Silhouette Cameo 3 vs. Cricut Maker – Which One is Best for You?

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As the years go on, the competition between Silhouette and Cricut leads them to each make improvements and innovations to their electronic cutting machines. Today, let’s look at the pros and cons between Silhouette’s Cameo 3 and Cricut’s Maker. A similar post appeared on Cutting for Business in early 2016, but this version is updated to reflect the newest machines.

Before you continue reading, realize that no machine is ‘better’ than the other. Both machines work similarly and can cut similar materials. Rather than compare them apples to apples, choose the machine that is best suited towards the projects that you want to create.

Pros and Cons of the Silhouette Cameo 3 & Cricut Maker

Silhouette Cameo 3

Pros

  • You can cut up to 10 feet long (12 inches wide). I create a lot of stencils to use with wood signs that I make to decorate my home and it is easier to cut long stencils than to have to piece together smaller stencils. If you do attempt to cut longer pieces, I highly recommend that you purchase a roll feeder.
  • You can cut without a mat. This goes hand-in-hand with the above point, but you can cut certain materials without a mat (like vinyl). I find this a money saver, because I don’t have to keep buying mats.
  • The Silhouette Cameo 3 has a dual cartridge setup, meaning that you can load two tools at the same time.
  • Silhouette’s new auto adjusting blade cuts down on user error related to forgetting to reset the blade depth.
  • Silhouette’s software program is robust. Even after using it for several years, I still find myself learning new tricks. The newest addition, Designer Edition Plus, caters mainly to those who embroider, and can open embroidery files.
  • Has the ability to cut wirelessly.
  • The print and cut area of the Silhouette is larger than that of a Cricut. (For novice users, print and cut means printing something on your home printer and having the machine cut it out.)

Cons

  • Silhouette Studio has a huge learning curve. There are tons of tutorials online, written by fellow bloggers to help you out along the way.
  • Silhouette requires you to purchase add ons to enhance the features of Silhouette Studio (Designer Edition, Designer Edition Plus, and Business Edition, etc). I feel like I purchased the expensive machine already, just give me the best possible software!
  • The Silhouette blades do not last as long as the Cricut blades.
  • It’s LOUD. In fact, it’s much louder than a Cricut when running and the auto adjusting blade is just… well, extra loud!

Cricut Maker

Pros

  • The Cricut cuts better than the Silhouette. I think this has to do with the way that the blade rotates in the machine. For this reason, I use my Cricut for all of my paper cuts.
  • The Cricut already takes a CB09 style blade which lasts longer than the Silhouette blade.
  • Cricut’s Maker ships with a rotary blade for cutting fabric without any tedious prep work. It is also being advertised as having an Adaptive Tool System. This means that as more tools are released, the Maker will be able to accept them. As of the writing of this post, the next adaptive tool to be released is a deep cut blade.
  • Has the ability to cut wirelessly.
  • The cutting force of Cricut’s Maker is 4 kilograms, which dwarfs the Silhouette Cameo’s 210 grams of force. This helps handle the thicker and denser materials better.
  • Like the Silhouette Cameo 3, the Cricut Maker features dual cartridges.
  • With the release of the Maker, Cricut teamed up with several sewing pattern companies in Design Space.

Cons

  • The software, Design Space, requires an internet connection to use. This means that if you have a slow internet connection, Cricut is not for you. Design Space has been known to crash, freeze, and lag. Basically, if Cricut is having an issue with their site, you will have issues with Design Space.
  • Design Space is a simplified software program. This is a pro and a con. If you plan to cut predesigned files, this is great for you. If you want more freedom in the software, you may find it limiting.
  • The print then cut area is smaller than the Silhouette.
  • The Cricut Maker is about the same size of the Silhouette Cameo 3, however, it is heavier.

So, which machine is right for you? It’s completely a personal preference, but this is my opinion:

Plan to cut vinyl? I’d recommend a Silhouette Cameo 3.
Plan to create lots of custom designs? I’d recommend a Silhouette Cameo 3.
Are you tech savvy and interested in learning the ins and outs of software? I’d recommend a Silhouette Cameo 3.
Live in a rural area or have slower or limited internet? I’d recommend a Silhouette Cameo 3.
Want to use your Silhouette for embroidery related tasks? I’d recommend a Silhouette Cameo 3.

Plan to cut paper? I’d recommend a Cricut Maker.
Looking to cut thicker, denser materials or a wider variety of materials? I’d recommend a Cricut Maker.
Plan to cut premade or predesigned projects instead of designing them yourself? I’d recommend a Cricut Maker.
Plan mostly to use your machine related to sewing or fabric crafts? I’d recommend a Cricut Maker.

What are your thoughts? If you have used both machines, leave a comment with your observations.

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60 thoughts on “Silhouette Cameo 3 vs. Cricut Maker – Which One is Best for You?”

  1. What I haven’t seen discussed is whether you can use Silhouette Studio files or Svgs that you create in Silhouette software for theCricut maker. I do both vinyl and machine embroidery Applique and like what I have heard about the Cricut maker’s fabric cutting ease.

    What do you think/know?

