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Before you read our Cameo 3 review, please note:
This is an archived review.
Originally published after the launch of the Cameo 3, this machine has now been surpassed by the Silhouette Cameo 4 — which you can read all about in our review here.
Whilst the Cameo 3 is still a great die cutter, it has been discontinued in most major retailers and is increasingly difficult to find. You may still be able to pick it up in local stores, or used on eBay. But for the best cutting technology from Silhouette, head on over to our Cameo 4 review or our most recent analysis of the best vinyl cutters.
We have kept our original write-up of the Cameo 3 below, but please note that a lot has changed since the time of its initial release!
Patch available to make it Bluetooth compatible (wireless cutting!)
AutoBlade automatically calibrates material settings
2mm cutting clearance
The Deep Dive
The AutoBlade is a Big Win
This is going to make a lot of Cameo users very happy.
No longer do you have to manually adjust cutting depths and hope that you remember for each cut.
By using the AutoBlade setting (one of three, the others being Standard and Deep Cut), the blade settings will be automatically calibrated based on the material you are working with.
This will appeal to nearly everybody who uses the Cameo 3, both the experienced operators who sometimes forget to change the blade depth, and beginners who aren’t sure what the best setting should be in the first place. As a result, the machine’s learning curve is sped up considerably.
To use AutoBlade, you simply tell the software what material you are cutting, select AutoBlade, and let the machine handle the rest.
From our testing, the cuts were excellent quality across each blade setting.
Our rolls of vinyl were sliced and diced to perfection. No reliability issues to report.
Cutting Clearance is Doubled
The Cameo 3’s cutting clearance has risen from a lowly 0.8mm to 2mm.
With the addition of a Deep Cut Blade, this improves the cutter’s effectiveness working on thicker materials. However, as we will get to in our negatives, there is a caveat: the cutting force remains weak .
The Dual Carriage Works Well
While we don’t tend to draw and cut too often, we know many users do — and the dual carriage is one of the nice features of the Cricut Explore series. It also scores and cuts at the same time too.
The Cameo 3 hops onboard with its own dual carriages, and they work very well.
They also make use of the new push locking mechanism, a significant improvement on the unwieldy twist mechanisms of previous machines.
Anything that makes craft cutting a more efficient experience is a huge win in our books.
It Looks Beautiful
Forgive us, but we are suckers for the sleek and shiny.
The Cameo 3 is a beautiful cutting machine that is a pleasure to unbox.
You know that feeling of tearing open a brand new Apple product?
Silhouette provides similar tingles for Craft fans. In fact, there’s something rather Jony Ive about the clean minimalism of this model. It will look beautiful on your desktop.
Silhouette Studio 4.0 is a Big Step Up
Despite waiting for ages for the software to actually be released, we’re super impressed with Silhouette Studio 4.0.
It’s struck the perfect balance for beginners and more experienced users alike, is intuitive to use with plenty of opportunities to create your own designs and really get stuck in.
In our view, it’s a more sophisticated product than Cricut Design Space that’s generally reliable and fun to use.
Here’s a handy introductory video:
Incremental User Experience Improvements
The small touches add up to a significantly improved user experience over the Cameo 2.
Some of the new tweaks we liked:
Media guides on the slide-out tray — In addition to an extended platform, the new media lines are a useful marker for feeding the Cameo.
Touchscreen improvements — The audio alerts took us by surprise, even though we had heard about them during our pre-launch research. The touchscreen interface has been simplified in a way that is clearly targeted at eliminating user errors and reassuring beginners.
New storage compartments — Space is at a premium in our office, so the brand new compartments for the cross cutter and additional work supplies are a nice touch. A nod from Silhouette to the sheer mess their machines create. 😉
Roller locking mechanism — Slide to lock, slide to unlock. Why didn’t they think of this the first time round?!
No Upgrade to Cutting Force
If you were hoping for some extra oomph in terms of cutting power, you’ll be disappointed. The Cameo 3 has the same 221 g/s that was built in to the last model.
This lags behind other top cutters and means that thicker materials such as chipboard, leather and metal are still out of the Cameo’s cutting depth range.
However, it was always optimistic to hope for super-deep-cutting.
