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I recently got my hands on a Silhouette SD electronic cutter. It’s a little computer-controlled craft robot with very sharp teeth! Use it to cut out designs for all sorts of things: paper crafts and scrapbooking, vinyl lettering, glass and metal etching, stencils, and anything else that involves precision cutting of small planar materials. There’s some pretty neat stuff out there: sticky vinyl, flocked vinyl, magnet sheet, even temporary tattoo paper.

silhouette-midsummerlight.jpg I really like this lamp Meg Allan Cole has hanging in her living room– it’s the Midsummer Light by Dutch designer Tord Boontje. I found a flat-ish picture of the design online and traced over it in Adobe Illustrator, setting to cut out some delicate flowers. Head on over to CRAFT to see how I fared, read the rest of the review, and find a discount coupon code for the machine.

Becky Stern

Becky Stern is head of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site: sternlab.org


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Comments

  1. doug says:

    I got this for my partner as a Christmas gift and, gallopin’ gullywashers, it is amazing.  I get a kick out of the sound it makes while cutting: something akin to a ’60s sci-fi computer, chugging on a problem.

    1. Becky Stern says:

      It sounds just like a makerbot. =]

  2. Dude M says:

    Cricket anyone?

    1. doug says:

      Cricuts have pre-made patterns, like a die cutter, afaik.  This a 4-axis CNC pattern cutter so you have more freedom to slice and dice.

  3. Rich Barker says:

    I wonder how it works!

  4. Jason King says:

    I’ve had one for over a year now and have really enjoyed using it for game prototyping and making small things like stickers and greeting cards. I will say that it has the unfortunate limitation of not being able to cut thicker media (like chipboard).

    If you do buy one, do yourself a favor and make some cheap cutting mats out of dollar store cutting boards and 2-way spray-on glue. The initial cost of a single spray can and three cutting boards is less than a branded mat.

  5. Jason King says:

    I’ve had one for over a year now and have really enjoyed using it for game prototyping and making small things like stickers and greeting cards. I will say that it has the unfortunate limitation of not being able to cut thicker media (like chipboard).

    If you do buy one, do yourself a favor and make some cheap cutting mats out of dollar store cutting boards and 2-way spray-on glue. The initial cost of a single spray can and three cutting boards is less than a branded mat.

  6. bird says:

    I’ve had one for about a year now and I love it!! You can let your imagination run wild then design and cut out whatever you like. I use mine for card making and other paper crafting and would be lost without it now, I post some of the designs I’ve made on my site, for free of course. Here are the GSDs that the Silhouette (Craftrobo in the UK) uses: http://www.birdscards.com/Default.aspx?tabid=599

  7. Heather Bergevin says:

    it totally is like a makerbot except for papercraft and vinyl cutting.  i held off buying a cricut because the cartridges are SO expensive  I ADORE my silhouette.  ANY font you can find in TTF, including windings of all shapes, sizes, and patterns, you can cut joyously.  of course, some are easier to  get out of the paper or vinyl than others, and some cut better, but I’ve made all sorts of thing.  Silhouette Emerica, in case you dont’ know, gives away one free pattern per WEEK, and you can download them free into your account.  You can do anything from lace patterns to learning to make your own photos into old fashioned silhouettes, and anything in between.  I adore it… and since my main computer wiht the program on it is broken down this week, have been missing being able to cut dramatically.
     
    And thanks to the person who suggested an easier way to make cutting boards, because the replacements are the only pricy part of this machine, and the only frustrating bit, because you have to replace about every six to eight months if you use your cutting boards a lot.
     
    anyone use theirs for fabric yet? i’ve hear that you can use it for fabric, even the SD version, but haven’t tried it.  I figure it would be so great to be able to cut out fabric with iron on stuff on the back, and cheaper than iron on vinyl…. seen it done, don’t know if it’s easy. 
     
    Pardon typing weirdness, please.. baby on lap, not illiterate. 
     
    Silhouette blog weekly freebie site:  http://blog.silhouetteamerica.com/       This week it is a cute popcorn box to print and cut.  3D with adorable vintage look stripes.

  8. John says:

    Can someone who actually has one answer a couple of questions please?  This might be perfect for fabricating prototype board games.

    How precise is it?  Can I cut out a deck of cards with it and have the all come out close enough to the same size to actually feel like a deck of cards?

    How strong is it?  Can I cut through mat board with it?

  9. John says:

    Can someone who actually has one answer a couple of questions please?  This might be perfect for fabricating prototype board games.

    How precise is it?  Can I cut out a deck of cards with it and have the all come out close enough to the same size to actually feel like a deck of cards?

    How strong is it?  Can I cut through mat board with it?

    1. Jason King says:

      As I mentioned, I own one and regularly use it to prototype games and make fabricate PnP games from Boardgamegeek. The device itself is very precise; it has an optical scanner to allow the user to print and cut with registration marks. I don’t know how well it would do for cutting out the kind of plastic needed to replicate bicycle playing cards, but I regularly cut 90lb card stock (~250 g/m^2) and thicker transparency sheets. The thickest material it can cut is 300 microns (0.3 mm). To get around this limitation, I’ll typically print layers and glue them together to make tokens for game pieces.
      Hope this helps!