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Last updated: August 14, 2021

Silhouette Portrait 3 Review

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By
Reviewed by
Reviewed by
Last updated: August 14, 2021
Crafty Hangouts is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
What’s special about it
  • It is recommended for simple DIY projects with materials that are up 2 mm thick.
  • Smart features useful for beginners and a vast collection of designs
  • It is ideal for students and travelling crafters who need a portable model for classes and gigs.
  • It is a great choice because it is affordable, compact and loaded with several time-saving features.
Highlights:
  • Portrait 3 is capable of cutting a lot of common materials that are popular for DIY projects.
  • It is equipped with an auto blade and a sketching pen holder among other convenient features that improve accuracy and efficiency.
  • It is easy to use, budget-friendly and compatible with diverse blades and software that you will find resourceful in increasing your cutting options and creativity.
Editor's Rating
?
CraftyScore is a ranking system developed by our team of experts. It aggregates all the scores given to a product in various aspects including the individual product’s features evaluation given by each expert independently, its customers’ feedback rank, and sales rank.
9.7
out of 10
  • Overall performance 9.8
  • Ease of use 9.8
  • Connectivity 9.7
  • Warranty 9.5
Users’ Rating
4.4
out of 5
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    138 Users’ Ratings
    • 5 stars
      46%
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      48%
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      5%
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      1%
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It is the most recent addition by the popular cutting machine brand. Launched late last year, the Silhouette Portrait 3 is regarded as the miniature version of the Silhouette Cameo because it is capable of cutting just as many versatile materials, only on a smaller scale. It is approximately 30 percent lighter, making it the best portable model for novices as well as skilled crafters who are seeking a space-saving machine for simple DIY projects. Our Silhouette Portrait 3 review provides an in-depth analysis of its most important features to help you learn more about this product so you can make an informed decision. We discuss its design, performance, ease of use and the cutting options it offers, among other key qualities.

In the below Silhouette Portrait 3 review, we also discuss whom this compact cutting tool is best for and explore how it compares to models such as Cameo 3.

Specifications

Cutting area
8 in. x 12 in., 8 in. x 60 ft.
Cutting force
210 gf
Dual Carriage
no
Max. media thickness
2 mm
Connectivity
Bluetooth, USB
Dimensions
16.2 in. x 5.5 in. x 4.4 in.
Weight
3 lbs. 8 oz.
Warranty
1-year (parts and labor)

Review

If you are wondering why Silhouette Portrait 3 is one of the best rated cutting machines on Amazon, then our detailed review of its key features below will let you know why we also recommend it. It is ideal, not just as a starter model but also as a useful machine for several types of creation which we have explored in this guide.

Overall performance

Silhouette Portrait 3 Review

Users of Portrait 3 consider it a bargain because of its versatility and user-friendly features. You can extend the cutting size for larger workload, use automated settings to improve precision and efficiency, pair it with other blades, designing softwares and accessories, and take it with you for work and classes.

Once you get past the initial learning curve with the proprietary software, you will instantly have access to thousands of templates you can store on your local machine. The only downsides you have to contend with is the loud operation, extra costs for adapters, subscriptions and accessories, and the width limit of 2 mm.

So, would we recommend it? Absolutely. It can handle a broad range of materials of varied sizes just like pricier models, generate accurate designs and it won’t cost you a fortune. You can always upgrade later if you need an advanced model such as the Silhouette Cameo 4.

Design and construction

The Portrait 3 features single carriage for a sketching or drawing pen and the cutting blade. A special channel under the blade allows it to support pop-out cutting for matless options.

The cutting machine comes in a classic white color that would suit most décor and a streamlined profile that is convenient for transport and small working areas.

It includes a tool holder which uses the metal strip on the back of the tool to enable Auto tool detection by the software. A lever secures the placed tool and a solid blue color serves as an indicator that the tool has been positioned correctly.

Other design features included are white rollers that grip and move the cutting mat into position. This is when you are not applying a kiss-cut or pop-out cat which do not require a mat.

Workable materials

For its size and pricing, Silhouette Portrait 3 is capable of cutting diverse materials of varied width. It is ideal for cutting sheets for cards, tattoos, stickers, heat transfer, and vinyl. It supports narrow banners, A4 and letter-sized items and rolls that are 9 inches in width.

Additionally, it has mat-free option of 8 x 12 inches which allows you to extend the cutting length to up to 60 feet when you purchase specific vinyl sheets sold by the manufacturer. This provides plenty of cutting space for roll feeding long sheets and repetitive projects such as making stickers. The roll feeder acquired separately also helps to straighten the material as it loads.

