If you are looking to upgrade to the StarCraft Solo cutting machine, you have come to the right place! Let’s take a look at what this machine can do! I will also show you the StarCraft Solo software, called CREATE. Additionally, since I am a Cricut owner, we will do a comparison of the StarCraft Solo vs Cricut cutting machines to show you if this could be the right Cricut alternative for you!
By the way, this post contains Affiliate Links to companies I have partnered with, such as Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for shopping with my links!
This information provided here will continue to evolve and change as I also learn more about using the Solo and the CREATE software. If you have questions that I do not answer here, please join my Facebook group StarCraft Solo School and we can learn the answers together, and I can also add the questions and answers here so that others can learn from that same information.
I am going to be totally honest with you and share the items I love along with the items I struggled with on my journey with the StarCraft Solo Cutting machine. Previous to this, I have really only owned and used a Cricut machine so I will also spotlight some of the key differences from the StarCraft Solo vs Cricut cutting machines and their software programs. I have also started a YouTube playlist dedicated just to my StarCraft Solo videos that you can view HERE.
StarCraft Solo Cutting Machine – Product Information
The Solo cutting machine was launched in the Fall of 2021 by StarCraft, who you might already know for their line of heat transfer and adhesive vinyl. When I first took my Solo out of the box, I was blown away by how much more professional and sturdy this machine felt and looked as compared to my current cutting machine.
I like that right on the StarCraft website they have some nice big buttons for you to click on that will help you to get started, activate your machine and download the CREATE software. There is also a button where you can download a PDF copy of the Users Manual. Some other helpful information and resources can be found HERE.
Below is a list of some features of the StarCraft SOLO cutting machine
- Multiple Connectivity Options
- True USB, no virtual serial port
- Wi-Fi connects to your home or office network
- Wireless Stand-Alone, great for traveling when no network is available
- USB Flash Drive, cuts PLT files saved from CREATE
- Manual Blade adjustment
- Test Cut Button
- Precision cutting by camera
- Larger Cutting Width/Length
- Larger print and cut size
- LED touchscreen
- LED strip light that you can customize
- Matless cutting of backed materials, such as vinyl
- Offline software – this is the CREATE software
- SVG creation
- No membership fees
One of the first things I did after I plugged in my Solo was to play around with the LED strip light. This might sound kind of silly to some people, but I thought it was so cool that there is a light that I could set the color of!
The ability to manually adjust your cutting blade and how much of it extends from the housing is something that is rather new to me. I have become very dependent on the pre-determined settings on my current machine. Being able to play with or adjust the blade exposure is something that I know I need to focus on and master to get the best cuts for my projects, and as I master that I will update this section with tips and tricks.
I do like that there is a Test Cut Button right on the LED touchscreen. With one touch of the button, the Solo will cut a square with a circle inside of it. This allows you to quickly see if you need to adjust your blade exposure, the cutting speed or pressure. I highly recommend that you always do a test cut, to verify your settings are accurate.
There is also a camera built right into this machine. This allows for rapid automatic photo recognition of small registration marks. What does that translate to in plain English? That you can produce larger print then cut images because the machine dose not require a big thick registration mark in order to figure out where to cut!
Since this machine is larger, it also opens up the possibility for larger cuts. With the Cricut the largest that you can cut with their extra large cutting mat is 11 1/2″ x 23 1/2″. This is because the Cricut Design Space software automatically takes 1/4″ off all sides of your cutting space to help ensure that your designs do not cut off of the material. With the StarCraft Solo the maximum cutting with is 15 1/2″.
I know some people will mention that the Cricut Maker 3 can cut larger than that if you go with the matless cutting option, but I want to point out that you have to use the Cricut Smart Materials in order to do that. With the StarCraft Solo, you can use any brand you like, which gives you more freedom and creativity.
More on Matless Cutting
In researching my information for this article, I went directly to some StarCraft Solo cutting machines experts. Here is what they have to say on the topic.
There is not a maximum length! It’s theoretically infinite! We have had accurate results up to 32 feet. That said, cuts longer than just 8 feet are easy to get off track. But if the roll feed is accurate and the pinch rollers are lined up well, it’s possible to cut as long as your vinyl will allow.– Mike
Sandy McCauley had been a HUGE help to me in learning to use my Solo! She has a wealth of information on various different cutting machines on her site. Here are her tips on matless cutting.
In practical use (and this applies to all professional vinyl cutters with unlimited cutting length), before you cut a large project. you need to feed the length of your required vinyl to make sure you loaded it straight to begin with. You will THINK you have it straight but it’s just like wrapping paper and aluminum foil that you try to roll back up. It’s not straight after all and the longer it goes, the worse the angle.
So, with vinyl, if you don’t test it first and make corrections, you’ll either end up with your blade cutting off the edge of the vinyl at some point or you’ll end up with the vinyl bunching up against the right end cap. There are some tricks used in the vinyl sign business to help with the initial alignment.– Sandy
While I am mentioning experts with using the Solo, I also have to mention Rhonda Mobley. She has some great videos that you can find HERE. My goal is to some day have as much knowledge about using my Solo and Create as these people do.
StarCraft CREATE Software
After you have downloaded the CREATE software, I would recommend going HERE to download the users manual. I have to be completely honest and tell you that I have not had time to read and learn even half of what this software can do!
I do feel that if you are a person that has a background in using a graphic creation tool, like Inkscape, you will probably have an easier time transitioning to the StarCraft Solo software. There are a lot of the tools and functions in this software that are very similar to Inkscape.
