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Earlier this summer, Silhouette released the Silhouette Alta. In contrast with the Portrait, Cameo, and Curio, this machine doesn’t cut materials. Instead, it is a 3D printer that prints designs. Today, I’ll go over some basic information about the machine. Later in the week, I will share some tidbits of information I’ve discovered while using my Silhouette Alta, ideas about things to print, how to price your 3D printed designs, and a list of places to find free 3D print files.
FAQ: Silhouette Alta
Q: How does the machine work?
A: The Silhouette Alta heats up and melts the PLA filament. It prints your 3D model from the bottom up in very thin layers.
Q: How big is it?
A: The Silhouette Alta measures 19 inches by 10 inches by 9 inches.
Q: What material does it use?
A: The Silhouette Alta uses a common plastic called PLA filament. PLA filament is biodegradable and BPA free. Silhouette offers white label PLA in seven colors: black, blue, red, green, yellow, pink, and white that you can purchase at this link.
Q: Can you use other filament that is not Silhouette brand?
A: Yes. You can use any 1.75 inch PLA filament. I’ve tested this multipack that includes bronze, marble, gold, and wood, and have had great results with all four PLA filaments. (It also includes a sample pack of color changing PLA!)
Q: How large can it print?
A: The Silhouette Alta can print up to 4.7 inches tall and 4.2 inches wide.
Q: What are the computer requirements?
A: You’ll need at least Windows 10 or Mac 10.8 and 4GB of free space on your hard drive.
Q: How hard is it to use?
A: I was surprised when I set up my Silhouette Alta that it is pretty much plug and play. The machine comes prebuilt (unlike many 3D printers) and leveled. Once you upload or create a design, you load the PLA filament and click the ‘Print’ button. The Silhouette Alta then prints your design.
Q: How do you set it up anyway?
A: There’s no need for anyone to recreate a setup tutorial. Silhouette offers one at this link.
Q: What about the software?
A: The software, Silhouette 3D, is offered free. If you’d like to try it before you buy it, download it (free!) at this link.
Q: Can you design in the software?
A: Currently, the software is limited in what you can do with it. It is also glitchy and shuts down often. Unfortunately, this is pretty common with any new electronic device/software when it is first debuted. To use my own designs with the Silhouette Alta, I’ve been first creating them in Silhouette Studio, then using Silhouette 3D to print it. That’s one awesome thing about Silhouette 3D – it will convert .studio files to a 3D version. I expect that over the coming months and years that the software will improve. I still remember those days when Silhouette Studio was pretty basic!
Q: What kind of files can you use?
A: The Silhouette Alta/Silhouette 3D accepts .STL, .OBJ, and .S3D file formats.
Q: Can you use other software with the Silhouette Alta?
A: Yes. You can use other popular 3D modeling software and save it as a compatible file. Then, open it in Silhouette 3D and print it on the Alta.
Still want more information about the Silhouette Alta? Check back tomorrow when I share a list of tips I’ve learned so far using the Silhouette Alta.
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Since 2015, Christine Schinagl has been helping crafters start and run craft businesses through her blog, Cutting for Business. As a Silhouette and Cricut crafter herself, she has a unique take on what works and what doesn’t work in the craft business world. She also teaches a course on creating digital SVG designs, available at How to Design SVGs.