What I want to do
I've been wanting to do more laser cutting to prototype things like the Oil Testing Kit, but it's a pain to go all the way over to the llocal shop at Danger Awesome for small parts. And laser cutting leaves ash and smells bad.
I've had my eye on these craft oriented cutting machines for a while but after not looking at then for a couple years I was surprised to learn how cheap they are. The Silhouette Cameo is only $240 on Amazon! So, I ordered one. It arrived today.
My attempt and results
I need scoring as well as cutting, and the Cameo does that by cutting a dashed line at partial depth. Here's a good tutorial.
Getting the cut depth and blade settings took a few tries but it works really well! The free software reads .dxf files, and a $50 upgrade gets you .svg import.
Questions and next steps
It couldn't cut through very heavy cardstock, but maybe I didn't set the cut depth properly; I'll try again. Size was also not well preserved in dxf import, but re-entering the dimensions was easy if annoying. Once you set up the cut settings (by color, like a laser cutter), you can save the file with those settings. You can also save the file to a USB stick and drive the printer directly with that -- no computer needed!
Why I'm interested
This machine is fast and cheap enough that I think we could use it for small runs of manufacturing. Running it from a USB stick means you could drive several at the same time and switch jobs quickly. It does consume blades and cutting mats, but they're not too expensive.
Interestingly, it also holds pens, and ships with a set of silver, gold, and white gel pens. I've also seen DIY pen holders posted on Thingiverse. Cut size is 12" x 10 feet! And there's a more expensive version called the Curio which can cut much thicker material, etch metal, and hold two cutting tools at once.