Silhouette Cameo

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The Silhouette Cameo (1st generation) is a CNC tool which takes in flat sheets of material and runs a tool left-right and up-down along it. It is capable of recreating intricate designs with either a knife or a marker. The Silhouette Cameo is most useful for cutting vinyl stickers, but has many other uses.

Two different programs have been successfully tested. On windows and macos, you can use Silhouette's official software. On all desktop platforms, you can use Inkscape with this plugin. Most of this page is written with the assumption that you are using the Inkscape+plugin combination.

Contents

Installing Software

First, install Inkscape.

Second, install the inkscape-silhouette plugin. Instructions for Windows, MacOS, and Linux are on the GitHub page. On Linux, be sure to add your user to the lp group. If you have problems, check the "issues" tab. If nobody is describing the issue you are having, feel free to open a new issue.

Using

Make Your Design

Import a design from the internet or create it yourself. Inkscape is the recommended tool for creating your own designs, but you can use any vector illustration program you like. Popular ones include Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator, LibreOffice Draw, and Affinity Designer.

Plug In

The cutter has a power brick and a USB cable. Plug these in to the wall and your computer, respectively.

Prepare Tool

So far, the silhouette cameo has been tested with markers and with blades.

Markers

For markers, just wrap in enough tape that it will barely fit into the "print head".

Blades

Blades for Silhouette's cutting machines come in cylindrical cartridges. The blade sticks out the bottom of the cartridge and pivots freely.

Bloominglabs has 2 kinds of knife cartridges for the silhouette cameo:

  • the official knife cartridge, made from plastic, which must be totally replaced when dull
  • an unofficial knife cartridge, made from aluminum, with replaceable blades
Adjust Blade Depth

Silhouette-adjusting-generic-blade-depth.gif

It is important that the blade protrude the correct depth. Too shallow, and it will not cut through the material. (This can be used deliberately to score material for folding or tearing.) Too deep, and it will scour the rubber pad under the print head, and prematurely dull the blade.

The manual describes the adjustment process for the official, plastic knife cartridge. It also has recommended depth settings for different materials.

The unofficial knife cartridge is adjusted by turning the knob on the top. It may be necessary to manually drag the blade across your material in order to determine whether it is adjusted properly.

Insert Tool

Silhouette-inserting-blade-cartridge.gif

Tools drop in to the "print head" of the machine and lock in place by twisting the blue plastic knob clockwise. Be sure that the tool is seated all the way down, otherwise you way not cut all the way through, or even at all.

Load Material

Non-Adhesive-Backed Materials

For cutting materials that don't already have adhesive backing, like paper or fabric, it is recommended to use an adhesive cutting mat. (You may be able to get away without using a cutting mat, see examples here.) Cutting mats can be purchased on amazon or at major craft stores. Mats can be re-used a limited number of times, depending on whether the blade is set to be too deep or not and how well the adhesive maintains its hold.

Align your material in the top-left corner of the adhesive cutting mat.

Check that the blue knob on the right side of the cutter is pointing upward.

On the cutting machine, select the menu item "load cutting mat", and feed your cutting mat or work piece in.

Adhesive-Backed Materials

Materials that already have adhesive backing, like vinyl sheets, can be fed into the cutter directly.

If your sheet is less than twelve inches wide, the manual has instructions on adjusting the rollers for narrower sheets.

Check that the blue knob on the right side of the cutter is pointing upward.

On the cutting machine, select the menu item "load media", and feed your cutting mat or work piece in.

Plot the Design

In Inkscape's menu bar, select Extensions -> Export -> Send to Silhouette....

A big dialog box will pop up with lots of options. Generally, you only need to set Tool to either Cut or Pen, and set what Media you are working with. If you find the defaults unsatisfactory, and you are sure that the blade is sharp and set to the correct depth, then you should start playing with the rest of the settings.

Finally, click Apply. The cutter will do the stuff and make the thing.

Links

User manual: File:Silhouette cameo manual.pdf

An archived copy of the product page: [1]

A PDF of the technical specifications: [2]

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