Silhouette Cameo 3 Launch Guide
First introduced in October 2011, the Silhouette Cameo has captured the imagination of arts and crafts enthusiasts all over the world; giving us the freedom to design, cut, and create whatever we want. The latest addition to the Silhouette family was announced last month at the company’s Summit in Hawaii.
As you’d expect, news of a brand new Cameo has triggered much excitement in the blogosphere.
We’ve rounded up some of the initial feedback below, as well as a useful video of the new Cameo 3 features.
Blog Coverage of the Cameo 3 Release
Silhouette School Blog — A breakdown of the latest Silhouette products, as well as an insider video of the Cameo 3 direct from the summit.
Craft E Corner — Detailed photos show the inner workings of the new machine.
Silhouette UK Blog — Sneak peeks of the Cameo 3, plus photos of many of the new media features soon to be launched by Silhouette
Terri Johnson Creates — An excellent round up of Silhouette’s new products, including many exclusive photos and a nice video.
It can cut over 100 different materials — that’s all the usual suspects plus a bunch that you’ve never even heard of. It’s amazingly versatile and definitely deserves its marketing slogan as “the ultimate DIY machine”.
We tried it out with paper, vinyl, heat transfer vinyl, cardstock, foil and foam and were pleased with the results — reliable and consistent.
It can cut up to a maximum of 12 inches wide by a mighty 10 feet long. We loved using it for small designs as well as for larger signage projects.
Another significant development with the Cameo 3 is the much-anticipated arrival of Silhouette Studio 4.0, software that promises to make life easier for those who might have previously been turned off by the studio’s dicey learning curve.
Silhouette Studio 4.0 encourages beginners with step-by-step walkthroughs for a variety of common tasks, plus interactive guides.
This will be complimented by a simpler and streamlined interface, including:
A freehand smoothing slider tool
Easier and improved tracing tools
Accurate cut time estimates
The software upgrade will be available free for all Cameo products, although some functionality will only work with the new Cameo 3.
Silhouette is clearly taking steps to reverse the criticism that its software is only for advanced users — we’ll talk more about this below, but we think it’s struck the perfect balance between introductory software for beginners and offering a lot of scope for more advanced users.
UPDATE: How Does It Fare In 2020?
Being totally honest, the Cameo 3 is really due for an upgrade now.
A few years after its release, it does lag a little behind Cricut, its main competitor, who have since released the Explore Air 2 and the Maker. In comparison, the Cameo 3 is a little slow and doesn’t offer quite the same powerful cutting force.
Having said that, the Cameo 3 is still a truly excellent craft cutter that can more than hold its own. The Silhouette community is probably the best on the internet and a raft of updates mean that Silhouette Studio is much improved since we last reviewed it.
What do you think of the new Silhouette Cameo 3 machine?
A strong update? Or will you be sticking with your Cameo 2, Cricut Explore, etc?
Looking for alternative die cutters that might suit you better? Check out this updated guide of the best machines, and be sure to visit our Reviews section for detailed analysis of ALL the top-selling die cutters.
Silhouette Cameo 3 Review
A raft of incremental improvements in the Cameo 3 and some key additions make it a valuable upgrade over the Cameo 2.
Cutting force is still lagging, but its flexibility, the sheer scope of materials you can work with — and the ease of use, tied to Silhouette’s gigantic user community — make the Cameo 3 a formidable craft cutter.
It’s no wonder that it’s still one of the best-selling craft cutters years after its release!
Big cut size
Silhouette Studio updates are intuitive and less buggy than previous ones
Works with lots of materials
Reasonably good cutting capabilities
Ideal for most hobbyist crafters
Weak cutting force
Lags behind the Cricut Explore Air 2 in some respects
I’m a life long crafter with a passion for vinyl cutting — it’s been both a hobby and a career for me over the past 5 years. Everyday I love testing new machines, materials and techniques and passing my tips and reviews along to my crafting friends and readers. I don’t like to play favorites, but it’s hard to deny that the Silhouette Cameo and Cricut cutters hold a special place in my heart! When I’m not in my craft room (and sometimes when I’m in it), you’ll find me playing with my baby daughter and my two furball puppies.