I see lots of posts on Facebook asking about the differences between these two Silhouette machines. While I’m no expert, I do have both and I’ve actually used them both enough to be able to talk about them both.
I think the best way to start is to talk about what about them is the same. To start with, they both use the same software Silhouette Studio. They both cut paper and vinyl with equal ease as well. The Cameo 3 and the Curio both have a dual carriage (meaning you can use more than one tool on a project and with inserting pauses and assigning cut colors, you really only have to send it to cut once, but you can use any number of tools.
Honestly, there’s where a lot of the similarities end. Bear with me here, and I’ll explain.
Cutting Size:The first thing you notice is that a Cameo 3 can use a 12″ x 12″ mat and a 12″ x 24″ mat (and no mat at all). The Curio can only cut 8.5″ x 6″; and 8.5″ x 12″. The Cameo can cut up to a length of 10′ (or more); which the Curio has a hard limit of 12″ in length.
Cutting Mechanics:The Cameo can cut one of two ways; either with a mat or without; but the Curio must use at least a base with the sticky mat. You cannot cut without the base in the machine, the software won’t even recognize the machine without the base inserted. While the Cameo can either cut or draw (actually “plot”); the Curio is able to do that plus, emboss, stipple, etch and tool (leather).
Cutting Depth:The Cameo can only cut materials that are 2mm thick; while the Curio can cut up to 5mm.
Materials: As I said before, the Cameo and Curio can both cut paper and vinyl with ease; but only the Curio can etch acrylic, metal, cut/emboss/tool leather and clay. The Curio applies more downward pressure than the Cameo thanks to the platform system, it’s able to accept thicker materials.
While both can cut clay; it has to be 1mm or less to be cut with the Cameo; which makes it very thin.
I feel the need to interject a side note here. I’ve been asked several times about which machine can cut sugar sheets or fondant. The answer requires me to ask two questions. Have you ever cut anything with the machine before? Do you intend to use this machine to cut anything other than fondant/sugar? If the answer to either of these questions is yes; the answer to your question is neither. Neither machine has the ability to be cleaned well enough to not have tiny bits of whatever you’re been cutting before end up in the sugar or fondant; so it’ not food safe. No, not even if you change the blade. It just can’t be cleaned well enough to pass for food grade use.
Tools: The Cameo and Curio have 6 tools in common. The auto blade, the ratchet, the deep cut blade, the premium blade, Pens and the CB09 off-market blade. There are two ways to use Pens. One is to use Silhouette pens and just simply insert them into the tool holder; a second is to use a pen holder and your own pens. Silhouette has a penholder; and there’s also an off-market one that can be used.
The Curio has specific other tools that cannot cross over to the Cameo. These are the Fine and Wide embossing tool, the etching and stippling tool; in addition to several off-market tools (Amy Chomas Blunt, Etching and new Precision Etching tool to name three).
So I hope you can see that both machine have their place; and each machine has things they can do, and can do them well. The best advice I can give, is to think about the projects you do (and might want to do in the future). It really is a matter of using the right machine for the right project.