    1. I guess you may be right about the software part. My first love is my cricut maker and I enjoy my silhouette cameo 3 too. I bought the cameo 3 after my cricut, mostly because of using the print and cut feature. I don’t like using it outside of that but buying the silhouette studio business edition and saving svg ro my desktop to actually use in my cricut maker has made more even more happy about maker other then it’s obvious cutting power. I also now can’t live without my silhouette subscription and using everything for my maker. The silhouette machine sits unused til I need it. I also make my own svg in Adobe and I like it better the silhouette studio but I still find ss useful. But before using Adobe illustrator I used free software to make svg files to use with my cricut maker. However design space is simple a quick. And the mat set up and material set ups are much more thoughtful to the using. If I had to buy just one again I’d by the maker again and again and just purchase the designer edition silhouette and subscription to their store.

  2. Thank you for your review!! I have been trying to figure out which would work best for me. I plan on using the machine mainly for sewing so your review was very helpful! It looks like I will be purchasing the Cricut Maker!

  3. I’m so torn between the silhouette and the cricut. I’m a beginner crafter, and have interest in cutting vinyl and doing paper craft projects. My twins are turning 1 in a few months and I’m planning a circus party, I was hoping to make some stuff with a machine. Do you know how easy it is to use pictures online and link them to the machines. Someone I know has the cricut maker and she said she uses the program Inkscape to change to an svg. Can you do this with the silhouette? Any more advice is greatly appreciated!

    1. You can do this with both machines, however, I’d probably purchase premade files to use since you are a beginner. Both the Silhouette Design store and Cricut have circus designs.

      1. I made several circus themed decorations for a party and had great luck with my Silhouette and cutting cardstock. I used files from the Silhouette Design Store. For detailed patterns the time you’ll save is worth the small price to buy their files. I learned this the hard way!! Good luck with your party!

  4. Hello, new to all of this. I have many questions. However my concern is wanting the freedom to do my own designs as well as using premade designs does one machine offer both options? I’m mostly interested in it for clothing decals and possibly sticker decals at this point. Any suggestions are appreciated.

        1. The design software for the Cricut is limiting. In fact, I’d even call it “outdated”. It lacks a lot of common sense features, must be connected to the internet to run, and doesn’t allow saving outside of Cricut’s cloud.

          1. But did I read correctly somewhere that the Silhouette software is compatible with the Cricut? (I’m still using the old cartridge Cricut and looking to upgrade but haven’t used either software before)

          2. Hi Christin! It is compatible only in the sense that it can create SVG cut files that can be opened in Cricut Design Space. You cannot cut from the Silhouette program using a Cricut.

  5. Hi! I don’t have a printer at home. Will I aldo need to buy a regular printer for these machines? I think in order to make stickers on the cameo2 you need a printer. Trying to save money. Thanks!

    1. Hello! If you’d like to make stickers, you’d need a printer with all of the machines. Remember, these are electronic cutting machines. They don’t contain ink. They look like a printer, but have a blade instead of ink.

      1. Actually I was hoping to hear a little more about the printing aspect of these machines. I thought they both had their own type of special pen cartridge that you could use to draw or write instead of just cutting.

        1. Hello! Just to be clear, neither machine is a printer. You can switch out the blade for a pen and the machine will ‘write’. The capabilities of both machines for writing are about the same.

  6. Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been considering getting one of these next year, and was having trouble choosing. I’m an artist that wants a machine for repetitive paper project cutting (e.g. cutting 2.5″x3.5″ ACEO prints, or circular prints for buttons), die-cut & kiss-cut vinyl stickers, small & simple custom stencils, and making packaging for my smaller items. It sounds like a Silhouette Cameo 3 would work much better with figuring out lots of custom projects than a Cricut Maker.

  7. I am new to this. I want to cut vynal for t-shirts and signs, as well as fabric. But would like to dabble with other projects with paper as well. Which would you recommend? Sorry if you have already answered this. I am horrible at making decisions, and can’t afford to do both!

    1. Hi Lorraine! For cutting fabric, my answer would definitely be the Cricut Maker. I say this simply because there is no fabric prep (unlike the Silhouette) with the Cricut Maker.

  8. Thank you for a thorough comparison of the two machines. Unfortunately for me I’ll probably end up getting both machines to completely cover my needs.

  9. Thank you for your comparison. I have a Cricut Explore and a Brother Scan-N-Cut. I mostly cut vinyl and htv but also do machine embroidery and applique and would love to cut my applique pieces from the files with my machine. I wasn’t thrilled with my cricut’s ability and found the settings too finicky on the Scan-n-cut. It came in a package deal a year ago with my new embroidery machine. I have honestly never taken the time to learn the machine. I used it 4 times and am hoping to sell it. I love the simplicity of my cricut settings! I had to set 3 or 4 different things and then just do trial and error with the scan-n- cut! I loved the ability to read the embroidery files and cut the pieces, but am wondering if you would recommend the Maker or the silhouette 3? My biggest frustration with the cricut is the software- we are in a rural area and I also feel very limited by the software’s abilities.

