Skip to main content

Silhouette CAMEO die cutting machine review

The Silhouette CAMEO doesn't have the muscle to power through materials like balsa wood or leather, but it is an excellent die cutter for most craft projects.

Silhouette CAMEO die cutting machine review
(Image: © Hobbycraft)

Our Verdict

The Silhouette CAMEO die-cutting machine lacks some versatility, but it can help you effortlessly make many lovely paper projects.

For

  • Produces quick and clean vinyl lettering
  • Bluetooth connectivity for wireless cutting
  • 3mm clearance helps cut thicker materials

Against

  • Low-pressure blade makes it hard to cut through anything tougher than chipboard

Not every crafter wants an industrial-strength die-cutting machine, but for those of you who want a die cutter for home crafts, the Silhouette CAMEO may be the best die cutting machine for you. The Silhouette CAMEO die cutting machine is Mac and Windows compatible, and has Bluetooth connectivity for wireless cutting. 

This die cutting machine comes in three colors: black, white, and pink, and can cut vinyl, cardstock and fabric. However, the Silhouette CAMEO does not have the most muscle power of some of the more powerful and bulky machines, meaning it may struggle to cut through materials like balsa wood or leather.

Silhouette CAMEO die cutting machine review: what you need to know

CAMEO has a well-deserved, loyal following as a cartridge-free die cutter. You can create beautiful designs from scratch instead of relying on cartridges with this die-cut machine, but you also get the freedom to cut without a computer when you save your designs to a jump drive. It's low cost, but not as inexpensive as the Cricut Explore Air. The CAMEO is the most user-friendly die-cutting machine we reviewed. We were able to operate it (and the included software) within minutes of taking the cutter out of the box, and it features modern touches such as wireless Bluetooth printing.

The Silhouette CAMEO features an easy-to-use, full-color touchscreen. It also has print-and-cut functionality so that you can cut around a pre-printed image of your choice. With PixScan, you can scan or take a photo of an image, import it into Silhouette Studio and add cut lines. This makes it possible to cut out handmade drawings, which is a distinct feature compared to other die cutters.

Silhouette Studio makes it easy to create original designs with drag-and-drop tools that help you move, resize and add texture to your images. If you don't want to make your own designs, you can purchase pre-made designs from the Silhouette Online Store, which has thousands. Each CAMEO comes with 50 designs to get you started.

Silhouette CAMEO die cutting machine is great for crafting projects

The Silhouette CAMEO die cutting machine is ideal for low-intensity crafting tasks. (Image credit: Hobbycraft)

Silhouette CAMEO die cutting machine review: design

This die-cut machine is average in terms of portability. There is some onboard tool storage but there's no handle, which makes it less convenient for travel. That doesn't mean you can't take it out of the house; you just need the right bag. The official CAMEO tote is available on the Silhouette website. With a flash drive, you don’t need to bring your computer along.

The Silhouette CAMEO is not designed well for cutting heavy-duty items. It is designed to cut drawing paper, vinyl, postcards, scrapbooking paper and photo paper. It can handle a few other materials but is geared primarily for cardstock. If you plan to branch out into other areas of crafting at some point, you may want to invest in a sturdier die-cutting machine. Alternatively, there are several other blades, including a Rotary blade and a Kraft blade, which you can buy additionally to give your Silhouette CAMEO some extra capabilities. 

It is annoying that these need to be bought in addition to the machine itself, but they will cut through acetate, craft foam, burlap, and leather, and work with cotton fabrics, leather, felt and even wool. For built-in heavy-duty capabilities, consider the KNK Zing Orbit.

Silhouette CAMEO die cutting machine

The Silhouette CAMEO die cutting machine works with vinyl and has numerous blade add-on options  (Image credit: Hobbycraft)

Without these add-ons, the Silhouette CAMEO is not versatile in terms of its capabilities. It can cut well, but it is not designed to pierce, engrave or emboss. This is one of the few die-cutting machines we reviewed that can draw though, which opens up a range of possibilities in crafting.

We evaluated Silhouette's customer support. We spoke with helpful and friendly company representatives on the phone every time we called, and the website was helpful and well organized. The Silhouette site itself and related social media sites offer countless ideas for inspiration.

Should you buy the Silhouette CAMEO die cutting machine?

Although it is not our favorite die-cutting machine, the simplicity of the Silhouette CAMEO is appealing. It does not tackle a wide range of materials or tasks, including engraving, embossing, and piercing, but it gives you a wonderful outlet for most of your craft-cutting ideas. You can use the Silhouette CAMEO to make custom clothing, cards and more.