Best Vinyl Cutter for Crafters: Differences Between Cricut and Silhouette Cameo

If you’re ready to take your craft business to the next level, this post will be a great resource for you! It’s important to note vinyl cutting is an integral part of heat pressing custom apparel and a great equipment investment. STAHLS’ offers custom HTV cutting services to make things easier for you, but you may be thinking it’s time to cut your own designs in house. Maybe you have limited space, you’re not sure what a vinyl cutter is, or you’re confused where to begin? Don’t worry, this post has you covered.

With so many vinyl cutter options available to you, it’s easy to get overwhelmed! We get it and want to make your buying process as easy as possible. We have an entire library of educational content and detailed information about our quality materials so if you think of it, you can design it. Start getting creative and bring your ideas to life with a vinyl cutter!

Getting Started

Let’s start with the basics. What is a vinyl cutter? A vinyl cutter is a cutting machine with computer-controlled blade movement. The blade is used to cut heat transfer vinyl that can be heat applied to varying fabrics, such as T-shirts or fashion apparel. You can also cut adhesive vinyl to apply to hard goods such as mugs, tumblers, windows, signs, and more! Ready to learn more?

Craft Vinyl Cutters

The next question you may have is, “What is the best vinyl cutter?” Ultimately, that’s a decision you’ll need to make based on your business’s needs, but we’ve broken down the attributes of two of the most popular models on the market to help you determine what’s right for you.


Cricut Explore Air® 2

  • 12” maximum cutting width
  • 2’ maximum cutting length
  • Up to 210 grams of cutting force
  • Up to 2mm clearance for thicker materials
  • Free Design Space® app compatible with iOS, Android™, Windows® and Mac®
  • USB & Bluetooth® connectivity
  • Warranty: One year parts and labor
  • Dimensions: 24” x 9.5” x 9.5”
  • Weight: 14lbs

Silhouette Cameo® 4

  • 12” maximum cutting width
  • 5’ maximum cutting length
  • Up to 3mm clearance for thicker materials
  • Up to 210 grams of cutting force
  • Free Silhouette Studio® design software compatible with Windows or Mac
  • USB & Bluetooth® connectivity
  • Warranty: 1 year parts and labor
  • Dimensions: 22.5” x 7.75” x 6.75”
  • Weight: 10lbs

Takeaways

While both machines provide the ability to create a wide range of DIY items, including custom apparel and hard goods for any market, there are two key differences: software and cutting ability.

Software

Both machines include vinyl cutter software to help you get started. Cricut’s software is web-based, meaning you’ll have to be connected to the internet to use it without restrictions. It’s generally more user-friendly and better for users who just want to upload and cut their own files or create simple designs. One major update to their software has been made recently and allows users to download Design Space for desktop, giving them the ability to access and cut projects they’ve saved to the Cloud. Users can also download the mobile app to use and connect their machine via Bluetooth.

Silhouette’s software can also be downloaded to your computer and used offline. Cameo is also free, but you’ll only have access to the basic version, with more in-depth options purchasable. Although the Silhouette software has more graphic design tools and capabilities that allow for more advanced design creation, it has a bigger learning curve.

Cutting Ability

Both machines offer the same level of cutting force – 210 grams. This means either vinyl cutter will be able to handle thicker and special effect HTV; however, the Silhouette Cameo can handle up to 3mm (500g of force) thick materials while the Cricut Explore will only cut up to 2mm (350g of force) thick. This is something to consider when purchasing, but both cutters will cut any STAHLS’ CAD-CUT® HTV.

The cutting width and length is the most glaring difference between the machines. While the maximum loading width remains the same at 12″, the Silhouette Cameo allows a maximum material length of 5 feet while the Cricut Explore is only 2 feet. This difference is due to the fact that Silhouette has a built-in roller feed and doesn’t require the use of a cutting mat. Either cutter is perfectly fine for cutting designs large enough to heat press to a T-shirt or blank apparel, but the Silhouette will allow you to run more continuous jobs if desired. Plus, the new Silhouette Cameo 4 can cut up to 12” x 10’, making it great for larger projects!

Similarities

The dimensions and weight are very similar, with the Silhouette coming in slightly smaller and lighter, but both are excellent desktop vinyl cutters and can easily be used as portable vinyl cutters. Also, both offer Bluetooth® connectivity for any cutting on the go. The warranties are the same, and their cutting ability remains relatively close – either can handle your small business and crafting projects with ease!


Craft Cutting CAD-CUT® HTV

Did you know STAHLS’ offers 12” wide heat transfer vinyl rolls specifically designed for your craft vinyl cutter? While we might not be able to give an exact answer as to what the best vinyl cutter is, we can certainly tell you what the best HTV is for any job! It’s so easy to choose with our heat transfer vinyl comparison chart that you can print out and keep handy for referencing any time.

Featuring dazzling, eye-catching finishes, our HTV is perfect for any market. We provide craft cutter settings for our most popular materials and so many educational videos geared toward creating unique items for yourself, friends and family, or potential customers! Watch this video to learn how to make money with your craft cutter and our HTV!


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