With all the holiday sales about to start popping up, many of you may be considering getting a new die cut machine. But which one to pick is the question, right ? WARNING: LONG POST AHEAD BUT WORTH THE READ I HOPE
Let me help by providing the highlights of the “Report Card Results” regarding an independent product test company that compared the Cricut Explore and Silhouette Cameo on both materials cutting and precision cutting capabilities. And of course, as usual, I will do my best to provide my own un-biased opinion based on the report and my personal experience using both machines. By the way, I think it only fair to tell you that the CEO of Cricut, Ashish Arora did forward this report information to me,
LETS TALK ABOUT THE INDEPENDENT TEST INFORMATION FIRST…
An independent testing firm, Percept Product Test Engineering, out of Boulder, Colorado conducted an in-depth analysis comparing the cut capabilities of the Cricut Explore vs the Silhouette Cameo. In my opinion, the test team did appear to compare “apples to apples” when conducting these two test based on the detailed information they provide in their reports, which I have added links in this post.
Baseline Test Case Procedures were followed:
3 each of the same model machines from different locations were purchased for both the Cricut Explore and the Silhouette Cameo test conducted to help account for tolerence levels in manufacturing variables you find from machine to machine
New mats and blades were used for all the testing
8 Identical product materials were used to cut with both machine types: Foam, Cork, Soft Leather, Hard Leather, Chipboard, Dense Chipboard, Magnet Sheet, Aluminum *full list of product description is found in the report
Recommended manufacturer settings for the material settings for cutting were used first in the testing of each product or cut type Material setting adjustments were made by the test team to attempt to achieve the best cut scenario for each of the machines used in the testing when the recommended manufacturer settings didn’t quite work out. They termed these as “experimental adjustments” and consisted of adjusting blade depth, blade passes and pressure.
Access to technical resource person to answer operational questions using the machines was made available to the test team and used
TWO Different TEST were conducted: Material Cut Capablities and the Precision Cut Test
HIGHLIGHTS OF RESULTS:
- Materials Cut Compatibility testing clearly show that Cricut Explore does a much better job of cutting a wider variety of materials and various thicknesses of the material. Some adjustments to the Cricut recommended cut settings was made to achieve 8 out of 8 successful cuts. Note: Best results were achieved by using the Deep Cut Blade and the Strong Grip Mat when using the Cricut Explore. The roller depth allotment was noted to be greater for the Cricut Explore which resulted in more success with getting the thicker materials to be used in the machine.
The Silhouette Cameo failed 7 out of 8 material tests even after making material setting adjustments from the Silhouette recommended settings to achieve a better result. Materials, particularly the thicker leather tested also had a more a difficult time being feed into the machine due to the lack of depth between mat and the roller. Note: The test team surmissed that the lack of ability for the Cameo blade to be used for deeper cuts beyond the adjustable amount provided by the blade housing limited the effectiveness even after maxing out the number of passes and blade depth capabilities.
Note: EUT means “Equipment Under Test”, indicating which of the 3 machines from the brand were used to conduct the test as there are machine variable tolerances in manufacturing to take in to consideration.
My Personal Opinion of the Materials Cutting Test:
- Silhouette Cameo Results: I must admit that I too experienced some of these same limitations using those materials in cutting with the Silhouette Cameo. I truly think the depth between the mat and roller is a big minus for the Silhouette. Plus the limited blade housing depth hurts it as well.
- Cricut Explore Results: I have cut all the materials listed with my Cricut Explore and the only exception I had to the results was cutting of cork which I have been unsuccessful at doing so far. Note: The test team noted it was suggested to use cork with adhesive backing and to cut it with the adhesive backing facing up and the cork on the mat. I will try that and see if I get better results.
The full Material Cut Compatibility Testing Report can be read here by clicking on this image
- Precision Cut Testing was fascinating because there has long been a perception that the Cricut machines did not cut certain shapes such as Circles as well as the Silhouette Cameo. It was interesting to see that the test team had such considerable different results cutting circle shapes. Test team results were that while both machines did a good job at cutting an accurate ovality 5mm circle shape, that the Cricut Explore across all three of the test machines achieved similiar complete circle cutting results time after time. While the Silhouette Cameo would not even completely cut all the way around the circle shape. In fact, more than half of the attempted circle shapes did not cut out properly across the 3 different Silhouette Cameos used. Note: New blades and new mats were used for all cut testing.
The test team also tested using two different types of triangles..Isosceles and Equilateral Triangles. There was an issue with both the Cricut Explore and the Silhouette Cameo having an inability to accurately cut the size of the triangle to what was shown on the workspace size edit screens. To overcome this deficit, the test team did some complicated calculation adjustments (which I won’t bore you with now cause math makes my head hurt ! but you can read about in the report if you want).
Bottom line was that while both machines had scale issues, the Cricut Explore actually cut the shape more accurately time after time while the Silhouette seemed to cut one side of the shape slightly off. (see report for a photo comparison via a microscope). The test team did note that the Cricut Explore had a wider gap between the to triangle image they were cutting compared to the Silhouette Cameo.
My Personal Opinion of the Precision Cut Testing:
First, the Circle testing thing was kind of odd. I can not recall a time when I used my Silhouette Cameo that it didn’t consistently complete the shape cut like it did during this precision cut test…it might be slightly off at the meet up point but not enough to not make a full circle. Any issues I had I always chocked up to the accuracy of the design in .studio files you use with the Silhouette Studio.I wonder if some of the odd change Silhouette has made to their recent software updates caused that circle cutting issue to be so off ? I would love to know if they tried more than one circle shape and from different designers, wouldn’t you ? I will say I have not had even one issue with the Cricut Explore cutting Circles the right shape. Perfect every time.
Second, these test guys certainly didn’t mess around when trying to determine the accuracy of the cut shapes. To the common crafters eye some of these shape issues might not be immediately noticable until you start to put your die cut project together and the pieces don’t line up. Admit it? It’s happened to you too, right? Nice to know that the Cricut Explore appeared to have an edge over Silhouette Cameo here because I did have that happen to me a few times when using my Cameo..frustrating to say the least but have not had that happen so far after using the Cricut Explore for the past 8 to 9 months.
The full Competitive Precision Cut Test Report can be read by clicking on this image
Now we are down to which machine performed BETTER FOR CUTTING overall…..
The CRICUT EXPLORE MACHINE appears to have scored better marks on this report card. Wouldn’t you agree ? What are yout thoughts on this report? Does it convince you to buy the Cricut Explore or is that Cameo still looking good to you ?
Coming soon …read my blog post on why I think you should put the CRICUT EXPLORE ON YOUR HOLIDAY WISH LIST. Thanks for stopping by !