If you are looking for a die cut machine to cut your own custom designs, the popular Silhouette Cameo die cutter just got better. The Silhouette Cameo 3 is similar to the Silhouette Cameo 2, but has some key upgrades and new features. Some of these features include dual carriages, bluetooth, and some upgrades to Silhouette Studio, which is powerful design software allowing users to create their own custom designs from scratch. The machine lags behind other machines on the market when it comes to power, but can cut most paper and vinyl materials just fine.
Silhouette Cameo 3 Features
The Silhouette Cameo has 3 is similar to a home printer in terms of size and shape. Generally, this machine will be connected to the computer, so don’t expect to be moving it around all that often like you would with a manual die cutter. It does have wireless capability, allowing for more flexibility for those crowded craft-rooms.
Here’s a list of features:
- Dual carriages to cut and print without stopping.
- 12 inch cutting and drawing width
- 2mm cutting clearance to cut more materials
- Full-color LCD touch screen for navigation and use. This touch screen allows you to choose between languages, set the sleep time, change the color scheme, display help icons, and even view a tutorial.
- PixScan™ technology compatibility
- PC and Mac compatibility
- Bluetooth enabled to send cut jobs wirelessly
- Matless cutting capability to cut lined media up to 10 feet long
- Handy on-unit cross cutter for cutting materials fed directly from a roll.
- Built-in accessory storage unit to store spare blades.
Video by: Craft-e-Corner
Similarly to the Cricut Explore Air, the Cameo 3 has dual carriages. Previously, if you wanted to draw and cut on a single project, you had to stop the machine, and swap out the blade or pen, then start the job again. With dual carriages, there is no stopping, saving you time. The Cameo 3 has a push locking mechanism, which is more secure compared to the twist mechanism on the other Silhouette machines.
Print and Cut
The new Cameo 3 still comes with all the great features in the previous models, such as the Print and Cut feature. The Print and Cut feature allows the Studio software to send an image to your printer to be printed. This image will be printed with little registration marks in the corners. The printed material will then be loaded into the Cameo, where the machine will detect the registration marks and know exactly where to cut the printed image out.
Here is a Print and Cut demo. Note that the machine in the video is a previous version, but the Print and Cut works exactly the same:
Similar to the Print and Cut feature, the Cameo comes with PixScan technology. However, instead of printing the design from a printer, the image is placed on the PixScan cutting mat, where the mat itself contains the registration marks. Once the material is placed on the mat, a picture can be taken from your camera or smart phone, and uploaded to the design studio, where the trace lines can be created and then cut.
Silhouette now has a few different types of blades.:
- Standard blade
- Deep cut blade
The standard blade is the blade that can be used for most projects. If you are cutting thicker materials, consider the deep cut blade.
The AutoBlade is a new blade that automatically adjusts its depth based on the material being cut, which removes some of the trial and error when first cutting unfamiliar material. The Cameo 3 will automatically adjust the blade by “punching” itself up and down in the corner of the material until the right blade depth is achieved.
As you start using your machine regularly, the blade, like all blades, will become dull and won’t cut as well. Once your blade starts becoming dull, it should be replaced. How quickly the blade dulls will depend on use and the material being cut. Some materials dull the blade quicker than others.
What can the Silhouette Cameo 3 cut?
The Cameo has a cutting force of 210 grams. This lags behind in comparison to other digital die cutting machines such as the Cricut Explorer Air and KNK Zing. The Cameo won’t be able to cut balsawood or thin sheet metal, but it’s perfect for scrapbooking, card making, and vinyl projects.
Here are some materials that the Silhouette Cameo can cut:
- Paper/Cardstock up to 350 gsm thick.
- Tissue paper
- Iron-on transfer
- Cereal box chipboard
- Craft foam
- Light weight fabric
- Rhinestone template material
The Studio software does come with a ‘double cut’ feature, which will help with thicker materials.
Silhouette Studio Software
The Silhouette Studio software is free and allows you to either buy, import, or create your own designs from scratch. The software is compatible with Windows Vista and higher, and Mac OSX 10.6.8 & higher. If you are a graphic designer or have previous experience using graphic software, you’ll feel more comfortable getting started with Silhouette Studio. If you aren’t familiar with creating your own designs, there are lots of tutorials and communities that would love to help you.
If you won’t be creating your own designs, you can import files that you have on your computer, which could have been found online. The Studio Software comes with a trace tool so you can import an image and have the software auto-detect the outline to cut as a design.
Another way you can use images is by buying them from the Silhouette Design Store, where most designs are 99 cents. Along with the 100 free designs that come with the software, every week the Design Store releases a free design as well. Designs that you purchase are stored in you online account, so if your computer crashes, you can go back to your online account and download the designs you previously bought at no additional charge.
You also receive 1 month Basic Subscription to the Silhouette Design Store with the purchase of your machine. That’s $25.00 monthly credits to download any designs you want. The subscription plans allows users to pay a monthly price for credits to use at the Design Store. There are many subscription plans, for 3, 6 and 12 months, ranging from $5 a month to $100 dollars a month, so you can pick the subscription you want. This is a good option to save money if you plan on buying a lot of designs.
The basic version of the Studio Designer is free. If you would like to have more software features, you’ll need to upgrade. See the chart below for what features come with the different versions.
If you upgrade to the Designer Edition, you’ll be able to use SVG files. There are many websites online where you can download SVG files for free.
If you are working with larger files, the software may run a little slow, even on current machines.
To compare these software options, view the Silhouette Software Comparison Chart.
There is another Silhouette program called Silhouette Connect. Silhouette Connect gives you the ability to send projects you’ve designed in Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW straight to the machine without the need to convert them first to a Silhouette Studio compatible format. The license key to use Connect cost $39.99.
Maintenance, Warranty, and Support
There is little maintenance required with the Cameo beyond the normal blade changes and getting new cutting mats.
The Silhouette Cameo comes with a 1-year limited warranty for US and Canadian customers only.
Silhouette support has been mixed from both extremes. Some users have had quick and painless customer support, while others haven’t had good experiences.
There are though lots and lots of community resources online to help you out, ranging from forums to yahoo and Facebook groups. There are thousands of enthusiastic and helpful users who are ready to help answer your questions. There are also video tutorials on youtube to teach you hot to get started and how to create fun projects using your Cameo.
Overall, the Silhouette Cameo 3 isn’t the most versatile craft machine, as it can only cut thinner materials. This may be fine depending on the type of projects you will be creating. Some users don’t have a need to cut leather or balsawood. It does have all the features that we can expect from a die cut machine in this price range, having dual carriages and bluetooth functionality. One main advantage to using a Cameo is that it can work without the internet and has powerful software for creating custom designs.