Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Silhouette SD Review (part3): Cutting with MTC

UPDATE: Please note that there is now a MTC-Silhouette Plug-in available that has made cutting to the Silhouette a lot more easier than described in this post. For more information, please read this post: Silhouette SD Plug-in Now Available!

My post yesterday seemed to have stirred up even more questions about the Silhouette SD. I can't answer every question in detail right now because I am still trying out this machine but in a nutshell, I used the Silhouette Studio to do the Print-and-Cut (PNC) yesterday because that was supposedly the best way to do PNC with the cutter. I am still going to continue using Make-the-Cut to do my projects, especially when Silhouette Studio is unable to open SVGs. There is a round-about way of getting the SVG file into the Silhouette Studio and it involves converting the SVG file into a DXF file in a program like Inkscape, and then opening that DXF file in Silhouette Studio (see scrappydew's tutorial here).  The whole point of me looking for a new cutter is so that I can use Make-the-Cut. However, if I decide to keep this cutter, I will use Silhouette Studio for Print-and-Cut and Make-the-Cut for everything else. By the way, my card yesterday was made with a Lettering Delights' GRAPHIC set and not SVG.

By referring to this tutorial, I managed to setup my Make-the-Cut to cut to the Silhouette, but not before spending too much time trying to figure out why the Silhouette wasn't cutting. It turned out that I did not set the correct printer port when I was adding the Graphtec CC330L driver. My video tutorial below will walk you through the steps of adding the driver and setting up Make-the-Cut so that it cuts to the Silhouette SD.

Additional tips: (added 4/17)
If you can't find the Graphtec CC330L driver in your computer, go to this link to get it.  

Also, there are 2 additional steps that may enhance your cutting experience. Please refer to this post before cutting to your Silhouette SD cutter from the Make-the-Cut program.


Tammy, a blog reader, had asked that I cut out a frame from Lettering Delights' Provencial Princess SVG set, to see how it looks like when cut out with the Silhoutte SD.  

I imported the file at 72 DPI (Use Actual checked) and did not change the dimensions. The frame measures 3.1948" x 3.9123" and this is how is looks like when cut by the Silhouette SD:

I used the Kraft cardstock that I bought from Michaels' (recollections brand, 65lb) with the PINK blade cap and I found that there were several places where the cut wasn't all the way through. I had to do some creative weeding in order to get to this:

Despite that the machine can't cut very deep, I was happy with how nicely the cut out turned out.

Next, I cut the same design in the same size through my Cricut Expression. I set Pressure at maximum and the Blade Depth at 5, and this is the cut made by the Cricut Expression:

I have to admit that it was easier to weed out the unwanted parts from the Cricut cut out even though the Silhouette's cutting mat was a lot more sticky. However, the cuts made by the Cricut left a lot to be desired. Just take a look at the two cutouts when they are put aside each other.

Look at the distorted cuts from the Cricut Expression on the  right side:

Once again, the frame on the right was cut by Cricut.

Notice that the cut out made by the Cricut was pretty distorted compared to the cutout made by the Silhouette. 

I am still testing the Silhouette and today I am going to be using the Silhouette to cut out some different weight paper. I'll tell you all about it in my next review post. ;-)

Edit:  Both frames were cut from Make-the-Cut. One using the Silhouette SD cutter, and the other using the Cricut Expression.


  1. Fantastic review, Jin. An FYI, the FAIRY CUT software is about to introduce an upgrade that allows an easy conversion from SVG to cut on Cricut. It was up then taken down after a test found a glitch -- it should be up in a day or two at

    Ellen ♥ CardMonkey

  2. Jin - thanks for the wonderful service you are providing for us crafters with these frank and detailed reviews. I am one who has ordered a Lynx to replace my Cricut. But like you, I am interested in print and cut capabilities and I find the Silhouette to be an interesting possibility. Your blog is always thought provoking - and enabling in the best kind of way. (As an aside - I am grateful that I did not go the Cricut Imagine route. I am afraid I would be having serious buyers remorse right now if I had.)

  3. Yes, thank you again for the service you are providing for us crafters. Some are leaving comparing info but not actually test driving and showing what each can really are "Johnny on the spot"...thanks

  4. Thanks for all you are doing to give everyone a informed review of the Silhoutte

  5. Hi Jin!

    Another great post! I can't wait to see tomorrows. :)

    Kristina Werner has a lot of really good videos showing to how to use the shilouette software, she uses SCAL also. Here is the link to her Youtube channel just in-case you don't know about her/want to look at a few of her videos.

