Recently, we shared all of the information you need to know about Silhouette blades. And today, we’re talking about cutting mats! Just like you need a good blade for accurate, precise cuts, you need a good cutting mat to act as the foundation for your cut jobs. Having the right mat makes all the difference when working with creative materials.
Every Silhouette cutting machine comes with a cutting mat straight out of the box. That standard tack mat is great for basic projects, but did you know that Silhouette offers other cutting mats for different materials? Or that you can use smaller mats in larger machines? There’s a lot to know about our cutting mats! While you may be familiar with the basics, this post will go over all of the ins and outs of Silhouette cutting mats.
Table of Contents
- What Are Cutting Mats?
- What Sets Silhouette Cutting Mats Apart?
- Which Cutting Mats Are Right for Me?
- Standard Tack Mats
- Light Tack Mats
- Strong Tack Mats
- PixScan™ Mats
What Are Cutting Mats?
You probably already have a good understanding of what cutting mats are. Cutting mats are thin plastic sheets with a sticky adhesive surface that holds your material in place. While some materials can be cut without a mat with select machines, most materials need to be placed onto a mat before cutting. And cutting mats make it easier to load materials into your machine—instead of needing to load every material directly into the machine, the machine’s rollers use the edges of the cutting mat to smoothly roll the material through the cutting machine as it cuts and sketches your designs.
Cutting mats also work to protect your machine during the cutting process by creating a barrier between your blade and your cutting machine. This added layer protects your machine from damage caused by incorrect cut settings, like an overexposed blade or a high Force setting. Without a cutting mat, using the wrong cut settings can damage your blade and even your machine. Instead, the cutting mat offers the protection you need to rest easy, knowing that you can test your cut settings without hurting your machine.
Speaking of cut settings, the mat you use can impact your cut quality, just like your blade choice and cut settings do. Silhouette cutting mats are specifically designed for use with our cutting machines. We offer different adhesive levels for different materials, which we’ll talk about in a moment. Also, you can only get the crisp, precise quality you expect from Silhouette when you use Silhouette’s cutting mats. Using alternative mats can cause your cut quality to drop or become inconsistent.
What Sets Silhouette Cutting Mats Apart?
Silhouette cutting mats are the foundation of every cut you make with your machine. So, we have a large catalog of different cutting mats that each provide high-quality hold and a smooth loading process. If you haven’t picked up a new mat since you purchased your cutting machine, here are three reasons why you’ll want to expand your cutting mat collection.
1. Mats for Every Machine
We know how important it is to get the most out of your machine’s full cutting width. So, we offer at least three cutting mats for all of our cutting machines. Each mat is designed to fit the roller bar of each machine for smooth loading and maximize the machine’s cutting width. Whether you need an 8-in. mat for your Portrait 3 or want to go big with a 24-in. mat for the Cameo Pro, we’ve got you covered.
Another great perk of our mat sizes is that in addition to the largest size available for your cutting machine, you can also work with any smaller mats that will fit your machine. The Cameo 4 series’ adjustable rollers make this possible. No need to pull out the full 24-in. mat for your Cameo Pro if you’re creating a Print & Cut project; simply place the material onto your Portrait mat, adjust the rollers to fit the 8-in. mat, and you’re ready to go! For full mat size compatibility, refer to the chart below.
|Cutting Mat Size||Cameo Pro||Cameo Plus||Cameo 4||Portrait 3|
|24 x 24 in.||✔|
|14 x 15 in.||✔||✔|
|12 x 24 in.||✔||✔||✔|
|12 x 12 in.||✔||✔||✔|
|8 x 12 in.||✔||✔||✔||✔|
2. Three Different Adhesive Levels
Different materials require a different level of hold during cutting. And while all Silhouette cutting machines come with a Standard Tack mat, we also offer two additional adhesive levels in all cutting mat sizes so you can cut a wide range of materials. Thin, delicate materials need a gentle hold, and thick materials may need a stronger adhesive than the standard cutting mat provides. Light Tack and Strong Tack mats both have the specialized adhesive level you need to cut any specialty material with ease, giving you more control over your cutting process.
