Comparing the Cricut Explore Air vs. Silhouette Cameo 3

Cricut Maker

Both the Cricut Explore Air and the Silhouette Cameo 3 are extremely popular die cutting machines. In this guide, we will thoroughly compare some major differences between them:

Comparing the Silhouette Cameo 3

Released in 2016, the Silhouette Cameo 3 can cut most paper, vinyl and standard fabric materials without a problem. Its largest cutting mat is 12” X 24”, but the Cameo can cut lined media that is up to 10 feet long without a cutting mat. The dual carriage system of the Cameo 3 allows for printing and cutting simultaneously, without needing to stop the machine to swap the blade or pen. The Cameo 3 is blue-toothed enabled and can cut wirelessly.

Special Features of the Cameo 3

The Silhouette Cameo 3 includes PixScan technology, a special feature which makes it easy for users to send pictures from their smartphone or camera to the machine. It can also cut print designs printed on a printer because of its Scan and Cut feature.

With the Scan and Cut print designs that users have printed on a printer can be cut.  

The Autoblade is separately available for purchase and when it is attached to the Cameo 3, it automatically adjusts its length according to the material that is to be cut.

It is a popular machine because of the Silhouette Design Studio software where users can buy, import or create designs. This software allows those with a graphic experience the freedom to create, while those that are not as capable at designing or are not so good with tech will find that there is plenty of help to get them started. This help includes materials, online groups and free videos that guide users through the designing process.

Comparing the Cricut Explore Air

The Cricut Explore Air is easy to use and can also cut and draw up to 12” X 24”. Like the Cameo 3, the Cricut Explore has dual carriages which draw and cut simultaneously. No need to swap the blade and pen here either. Wireless cutting is possible because the Cricut is Blutooth and IPad (IPad 2/ IPad Mini and newer models) compatible.

Special features of the Cricut Explore Air

The Cricut has a Smart Set Dial knob on the outside of the machine. This special feature allows users to set the blade depth and pressure in accordance to the type of material to be cut. There is also a custom option setting that allows specific changes to the depth and pressure for unique materials or cuts.

Cricut Explore is the Design Space Software that is particularly easy to use, even for beginners and those that are not too good with tech. A good internet connection is needed to use the machine with the Design Space Software because it is on an online cloud. The Design Space software does not allow for the creation of advanced designs from scratch, but users can import free svg files.

Comparing the features of the Silhouette Cameo 3 and those of the Cricut Explore Air

Depending on the expectations of the user, the two machines each offer some special qualities that make them both popular. Here the differences between each feature are compared:

Cutting Width and length

Both the Silhouette Cameo 3 and Cricut Explore Air have a 12” cutting width, but the Cameo 3 can cut material up to 10 feet long, as opposed to the Explore which cuts up to 24”.

Cutting Force comparison

 The Silhoute Cameo has a cutting force of 210 grams, whereas the Cricut Explore manages 350 grams. Even though the Cricut Explore Air is not as powerful as other models of cutting machines, it is stronger than the Silhouette Cameo 3 and can cut a larger variety of materials at varying thicknesses. This is mostly due to the German carbide blade that is longer lasting. There are deep cut blades available separately for both machines.

Cut and Draw

Each of the two cutting machines draws on and cuts vinyl.

Print and Cut

Both the Silhouette and Cameo can print and cut simultaneously because of their dual carriage heads. They allow both functions without needing to stop the machine to swap the blade or pen.

Photograph Designs

Photograph designs can be transferred by both machines:  The Cameo 3 uses PixScan and the Explore Air uses SnapMat.

Automatic Blade

The Silhouette has the Autoblade that adjusts the depth and pressure automatically according to the material to be used, whereas the Cricut has a manual knob that has a custom option for changing the depth and pressure.


Only the Cameo 3 has a touchscreen.


Both models have a Blutooth function. 

Is internet necessary?

The Silhouette Cameo 3 does not need the internet to function, whereas in the Cricut Explore Air only the iOS functions without internet.

Software differences 

 The most significant of the differences between the two machines is in the software.  Silhouette’s Design Studio, is more advanced and powerful than Cricut’s Design Space.

 Silhouette is popular with those who want to create their own designs or who want to purchase professional looking pictures. Cricut Design Space users have access to simple designs from the Cricut store.  This software is for the more tech savvy, but with a bit of practice it can be mastered by just about anyone.

The basic edition of Silhouette software allows users to use jpg, bmp, and png files for free, but if they want to use svg files, then the software upgrade costs $50.

The Cricut Space Design software is far easier to use and doesn’t require tech savvy. It is ideal for users that don’t want to create designs from scratch and want to create simple designs of their own. The options are limited with the Cricut software. The software was designed for importing existing designs that have been created in other programs and it requires an internet connection because everything is stored in a cloud. The Cricut software is compatible with svg, png, dxf, gif, bmp and jpg files.

Final thoughts after comparing the Silhouette Cameo 3 and the Cricut Explore Air

Priced the same, the choice depends on the type of cutting force required and the types of materials that need to be cut. The Cameo may be a better option for those without an internet connection.

Hours of fun and creation can be had with both machines so crafters just need to choose the best one for their needs.



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