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Electronic Cutting Machines

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: 02/09/2015

Hey guys,

I was looking into getting an electronic cutting machine to make cutting lots of cards and pieces a little easier. From what I could find through light googling it looks like the three main players are:

-Brother ScanNCut
-Cricut Explore
-Cameo Silhouette

Do you any of you use these for prototyping/materials creation? Is there any reason to get one over the other?


ErnstFourie's picture
Joined: 06/18/2014
I know little to nothing

I know little to nothing about the subject - but i'm interested to hear what you are capable of doing with this machine?

Is it just to cut a4 sheets or cardboard to certain sizes, for prototyping?

Do they have a set cut thickness, and is there maybe one that does what the other machines can't?

Joined: 02/09/2015

So far, I couldn't find a resource that compares all three, so we'll have to make a few inferences. Here is a rough overview of what I've found.

The things we need to consider are:
-Software ease of use
-Types of materials that can be cut

First, let's consider the software.
Brother ScanNCut - ScanNCut Canvas (online): The Brother can also Scan directly to the machine and do light editing on the touchscreen. This probably isn't a big selling point for us Game Designers but its a difference.
Silhouette Cameo - Silhouette Studio (offline) The most robust software of the three but may also be more complicated.
Cricut Explore - Cricut Design Space (online)

Its difficult to say which is better for our needs. I would imagine most of the legwork is going to be done in something like Illustrator and then moved into some version of the proprietary software to define the cut shapes. At the moment I lean towards the Silhouette software because of its robustness.

Next, the materials each can cut (Cameo did not provide a list, as far as I can tell):

Brother ScanNCut - Paper, Cardstock, Canvas, Burlap, Denim (

Silhouette Cameo - Paper, Cardstock(up to 80 lb cardstock [200 gsm]), Vinyl, Chipboard, (

Cricut Explore -

It would seem that the Silhouette came in last on this one in terms of variety of materials but for me, I'm really only looking at heavy card stocks.

Here are the comparison resources I found:
Brother ScanNCut Vs. Silhouette Cameo (

Cricut Explore Vs. Silhouette Cameo

Joined: 06/07/2012
The value to look for is the

The value to look for is the cutting force. A machine with a larger cutting force will, in theory, cut heavier material.

The best machine available is generally considered to be the Silver Bullet - formerly the Black Cat Cougar. Following in line are the machine by KNK and Pazzles.

I picked up a Pazzles Inspiration off ebay for £40, about 6 months ago. Unfortunately I haven't got round to taking it for a spin so I can't comment on how effective it is. I have heard numerous reports of it being able to handle 1.5mm to 2mm card - albeit with a couple of passes.

The Pazzles doesn't have print n cut software which makes it a little harder to use.

Having looked at these type of machines they can do light work, but they are essentially aimed at the hobby crafter gift card makers. Had the Pazzles not been so cheap I probably wouldn't have bought one. But like you I figured it was something that might come in handy (for me its primary purpose will be cutting out custom stickers from A4 sheets, when I get round to actually plugging it in).

So why haven't I plugged it in?

1) I get busy and its very low down on my to do list.

2) I have a CNC hobby router.

I would recommend looking at hobby CNC routers. Small 3 axis ones(with trapezoidal screws instead of precision ball screws) go for about the same price.

The advantage is that they are a far more substantial piece of kit, enough to make the hobby craft die cutters look like toys in comparison.

They are mainly used to cut through wood and metal (with adequate cooling in place). However, they commonly employ a 43mm mount for the router. This makes it fairly easy to mount a vinyl cutter, a pen or even one of the cutters from the craft die cutters in place of the router - you just need to fabricate a 43mm holder for the required tool.

The biggest advantage is that you can also use them to cut out wooden game pieces as well as things from card.

The biggest drawback is that you have to spend a bit of time learning about them, so you know what you're buying (before you think about buying one). And more time learning how to use them and the software that drives them. The software can also be an additional expense.

The best piece of advice I can give you is to think carefully about buying any of the machines I've mentioned. if its for printing cards they simply aren't an effective or efficient solution, because the card stock you use makes all the difference.

You get far better and cheaper results from using any of the customer card printers like the Game Crafter, Printer Studio, Artscow or Print N Play Productions. Printer ink is expensive.

For other pieces, that fall outside those that are available from these places, a craft knife works perfectly well - it just takes a bit longer.

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