Equipment Review: Paper/Vinyl Cutters

Which Desktop Cutting Plotter is best for crafting, tinkering, and making? We tried three of them at our Tech Center to find out.

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Comparison Table: Paper/Vinyl Cutters

Companies such as Cricut, Silhouette and Sizzix are familiar to crafters and hobbyists who have used their products to make scrapbooks and stickers. As the DIY movement has seen enormous growth in the past few years, these companies are now targeting their products to the growing market of Makers. Here at the DHF Tech Center we were recently given the opportunity to test out three different Desktop Cutting Plotters in the hopes of finding one that worked well for our space.

The comparison chart below summarizes the technical specifications for each of the cutting plotters that we tested.

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DHF Video Recommendation: It Depends…

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All three desktop cutters that we tested did a really good job at cutting different materials. Which one is best for your makerspace or tech center will be highly dependent on your specific needs. If your users have little or no design experience and want to use a simple interface, or want to have design software on multiple computers, then we recommend that you go with the Cricut. On the other hand, if you want your youth to have control of over a wider range of settings and values, then the Sizzix Eclips 2 or the Silhouette Cameo might be a better fit. For our purposes at the DHF Tech Center, we wanted a cutter with robust design software, so we chose the Sizzix Eclips, which best met that need.

For our cutting tests we used a design for making foldable cube- and pyramid-shaped dice, with perforations or scoring on the folding lines and detail work on the numbers on each side. The photos below illustrate the cutters, mats, and test results for each of the three models that we tested. Click on each image to see a close-up.

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For even more information, including a discussion of the design software and computer requirements for each of these cutters, watch this extensive review video from DHF Program Coordinator Jean Carlos Cedré.

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