What Can it Cut?

Silhouette cutting machines are designed to cut a variety of materials including:

Material Characteristics for Cutting

There are several material characteristics that determine whether or not a material is a good candidate to be cut with a desktop cutting machine.

1. Thickness

The material’s thickness is the first obvious characteristic to determine whether or not a material can be cut successfully. This may be either acheived or limited by a combination of the machine and the blade in use.

Machine Limitation - First, there’s the machine’s limitations in regard to the roller bar clearance. If a material can be fed into the machine and rolled through the machine, this doesn’t mean that the material CAN be cut, just that this is the first restriction in determining the material’s viability. 

Machine limitations are as follows:

  • 5 mm - Curio

  • 3 mm - Cameo 4 series 

  • 2 mm - Portrait 2 - 3, Cameo 3

  • 1 mm - Portrait 1, Cameo 1- 2

Blade Limitation - Next, there’s the blade’s limitation. Standard blades can only be exposed to a maximum of 1 mm in length. This means that the blade would only be able to cut materials that were up to 1 mm in thickness, Some specialty blades can be set to longer lengths. 

Blade capabilities are as follows:

  • 1 mm - AutoBlade, Regular Blade (Ratchet), Premium Blade, 1mm Manual Blade, Rotary Blade

  • 2 mm - Deep Cut Blade, 2mm Manual Blade, 2mm Kraft Blade

  • 3 mm - 3mm Kraft Blade

You can get a general idea of the material thickness by holding the material next to the blade and continuing to adjust the blade setting up until the length of the blade matches the thickness of the material.

2. Density

The material’s density is the next characteristic to determine whether or not a material can be cut successfully. Density mostly refers to how tightly condensed the material is, and how fibrous it may be.

As an example, you can take three sheets of material that each are 1 mm in thickness -- a sheet of jello, a sheet of cardstock, and a sheet of steel. Even though the material thickness falls within the machine's capability, the sheet of jello isn't dense enough, and the steel sheet is going to be far too dense to be successfully cut with any blade-driven cutting machine.

Density doesn’t always align with other material characteristics. For example, the flexibility or rigidity of a material doesn’t necessarily tell you that just because you can bend the material, it should be able to cut. For example, a sheet of balsa wood does not bend, but it can be cut. On the other hand, a sheet of kevlar may be very pliable and bend, but it wouldn’t be able to be cut, either.

While there is no simple to determine a material’s specific density, generally speaking, materials that are too dense cannot be cut or will very quickly or immediately impair the blade when cut. On the other hand, materials that are not dense enough, such as handmade paper or tissue paper, may be too delicate and will generally end up tearing instead of achieving a clean cut with a blade-driven machine.

3. Material Properties

Material properties can affect a material’s ability to be cut successfully, even if the general material type fits into a category of cuttable material. 

Aside from thickness and density, material properties can include the following:

  • Embedded objects
    This can either be in the material or on the material’s surface (i.e. glitter chunks). Embedded objects can potentially impair the blade.

  • Surface texture
    This can determine how well the material can be held by the machine’s pinch rollers. This can include materials that can’t be gripped well because they’re too slick, or materials that can’t be gripped well because there is an odd unique texture preventing proper gripping.

  • Backing texture
    This can determine how well the material can adhere to a cutting mat, or if it’s being fed directly into the machine without a mat, how well the pinch rollers are able to grip the back of the material.

  • Brittleness vs. Flexibility
    Materials that are overly rigid/brittle won’t work because they can crack or break instead of being cut smoothly. Materials that are too flexible may not be able to be held in place well enough to be cut.

Material Types & Settings Video

Below is a video to review the information above and show you where the settings can be found in the software.