The new Silhouette Cameo 3 cutting machine is out – check it out on Amazon! – or read the full review here
No matter if you’re doing it for the fun or for the money, the art of crafting is joyful and rewarding as it gives you the chance to be creative as much as you like. Even if you haven’t been doing it for some time, you know that some great ideas are worthless unless you have the tools to make it real.
Even after you got yourself the many different, colorful crafting supplies, they are still useless if you don’t get the machine that is able to put it all together and give life to your brand new idea.
A die cutting machine may be the tip of the iceberg in crafting and a good die cutting machine may be the missing key of your art crafting so far.
A die cut machine is a smart investment for a school teacher, a jewelry maker and even for a party planner or the home crafter. Choosing the best craft cutting machine for your needs is an important step for your hobby/profession.
Traveling back in time (because we love some history)
Die cutting machines appeared somewhere during the Industrial Revolution, in the 18th century. It was then that manufacturers began to use the process of die cutting in order to get standardized products.
It was in the mid-1800s when shoemakers began using a mallet handle die to cut out soles. The technique used by them was the base for the dying machines and the swing arm clicker begun the press only in the early 20th century.
Why get a die cutting machine?
A good die cutter may be the solution for your art crafting as it’s able to give you various and numerous shapes from all kinds of fabrics. When you need a great number of shapes in a short amount of time, owning a craft cutter saves you from working under pressure. You get uniform shapes, with nice and clean edges in a manner that a hand-cut couldn’t give. And, let’s all think about the money you’re saving when having a die cutter.
There are many materials that you may cut using a cutting machine. The best electronic cutting machine goes easily through paper, cardboard, cloth, wood, light metals, vinyl and plastic. You may get great results with the die craft cutter on foam, chipboard, foil, rubber and even compressed sponges.
As for the die cutting machine projects that you may develop, there are many and as various as you may think. It’s easier to create gift bags, photo frames, greeting cards, stickers, posters and photo mats with a die cutting machine. The best home die cutting machine helps you customize your stationary or create some jewelry pieces. It may be the key when you make a lovely quilt or some wall decorations. Sky is the limit when it comes to the uses of the die cutting machine.
Which die cutting machine to get?
You may use a manual die cutting machine which needs you to turn a crank or handle in order to operate it. You sandwich a die or image and a sheet of paper between two plastic plates. There are some steps to be followed to get the wanted results.
A manual die cutter is not the best choice for the people suffering from arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. But this type of cutter is easy to use, for sure.
The electronic die cutting machine operates without a computer and you only need to plug it into an electrical outlet. There are simple models, as easy as the manual die cutter and you only need to push a button to feed the plates through the machine. The more complicated electronic die cutting machines need cartridge instead of dies and each cartridge may store hundreds of images.
The most sophisticated types of die cutters are those connected to computers. The digital die cutting machines are able to replicate any of the fonts, illustrations and shapes already stored on one’s computer. The software that comes with a digital die cutter enables designing custom patterns or trading files with any other online user with the same software. This type of die cutter is the most expensive one but you don’t need to buy extra cartridges as you only need to go online to get more from the library.
How to choose your die cutting machine
There are several things to consider when choosing your die cutting machine.
A good die cutter ranges in price from $50 to even $1,000 and cost is therefore an important fact to consider. An expensive model is the choice for devoted crafters, artists and business owners. But, you also need to consider the investment for dies, blades, cartridges and cutting mats as these can also get quite expensive.
As die cutting machines come in various sizes, you also need to think about the portability of the die cutter. The small one comes with a carrying handle, whereas the large, computer connected die cutters, are trickier to move around.
Most die cutting machines come with a starter kit but you will eventually need to invest in additional dies or cartridges. Four cartridges may go up too few hundreds of dollars and you may also want to get a die cutting tool kit.
One last thought
Owning a die cutting machine means you’re devoted to your crafting and it’s well worth to search for models, read about and only afterwards settle for your die cutter. Some might be better with a manual or electronic model, whereas the computer fans may stick for the digital die cutting machine.
Top 3 Die Cutting Machine Reviews
For the art crafter who works with all kinds of materials and wants good performance from the die cutter, no matter the fabric he’s using, the Cricut Explore Electronic Cutting Machine is an amazing choice.
