Did you know that there are 3 main types of cutting/punching devices? You have manual die-cutting machines, electronic die-cutting machines and computer-driven cutting machines.
If you are an experienced crafter and create a wide variety of creations, you may have a device from each category.
You will notice that some machines – especially the well-known brands – excel at cutting, exactly what you want of course.
These have been improved over the years based on extensive research and development, to keep hitting the market with something beautiful and new.
However, there are also models that are below par. My advice is to read the reviews first.
No matter what the seller says about the product, and how good they claim it is, nothing replaces the knowledge and gut feeling you get from reading what ordinary people say.
I'll show you the 3 categories, and give an example of each:
What we discuss in this comprehensive post:
Category 1: Manual die cutting machines
The manual cutting machines usually include some sort of handle that pushes the die through when the machine is operated.
These types of machines are also very suitable for projects using embossing dies.
Undoubtedly, these are the most portable die cutting machines because all they need is just a little hand and arm strength.
A good example of a manual die-cutting machine is the Cuttlebug, a very popular machine that both cuts and embosses well.
A good manual die-cutting machine for beginners is the Gemini Mini from Crafter's Companion. This very simple die-cutting machine comes with a pair of standard cutting mats and a standard platform.
You can use it for making cards, photo frames and decorations, so also for scrapbooking.
This lightweight machine is compact and portable and can cut quite a few different materials. Nice for the starting crafter.Check the latest prices here
- it couldn't be simpler
- great for scrapbooking
- compact, easy to carry and clean up
- too limited for the advanced DIY-ers and crafters
- durability is questionable
Category 2: Electronic punching/cutting machines
Electronic die cutting machines must be plugged into a power outlet. Electricity is their power source and without it they will not work.
This is usually not a problem because there is always a socket somewhere close to the place where you will be working.
Cricut is a very popular die cutting machine in this category. Cartridges with shapes or fonts are placed in the Cricut and then cut out.
The Brother CM Series and the SDX-series ScanNCut devices all have a scan function and can be used as stand alone.
The Brother ScanNCut is still the only cutter on the market that also has a built-in scanner.
This is of course super handy, not only for scanning and then cutting out designs, drawings, images from magazines, and so on, at the same time you never have to throw away a leftover piece again.
You can position your design exactly on the leftover piece of material.
This device works without a PC, but if you prefer to work on your computer, tablet or telephone, you can do that in the free Canvas Workspace software.
But what exactly is the difference between the CM and the SDX series?
The CM series and the newer SDX series of course have a number of differences, I will tell you which advantages the SDX has compared to the CM series:
- a fully automatic knife that itself senses the material to be cut, and therefore adjusts the knife pressure and the depth of the knife itself
- the 3 mm cutting depth, can cut balsa wood, thick felt and worbia (the CM series can 'only' cut material up to 2 mm thick)
- much quieter to use
- cuts even more accurately and twice as fast
- the scanner has become much better and faster (from 300dpi to 600dpi)
- has a roll feeder, for larger stickers for the wall or car, but also for textile printing in larger numbers.
The SDX ScanNCut is for sure my favorite cutting plotter. Which Brother ScanNCut suits you best, however, depends entirely on what you want to do with the machine.
The CM300, for example, is suitable for crafters who are looking for a basic, affordable cutting plotter and do not need WiFi.
Crafters and quilters who work a lot with stickers or who want the latest technology should go for the SDX.
The SDX can instantly convert almost all your embroidery designs into cutting files!Check prices and availability here
- scan capability
- great quality and technology
- heaps of craft options
- stand alone
- more than 600 built-in designs, the SDX1200 even more than 1300
- Only the SDX1200 has an auto-adjustable blade for thin fabrics, a pen holder and comes with various pens
- The price of these machines will put some people off
- It takes time to fully understand these devices
Category 3: Computer driven cutting machines
Some die cutting machines require a computer and sometimes an internet connection before they can be used.
These digital die cutting machines are certainly the most complex of the three machine categories. But they allow users to download designs, fonts, and graphics from the Internet.
This allows you to cut virtually any design to any size.
The Silhouette Cameo 4 is an example that falls into the computer-controlled category.
The Silhouette must be connected to a computer with Internet access in order to be used. Then the machine user has access to a huge number of designs.
The Silhouette Cameo 4 is a really good DIY desktop cutting plotter with a small blade that can cut more than 100 materials up to a thickness of 2 mm.
The machine comes with a power adapter and USB cable, a 12-inch cutting mat and an autoblade cutting knife, a crosscutter and Silhouette Studio design software (compatible with Windows 7 and above or Mac OS X 10.7 or above)
At 18 x 57 x 17 cm, it is a bit on the large side, but can work with A4, A3, A5, A6, A7 and A8 paper.
The Silhouette Cameo has a touch panel that allows you to upload, download and pause your projects.
The roll feeder is conveniently stored in the drawer of the machine, you can use it when you want to quickly cut vinyl and heat transfer material.
On the back there is a built-in cross cutter for cutting a tight straight edge.
Its tool-sensor technology decides which tool you use and then activates the Silhouette Studio software to automatically adjust the cutting settings.
The Cameo 4 is powered by 2 motors and can therefore cut up to 3 times faster and more powerful than its older brothers.
You can purchase 4 blades separately that are specially designed to work with the Cameo technology.
The Rotary Blade, Kraft Blade, AutoBlade and the Punch tool. You can also cut matless cardboard and other materials.Check prices and availability here
- cuts over 100 types of material, some without mat
- fast results for larger projects
- long cutting lengths
- ability to load multiple tools at once
- can cut up to 3 meters wide
- can cut in two different ways.
- the machine can only use one tool at a time
- various blades not included
Watch the Cameo 4 in this YouTube video:
Which machine suits you best, and what else you need, depends on so many factors that I can't put it into just one article. That's why I always recommend reading reviews.
I hope this article answers your questions about the different types of die cutting machines available for sale. If we missed anything, let us know in the comments!