Advice on upgrading from Cricut Expression

Discuss various cutting machines for SCAL
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Advice on upgrading from Cricut Expression

Post by bunnyhop24 »

I've been using my Cricut Expression for several years with SCAL2. It's worked well for me until the last couple of updates. I've been using the patch, and it's becoming a chore to get my system to run correctly. I'm considering upgrading to a new cutter and to SCAL4.

1. Is SCAL 4 very different from SCAL2? I'm hoping not to have a huge learning curve, as I use this software for my business. I don't have a lot of time to learn new tricks.

2. Has anyone experienced problems with SCAL4 and El Capitan or with Mac in general?

3. Any recommendations for which cutter? I'm considering the silhouette cameo, as I've heard good things about it. My business is small, and I don't want to spend a lot of money.

4. Will my scut files I created in SCAL2 work with SCAL4?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!

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Re: Advice on upgrading from Cricut Expression

Post by SandyMcC »

I can only help with some of your questions but, because I advise a lot of people on selecting a cutter, my questions back to you are these:

(1) What materials do you cut? (the Cameo is very low in cutting force, thus can only handle medium-weight cardstock or lighter, especially when cutting for a business)

(2) How many hours per day is your cutter actually cutting (buying a cutter that's not rated for production work is never a good idea)

(3) What is the maximum cutting width you need? Or desire? Sometimes being able to cut wider widths of materials is more cost effective for a business.

(4) If you could cut other materials or have access to other cutting applications, could that expand your business?
Sandy McCauley
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Re: Advice on upgrading from Cricut Expression

Post by bunnyhop24 »

Thank you.

1. I cut both adhesive and heat transfer vinyl for my business. As a hobby, I sometimes cut medium weight card stock.

2. My cutter runs about 5 hours, 4 days per week. I've had my Cricut Expression for 6 years, and it has cut flawlessly under those conditions, and continues to do so if it weren't for this compatibility problem. I'm amazed and impressed with the workload it withstands, and really don't want to switch to something new. Unfortunately, it's looking like I have no choice. I wish I had never updated my computer, but you can only delay doing that for so long before beginning to have other issues.

3. I need a 12 inch cutting width. I need to be able to cut at the same speed (or faster) as my Cricut has been cutting. My business is not huge. It's just me here in my craft room, but I do cut a lot of vinyl each week.

4. No, I don't need to cut other materials.

Thanks for any advice you have!

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Re: Advice on upgrading from Cricut Expression

Post by cutterpunk »

Have you downloaded the demo version of SCAL 4 to determine whether it's a leap for you? With the new Cricuts, you'll have to export an SVG file from SCAL and cut it using Design Space. You can also try out that software on Cricut's web site (it's online only and you need an Internet connection to cut) without purchasing a new machine. I haven't had any issues running SCAL or Cricut software on El Capitan or Sierra versions of MacOS.

The newest Cricut Explore Air 2 has a "fast mode" for simple patterns cut in vinyl or cardstock, but I read it doesn't work well for intricate cuts. The Cameos have an advantage of being able to cut vinyl without a mat up to 10' long. Cricuts require a mat and so you're limited to 24" long cuts. KNK cutters don't place a limit on length. The Cameo also has a roll feed accessory, so you can cut vinyl directly from a roll.

If you do anything with print and cut, I'd skip Cricut and Silhouette and go right for a KNK machine. Cricut's max print and cut area is 6"x8", which is useless, and Silhouettes just don't seem particularly good at it. Silhouettes are the weakest cutters on the market. Cricuts have a bit more pressure, but both are limited to thin materials in the neighborhood of 1mm. KNK cutters have significantly more pressure and can work with materials up to 2mm and occasionally 3mm, depending on the material. If you work with more challenging, denser materials that may be of benefit. If you only cut vinyl, probably not. :)

All told, the Cricut Explore is probably a better overall cutter than the Silhouette Cameo, but the Cameo is likely a better vinyl machine if that's your sole focus. While KNK machines are more robust, they're also more expensive. There are FlexPay bundles on HSN for the Cricut Explore Air 2, but not for the Cameo 3.

You might also consider a used KNK Zing, which are becoming available as the new Zing Orbit is released. It'll cut better and faster than anything Cricut or Silhouette makes. There are some listed here right now:

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Re: Advice on upgrading from Cricut Expression

Post by jennyc »

bunnyhop24 wrote:

I'm considering the silhouette cameo, as I've heard good things about it. My business is small, and I don't want to spend a lot of money.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!
I don't have any advice for you except that I would not purchase a Silhouette Cameo. I am also a small business owner. I purchased one last December, and I greatly regret it. I didn't really know that much about the higher end machines at the time (Silver Bullet, Klic-n-Kut, etc.) or I would have gone for those. Yes they are pricey, but in the long run it seems that perhaps it might have been a better investment. Since purchasing my Cameo, I have yet to get mine to run consistently. It will not recognize the registration marks unless I mark over them with a sharpie and shine a flashlight at it. If I was just doing a few projects that might not be an issue, but if you are using it for business purposes, this is unacceptable. For a time, I couldn't get the software to work, so I switched to SCAL 4 Pro. So far, I like SCAL; but I can't get SCAL to "talk" to my Cameo. Again, it is the registration marks that are the issue. SCAL crashes when I try to get Silhouette to read the marks.

However, the biggest problem I've had is that the dual carriage system broke this past week. I can assign settings for Tool 1, but cannot assign separate settings to Tool 2. I contacted Silhouette tech support. It was going to be a 30+ min wait on the phone so I sent an email. Three days later they responded with a suggestion to a solution (locate and discard a corrupted file). Didn't work so I wrote them back. Their response was kind, but the gist of it was, there isn't much that can be done at the moment. So I am sort of stuck, and without a lot of support from Silhouette. I can work around it, using just one tool, but I purchased the Cameo 3 because of the dual tool capability.

I don't know if that is helpful to you or not, but from one small business owner to another :) that has been my experience with the Silhouette Cameo. I deeply regret my purchase and am considering other machines.

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Re: Advice on upgrading from Cricut Expression

Post by talanhart »

I have had my Cricut Expression for 8 years. Even though I rarely use it anymore, it was a workhorse for me for many years. About 4 years ago, I bought a Cameo. It also has done an excellent job for me. I cut mostly vinyl. I would check out one of these cutters at Signwarehouse if you are going to upgrade.

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