Here are the pros on our part:
- The cutter gets through more than 50 materials
- You may upload and cut your own free designs, even SVG files
- You don’t need any cartridges with the cutter
- The cutter is cartridge compatible
- The software is free and easy to use
- You don’t need to pay for any upgrades
- The cutter comes with $100 value of images and projects
- The Cricut Explore combines free online design software and the electronic cutting system
- The Cricut gives accurate cuts on all kinds of materials, from velum to paper and leather
- You may cut and write in one step
- You only need few clicks to print the cut
- The cutter is quiet
- The design is very simple and efficient
- The cutter comes with dual cartridge action
- The cutting is fast
No matter how much we like the cutter, there are some things we’re not very fond of so here are the cons we’ve found:
- Some find it a bit complicated until you learn how to use the cutter
- There is no user guide
- The mat is not long lasting
- The software is online so you need to wait sometime
- The software needs to be improved
Even so, the Cricut Explore is a hugely popular die cutter with amazing performance on all kinds of materials.
When it comes to versatility and great possibilities for cutting, the Silhouette Cameo Electronic Cutting Tool manages to be one of the best die cutters out there.
Update: the Cameo II model is now out, with enhanced performance. Here it is in a mega bundle with lots of accessories and materials.
Here are its pros:
- The cutter gives you access to numerous downloadable designs
- The Cameo Electronic comes with PC and Mac compatible software
- The cutter has a 12 inch cutting mat, cutting blade
- You get 50 exclusive cut table designs
- You also receive a $10 gift card to the Silhouette Online Store
- You may cut up to 12-inch wide and 1-feet long cuts
- The cutter helps you work with all kinds of materials, from vinyl to fabric
- You may work custom apparel, vinyl décor, etched glass, sketch design, paper crafts and scrapbook layouts
- The die cutter helps you get intricate cuts, smooth edges, accurate duplicates
- The cutter works amazing on paper crafting projects
- The Silhouette Cameo comes with power cable and USB cable
- When you switch from blade to pen, the Cameo still sketches instead of cutting
- You may control the cutter with computer or SD card
- The software is easy to use
- The blade is easily adjustable
- The cutter helps you create etched glass
- The cuts and the images are nice and clean
- The cutter is dual voltage
- There are so many accessories that come along with the cutter
There are some minor issues related to the Silhouette Cameo and here are our cons:
- The cutter is a bit noisy
- You may need some time until you learn how to use it
- The mat is slippery
- The mat needs to be of better quality as it scratches easily at the moment
- It’s a bit difficult to adjust the blade to the thickness of the material
Either than this, the cutter is flawless and performs amazingly well.
Versatile, long lasting and reliable, the Sizzix 660340 Big Shot Plus Cutting/Embossing Machine comes with many good features and here are the pros:
- The cutter is highly versatile
- You may cut materials from 8 ½ inch by 11-inch
- You may get the 9-inch wide plastic-backed dies
- The cutter comes with many embossing tools
- You may create home décor, quilting, scrapbook pages, fashion, altered art, cards and so on
- The cutter has an elegant white and grey color scheme
- The Sizzix logo is subtle embossed on the handle
- You may work with the whole Sizzix product library
- The cutter is easy to carry around as it’s lightweight
- The handle gives a good grip
- There is a good built to the cutter
- The cutter comes with standard cutting pad
- You get a Big Shot Plus Platform and Adapters A&B
- The diagrams on the Platforms and Adapters give you easy guidelines on how to get the best sandwich
- The cutter is a great option for the small businesses
- The feed is smooth
- The cutter cuts all dies
- The base is wide and sturdy
- You may use other mats in order to get lighter embossing
As for the cons, here are ours:
- You need to do some research and learning on the tools and dies
- The plates are long and large which is not the best thing all the time
- The plates tend to deform and arch after a few uses
We didn’t consider these to be deal breakers, and think the Sizzix 660340 is still a great, versatile and reliable die cutter.
Best Die Cutting Machine for Fabric
It seems that getting the perfect cut on various types of materials is not so easy and this is why cutters are made for specific materials. In order to get the best, cut on fabric, you may use one of the best fabric cutting machines, the Silhouette Cameo Fabric Starter Kit Bundle. Here are the pros on our part:
- The Fabric Starter Bundle comes with an extra blade for fabric cutting
- You also get a package of sew able fabric interfacing
- You also get access to numerous downloadable designs
- The kit comes with 50 exclusive designs
- You receive a $10 download card to the Silhouette Online Store
- The cutter gives to 120inch wide and 10-feet long cuts
- You may use the cutter for custom apparel, vinyl décor, etched glass, sketch design, sewing projects
- The cutter gives you nice, clear cuts
- It performs the best on fabric
- The kit is easy to use
- The software is user friendly
- The software is for Windows XP/Vista/7 and Mac OSx10.5.8 and higher
- The cutting mat is 12”
- The cutter comes with fabric cutting blade
- The basic instruction guide is efficient
Performing as one of the best fabric cutter machine, the Silhouette Fabric Bundle, there are only a few but we need to mention them:
- The cutting is a bit inconsistent
- The blade wears out rather easy
- The mat slips more than you’d like
- The accessories that you buy extra are a bit expensive
- The cuts have white edges
- The mat loose the sticky quite fast
Despite these minor issues, the Silhouette Fabric Bundle is, if not the best fabric cutter, a reliable and efficient cutter for fabric anytime.
