Friday, March 18, 2011

The Silhouette SD

(Update: please note that the Silhouette SD has been discontinued by Silhouette America and replaced with the Silhouette Cameo.) 

(If you use this machine with Make-the-Cut, please add your opinions about this machine under the COMMENTS section of this post. Please only comment if you use the Silhouette. Also, do mention if you are using the machine with MTC or Silhouette Studio. If I see any comments relating to any other cutters on this page, I will move or delete it. Thank you.)

MSRP: $299.99 (currently $199.99 on, and $189.99 on

Official website:  Silhouette America

The following user review was contributed by my friend Gale, the owner of Stamps-and-Stitches blog. Gale bought her Silhouette from this past weekend and she just took it  out to play today (mar 17). Thank you, Gale, for sharing your review with us.

------------------------------------------- Gale's review -----------------------------------------

Hi. I'm Gale from I recently decided to switch from the Cricut Expression to the Silhouette SD. My new Silhouette arrived yesterday and I had my computer all ready to play with it. It is a bit involved to use with Make-the-Cut. I had to be sure to install the craft robo controller and drivers but that was easy enough. I used a helpful tutorial from the yahoo group MTC_Tuts to set up the Silhouette to use with MTC. Even so I had some confusion and a few missteps. Somehow my settings changed to the default after I had originally set them, which caused a bad cut. Once I figured that out, I had no trouble whatsoever. I didn't have much luck using multiple papers on one mat but that's something I will definitely experiment with again. It seemed like as the mat moved, some of the papers lifted ever so slightly and got caught up in the machine somehow. It was super easy to separate my cuts in MTC though, and cut them individually. Since I was more comfortable using the same area of the mat each time, I just put the shapes on their own pages and cut each one separately. The Silhouette cut easily even through 110# cardstock in just one pass. In fact, I think could have used a lighter setting. I didn't try cutting anything intricate with the thicker cardstock but it did a great job on thinner patterned paper. I felt that the cuts were more accurate than the ones made by the Cricut and they were very clean and smooth. On thicker cardstock (like the kind Stampin' Up sells) there was just a little at the corners of right-angle cuts that didn't seem to cut through cleanly but I didn't have it on the thickest setting. I think the only thing that is a downer on this machine is the maximum size. Even so I rarely cut any shapes on the cricut that won't fit on this-I just wouldn't be able to cut as many from a single sheet. Also the mats and blades cost quite a bit more and are not as easy to find. But there are instructions online about how to make mats from quilting plastic and cutting boards, which I will try this weekend. It is a bit loud but luckily my craft room is far from all the bedrooms so there's no danger of waking anyone up during a late night cutting session. Anyway it's probably just barely louder than the cricut. All in all, I'm very happy with it so far!

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This is the first card that Gale made with her brand new Silhouette and the Make-the-Cut program. To read more about Gale's adventure with her new cutter, go to

The next user review was contributed by Amy Chomas, the owner of Chomas Creations, the seller of gel pens and gel pen holders. Thank you, Amy, for taking the time to share your review with us!
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I got the Silhouette originally because of the amazing downloadable designs that were offered for the machine.  And they roll in at, get this, a mere $.99 each!  Better yet, you can buy a subscription and for around $16 a month I get almost 150 downloads! (some files are licensed and cost $1.99)  There are other options for subscriptions depending if you want more or less downloads each month.  Now that I’ve got my Silhouette working with Make-the-Cut I will also be able to use all the MTC files I already have, as well as SVG files to! 
The price for the machines isn’t that bad either, I’ve seen them around $180 for just the machine.
Pros on the Silhouette machine:
Works with Make-the-Cut!  There is a great tutorial here on setting up the Silhouette machine with MTC here…
Does an amazing job with the mini gel pen holders to draw or write journaling, even on fine details and is less jerky then on some other machines.
Cuts vinyl, you can even add a vinyl roll to the machine and skip the mat, and will cut up to 36 inches in length this way.
Has cheap downloads available in singles, no pricey cartridges and no designs you don’t want!  They have a lot of designs from companies like Hero Arts, Cosmo Cricket, SEI, and KI Memories.  There are also licensed designs like Peter Rabbit and the Little Miss, Little Mister line.
Does a great job at print and cut when using the Silhouette Studio software and an optical eye.  You print our your image with registration marks in your printer, then put the image into your Silhouette machine which will read the registration marks and cut your image.
Has loads of rhinestone template downloads thru the Silhouette store.
Cuts a perfect circle!
Very quick, but of course you can slow down the cutting speed if you need to.
The Silhouette SD comes with an SD slot to save your designs in for on the go use.
Customer service is very helpful.  There are yahoo groups that can help with small issues and answer any questions.  These ladies have always been super helpful to me. 
Fantastic blog put together by the Silhouette team that gives tons of project ideas and great tutorials.

