  • Requires users to purchase an upgrade to be able to fully create their own designs from scratch
  • The software must be downloaded to a computer to be used
  • Requires users to manually select the depth and pressure of the blade

Cricut Design Software

The Cricut brand calls their design software Cricut Design Space.


  • Contains a large library of shapes and projects ready for use
  • Designs are organized and easy to find
  • Allows users to utilize more premade designs with a paid membership to Cricut Access


  • Requires an internet connection
  • Some users have stated that the software does not keep up with their mouse or keyboard
  • Does not allow users to work on more than one project at a time

Cutting Capabilities

The main purpose of a die-cutting machine is to cut the material into a variety of designs. Potential buyers will want to know before making a purchase if the machine is going to cut the materials they use in a convenient and quality way.

Silhouette Cutting Capabilities



  • Does not easily load vinyl; it curls and jams repeatedly
  • Vinyl slips easily while cutting out the project
  • Does not cut thick materials well

Cricut Cutting Capabilities


  • Cuts projects fast
  • Cuts projects quieter than other die-cutting machines
  • Cuts both thick and thin materials well


  • Some machines can only cut materials up to 2’ long

Tools & Accessories

Each brand features special tools and accessories for its machines. These can make all the difference when you are working on a certain type of project. Let’s look at the brands to find out what they offer.

Silhouette Tools & Accessories

  • Offers a crosscutter to slice material evenly
  • Offers a roll feeder to assist in feeding rolled material through the machine without a mat
  • Offers totes to transport the machine
  • Offers dust covers to keep the machine clean
  • Offers replacement cutting strips for when they wear out
  • Offers replacement blades for when they become dulled
  • Offers an embossing tool for soft materials
  • Offers a variety of cutting mats to suit any crafters individual needs

The Pixscan mat allows you to take photos, upload them to your computer software, and use them in your designs. Watch this video tutorial for more information.

An amazing feature of the Silhouette brand is that the blades can be replaced with sketch pens. This means that any design can be drawn or sketched on the material rather than just cut out.

Cricut Tool & Accessories

True Control Knife is created with a blade locking system, a no-touch blade changing system, steel blades, and a protective cap

Is compatible for use with an iPad

Ease of Use

Time is precious when it comes to crafting, so crafters don’t want to waste any of it on a new tool that is difficult to learn and use. To keep the crafting process running smoothly, let’s examine these two brands of die-cutting machines to learn how easy each one is to use well.


This brand of the die-cutting machine is considered a little more difficult to use. Since it gives users the freedom to design and create for themselves, it is geared for those who need a machine for professional designs. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it can’t be handy for the odd crafting project, but it is definitely something that requires more time and effort to learn. It is well worth it though.


This brand is geared more for home hobbyists. Since it is relatively easy to set up and to begin using, most casual crafters prefer this brand. That is not to say that it doesn’t make beautiful and professional-looking designs; it is simply a little less complicated than other brands.

A Comparison of Brand Models

Both brands of die-cutting machines offer several different models. Each model has its own special set of qualities and features that make it unique. This is a big part of figuring out which machine is best for you, so let’s take some time to thoroughly look at the different models offered by each brand.

Silhouette Portrait 2

This tiny die-cutting machine packs quite a punch. So, if you need a machine that will work hard and efficiently, but is portable, this model is built for you. Just take a look at all its positive features.


  • Lightweight and compact for easy transport
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • AutoBlade technology that automatically adjusts to cut materials based on the thickness of the material
  • PixScan Mat compatible
  • Can cut through materials up to 2mm thick
  • Can cut material up to 10’ long
  • Compatible with other blades offered by the Silhouette company
  • Compatible with Silhouette Sketch Pens
  • Equipped with basic Studio Designer software


  • Can only cut up to 8” in width
  • Can only cut up to a force of 210-grams
  • Purchase required for access to more design features

Silhouette Portrait 3

This model is also tiny and compact but has some amazing features that will help crafters design and create whatever is in their imagination.


  • Lightweight and compact for easy transport
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Offers matless cutting
  • Automatically detects the tool being used
  • AutoBlade technology that automatically adjusts to cut materials based on the thickness of the material
  • Can cut through materials up to 2mm thick
  • Equipped with basic Studio Designer software
  • PixScan Mat compatible
  • Compatible with Silhouette Sketch Pens
  • Compatible with the Print & Cut feature
  • Compatible for use with Cameo 4 tools


  • Does not offer dual carriage for tools, like its counterpart, the Cameo 4
  • Adapters, tools, and accessories are not included and must be purchased separately

Silhouette Cameo 3

The Silhouette brand is never done updating its product. This model of die-cutting machine is evidence of that. Check out all the wonderful features it offers.


  • AutoBlade technology that automatically adjusts to cut materials based on the thickness of the material
  • Can cut through materials up to 2mm thick
  • Features Dual Carriage technology that allows two tools to work at the same time
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Equipped with basic Studio Designer software
  • Easy-to-use touchscreen
  • Cuts material up to 10’ long
  • Compatible for use with Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW
  • Works without an internet connection


  • Can only cut up to a force of 210-grams
  • Cuts are not as accurate or finished as quickly as their competitors
  • Requires a purchase to access upgraded software

Silhouette Cameo 4

This machine is the ultimate helper for a busy design professional or an entrepreneurial crafter. It comes in three different sizes to make the most of its exceptional skills.


