Graphtec Silhouette Craft Vinyl Cutter Kit w/ ClipArt CD
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- 16 inches long by 5.5 inches deep and 4.5 inches tall
- 4.5 lbs
- Can handle media up to 11 inches wide by more than 1 yard long, with a cutting area of 8 inches wide by 39.4 inches in extended mode.
- Has a removable SD Card media slot so you can cut saved files without a PC.
- Portable, cost effective, & durable.
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BUYER TAKE NOTICE!!! This product comes with a $10 download card as per the manufacturer, and not the $25 download card as stated in the prior description. The manufacturer has chosen to change the amount of the download card. However, Amazon's SKU still shows the old description.
Top Customer Reviews
First, a little about me. I'm a graphic designer with training in Adobe Illustrator. The Silhouette appealed to me because I could create my own shapes and it was cheaper than buying a more expensive machine plus a million cartridges with something like Cricut. I did a lot of research on Wishblade and Silhouette and found the most positive reviews for the Silhouette so I decided to buy it.
I bought the SD because I liked the idea of an auto-load/eject vs. the original Silhouette manual crank. Now, though, I think it'd be ok with the manual crank. I've never used the "SD" feature of this Silhouette.
I was a little nervous about the learning curve with this machine, but it hasn't been a problem for me at all (I consider myself about a 7/10 for computer savvy). I think this cutting machine might be more frustrating for people who are less computer literate or those who don't want to hassle with setting up shapes to cut in the most economical way (so to not waste paper).
I use the red cap (for "thick" paper) most of the time as the yellow cap just wasn't cutting well enough. I think I use average cardstock from the craft store, like the DCWV stacks. If you have really thick paper like bristol, the plugin I linked to below allows you to set the blade to run over the design multiple times. I haven't tried cutting vellum yet, but supposedly this machine can do that with the blue cap. I tried to cut out some pre-printed designs, but it seems like it never cuts exactly the same way twice, so I gave up trying (even after creating the template I talk about below).
- make my own designs
- not much else to buy after the machine except cutting mats (see my tip below) and paper
- can cut very long designs (not even sure how long because I've never had paper longer than 12")
- small and light, super easy to store
- with the proprietary cutting software that comes with it, paper is wasted [UPDATE: Silhouette Studio (SS) software greatly improves this!]
- a little difficult to use with Adobe Illustrator [UPDATE: easy to export AI as DXF and import into SS, just make sure to ungroup all objects and release compound paths otherwise you'll get errors]
- proprietary ROBO Master software is PC only Mac users need a plugin [UPDATE: SS software available for Mac & PC]
- for some, may have to buy shapes through the Silhouette store, but they are inexpensive
- only cuts up to 8" wide (if you cut the 1/4-1/2" wider they claim it can, you have an indented line on your shape from the wheels)
- lint and pet hair clings to the cutting mats pretty easily. They are hard to keep clean, but still work fine when dirty like this
- when I bought in Dec 09, Vista users had to download a new driver from the Silhouette website (not really a con, just an FYI)
Even though I listed more cons than pros, this is a GREAT buy. I think the pros still outweigh the cons and I would buy it again and recommend it to friends. I guess I'm just paying more attention to the down sides that you probably won't read about anywhere else online.
I downloaded a free plugin for use with Illustrator (on PC, may work for Mac too) from the GraphtecCorp website.
You'll have to test and set up a template to get everything to cut on the paper with this plugin (I made a 8 x 12 document and added a small box to be cut just outside these borders and make sure all of my shapes are within a 1/4" margin of the document and haven't had a problem. The box doesn't cut on the paper, but it lines up everything else to cut properly. I can set shapes to cut almost right at the edges, so no wasted paper!!). If you know Illy and like the freedom it gives you, it's worth the frustration of figuring this out. This plugin gives you a lot of control over the cutting. You can set the paper type, pressure, how many times the blade runs over the design and even the line type (solid, dashes, dots!!).
[UPDATE] I had some trouble with the blade after a few months even when I replaced it with a new one so I called Silhouette customer support and they replaced the blade carrier and blade for free! Their customer support is really awesome and I highly recommend contacting them if you have any trouble (US only 800.859.8243). They also have a great blog with tips and tutorials for using your Silhouette and be sure to check the Silhouette store every week for a free shape download!
My best tip: buy the Cricut brand cutting mats. They are thicker and I feel like they last longer. They are a lot cheaper than the Silhouette brand cutting mats. The only down side is that you'll need to trim them to fit in the Silhouette, but it's very worth it. I thought the Silhouette brand cutting mats were too sticky and pretty thin; it seemed like I was cutting through them after a dozen uses. Paper doesn't stick to the Cricut ones but they hold it in place just fine.
P.S. Read the comments on this review, particularly the ones from "Becky" about how to cut your own fabric with the Silhouette! Thanks for letting us know about that, Becky!
Now for an honest admission: After I had my HORAY IT WORKS moment, I quickly opened Photoshop, did a mask of a profile picture I had, checked the import files supported and moved the mask JPG into the Silhoutte SD. Loaded paper. Selected the cut icon (called craft robo via ballon name) and the thing made some noise and the carriage moved and nothing happend. Hmph. So I did what any male would do, I hit the cut button again, and again some noise and some movement, but no cut image came out.
Oh. Must need a png file instead of jpg. Created that and the thing wouldn't import it. Tried a tif. Noise and movement, but not cutting!
Ok. I give up. Maybe I should send Amazon a note and send the thing back. I wasn't feeling so HORAY anymore. Maybe I should try the instruction disk. HMMM. It needs to rasterize the jpg before cutting, which it did nicely. (they didn't call it that, but duh! anyone knows that it should need to do that). Cut the silhoutte profile. Cool. Horay again.
So, to avoid the fun I had, do the unconsumerly thing and listen to the Instruction CD video. You might learn how to actually use the damn thing...
I suppose if you want something simple, get a pair of scissors. But I imagine it's OK to run with this thing...
All in all it will take about two hours for you to be able to use this for some pretty complicated designs and be able to import your own graphics and clipart.
AGAIN: take the time to view the videos, at least quickly. There are some details like different color lines for solid or perforated cuts. How to really line up landscape and portrait cuts so you don't waste paper and other little things that you might stumble upon eventually with trial and error.
Thanks for reading my review.
Oh, BTW I bought the one with the extra mats and blade.
This one comes with two mats (for non backed media NOT ADHESIVE VINYL). The $275 one come with two mats, a cutter, and some pens (I guess for people who don't have a printer ... )
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