Cricut vs. Silhouette: What are the Major Differences?
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If you’re a crafter, you’ve most likely heard about all the amazing DIY craft projects you can make using a personal desktop die cutting machine. Silhouette and Cricut are the main brands dominating the die cutting market. I’m the proud owner of both the older Silhouette Cameo and the Cricut Explore Air.
Since I’m frequently asked the differences between both machines, I am sharing my experiences to help you decide between the Silhouette vs. 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 make cuts in 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 Software – Design Space
Cricut’s free software, Design Space, is web-based and now also offline, plus offers capabilities via Cricut Design Space (iOS). This program allows for designing and cutting using downloaded content without an internet connection.
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 in the software or you can pay $9.99 per month to join Cricut Access and use the files available only 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.
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’s Software – Silhouette Studio
Silhouette Studio also has downloadable computer software where you can work offline, which is great 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. Additionally, you can use any fonts downloaded on your computer within Silhouette Studio.
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.
Software comparison 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.
2. Exterior Design & Tool Storage
My Silhouette and Cricut machines 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.
3. 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, 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.
However, the newer 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 backing and balsa wood!
5. 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. I was able to dive right into completing lots of projects on my very first day of using my Cricut Explore.
I did not have an easy setup experience with my Silhouette machine and spent some time working with their customer service to make sure I was loading the mat correctly. In the end, it was just user error, but I didn’t feel like their introductory instructions were as clear as Cricut.
6. Price Range
Silhouette seems to be a little more expensive, but overall, the pricing is pretty similar considering the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Silhouette Cameo 3 are the most similar models between both brands.
The main difference between the Explore series machines is the speed with which they cut images. Check out this detailed list of comparisons for the Explore family. The Cricut Maker is a more powerful machine with more cutting options, so it makes sense for that machine to be priced highest among Cricut’s offerings.
Popular Cricut Machines:
Popular Silhouette Machines:
Honestly, both machines are very similar. The biggest difference seems to be in the design and ease of use right out of the box (at least for the models I own). The bottom line for me is I enjoy using my Cricut more, find the machine and software easier to use, and have less craft fails with Cricut.
However, my team member Michelle prefers Silhouette machines. She likes to design her own files and finds the software has more features for doing so. She also 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 at using the machine and raise my success rate.
That said, I have craft fails too—so don’t give up!
Mainly due to user error, sometimes my project is a bust. It’s usually because I didn’t select the type of material correctly for the blade before cutting, I forgot to reverse the image for iron-on vinyl, or my mat has lost its stickiness.
Don’t get frustrated—just practice and stick with it! Join some Cricut and Silhouette Facebook groups online to gain inspiration and 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:
Craft embroidery hoop Christmas ornaments using iron-on vinyl.