Cricut vs. Silhouette Comparison: What are the Major Differences?
Hip2Save may earn a small commission via affiliate links in this post. Read our full disclosure policy here.
Know the differences between Cricut & Silhouette?
We’re often asked by readers for a comparison between the Silhouette and Cricut, so this post is in response to this frequently asked question.
If you’re a crafter, you’ve most likely heard about all the amazingly creative projects you can make using a personal die cutting machine. Silhouette and Cricut are the main choices dominating the die cutting market. I’m the proud owner of both the older Silhouette Cameo and the Cricut Explore Air.
In this post I’m attempting to help explain the differences and similarities of these two machines. I’ve gathered info and am sharing my experiences to help you decide between the Silhouette and the Cricut.
What can I make with a die cutting machine?
Like a home printer, these machines plug into your PC or Mac computer, and they CUT crafting materials. BOTH Cricut and Silhouette machines can cut similar materials like vinyl, paper, and cardstock. They’re both excellent tools for creating personalized gifts, cups, t-shirts, home decor signs, organizing labels, party supplies, paper crafts, and so much more!
Cricut’s free software, Design Space, is completely web-based, meaning you HAVE to be online to use it. Importing .jpg images and converting them to .svg images to use them for cutting projects is fairly simple in Design Space. You can also use your own fonts and images for free if you already have them.
There are images/fonts available for purchase individually, or you can pay $10 per month to join Cricut Access to use the ones available for Access members. It’s important to know that the images downloaded through Access can only be cut for as long as you have Access membership. (Note: There’s now a Cricut app that lets you edit without internet, but I haven’t used it yet.)
In addition, you can find lots of free SVG files on the internet that can be opened in the Design Space software for cutting.
Silhouette Studio has downloadable computer software where you CAN work offline, which is an advantage if you don’t have a strong internet connection or want to take your machine on-the-go. It also has a wider variety of graphic design features to help you design your own images from scratch which is a benefit if you want to make your own images and aren’t intimidated by design programs.
Silhouette Studio has a free version of the software and you can open and save files in the proprietary .studio file type, but you’re required to have the $50 paid version to upload .svg images, which is the most common type of file found free on the internet.
You can purchase files one at a time from the silhouette Studio online store, or purchase a subscription that allows you to download files at a discounted rate and you can use any of your own fonts in the software.
In a nutshell: If you want to just open and cut files, Cricut software seems easier to use. If you’d like to design your own files, Silhouette software has more designing options. If you’re buying images from Silhouette’s program, you’ll be able to keep them even after cancellation from Silhouette’s design store.
Design & Tool Storage
My Silhouette and Cricut are very similar in size and weight. They are about the size of a small printer and can fit nicely on a shelf or desk. The Cricut offers handy onboard storage both on the top left of the machine and underneath to store all your tools, markers, and extra blades. My Silhouette machine does not have any storage, but the newer models do have storage space.
Both Cricut and Silhouette cut materials using blades. The Cricut has a knob on the top of the machine to adjust appropriately based on the material. To adjust the Silhouette blade strength, users simply twist the blade to a specific number based on the material before cutting. Both brands have separate deep-cutting blades available for purchase (perfect for cutting thicker materials). I haven’t had to replace any blades yet, so they are long lasting on both machines when you are cutting primarily vinyl.
Both Cricut and Silhouette can cut through a long list of materials including cardstock, vinyl, heat transfer vinyl, vellum, craft foam, thin leather, window clings, etc.
Just a note: The new Cricut Maker has 10x the cutting force of the Explore machines and has a rotary blade and a deep knife blade that can cut even more materials – including fabric without a backing – and even balsa wood!
Silhouette seems to be a little more expensive, but overall pretty similar considering the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Silhouette Cameo 3 are the most similar models. The Cricut Maker is a more powerful machine with more cutting options, so it makes sense for that machine to be priced higher.
The main difference between the Explore series machines is the speed with which they cut images. Go HERE for a detailed list of comparisons for the Explore family.
Popular Cricut Machines:
Cricut Explore One $149
Cricut Explore Air $179
Cricut Explore Air 2 $249
Cricut Maker $379.99
Popular Silhouette Machines:
Silhouette CAMEO 3 $299.99
Silhouette Curio $249.99
Silhouette Portrait 2 $199.99
Ease of Use
In my personal experience, the Cricut had a slightly easier setup, easier software, and is easier to load the mat correctly right off the bat. The photo above shows a few of the projects I completed on my very first day of using my Cricut Explore.
I did not have an easy setup experience with Silhouette and spent some time working with their customer service to make sure I was loading the mat correctly.
Hip Tip: It’s worth noting that both Cricut and Silhouette websites have responsive customer service with an immediate online chat to ask questions and receive help.
Both machines are very similar! The biggest difference seems to be the software and ease of use right out of the box (at least for the models I own). The bottom line for me is that I enjoy using my Cricut more and find the machine and software easier to use. I have less craft fails with Cricut.
However, my team member Michelle, prefers the Silhouette machines. She likes to design her own files and finds the software has more feature for doing so. And she likes the variety of images available for purchase in the Silhouette Store better than Cricut.
Hip Tip: Whichever brand you choose, take some time to learn your machine. I find the more projects I complete, the faster I become, and my success rate is higher.
That said, I, too, have craft fails, so don’t give up!
Mainly due to user error, sometimes my project is a bust because I didn’t select the type of material correctly for the blade before cutting, forgot to reverse the image for iron-on vinyl, or if my mat loses its stickiness. Don’t get frustrated. Practice and stick with it! Join some Cricut and Silhouette Facebook groups to gain inspiration and for helpful tips.
My cutting machine has been my favorite craft tool EVER! I’ve made so many fun crafts, and it’s been the best label maker for organizing.
Check out some of my favorite projects below:
- Rae Dunn Inspired Pantry Labels
- Fall/Christmas Reversible Sign
- Personalized Hammers for Father’s Day