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Cricut Explore Air 2 vs. Silhouette Cameo 3

Cricut Explore Air 2 vs. Silhouette Cameo 3: Which One To Choose?

​If you’re a designer who works with vinyl or paper cut-outs, then you’ve most probably heard of the Cricut Explore Air and the Silhouette Cameo machines. And if you’re a beginner, then we’d recommend you get to know these cutting machines and possibly get the suitable one if you want to excel in your crafts.

In this guide, we’re going to take a look into the differences between two of the finest cutting machines – the Cricut Explore Air2 and the Silhouette Cameo 3, and help you know which one fits you better. Ready? Let’s dive in.

Difference between Cricut Explore Air 2 and Silhouette Cameo 3 Cutting Machine

There isn’t really any huge difference between the two machines but one notable difference involvs the software used. The Cameo 3 uses the Silhouette Design Studio, which is stronger and more versatile than the Explore Air 2’s Design Space.

Cutting Specs

Both the Cameo 3 and the Explore Air 2 are able to cut more than a hundred different materials, and that’s awesome news for a creative crafter.

Explore Air 2

If you’re looking for the most precise cuts, then we’d recommend you go for the Explore Air 2. This machine is fitted with the extremely efficient blades than deliver precise cuttings no matter how complicated your designs are.

Furthermore, when it comes to the cutting speed, the Explore Air 2 is better, and this is made possible by its Fast Mode function. And with the machine’s dual carriage you can complete writing and drawing or writing and scoring in one easy step rather than two steps.

Cameo 3

The Cameo 3 is a fine machine, but when it comes to the cutting precision and the cutting force, it really isn’t as good as the Explore Air 2. This machine even has a dual carriage feature, but it’s not as efficient as that of the Explore Air 2.

Cutting Sizes

One thing you have to know is that both cutting machines are meant for personal or light commercial use, so they’re just small desktop-size machines.

Explore Air 2

The maximum cutting size of the Explore Air 2 are 23.5 inch for the length, and 11.5 inches for the width. That’s not much, but it’s definitely enough for a hobbyist or someone who operates a small design firm.

Sadly, if you use the Print Then Cut feature, rather than purchasing the designs from the brand’s image store, the cutting sizes go down a bit.

Cameo 3

If you need greater cutting sizes, then you will find the Cameo 3 more appropriate. It’s maximum cutting sizes for the length and width are 10 feet and 12 inches respectively. That, of course, is much more than what the Explore Air 2 offers.

The Software

The software that comes with the Explore Air 2 is known as the Cricut Design Space software, which is easy to use but definitely not as efficient as professional design programs like the CorelDraw or the Illustrator.

Explore Air 2

If you’re a beginner, feel free to use the Cricut Design Space software or mobile app. But if you’re a seasoned crafter, you will find it better to create your designs on a separate program like the Illustrator and upload them to the machine.

Luckily, you don’t get charged anything for uploading your own designs.

Another alternative is to get images from the brand’s online library. You can either pay 99 cents per download or pay a monthly subscription fee of 99.9 USD. Cricut’s online library has a wide selection of designs, but it’s not quite as versatile as that of Silhouette.

Cameo 3

The Silhouette Studio, which is Cameo 3’s design software, is better than the Explore Air 2’s Design Space. In the past, the Silhoutte Studio was seen as not user friendly, but presently, there are walkthroughs and step by step tutorials for beginners, which makes it super easy to use.

You can also get images from the Silhouette Design Store (on the internet) by subscribing to the monthly plan of 9.99 USD or purchasing each download for 0.40 cents.

Ease of Use

What crafters love most about both the Explore Air 2 and the Cameo 3 is that they’re easy to use. For instance, both machines have Bluetooth, have therefore they don’t need to have a wire connection to your computer or mobile device.

Explore Air 2

The Explore Air 2 comes with a Smart Set Dial that’s loaded with automatic settings for most materials, including cardstock, bonded fabric, and vinyl, and all you have to do is select the material you’re cutting.

Moreover, within the Cricut Design Space Software, there are more than 80 other selectable automatic settings based on materials.

Cameo 3

The Cameo 3 comes with a setting that automates the cutting blade’s calibration based on the material that is being cut. With this setting, which is called AutoBlade, you no longer have to worry about the cutting depth.