  • Three sizes (12”, 15”, or 24”) from which to choose
  • Offers matless cutting
  • Roller bar accommodates rolled materials that are big, heavy, and wide
  • Rollers adjust easily
  • Cuts up to 3x faster than the Cameo 3
  • Cuts with 20x more force than the Cameo 3
  • Contains a smart tool dual carriage that detects which tool is in the carriage and adjusts the cut settings automatically
  • Compatible with the Type B Autoblade
  • Comes with a mat loading sensor to help load material into the machine
  • Built-in cross cutter
  • Retractable lid for easy storage
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Equipped with basic Studio Designer software
  • Compatible with Silhouette Sketch Pens


  • Type A tools cannot be used with this model
  • Dual carriage feature cannot be used for a “sketch and cut” or a “foil and cut” project
  • No tool storage
  • Cannot handle the weight of a 150’ roll
  • No USB thumb drive
  • It is large and more challenging to store or transport

Silhouette Curio

If you like to do more than just cut paper, then you might consider this model. Its key features are designed for crafters who emboss, deboss, and etch with a variety of materials. Let’s look at some of the cool stuff this little machine can do for you.


  • Can function use two tools at the same time
  • Works with materials that are up to 5mm thick
  • Designed to emboss, sketch, score, and stipple
  • Works on the rhinestone template, fabric, craft foam, cardstock, embossable foil, clay, wood, and metal sheets
  • Equipped with basic Studio Designer software


  • Storage is limited
  • Requires that you purchase extra tools for specialized projects
  • Does not connect well with Bluetooth

Cricut Joy

This model of the die-cutting machine is so cute. It is also an easy-to-use machine that anyone will enjoy working on. Let’s take a deeper look at what this little cutie can do so you can decide if it is right for you.


  • Equipped for use with Design Space software
  • Bluetooth compatible
  • Can be used with a computer, phone, iPad, or tablet
  • Cuts paper, vinyl, cardboard, cardstock, leather, and plastic
  • Can be used to draw or sketch on various materials
  • Can cut without a mat
  • Can cut material up to 4’ long
  • Easy-to-learn and use machine
  • Portable
  • Easy to store


  • Only available in one color
  • Can only cut material up to 5.5” wide
  • Mat required for using certain materials
  • Requires tools and accessories that are machine specific
  • The blade must be manually removed and replaced

Cricut Explore Air 2

This model of die-cutting machine has broken records and holds the heartstrings of many crafters. See why you might fall in love with it too.


  • The fastest cutting machine on the market
  • Bluetooth compatible
  • Compatible with PC, Mac, and iOS
  • Compatible with mobile phones
  • Has a huge support group
  • Offers plenty of online resources
  • Features a dual carriage for tools
  • Cuts material with a force of 4000g
  • Compatible with cartridges from older models
  • Compatible with Cricut Design Space software
  • Has a cutting depth of 2mm


  • Can only cut material up to 12” wide
  • Design Space software runs slow
  • Does not cut as many types of materials as other models
  • Not compatible with Android
  • Design Space software does not work without an internet connection

Cricut Maker

This sleek model of die-cutting machines by Cricut may be the ultimate choice for anyone who enjoys crafting in style. Let’s found out if it is the model for you.


  • Provided 4kg of cutting pressure
  • Cuts materials up to 2.4mm thick
  • Compatible with Cricut Design Space software
  • Comes with a USB port
  • Compatible with a wide variety of blade types (rotary, knife, deep point, fine blade, and bonded fabric)
  • Cuts a variety of materials, such as denim, chiffon, canvas, silk, paper, vinyl, and cardstock
  • Features an Adaptive Tool System
  • Compatible with LightGrip and FabricGrip mats
  • Offline Design Space software mode available through an iOS app
  • Features the ability to create your own font
  • Includes a library of sewing projects
  • Detects whether or not you are working with the correct blade for the project


  • Only cuts materials up to 12” wide
  • Design Space software is web-based and requires an internet connection to fully utilize
  • Cannot scan and cut
  • Bluetooth compatibility requires a Cricut Bluetooth adapter


Question: Are Silhouette brand and Cricut brand cutting mats interchangeable?

Answer: Yes, you can use the mats interchangeably, but you will need to alter them to make sure they work properly. Be aware that altering a mat may void a warranty or cause damage to a project.

Question: How long do cutting mats last?

Answer: Silhouette mats should last for at least 100 full 8 ½ x 12 sheets worth of cuts. Cricut mats should last for 25 – 40 uses

Question: How should you care for cutting mats?

Answer: To help your mats work better longer, here are few tips on how to care for them.
For Silhouette mats, use a sponge with soap and water to gently clean them. Let it air dry.
For Cricut mats, gently scrub the mat in a circular motion with a brush under running water. Pat it dry with a towel, then let it air dry completely until its stickiness returns.

Concluding Thoughts

Die-cutting machines are amazing. What used to take hours or days to cut or stencil, now takes a matter of minutes. Plus, crafters are able to create their own personal designs on almost any medium. Crafters have been given a good gift in the form of these machines.

Now that we have investigated and compared two of the top die-cutting machine brands, you should be able to join all the other crafters celebrating the inspiration and the creativity these machines provide.

For interesting guides, check the links below:

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