Cons on the Silhouette machine:
Only cuts to 8 inch in width.
Lacks a lot of pressure, some thick cardstocks like Bazzill may need a double cut to cut all the way through.
Will not cut chipboard.
Blades and mats are pretty pricey.  But there are 3rd party companies that make cheaper blades and you can always resticky your mats a few time.
Around me I need to shop online for the blades and mats as I haven’t seen them in any stores.  They are easy to find online though.
All in all a good starter machine, or a good machine for someone that likes well priced downloadable designs for purchase and doesn’t want to search the internet for files to download.  Very small and very portable.
Thanks, Amy

Visit my blog at for more info, ideas & videos with mini gel pen, mini Sharpie holders for the Cricut & mini gel pen & mini Sharpie holders for the Silhouette. 

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Here are a few things that Amy has made with her Silhouette and Silhouette Studio program:

Thank you, Amy, for the detailed review.

The following review was added to my call-for-reviews thread on the MTC board by poster Paperthreads. Thank you, Paperthreads, for taking the time to share your review with us.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any retailer of electronic cutters.
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I also use and sell the Silhouette machines. Here are my answers on this machine, based on my experience and opinion. I've not cut to my Silhouette with the MTC software, but have cut to it using Funtime, Illustrator, KNK Studio GE, Silhouette Studio, and Robomaster.

What do you like about the Silhouette?
It's a great small machine, at a lower price. so good for getting into the machine market. The optical eye for print and cuts is a great feature. (I believe you can find brand new machines for about $180 a machine, if you look carefully, and shop specials. We were selling them with a large Christmas package over the holidays at $249, and that included the add on package as well as free shipping to the US.)

Does the Silhouette cut vinyl and chipboard?
Yes to vinyl, no to chipboard. The machine doesn't output enough grams of pressure for chipboard. Vinyl doesn't require much pressure, and so it's able to cut that, and in fact, the company has it's own label of the vinyl on the market.

What do you, as the end-user, think about the pros and cons of the Silhouette?
Cons is that it has a smaller cutting width, and lower end on the amount of pressure.
Pro is the new software that it comes with, plus the ability to use other software programs to cut to the machine, such as MTC, KNK Studio GE, and Funtime. Another pro is the optic eye, once yo master how to use it, the technical aspects of it, etc, you can make some really fun print and cut projects with ease.

Is the Silhouette too slow?
Slower than some machines, but not too slow on a file generated within their program, or on a file cut from another program The files that were "converted" to GSD format from outside programs definitely bog the machine down and slow up the cutting, painfully so.

Is the Silhouette too fast?
Definitely not too fast!

What don't you like about the Silhouette?
For those that want to cut a variety of materials and have the ability to do a variety of tasks, this is probably not the machine for you. It doesn't have the tools and accessories or the pressure and cutting width that other cutters have out there on the market.