Apart from that, the huge, intuitive touchscreen of the Cameo 3 makes it easy for you to customize your cut-outs correctly, and this is very beneficial especially for beginners.

Online Community

Both machines have a good online community where you can find solutions for all sorts of issues while connecting with your fellow members. You will find it convenient that after purchasing the machine, you’re automatically added to the community as a premium member without paying for the membership; this applies for both brands.

Both the Cricut and Silhoutte brands are on the main social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.

Explore Air 2

  • Sleek design
  • Smaller cutting size
  • Has Bluetooth
  • A little louder than the Cameo 3
  • Fast and precise cuts
  • Preloaded automatic settings based on material
  • Easy to use
  • Dual carriage
  • Cuts over 100 different materials

Cameo 3 Pros and Cons:

  • AutoBlade technology
  • Relatively weaker cutting force compared to the Cricut Explore Air 2
  • Bluetooth
  • The cuts are slower and less precise than those of the Explore Air 2
  • Dual Carriage
  • Dependable, consistent cutting
  • Cuts over 100 different materials
  • Large cutting size – 10 feet by 12 inches
  • Intuitive touchscreen UI
  • Silhouette Studio software, which is splendid for the advanced crafter

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which one is better? The Cricut Explore Air 2 or the Silhouette Cameo 3?

First off, both machines have pros and cons. But when it comes to the cutting precision and speed, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is better than the Cameo 3. However, its cutting sizes are less than those of the Cameo 3, and thus Cameo 3 is better in that respect.

Do I need an internet connection to use the Cameo 3?

If you want to use Bluetooth, then you need an internet connection; otherwise, don’t need it. You can download designs onto your device then use them later even if you don’t have an internet connection.

Can I use the Explore AIR 2 without an internet connection?

Yes, you can do that by downloading designs to your device when online for later use without an internet connection.


Both the Explore Air 2 and the Cameo 3 have profound benefits to offer, and they also have a few drawbacks. This might make it difficult for you to choose between them, but if you can consider your needs, then you will be able to go for the one that fits you better.

If the cutting precision and speed are the most important factors to you, and you don’t mind the more limited cutting sizes, then you’re better off with the Explore Air 2.

On the other hand, if you want to be able to make bigger cuts, and you don’t mind the lesser cutting precision and speed (which by the way aren’t bad at all), then you might find the Cameo 3 more appropriate.

James M. Rai has been screen printing T-shirts and other textiles professionally and as a hobby for more than 15 years. During that time, he owned and operated a small screen printing shop in northern California for more than 7 years. More recently, James has gotten involved with Cricut and other cutting machines.


  1. I’ve seen a lot of comments about the lack of cutting precision for the Cameo. Can you elaborate on that? I’ve never used either and will be using the machine for mostly vinyls and stencils. Does the blade skip over while designing or does it just start a little off center? I appreciate your insight!

    1. I have the Cameo 3, and the cutting isn’t always accurate, as mentioned in this article. For me, I’ve noticed the blade I use most frequently (the auto blade) will cut through some of the paper part of an intricate design and then not all the way through on another part of the same design. It doesn’t do well with intricate designs. I’ve also noticed that their pre-determined settings for materials aren’t accurate. I haven’t found a single material setting that I haven’t had to alter a little bit. But that may be due to the content of my cuts. Also, when using registration marks for printing on card stock or printable vinyl and having the machine cut it out, my machine can be finicky. Sometimes it won’t read the registration marks, even on regular white card stock. And even if it does, occasionally it will cut up to 1/16” off in any direction. When cutting regular vinyl, it’s pretty accurate. Some of my designs have thinner portions, and it doesn’t do well with that though. And by thinner, I mean 1/16” thickness. The Cameo 3 is good if you don’t have intricate designs. The software isn’t particularly user-friendly, but after using it awhile, it gets easier. There are also several blog posts and videos you can search for to help you. My only real complaint is when using a pen and having it write, it writes the outline of the letters and does not fill them in. There are hacks to get it to do it, but I think this should be a standard feature. I don’t know how many times anyone would just want the outline of letters without them being filled in.

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