Product Review: Silhouette Cameo

I splurged and purchased the Silhouette Cameo Starter Kit Bundle Cutter on Amazon as a birthday present for myself almost six months ago. I had been inspired by a friend at work who made the most amazing 3-D birthday cards for everyone in the office with her Cameo and she had wonderful things to say about the versatility of this machine.

The kit from Amazon came with the Silhouette Cameo, Silhouette Studio software, power and USB cables, 2 cutting mats, 2 cutting blades, a metallic pen set, 51 designs, a $10 gift card for the Silhouette Online Store to purchase more shapes, and a tool to help lift designs from the cutting mat. If you are a bargain hunter you may like to know that it was about $30 cheaper to purchase through Amazon than Silhouette America and you got more items.

There are a variety of electronic die cut machines available for home use. They range in price anywhere from $100-$450. The Cameo is priced in the middle of that range. It works much like it's competitors from Cricut and Sizzix, in that you simply place the material you want to cut onto the adhesive cutting mat, feed it into the machine, and like magic, your design is cut. The Cameo can cut everything from paper and fabric to, thin vinyl, stickers, heat transfer material and card stock. I have even used mine to cut things as thick as cereal boxes.

The Cameo works with your computer. It comes with Silhouette Studio software.  You use the software to create your own cutting designs. If you prefer, you can also purchase designs at the Silhouette Online Store. You will, however, still need to use Silhouette Studio to size and format your project. Once your design is complete and ready to be cut, you can either plug your computer directly into the Cameo or save your design to an SD card that can be opened on the Cameo. Learning the Silhouette Studio software takes a little time. To me, that's time well spent since unlike other die cut machines there are no design cartridges to store. Everything is on your computer. Also, you can use the software to create designs using any true type font that is installed on your computer.

After six months of use on a variety of projects and materials, here is my overall impression of the Silhouette Cameo:

Pros

  • You don't have to buy different fonts for projects.
  • It's easy to resize and customize your designs with the Silhouette Studio software.
  • There are no cartridges to store.
  • You can cut a variety of materials.
  • Silhouette offers a variety of interesting materials for cutting.
  • When you cut things like vinyl, contact paper or stickers, you can adjust the cut settings so that only the adhesive part is cut and not the paper backing.
  • It's easy to adjust the blade depth.
  • Individual shapes and designs are inexpensive to purchase, usually $0.99 or less.
  • The Silhouette Online Store offers a free downloadable shape every week. Also, when they are running sales they offer a free shape every day.
  • Cutting mats last a long time. I haven't replaced my original one in six months and I have done a lot of cutting.
  • Materials with a backing, such as vinyl or heat transfer material, can be cut without the mat.
  • Replacement blades and mats are priced similar to other die cutting machines on the market.
  • The Silhouette Blog has a lot of great project ideas and tips.

Cons

  • It takes some time and some basic computer skills to learn all the features of the Silhouette Studio software.
  • The Silhouette Studio software has pre-set cut settings for all Silhouette products and some other basic materials such as cardstock, paper and fabric. You still may need to figure out the settings for some products you decide to cut. Happily, Silhouette continues to add settings for different materials when the software updates.
  • The cut settings (blade depth, speed, thickness) listed in the user's manual are very general, so there's a little trial and error when you cut a new material.
  • Replacement parts like blades and cutting mats can be difficult to find locally. As I said, my initial purchase was online.  However, I recently noticed that our local Michael's is carrying some Silhouette items.

What I've Learned About My Cameo

  • Occasionally, the Cameo misses spots when you cut directly from your computer. This can be remedied by saving your design on an SD card.
  • The print and cut feature is amazing! I use it to print tags for my Etsy products with my logo and whatever words I choose. After printing my design on cardstock with my home printer, I use my Cameo to cut tags so my text is perfectly placed.
  • Since it takes a little practice to find the proper cut settings for each material, I keep a notepad by my Silhouette to jot down the settings that work best for materials I cut frequently.
  • Materials like vinyl and heat transfers can be cut without a mat, however large pieces tend to slip unless they are well supported on a table.
  • Silhouette cutting mats are VERY sticky for the first couple uses. So much that you should avoid cutting extremely delicate materials with a new mat. The Cameo will cut them perfectly, but it's difficult to lift the shapes off of the mat without tearing them. 
  • You can extend the life of your cutting mat by washing it very gently in warm (NOT HOT) water and letting it air dry. This process removes all the tiny bits of  fabric and paper debris left from  cutting to expose the sticky part of the mat.

So far I have made personalized t-shirts, decoupage key hooks, burlap shopping bags with funny stenciled sayings, snowflake window clings, etched candle holders, stickers, product tags, gift bags, gift tags, vinyl wall words, business card holders, bulletin boards, pop-up birthday cards and more. Here's a peek at just a few of the projects I have made using my Cameo.

 
 
 
 

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The Chilly Dog: Product Review: Silhouette Cameo
Product Review: Silhouette Cameo
Product review for the Silhouette Cameo electronic die cutting machine
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