Ready to take your crafting game to the next level? You’ve come to the right place! Since die cutting machines first hit craft store shelves back in the early 2000s, the crafting world has never been the same—and for good reason!
With so many features and impressive capabilities, craft enthusiasts can create virtually anything with these multipurpose cutting machines. Today, I’ll be highlighting two wildly popular brands: Cricut and Silhouette, both of which offer amazingly versatile machines you’re sure to love.
Along with comparing and contrasting these bestselling brands, I’ll weigh the pros and cons of each, so you’ll know exactly what to expect prior to making your purchase.
Whether you’re new to the die cutting world or simply considering an upgrade, I’m excited to help you choose the right machine for your crafting goals and needs. Let’s get started!
Die-Cutting Machine Basics: What You Can Do with a Cricut or Silhouette Machine
Regardless of which machine you choose, you’ll be able to cut a variety of materials, including paper, cardstock, and vinyl. Newer models can accommodate thicker materials, making them even more versatile. Some machines can even cut thin wood and leather.
A few of my favorite crafts to create with my die cutting machines include:
- Invitations and greeting cards
- Gift tags
- Signs and posters
- Children’s crafts
- Personalized tees and tote bags
- Wall art
Comparing and Contrasting Cricut and Silhouette Die Cutting Machines
Now that I’ve covered a few of the basics, let’s break down the specifics of each machine. In this section, I’ll compare and contrast the following:
- Ease of Use
- Capabilities and Versatility
- Machine Design and Built-In Storage
Ease of Use
Both Cricut and Silhouette make the setup process as simple as possible. Each brand has exceptional customer service, so you can reach out to the company directly if you hit a snag while setting up your machine.
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How cute is this stuffed animal that we personalized using our Maker, iron-on scrap, and EasyPress Mini?! It was such a simple and easy way to add a little something special to a gift! Have you personalized a gift using a Cricut? If so, we'd LOVE to hear about it in the comments! #CricutCreated
Though I have no real complaints about either company’s user guides, Cricut’s instruction manuals are particularly user-friendly. With that being said, Silhouette has created a comprehensive handbook that covers everything from choosing a model and setting up your machine to troubleshooting and in-depth how-to guides.
Final Thoughts on Ease of Use: After extensive research and hands-on experience, Cricut edges out Silhouette when it comes to user-friendliness. While both machines aren’t necessarily difficult to set up or navigate, Cricut’s models are great for crafters of all skill levels, including absolute beginners.
It’s important to consider each brand’s software when choosing between a Cricut or Silhouette machine. The best software is rather subjective and largely dependent on your crafting needs and goals.
Design Space—Cricut’s web-based software—is easy to use and can be utilized both on and offline. While there are plenty of free files available on the web, I recommend trying out the paid version of Design Space for full access to Cricut’s amazing library of images. I find that I use the software enough to justify the monthly $9.99 fee, but it’s certainly not a requirement to start creating. One notable drawback is the fact that subscribers lose access to premium images if they let their membership lapse.
If you prefer designing your own images, Silhouette Studio is the way to go. The company offers a free version, but if you’re keen on exploring and uploading lots of images, you’ll probably want to splurge on the $50 paid version. Many folks believe that Silhouette’s available images are more professional than those offered by Cricut, and I tend to agree. Unlike Cricut’s software, users have access to their purchased images even if they choose to cancel their membership.
Final Thoughts on Software: I honestly wish I could combine the features from both Cricut and Silhouette’s software programs, as neither program is a clear-cut winner. Silhouette’s graphic design elements are ideal for custom projects, while Cricut’s ready-made images are convenient and fun to browse and use. If software is a determining factor when choosing a brand, I recommend considering what you plan to create before making your ultimate decision.
Capabilities and Versatility
One of the most important considerations when deciding on a die cutting machine brand and model is its capability to cut through various materials and its overall versatility. If you plan to create greeting cards and paper crafts exclusively, virtually any model will do; however, many newer models will cut through hundreds of materials, so you can experiment to your heart’s content.
Cricut is known for producing powerful machines. The cutting process is super fast, easy, and precise, and as an added bonus, Cricut machines tend to be fairly quiet. The newest Cricut models are equipped to cut a variety of materials, and there are additional tools and bundles available to boost your crafting potential.
In general, Silhouette machines are capable of cutting longer lengths of material than Cricut models. While researching both brands, I noticed a lot of Silhouette users reporting unpredictable cutting results, which I’ve also experienced. Some materials are difficult to load, and I’ve even had materials slip during use on occasion.
What’s your favorite thing you’ve made with your Silhouette machine? Share it in the comments!
Final Thoughts on Capabilities: In my experience, Cricut machines’ capabilities are best suited for creative individuals who don’t plan to take a deep dive into graphic design, as custom design options are limited. Silhouette machines are a great option for folks who prefer to create images from scratch. Both machines offer lots of versatility, but the brand and model you purchase should be based on your unique preferences and crafting plans.
Machine Design and Built-In Storage
If you’re concerned that your new die cutting machine will be bulky and/or take up a lot of space, there’s no need to worry. Both Cricut and Silhouette have packed so many amazing features into relatively compact machines. Size and weight vary by model, but you won’t have to dedicate a large area to housing your machine regardless of which brand you go with. Both brands’ models are also sleek and stylish, so they’ll look great in your craft area!
While most newer Cricut and Silhouette machines offer some storage, Cricut has historically equipped its machines with more space to stow accessories. I personally don’t consider a lack of storage a deal breaker, as there are loads of creative crafty storage ideas online. Inexpensive bins and a rolling cart provide storage and portability.
Final Thoughts on Machine Design and Built-In Storage: While I personally prefer Cricut’s sleek, sophisticated aesthetic, both brands offer machines that are pleasing to the eye.
If built-in storage is on your must-have list, be sure to research individual models to ensure you have plenty of space to stash your supplies. Most recent models include some storage.
For both Cricut and Silhouette, versatility, functionality, and power generally come with a higher price tag. Before investing in a machine, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each model, along with your budget.
Final Thoughts on Price: Sure, high-priced machines typically give crafters more creative options, but top-of-the-line models aren’t for everyone. A more affordable machine is a great place to start for folks new to die cutting. Plus, you can always upgrade down the road!
Cricut or Silhouette: You Can’t Go Wrong
By now, you may have chosen which brand to go with. If you’re still on the fence, keep in mind that both companies are reputable and offer top-notch products and customer service. Regardless of which brand and model you choose, you’ll be crafting and creating in no time! You honestly can’t go wrong with either brand. As a longtime maker and lover of all-things-die cutting, I would recommend both Cricut and Silhouette to everyone.