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Cricut vs. Silhouette Comparison: What are the Major Differences?

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Cricut and Silhouette comparison and differences

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.


Cricut and Silhouette create clever products for home and school.

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!

Here’s more info about the Cricut vs Silhouette:

Cricut and Silhouette use different types of software.

Software

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.


Cricut has slightly more storage than the Silhouette.

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.


Cricut and Silhouette are both relatively easy to set to different cutting thicknesses.

Blade Adjustment

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.


 Cricut and Silhouette both cut through different kinds of materials.

Materials

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!


Cricut and Silhouette are both about the size of a large, compact printer.

Price Range

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


Cricut makes so many fun things, from cards, to cake toppers, and cup decals.

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.


Lina with her Cricut

Conclusion

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.

Cricut and Silhouette both make fantastic labels for household storage

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:


Are you team Cricut or team Silhouette? Let us know in comments.


Join The Discussion

Comments 43

  1. camille

    I kid you not…I was going to research this today!!! I’ve heard so many things about both of these products that it was overwhelming. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this!

    • Lina D

      You’re so welcome 😀

  2. Lindsay

    I have a cricut and my sister has the silhouette. They are both amazing!!

    • Lina D

      Great! Thanks for sharing 😀

    • Joni

      Is it greedy that I want both? Lol. I have the cricut and love it! I’d like some design abilities the silhouette has too though.

  3. jfiehler

    Silhouette user here!

  4. Elisa214

    I own a silhouette portrait and have had it for about 4 years, i got a great deal on a bundle it was less than a $100, came with all types of tools, and a silhouette store giftcard and the new software. I use it all the time and can’t say enough good things about it

    • Lina D

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Rxzmon

      Where did you get that great deal from?

  5. Cate

    Love my cricut maker.

    • Lina D

      I’m so jealous! I bet it’s awesome 😀

  6. HipMomof3

    So glad you did a post on this! I’ll put it on my HipList so I can read it later.

    • Lina D

      Great! Thanks so much.

  7. Lily

    I have been doing this research for awhile. Thank you again for making my life easier. I LOVE ❤️ this site !!!!!!

    • Lina D

      Yay! Thanks Lily!

  8. Sherrys100

    I own both and I by far love my silhouette more!

    • Lina D

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Melsoca

      I bought that same one last week and it’s GORGEOUS, however I returned it unused because I found the Cricut website offered ALOT more for the money in terms of papers,vinyl, tools, mats. It would not be the Martha Stewart branded machine, but it was the Explore Air 2 Everything bundle and it literally has everything you need.
      Also if you sign up with them I believe you can get offers for discounts. Hope this helps, I too am excited for a good Cricut deal

    • Melsoca

      They are the same machines minus the gold tools and her projects ( which I could do without considering I’d bet a lot more for the price )

    • Melsoca

      *Pay a lot more for the price ***

  9. Rhonda

    I have both and I like the Cricut better. For me personally the program is easier to use.

    • Lina D

      Thanks for sharing Rhonda!

  10. Carol

    I have both and never touch my Cricut any more. For me I have found the Silhouette to be much easier to use, and I can be more creative with it.

    • Lina D

      Thanks for sharing your experience Carol!

  11. Kymberlee

    I found that over the years of owning several models of each brand, Silhouette is a more reliable and longer lasting machine with FAR superior customer support, should you ever need it.

  12. Alese

    Some of the information here is a little outdated but it is neat to read The comparisons. For one, you do not have to pay $50 to upgrade the silhouette software to be able to use svgs unless you purchase the upgrade specifically from the silhouette store. The upgrade frequently goes on sale for $20 (on zulily and other online stores) and you can always purchase it for less than $30 from other places online (like swingdesign). Also, the newest model (which has been out awhile) has something called autoblade. Autoblade makes it so you do not have to adjust the blade yourself. You choose what kind of material you are cutting from a drop down list on the computer and the machine automatically adjusts everything so the blade cuts at the correct depth. It’s super easy! I love my silhouette and have found it really easy to learn how to use. No matter what machine you purchase though I would strongly suggest joining Facebook groupson how to use the machine. There are a bunch to choose from and there are always people in the groups who are willing to give advice, share tips, etc

  13. LovelyNai

    I am a cricut user! Love it’s ease of use so far. I never used a silhouette and did not know of it’s better use for being creative. I actually bought my cricut to design my own personal shirts so that has me thinking now. Hmm…

  14. Craftymom12

    Just a note. The Cricut machine is an Explore, not Explorer.

    • Amber (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks for letting us know! Just updated!

  15. theresa

    So if I purchase a silhouette can I also use it to print vinyl for t-shirts? I have a heat press.

    • Lina D

      There is a type of vinyl you can print on your home printer, but I’m assuming you’d want to CUT heat transfer vinyl using a Silhouette or Cricut cutting machine to use with your heat press. That’s awesome you have one!

  16. Emilytwinmom

    We just threw together some fun shirts for my mom’s stamping club today lol! We love the silhouette, I use it to cut vinyl to make shirts regularly. Those shirts in the boys section at walfart that go on clearance for a buck in the off season? Yep, i snag those and make my kiddos and their friends cute shirts. We got a really nice heat press on black friday 🙂

    • Lina D

      How fun! There’s so much you can do. Thanks for sharing 🤗

  17. Mrs. k

    Do you need a printer to print first then the machine to cut? Or does one machine do it all?

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      No you don’t need a printer to make cuts.

  18. Ginger

    I have googled this article multiple times to answer my questions. I ended up purchasing the Cricut since i am not a strong crafter. Now to figure out what to buy as far as materials and what to make. Thank you for your insight.
    Question.
    How important is it to purchase a heat press? Is this something a regular iron could do? Before i invest more money i want to see how much i would actually use this feature. Also, i saw bundles on Amazon that came with different attachments vs the Cricut brand heat press that is only flat. Thank you for your insight. Ginger

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Hi Ginger! I don’t have an easy press but it’s on my wish list. I use my iron and it’s sometimes a guessing game if I did completed the right time and temp. My sidekick has a helpful review specifically on the Easy Press here—> https://hip2save.com/2018/04/12/cricut-easypress/

  19. Anne

    Which would you use to cut out full-coverage pre-made manicures? I don’t know what material to use yet but I’m hoping to scan one of my designs, print it on the material, cut it into nail shapes using a Cricut or Silhouette, and then place it on the nail and cover with nail polish. The material should be slightly more flexible than traditional vinyl nail decals to ensure a proper fit.

    If anyone has ideas for which cutter to use, and what potential materials to use, please let me know!

  20. Tammy

    Just wondering, has Silhouette had other machines that have been replaced and are no longer supported? I have a cricut expression and now Provo Craft no longer supports it. I’m very frustrated since it worked perfectly for me and now it is useless. All I can now do is cut using cartridges and my digital cartridges I purchased are gone. Seems like a ripoff and now don’t want to give them anymore of my money. I am researching Silhouette to make sure they haven’t done the same thing.

    • Maggie

      I’m in the same boat here, basically can’t even use my machine anymore and it’s really frustrating. Makes me think Silhouette as well…

  21. Carol

    Your article was very helpful. My children got me the Cricut Explore 2 for Christmas, & I love it. So easy to set up & use. One thing you didn’t mention is that u can buy & use all the designs in the Silhouette Library in your Cricut. Just be sure when you buy it, that u click that u want the svg. file & not the studio file.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh what a great tip! Thanks!

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