Silhouette Cameo 3 vs Cricut Explore Air 2

Silhouette Cameo 3 vs Cricut Explore Air 2 : Key Differences Between Them

Smart cutting machines have made their way into workspaces of artists/crafters, and if you are a designer who has to work with paper cut-outs or vinyls, you should definitely get one to excel in your crafts.

If you were looking to get a cutting machine, you must have heard of the Silhouette Cameo 3 and Cricut Explore Air 2.

Currently, the most popular cutting machines from Silhouette and Cricut have a fierce rivalry, similar to Windows vs. MacOS. While one has a larger cutting size, the other has higher precision in cutting.

But who stands better between Silhouette Cameo 3 vs Cricut Explore Air 2? Continue reading to find out!

What Is a Silhouette Cameo 3?

What Is a Silhouette Cameo 3?

The Silhouette Cameo 3 is a programmable cutting machine that uses a small blade to cut through more than 100 materials including paper, vinyl, and fabric.

It comes with an LCD touch screen through which you can operate the machine with ease. Moreover, it also comes with a ‘Tutorial’ mode for new users.

Specifications and Overview

  • Cutting Dimensions: Up to 12 in. wide and 10 ft. long
  • Connectivity: USB and Bluetooth compatible
  • Material thickness (maximum): 2mm
  • Cutting force: up to 210 grams
  • Dimensions: 22.5 in. x 8.5 in. & net weight 8 lbs.
  • Dual-carriage function for using two tools simultaneously

The Cricut Explore Air 2 is a beautiful piece of machinery. You can choose from multiple color options to complement your workspace.

Except for the attractive pastel colors, the Explore Air 2 itself is very well-finished with a modern design.

Nearly every single component on the Explore Air 2 screams high-quality! Cricut definitely deserves praise for their attention to detail,

even in the smallest places, such as the lids on top that open as if they float on air! It has a nice dial for selecting the material being cut and a few buttons for navigation.

Apart from the visuals, the machine also excels at serving its purpose. It uses German carbide blades that offer excellent cutting precision for all materials ranging from paper to poster board.

And it does its job quite fast! It is able to cut materials of up to 23.5 inches in length and 11.5 inches in width.

While it has a storage compartment for pens and other tools on its top, it has two more concealed compartments inside for storing accessories needed during work.

Even the concealed drawers have a nice touch to them!

They have magnetic strips for holding down clips, blades and, other metal tools to prevent rattling when the machine is working.

As for ease of use, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is one of the most user-friendly cutting machines in the market. It practically requires nothing to be set up and can be used right out of the box.

Benefits of Silhouette Cameo 3

  • Visually appealing design with beautiful color options
  • Highly functional storage drawers with magnetic strips to prevent rattling
  • Very precise and fast in cutting
  • Razor-sharp German carbide blade can cut through over 100 materials
  • Supports Bluetooth connectivity for wireless operation
  • Can cut at 2x speed in ‘Fast Mode’
  • Dual carriage for increased efficiency and versatility
  • Smart Set Dial makes operating the machine a breeze
  • Design Space software has a little learning curve and is perfect for beginners

Disadvantages Silhouette Cameo 3

  • Might seem noisy to a handful of users
  • Design Space is too simplistic for complicated projects

Comparing Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Silhouette Cameo 3

Comparing Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Silhouette Cameo 3

Now that we are done overviewing both the machines, how do we decide if you need the Silhouette or Cricut Explore? Both devices have their similarities and differences, which we will be addressing below.

1. Design

In terms of design, these machines don’t have a single bit of similarity except for their physical footprints. They are so different from each other, one should seem better than the other depending on your preferences.

In case you were wondering, the Explore Air 2 is around 5 lbs. heavier than the Cameo 3, which weighs 8 lbs.

The Cameo 3 only comes in white color, whereas the Explore Air 2 has three pastel colors that truly look great.

It is evident that Cricut went the extra mile to make the whole experience premium. Did we mention that the machine opens as if it is gliding on air?

Furthermore, the dial on it is a very nice touch that looks good. However, the Cameo 3 has an LCD touch-screen that completely beats the Explore Air 3 in this case.

If the Cameo 3 doesn’t do it for you, you can look into Silhouette Portrait 3 vs Cricut Explore Air 2.

On the other hand, the Explore Air 2 once again has better storage compartments than the Cameo 3.

By better, we mean more functional as the Cricut model comes with magnetic strips and has a more flush design in comparison to the Cameo.

In summary, if you admire minimalism, the design of the Cameo 3 may please your eyes more than the vibrant and vivid Explore Air 2.

But when it comes to the overall finishing of both the machines, the Explore Air 2 takes the trophy thanks to Cricut’s extra attention to detail.

2. Functionality and Quality of Cuts

Although both machines are meant to do the same thing, i.e. cutting, there can only be one winner. In order to find out which one is better, the deciding factors would be the cutting size and the quality of cuts.

The Cricut Explore Air 2 daybreak machine makes use of a fine-tipped German carbide blade that can cut through a wide range of materials with ease.

It also has much greater precision than the Cameo 3, which seems to make poor quality cuts in certain materials.

Statistically, the Cameo 3 requires two minutes more than the Explore Air 2 for the same cuts. But where the Cameo 3 shines is in terms of cutting size.

It is capable of cutting 10 feet in length in comparison to a measly 23 inches of the Explore Air 2, which is not even 2 feet!