You can quickly tell these different cutting mats apart by checking the color of your mat’s border. Standard Tack mats are clear, while Light Tack mats have a blue border and Strong Tack mats have a grey border.
3. Innovative PixScan™ Technology
PixScan™ cutting mats are an additional cutting mat type we offer in 12 x 12 in. and 8 x 12 in. sizes. With this cutting mat, you can cut precisely around existing images and position cut lines in a specific location on your material using a camera or scanner. This mat is great for crafters working with patterned paper, children’s drawings, and more.
To use the PixScan™ mat, simply place your material onto the mat and use a camera or scanner to take a picture. Then, import the image into Silhouette Studio® and watch as your material appears on screen just as it does on the cutting mat. You can add cut lines exactly where you want them to be to cut existing shapes out of your material, making it easier than ever to cut accurate, precise shapes out of existing printed material. Learn more about how to use PixScan™ mats here.
Which Cutting Mats Are Right for Me?
With so many different mat sizes and tack levels available, you may not know which ones will work best for you, your machine, and your projects. We’ve shared a few resources in the past about how to choose the right cutting mat for you, but we have a couple of questions for you to consider as you decide which cutting mats to add to your collection. (Spoiler alert: these are the same questions to ask yourself when you’re picking blades, too!)
What machine do you have?
Picking the right cutting mat size is fairly straightforward. Each Silhouette cutting machine has a different maximum cutting width, ranging from 8 to 24 inches between the Portrait 3 and Cameo Pro. To get the most out of your machine, you’ll want to pick a mat that matches its cutting width.
What materials will you cut regularly?
When you’re purchasing a new cutting mat, consider the types of projects you want to create. Different materials, especially specialty media, may require a different adhesive level than the Standard Tack mat that came with your machine. Standard Tack mats feature our basic, versatile adhesive that holds medium-weight materials like cardstock and vinyl in place. This is a great place to start for beginners.
If you cut a lot of patterned paper or want to cut unique shapes out of existing images, PixScan™ cutting mats are a great choice. PixScan™ mats also feature our standard adhesive level.
Makers who work with fragile, delicate materials should choose a Light Tack Mat. The light adhesive will not damage materials that easily tear.
Sometimes you need a little more hold for your material, and that’s where the Strong Tack Mat comes in. Craft with felt, fabric, and craft foam and keep it secure while cutting.
Another factor to consider is the material size you’ll be cutting. Let’s return to the Cameo Pro example from earlier—if you regularly create Print & Cut projects with your Cameo Pro, you may want to purchase a smaller 8 x 12 in. or 12 x 12 in. cutting mat so it’s easier to load smaller projects into the machine.
Now that you’ve thought about what you want to create with your new cutting mat, let’s take a closer look at each of the different mat types available.
Standard Tack Mats
There are five different Standard Tack mats—one for each cutting machine, and an oversized 12 x 24 in. mat for the Cameo 4. Our Standard Tack mats are compatible with many materials like cardstock, chipboard, craft foam, vinyl, heat transfer, and more.
Standard Tack mats are available in five sizes:
Light Tack Mats
Light Tack mats are ideal for fragile materials because of the mats’ gentle adhesive. Materials like copy paper, sticker sheets, and tissue paper may tear when used with a Standard Tack mat, but Light Tack mats will hold those materials in place without any damage.
Light Tack mats are available in four sizes:
Strong Tack Mats
Our four Strong Tack mats are built to hold the thickest materials in place. This mat is perfect for materials like felt, fabric, crepe paper, leather, and more.
Strong Tack mats are available in four sizes:
These specialized cutting mats have built-in registration marks so your material appears in Silhouette Studio® exactly as it does on the mat once you’ve imported your image.
PixScan™ mats are available in two sizes:
That’s all we have for you today! We hope you learned a thing or two about all of Silhouette’s different cutting mats. Let us know what topic you want to learn more about next!