Best Die Cut Machine for Felt
If you love working with felt, you need to know that one of the best die cutters for felt is the Sizzix 660425 Big Shot Cutting/Embossing Machine with Extended Multipurpose Platform. There are many good things to tell about to it so here are the pros:
- The die cutter has an extended multipurpose platform
- The die cutter has white&grey color scheme
- The Sizzix logo is subtly embossed on the handle
- The shape-cutting is portable
- The embossing is roller-style
- The die cutter accommodates a wide range of crafting materials
- You may get amazing cuts with paper, fabric and felt
- You may use the die cutter for fashion, quilting, invitations, scrapbook pages and so on
- The Sizzix comes with diagrams on the platform for easier guideline on how to get the perfect Sizzix sandwich
- The die cutter comes with standard cutting pads
- You may use almost the entire Sizzix product library
- The dice cutter lets you get large number of odd cuts in short time
- The Sizzix is user friendly
- The cutter is sturdy and versatile
- The die cutting machine is lightweight
- The cutter has solid core steel rollers and durable steel gears
- The ABS exterior is made of plastic
- The price is amazing for the quality you get
Even though the Sizzix is a die cutting felt best machine, there are some down sides to it that we need to mention:
- You need to get used to the odd names of the tools and dies
- The die cutter comes with no information
- The intricate dies that come along with the cutter are a bit crispy
All in all, the Sizzix is a great die cutter for many kinds of materials, especially felt.
Best Die Cut Machine for Scrapbooking
Scrapbooking is easier when you have a good, efficient and reliable die cutting machine. The Brother ScanNCut CM100DM Home and Hobby Cutting Machine comes with a built-in scanner and many nice features. Here are the pros:
- The cutter can scan anything from handmade drawing to dear family pictures
- The cutter comes with 600+ built-in designs
- The LCD touch screen is large and colored
- The touch screen as on-screen editing capabilities like rotating, welding, resizing, organizing
- The cutter has 11,7-inch-wide scanning and cutting area so that you develop large projects also
- The cutter is ready to use out of the box
- The interface is user-friendly
- The cutter gets through fabric also
- For the ScanNCut Canvas, the cloud based web application easily coverts SVG files to FCM files
- The cutter is lightweight and stands on itself
- You get a standard cut blade, a deep cut blade holder and a deep cut blade
- The mats are 12”x12’
- The cutter comes with spatula, 2 high tack adhesive fabric support sheets and 2 iron-on fabric applique contact sheets
- The cuts are nice, clean
- The cutter gives the perfect cuts on paper
There are some minor issues to the cutter, so here are the cons:
- The mat loses the stickiness after a while
- The cutter is a big learning curve
- The editing screen could be bigger
- The cutter doesn’t always find all the fine lines
All in all, scrapbooking will be easier with this machine, and you are limited only by your imagination.
Best Die Cutting Machine for Card Making
When you want to create the most special birthday cards for your loved ones, a good die cutting machine is a big help. And when it comes with frameless and stamp feature, it’s even better. The Sizzix 30303 Big Shot Cutting/Embossing Kit #3 with Machine and ‘Birthday’ Frameless & Stamps is a great die cutting machine for card making and here are the pros:
- The Sizzix comes with birthday dies and stamps by Stephanie Barnard
- The cutter is compatible with the Big Kick, Bigshot and Vagabond machines
- It’s easy to use the cutter
- The cutter looks very nice and cute
- The Sizzix has an extended multipurpose platform
- The cutter comes with clear cutting pads
- You may use the cutter with Sizzix magnetic platform
- The instructions are good and easy to understand
When it comes to the cons, there aren’t many to mention. The cutter is great for card making, but it’s limited to card making only.
If you’re looking for a dedicated vinyl cutter, check out our vinyl cutter reviews page. Or the Cricut Explore reviews, or the Cricut model comparisons page.
You may also want to see our paper cutters page, or the paper cutting machines page.