In brief, if the limitation of cutting size doesn’t matter to you, the Cricut Explore Air 2 would be the better choice as it offers much better accuracy and cutting quality than the Cameo 3.

3. Storage Drawers

While both machines come with compartments for storing accessories and tools, the Explore Air 2 got a bit more practical and functional compartments than the Cameo 3’s.

Both machines have a storage box at the top-left side, but the Cameo 3’s compartment has an odd design, which can only store Silhouette accessories.

In the Explore Air 2, the larger drawer can store tools that you would be using the most, while the smaller drawer can store blades, blade housings, and other accessories.

As we mentioned earlier, it has a magnetic strip in the drawer, which is a great touch to prevent the rattling of tools when the machine is working.

On the other hand, the Cameo 3 has a similar layout of drawers. The two compartments are pull-out drawers that can hold tools and other accessories.

Whereas the Cricut Explore Air 2 offers a slightly bigger storage area while also being more functional than the Cameo 3.

4. Bundled Software

The software package that comes with these machines play a huge role in the quality of crafting; one is the Cricut Design Space and the other is the Silhouette Studio.

In simple words, Cricut Design Space is too simplistic for advanced users, while the Silhouette Studio is best for complex designs.

Cricut Design Space does not require any installation as it works in a cloud-based system. It can be accessed from a browser and be used on any device, including computers and mobile phones.

If your work does not have too much designing involved and you have ready-made SVG files to import, the Design Space would be a perfect choice as it has a very user-friendly interface.

On the other hand, the Silhouette Studio is a full-fledged program that can take your crafting to another level. The user gets to work with and fine-tune nearly every aspect of a design.

If that’s not enough, they also have a ‘Design Store’ where you can purchase over 100,000 designs!

However, it all comes with a hefty price. Even for importing SVG files, you would have to upgrade from the ‘Basic Edition’ with $50! It gets even worse if you want to export SVG files;

the upgrade to ‘Business Edition’ costs $100! But in the long run, the price can be a negligible factor due to the prowess the package offers.

5. Connectivity Option

Both machines have Bluetooth connectivity for wireless communication, and can also be connected to a computer with a USB cable.

It is a tie in terms of connectivity as the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Silhouette Cameo 3 don’t have any differences.

6. Ease of Operation

The machines have similar procedures of operation, but the Cricut Explore Air 2 has plug & play ability which allows you to get started with it right out of the box.

Moreover, if you have everything ready and won’t spend a lot of time working on the designs, the Explore Air 2 is the ideal choice for you.

On the other hand, the Silhouette Studio has a learning curve. It may take some time to master it, but once you do, your crafting and designs will surely elevate to the next level!

Furthermore, as the Cameo 3 can cut as much as 10 feet, for long designs, you won’t have to load in cutting mats repeatedly.

7. Accessories and Mats

The cutting mats from Cricut are cheaper, thicker, and retain their surface stickiness for longer periods. They are also more widely available than Silhouette mats. In fact, a lot of people put Cricut mats on Silhouette machines!

On the other hand, the accessory sets from Silhouette are slightly cheaper and make your tasks easier. They can be used interchangeably for both machines.

8. Online Community

Both the Cricut and Silhouette machines have great online communities. You could find solutions for nearly all kinds of problems and troubleshoot by yourself with help from the members of the communities.

Purchasing either of the machines, you get added as a ‘Premium’ member in their communities without an extra fee!

Silhouette Cameo 3 vs Cricut Explore Air 2: Which One Should You Get?

Silhouette Cameo 3 vs Cricut Explore Air 2: Which One Should You Get?

So, which one is better between the Silhouette Cameo 3 and the Cricut Explore Air 2? The biggest difference between them is their cutting size. The Cameo 3 allows you to cut up to 10 ft.

compared to just 23 inches on the Explore Air 2. But the Explore Air 2 has greater precision and quality of cuts.

If your work only involves cutting pre-made designs or if you use the machine for small tasks every once in a while, the Cricut Explore Air 2 would be the ideal choice for you.

On the other hand, if you are a professional, having the large cutting size benefit the Cameo 3 would be more beneficial to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need an internet connection to use the Cameo 3?

An internet connection is not required if you already have the designs downloaded on your machine. But for using Bluetooth connectivity, an internet connection is needed.

2. Is Cricut Explore Air 2 better than Silhouette Cameo 3?

While the Cricut Explore Air 2 offers greater precision and cutting quality, the Silhouette Cameo 3 is unbeatable with its large cutting size of 10 feet in comparison to Explore Air 2’s 23.5-inch.

3. Do you have to pay for Silhouette Software?

The basic version of the software is free, but in order to import SVG files, the upgrade costs $50, and for exporting SVG files, the upgrade costs $100.

You can also purchase plugins for using the software with other editing software for around $40.

4. Can you use Silhouette Studio with Cricut?

Yes, you can. In order to do so, after you are done designing, you would have to export the design from the Silhouette Studio and load it into the Cricut Design Space.

But you cannot operate Cricut machines from the Silhouette software and vice-versa.

Final Words

With all that being said, you should now have a clear idea of the differences between Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Silhouette Cameo 3. The final choice depends on your preferences and the type of work you will be using the machine for.

The single biggest advantage of the Cameo 3 over the Explore Air 2 is its cutting size, which is almost 10 times more than the limit of the Explore Air 2.

But if you want the absolute best quality cuts, the Explore Air 2 would be the ideal choice. We hope to have helped you with our take on the machines. Best of luck!