On Friday, my Silhouette Cameo came in the mail. This device cuts paper according to an image file; analogously, a printer lays down ink according to an image file. Until a couple of months ago, I had no idea that such a device existed, but now I am full of ideas for it.
When I researched the Cameo online, repeated complaints spoke of how useless the software was. The software that ships with it is woefully inadequate, and, from what I could see, only much good for making circles and rectangles. Silhouette has a wide variety of templates available for purchase, but I don’t want to pay for everything I print, and I want to design my own things.
Fortunately, there is a plug-in available for Adobe Illustrator that allows you to build vector graphics in Illustrator and then export them to the Silhouette Connect program. Unfortunately, this plug-in costs $40. However, to use the machine properly, this plug-in is basically a must, so I treated it as part of the purchasing cost. This plug-in only came out in December, and the previous plug-in was apparently quite out of date.
With this plug-in, I found the Cameo really easy to use. For comparison, it is much easier to work with than a basic desktop printer. You just set the blade to a height appropriate for the paper (thick card stock will obviously require a taller blade than thin printer paper), export the vector graphic to Silhouette Connect, and select the layer you want to cut based upon. You can cut around printed designs; you simply have to include some marks on the print out to help the Cameo optically align.
So, below are some of my first works. The butterfly is not my own design work, but came from a Lynda.com tutorial video; it seemed like a robust test of the Cameo’s accuracy. The second has a design printed onto a yellow background which was then cut out by the Cameo.
There are tons of exciting options for the future. I mentioned my enthusiasm for pop-up books many months ago, but it was too hard to reproduce the work. Now the process of making copies is easy. Additionally, I have always loved paper dolls, which seems right up the Cameo’s alley. I admire bookbinding techniques that allow interactions between the pages through cut-outs; this device is perfect to obtain the reproducible results I would want.
Final conclusion… this thing really makes me want to get a CNC machine.
Or at least a 3D printer.