Would you recommend the Silhouette?
I do recommend the Silhouette for a certain market of users. It's great for a beginner, someone that doesn't know that they would want to cut larger width, and for someone that is a paper crafter only, and looking to do basics with their machine, yet want the ability to be able to design and cut their own patterns/designs. It's price point is a major selling consideration.

How expensive are the mats and blades for the Silhouette?
Replacement blades for the Silhouette are $12.99 The mats are a bit more expensive than other cutting mats, but the GREAT thing about this machine is you can use lots of different materials to create your own mat! Quilters template, flexible cutting boards from the dollar store, and other plastic type materials.

Are the Silhouette machines and accessories hard to find?
I don't believe they are hard to find, they are online, and at some scrapbook stores. There aren't as many accessories for the machine as there are for the other machines, but this is because the machine doesn't output enough pressure to be able to do some of the other tasks.

How is the customer service like for the Silhouette?
That is one thing they have been pretty successful with, and that is their customer service. They have a customer service team, and they have bee pretty helpful through the years. As they moved under their own brand and redeveloped the company, they maintained that customer service aspect of the company, and I hear very little complaints.

We carry a variety of the machines, and I have personal user and knowledge on the other machines out there, not only because I sell the machines themselves, but because I also am a high end user of the machines in a production capacity. The Silhouette machine is used in my other business in production. There are a few things to note though, while I use it in production, a machine used in this capacity only lasts me about a year to year and a half, at which time I have had to replace the machine. After cutting about 45 minutes straight, we have to let the machine "cool down" Note that this is 45 solid minutes of cutting, and there are over 100 pieces on a sheet of paper that we cut, so it's heavy use cutting. We still use the machines in production though, because we can run this machine at the SAME time as we can run our KNK cutters, on the same computer. Outputting to the two cutters doesn't have interference, so it allows us to run two machines at the same time! While the KNK produces nearly 3 times as much cuts in the same time frame as the Silhouette, by adding this smaller machine to our output we are able to cut down on our production time.

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Thank you, Gale, Amy, and Paperthreads for sharing your reviews with us.

Everyone, if you are using this machine, please add your own review to the COMMENTS section below.

Thanks so much!!


  1. i use the silhouette with MAKE THE CUT,and now there is a beta plug in i can do print and cut .it is an awesome piece of software

  2. I am a newbie with my Silhouette but have had a Cricut Exoression for about 4 years. I lost interest in my Cricut a while back so it's been sitting taking up space. I don't have MTC or SCAL so I'm using the Sil Studio. I would also like to note I am on a Mac computer. I am in love with this machine (if u can be in love with a machine!:)) Apparently the original software was not user friendly so people weren't on board unless they were pretty computer savvy. After reading that the new Sil Studio software was so great I thought I'd give it a try. I am so impressed with the quality of the cuts-way cleaner than anything my Cricut can do. I also love the software. I don't really know why you would need or want to use other programs since u can do anything with the Sil Studio. MTC and others seems really complicated and the interface looks too busy to me. Also- YOU CAN CUT 12 inch items in it!!!!!! I cut a border that was 12" long-I just rotated the image diagonally on the mat and it was perfect!!!! Other than borders, I don't know what else I would need to cut longer than that. With all the options in the software I don't see any limitations for me. I love all the designs available at the Silhouette store and have a subscription so I get them at a discount as well! As far as other file types hopefully designers will start creating files that the silhouette can cut without having to convert them. Since Provo Craft has caused such an uproar and so many people are jumping ship, now would be a good time for designers to grab some of the market. Personally if I have to convert a file-I will just look for something else. Anywhooo-sorry this is so long but hopefully it will help someone. Thanks! Oh and I am brand new to your blog and really appreciate all the time and effort u put in!

  3. Hi. Do you know if MTC will work with the new Silhouette being released next month? Silhouette Cameo?

  4. It's really a shame how long I have had my Silhouette and my biggest problem is understanding the blade since I use it with sugarcraft. Hopefully I can use your teachings to learn how to make something already using the Silhouette SD...ugh