    She has a Cricut/Shilouette video, that is similar to this post, where she cuts the same design on each machine, the Shilouette cut was so much more detailed... much better then the Circut cut. If I can find the video I will send the link to you.

    I hope you have a wonderful day!

    Ruthie :)

  6. Thanks, everyone. I'm glad that y'all are enjoying my review. :-)

    @Ruthie, thanks for the info and link. I've seen her name mentioned a few times but I'm not familiar with her work. I'll have to check out her channel. Thanks so much! :-) {{Hugs}}

  7. Another fantastic, piece of information.
    and I agree Kristina Werner is another great papercrafter that gives excellent tips and information on her UTube site.

    Thanks Linda

  8. The reason why the Cricut did not cut as good is because it is not meant to cut images that are not from the cartridges. The machine is made to cut cricut cartridge images.

  9. Thanks so much for the post and detailed review. I am definitely liking what I am seeing w/ the Silhouette, especially the print and cut capability. I am hearing different things about the max width- is it 8.5" or 8"- i.e. do you have to cut down an 8.5" paper by 1/2"? I am also wondering about the rumor that they are coming out with a 12" model, if that is the case I can donate my expression and cartridges to the school I work at :). Thanks- I look forward to your other reviews!

  10. Hi Jin,
    I also want to say a big "Thanks" for all this detailed information! I feel like I should thank Provo Craft b/c I never would have known about these other cutting machines, if it weren't for the silly lawsuit!

    I *just* bought the little Cricut 2 weeks ago, I think I will try to return it to Michaels and get a refund. If it doesn't work with MTC then I don't want it.

    I sure hope your other cutters arrive soon b/c I really want to know what you think of them! I will definitely be buying something that's MTC compatible next.

    Keep up the awesome work!

  11. "Anonymous said...

    The reason why the Cricut did not cut as good is because it is not meant to cut images that are not from the cartridges. The machine is made to cut cricut cartridge images.
    Interesting-This same comment, almost word for word, is on the Kwerner blog comparison post.

    I want to add that I have cut cartridge images that came out just as "wrong" as the one shown in the post.

    Jin, thanks for the reviews!

  12. Wow. It looks like a different design almost based on the cutter. I would love to hear if you think you could get an all the way cut if you changed the SD settings.

  13. wow! what a difference in the cut! thank you for sharing your knowledge and helping everybody out!

  14. Jin-

    Thanks for the detailed report. I am a newbie crafter bought a cricut and MTC right before the lawsuit news. I was going to keep cricut and never update MTC. But after reading your post about Silhouette, I am going to reture cricut (if possible, I bought it less than three weeks ago) and get Silhouette. One question: did you test cut on different thickness paper/cardboard?
    Thanks for the awesome work!

  15. Thank you Jin, I placed my order for a Silhouette last night I plan on getting two cutters and had pretty much decided on the Silhouette as one of them. After reading your reviews I was sure. I am looking forward to seeing your reviews on the other two cutters.
    Thanks again
    "It's M.T.C. for me!"

  16. Jin,
    Thanks so much for doing this. It will be nice to have an unbiased review. I watched a few videos ...can you weld fonts?

  17. Can you use SCAL 2 with the silhouette?

  18. Lynn, SCAL3 is out now which will work with the Silhouette. It's exactly like SCAL2, the only difference is that it dropped the Cricut machines (from what I've read on their forum).

  19. Hi, I had this trouble with the cutting on the Silhouette machine (not cutting through completely) until I discovered the double cut feature, now I never have any trouble with bits getting missed! Its one of the options when you are chosing the cutting levels.

  20. Hi, I bought last year my cricut, and when I was trying to install SCAL I realized about the law suit, I live in Mexico and was not able to return my Cricut, so I am stucked with their very expensive cartridges...
    Now I am looking at other possibilities, I just don't know if the silhouette SD is the same as the Silhouette CAMEO, and in case they are different which one is best? Thanks for all the info, you've made my decision making a lot easier, now I'm convinced I have to switch to Silhouette!

    1. Hi annat, the SD has been discontinued and replaced by the Cameo.

  21. Tip: I heard that double cut is the best way to cut through thick material without having to "weed" out the not really cut pieces.