Material thickness

Sihouette Portrait 3 supports materials with maximum thickness of 2 mm. These include stickers, finer felt, cards, fabric, or vinyl.

It is also compatible with a number of blades that can cut materials that are slightly thick like foam and chipboard. However, the 2 mm width limit of this die cutting machine would be unsuitable for bulky materials such as balsa wood and leather.

Cutting length

As we mentioned earlier, you can use a roll feeder to extend the cutting ability of Portrait 3 to a maximum length of 60 feet. This is a timesaving feature that allows you to feed more rolls at a time.

Cutting tools

As with other cutting machines from the Company, Portrait 3 boasts of matless cutting capability. This feature lets you feed sticker paper, heat transfer and vinyl materials with backing or lining. You can choose from two cutting options:

Kiss cut: It suits materials with backing like stickers so the blade cuts the top layer only and the backing remains intact. Although it is sometimes referred to as a “die cut” owing to their similar appearance, a kiss cut only cuts the topmost layer while a die cut goes deeper through both the first layer and the backing of the material to create the intended design.

Pop-out cut: This is one of the recent upgrades that are available in Silhouette Portrait 3. The blade makes a special perforated cut leaving the pattern loosely attached to the rest of the material. Once it has finished cutting, you pop out the cut design from the material, thus the name. This matless option favors cardstock and paper materials that don’t include backing. It saves time since you don’t need to attach the material to a mat to cut it. However, this cut mode is absent in models older than Portrait 2 and Cameo 3 because they don’t have the special channel positioned under the blade to facilitate the “pop-out” cut.

Blade

Silhouette Portrait 3 Review

The Auto blade that comes with this cutting machine is one of the features that buyers praise the most. The auto-detection function adjusts the machine to the right settings for the type of material you are using to eliminate guesswork. This speeds up your project and reduces wastage because there is little chance of errors. It also allows you to easily swap blades and to draw because Portrait 3 is compatible with sketch pens and special blades like the Ratchet blade, Kraft blade and the Deep Cut blade which allow you to craft from thick materials. However, this is not the best cutting machine for embossing.

If you are using a blade other than the Auto blade which recalibrates itself automatically, then you can adjust it with the included handheld tool or by using the adjustment socket. Press the blade up and down gently into the socket until the red indicator line is at your preferred setting.

The blade settings range from 1 to 10. 1 is for smooth heat transfer, vinyl and thin materials; 2 to 3 are for cardstock, paper and flocked heat transfer material which are of medium weight; 4 to 6 is for pattern papers and textured cards; and 7 to 10 is for thick projects such as canvas.

Cutting force

Cutting force defines a material’s resistance against the intrusion of a cutting tool and it is calculated to optimize the process. It is denoted in grams of force.

The Silhouette Portrait 3 has a cutting force of 210 gf but it comes with a blade capable of extending into the material to about 1 mm in depth if you are suing a standard blade. This extension can reach up to 2 mm in depth when using other tools and blades. You can adjust the cutting force settings if the blade presses too deeply that it tears the material, or if it is only cutting the topmost surface when you want it deeper.

Software

Portrait 3 is compatible with the Silhouette Design Store, software featuring at least 170,000 of shapes and designs that can be downloaded for use with your machine. It is more affordable than having to replace cartridges since the designs you purchase are stored in your library permanently so you can access them on demand. With majority of the designs costing up to 99 cents, you will have diverse templates for your projects.

Users can choose from a large collection consisting of 3D templates, cuttable designs, specialized fonts, printable patterns, and titles for gift packages and scrapbooks. You can resize these project designs to match your preference and quickly browse them by their type, subject or artist.

To access this collection from your smartphone, tablet or computer, click the Company’s logo icon on the left side of the Silhouette Studio software.

Once you log in the Silhouette Studio, you will find these features that we will briefly explain below:

  • A quick-access toolbar for fast adjustments of the current task.
  • A navigation tab to move around the software.
  • Document tools to select or edit documents.
  • Document tabs to switch among the open documents.
  • Active cut area for creating and placing the illustrations that can later be cut and printed.
  • Panels with more options for cutting your designs.
  • Drawing tools for adding texts and creating shapes in the work area.
  • A gray holding area where you can rearrange the work space. This is a temporary location for designs that will not be printed or cut.
  • Tools of different functions for adjusting your creations.
  • Preferences and themes that you can select and adjust for more cutting options.