    1. Hands down, the Cricut Maker outshines the Silhouette Cameo 3 for cutting fabric because of the rotary blade. The blade allows you to skip having to prep the fabric. Hopefully Silhouette will add a rotary blade in the future.

  10. I’m planning on buying a Cricut Maker, but I keep hearing about how limited it is to make custom designs through the software. I actually design everything in Adobe Illustrator. Can I simply do my designs in Illustrator and just use the Cricut Maker as a cutter? And does that mean that the limited software abilities of the Cricut Maker wouldn’t apply to me? As for myself, I do design work in packaging, signage (vinyl, sheet metal, etc.) and custom greeting/stationary items. Thanks!

  11. I enjoyed reading this post, but am a bit puzzled about how strongly negative the wording is on Silhouette’s performance cutting paper. I have a full time scrapbook accessories business cutting paper with an original Silhouette Cameo and the 2nd generation Cameo (both single head machines), and I LOVE my Cameos.

    The oldest of my machines is 3 years old and the second is 2. I use those machines to cut materials about 4-5 hours/day, 5 days a week, probably about 45 weeks of the year. These really have been work horses for me. I do use a mix of Silhouette and light hold Cricut mats with them.

    Two things I can think of that positively contribute to my success:

    1) I only use Creative Memories paper in my machines, my customers want only Creative Memories products in what they buy….the paper is a higher quality to begin with. Since I don’t try to cut junk paper, I rarely have problems, and replace a blade about once every 3 weeks (which I think is good considering how many cutting hours I got out of it)

    2) I make sure to replace the cutting strip (a spare part ordered from Silhouette) when it gets damaged…(by accidentally starting a cut job without material/mats loaded). This is not the cutting mat, it is a semi soft plastic strip that runs underneath the length of the cutting path.

  12. Hi. I am really confused as to the software issues that I am reading about with the Maker. Seems there are ALOT of problems. Also read that even with a Cricut Access subscription, there are still images one must purchase. Besides the initial software purchase, does the Cameo 3 require additional purchasing of images or “other charges”. I’m trying to compare the average “after charges” of both systems.
    Thanks

    1. Hello! I don’t experience problems with Design Space often (this is the software than runs Cricut). Occasionally, it’ll freeze – but not often. I find it somewhat limiting because I like designing and there are less functions available in Design Space compared to Silhouette Studio (the software that runs the Silhouette). As far as ‘after charges’. You can spend as little or much as you want. Both Silhouette and Cricut have subscription plans that you can purchase if you want – but they aren’t required. Silhouette has free software which you can upgrade if you’d like. Also, there’s plenty of designs online for free or you can create your own.

  13. I am planning to start my own kiddies party event decoration company, i will have to cut and print some of designs on a cardstock preferably a 100lb cardstock, i may need to print and cut larger images, i am so torn between the cricut maker and the cameo 3. In your experience what would you recommend. Would love your reply. Thank you.

  14. Did Cricut make any software changes to allow the snap text to line or shape possible? My understanding is that the cameo 3 does this. I have a Cricut air and am needing to update.. I mostly make vinyl stencils for making signs. The snap to line or shape would be an awesome feature for Cricut to add! To have text around a circle with the Cricut you have to ungrounded your text and move it all individually and can end up not evenly spaced and unprofessional looking.. it’s a struggle sometimes and quite time consuming! Can you tell me if Cricut maker has added this feature? Thanks!

  15. Hi! Thanks for sharing this useful post! Questions: why do you say that critcut is better for cutting paper?
    Indeed i have a preference for cameo as it allows larger paper, but I worry paper cut won’t be sharp.

    I am planning to cut and crease origami : any advice on which one is better for creasing?

  16. I want to print images like someone’s face and then have that image cut into fabric. Does this even exist and if so will a silhouette work? My internet is not fast and that’s why I would go for silhouette.

  17. Hello! I run a small sign shop so I have a vinyl cutter that is industrial grade. With that said, I would like to purchase a machine for engraving metal, cutting wood (like names for nursery’s), and paper crafts. I would also like to have the option for the print and cut… I feel like with what has been discussed in this thread that I would need both machines. With what I am looking to do, do you feel that is a correct assumption? (thank you for your time!)

  18. I use all Apple products, ipad, macbook pro and iphones. Do both machines work well with apple products? Does it matter? I haven’t purchased a machine yet and I’m leaning towards the silhouette cameo.

  19. silloutte ..maker…maker 2
    I interested in making
    wood signs, pictures, party decorations,
    tshirt sayings, sayings on mugs, wood projects…but with my own designs as well as others….sorry if you answered this…I can only afford one …
    Can u help??please

  20. Thank you for going so much in detail, it is one of the most helpful articles on these cutters I could find.
    I am in cake business and would like to get such cutter for two things: cake toppers that are from glittery cardstock and cookie stencils that are from acetate sheets. Am I right that Cameo is enough for that? Or if I need a Cricut, maybe Explore Air is enough? I am on a really tight budget for now…

    1. Hello! You’ll actually need more than one machine. One that is dedicated to food and food only – and one that you can cut everything else on. You’ll need to purchase new instead of used for the food only machine. Both Cameo or Cricut would work for both.

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