Noise level

A number of users have complained that Portrait 3 cutting machine is fairly noisy compared to similar models. So, keep this in mind if you intend to use it in a quiet place.

Connectivity

You can use Bluetooth or USB port to access the smart features of your Silhouette Portrait 3. We like the USB connectivity because it prevents work interruption when the signal drops or when working in an area with poor signal. Once you connect your machine, you are also able to access thousands of prints, fonts and illustrations in the Silhouette Design Store at a monthly cost of $10.

Among the smart features available with connectivity is the AutoDetect mode that allows you to adjust the operational settings to your preferred cutting tool through the automatic tool selection.

Another feature you will like is the PixScan which enables you to place text and images on the mat and then transfer them to USB and wireless devices such as your phone or laptop with a die cutter.

Lastly, there is a Print & Cut function for printing outlines, photos and labels with a separate inkjet printer and cutting around them with a die cutter.

Ease of use

Silhouette Portrait 3 Review

Silhouette Portrait 3 provides a lot of smart and useful features that make the crafting process efficient by increasing accuracy with quick adjustments and speeding up the cutting process. The instant access to a wide range of illustrations and fonts also makes it convenient. It has earned several positive ratings recommending it for beginners and basic projects. However, some users experience a learning curve with operating the software. It would help if there were more guides to help in navigation. Fortunately, the support staff is readily available to help you if you’re stuck. You could also use other design software because this machine can connect to a computer or laptop via USB.

Size and weight

One of the most notable qualities of Portrait 3 is its minimal weight of 3.5 pounds which makes it one of the most portable cutting machines for small-scale craft projects on-the-go. You can take it with you to art classes and events like tradeshows and birthday parties to print cards and other designs instantly.

In terms of dimensions, this model has a compact profile measuring 16.25 inches in width, 5.5 inches in depth and a length of 4.4 inches.

Warranty

Silhouette Portrait 3 is secured by a warranty of one year which is applied when you register it.

Price tag

Portrait 3 costs less than 20 pounds, providing one of the most competitively priced cutting machines to start you off on the creative craft world. Considering it supports a lot of features that the more expensive Cameo 4 does, it has great price-performance ratio. You may also have to pay for some subscriptions and illustrations in the proprietary software. The good news is that you only purchase these designs once and they are stored locally in your library so you can use them whenever you wish.

Color options

Silhouette Portrait 3 Review

This model is only available in a classic white color.

Other features

When you buy Silhouette Portrait 3, you will also receive a blade adjustment tool, Autoblade 2, USB cable, power cable and an adapter for sketch pens. Other adapters required to use other blades and cutting tools have to be purchased separately.

Buyers also benefit from 50 free designs and a bonus 1-month subscription to the Silhouette Design Store subscription when they register their machine.

PROS CONS
  • Smaller and lighter
  • Large cutting size
  • Cheaper
  • Louder

Silhouette Portrait 2 vs Silhouette Portrait 3

Both machines have similar sizes but Portrait 3 has been upgraded with features that absent in its predecessor. For starters, it has automatic tool detection and a tool carriage for pop-out cutting setting and compatibility with more blades and thicker materials. The Auto blade in Portrait 3 has also been redesigned with one-touch reset option that saves time by counting up to the preferred blade depth. Besides that, it is more precise in registering designs accurately.

Reviews from users also indicate that they are less likely to experience unreliable Bluetooth connection and torn mats with the newer version, compared to Silhouette Portrait 2.

The newer edition is half as light as the previous version, it supports Print & Cut and a larger cutting size, and it is compatible with the cutting tools used by advanced models such as Silhouette Cameo 4.

Silhouette Cameo 3 vs Silhouette Portrait 3

Both models have the same cutting force of 210 grams, drawing and cutting features and they support PixScan Technology, USB and wireless connectivity. They can also cut thick materials with maximum clearance of 2 mm.

However, Silhouette Cameo 3 is larger and heavier than Portrait 3. It has dimensions of 22.5 x 6 x 8.5 inches and weighs 6 pounds compared to the latter’s dimensions and weight of 16.2 x 5.5 x 4.4 inches ad weight of approximately 3.5 pounds. Cameo 3 has maximum cutting size of 12 inches x 10 feet while Portrait 3 supports larger sizes of 8 inches x 60 feet.

Conclusion

Unless you are an experienced crafter with large and complicated projects, then you will find the Silhouette portrait 3 ideal for the most common designs. You can created diverse creations with a wide range of fabric, automate some of the processes and sync and save them on your phone or laptop. This model is also compatible with various software and cutting tools found in premium cutting machines.

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