If you are like me, and have really only used Cricut Design Space for graphics to use along with your crafts, then you are on the same journey as me. I will be able to help you answer the questions that are tailored to a Cricut owner, by showing you something you know how to do with the Cricut and then how you would do that same task with the Solo. One example of this I have is how to make cards, with the Cricut and with the Solo.
The StarCraft SOLO cutting machine comes bundled with a free copy of the amazing CREATE software. No subscription or upgrade will ever be required in order to cut designs with your SOLO machine. All of the images, shapes and tools you find inside the software are yours to use free of charge.
CREATE is a desktop software that works on Windows and Mac, and once you download it you are ready to go! This means you do not have to be connected to the internet in order to use your StarCraft Solo cutting machine or the CREATE software. And you are not just limited to the images already in the software. You can import SVG, PNG and over 20 other types of files.
While it is taking me longer to learn to use the CREATE software, I feel like part of the reason is that there is SO MUCH MORE that I can do with it as compared to Cricut Design Space. Let’s be honest, Design Space is a watered down version of what many in the graphics world would consider true design software. This is great for the hobbyist, or someone that has never used design software before, but it does mean that there are some things you will never be able to do with that watered down software simply due to the way it was designed to work.
For me, one of the biggest things I was excited about learning how to do with my StarCraft Solo software was to start to make my own SVG files. It is a myth in the Cricut world that you can make SVG files with Cricut Design Space. What you CAN make with Design Space is a layered cutting image but graphic designers know that this is not the same as making a SVG file. If you want to learn more about making SVG files you can read my article HERE.
With the CREATE software, you can save anything you design as a SVG file. This means that you can also export that design and share it with others who can then upload that SVG file to their cutting machine and use the same design. I have already done some videos on this process. In one, I show you how to use an image that already has colors applied to it, which you can see HERE.
Another video I did on the topic of making SVG files with the StarCraft Solo software focuses on using an image that does not have color already applied to it. I have called these images coloring book images in the past, and I have shown you how to upload these and create layers with them in Cricut Design Space. That is why I wanted to specifically show the similar process using the CREATE software. You can see that video HERE.
By the way, if you like the svg files that I show you how to make in these videos, I have added them to my Creative Fabrica FANS page! I will be doing this with all of the svg files that I create.
What does that mean for you?
If you join my Creative Fabrica FANS page, which is a $5 per month membership, you will have access to the svg files I create. These can be used by you, for personal use only, to create any project you can imagine!
StarCraft Solo vs Cricut
Below is quick guide resource that I put together comparing the StarCraft SOLO to the Cricut Maker 3. This is just a summary of some of the key features that I have already pointed out in the information above.
StarCraft Solo vs Cricut – Print then Cut Feature
For years, Cricut owners have been asking for a larger print then cut feature from Cricut. Currently the largest you can do a print then cut image is 9.25″ x 6.75. This means that when you make stickers with your Cricut you cannot fill the entire sheet. I did a full tutorial on making stickers with the Cricut HERE.
With the Solo you can fill an entire sheet with your print then cut images. This means if you are making and selling stickers you can get more stickers on one sheet! This also means less waste of the printable sticker paper. I did a video on this HERE.
Uploading SVG Files
I have a large number of resources for finding free SVG files. With the Cricut you have to upload those to Design Space one file at a time. Once you upload them there is no good way to organize them inside of Design Space to make them easier to find the next time you want to use them.
With the StarCraft Solo CREATE software you can access the CREATE folders on your computer and drag and drop your SVG files right into the design folders. Also, you can create sub-folders inside the My Designs folder so that you can organized your SVG files.
Some people have asked me if I feel like the Solo is a good alternative to the Cricut, and my answer really is that depends on you and what your needs are. Right now, I am struggling with a lot of connection issues with my Cricut. When I try to cut anything, the bluetooth will not detect the machine from my computer. My work around for this is to create my projects on the computer, save them and then cut from the mobile app.
There is a LOT more to learn with using the Solo, since it uses a true design software and not the watered down design software provided by Cricut. This is good since you can do more, but you need to have the time to learn the software.
Which machine is right for you will really come down to what your goal is with the machine, and what features are important to you.
July 2022 Update
In June 2022 I started to experience some weird issues with my Cricut including the following
- Cricut would not connect to the Bluetooth from my computer. I tried all of the re-pair troubleshooting steps multiple times. The only way that I could cut anything with my Cricut was if I cut it from the app on my phone.
- Before resorting to only cutting from the phone app, I did also try connecting my Cricut directly to my computer with the USB cable. Design Space would not find the cable connection.
- One day when I opened Design Space and went to search for an image I know I own, since it is a Disney image and I buy all of those, nothing came up in the search. Design Space was showing that I did not own any images! The next day they were all back, but that was frustrating for the one day I could not cut things I knew I owned.
- I started to experience cutting issues. I was cutting a rectangle shape and it cut it so slow I could have cut it faster with a paper trimmer. The Cricut would cut one side of the rectangle, then stop like it was done cutting, then it would start up again and cut the next side, then stop again like it was done cutting.
- At this time I also noticed that my cuts were not clean any more. I would find little edges or pieces that I needed to trim off with a scissors. This was not hard to do since I was doing a lot of rectangles and straight line cuts, but it does kind of defeat the purpose of using an electronic cutting machine. I changed out my blade, even though I knew it was pretty new. I got a fresh mat to see if that helped but nothing made it better. The only thing that worked for me was to start doing a double cut on every cut I made.
Due to my frustration with the issues I was seeing, once I finished my card making series that I had started with my Cricut, I packed that machine up and have switched over to my Solo. I will still be able to show people how to work in Cricut Design Space, but I want to be completely honest here so that everyone knows that my projects will now be cut with the Solo.
This does also mean that when I create projects with the Solo, I will be able to save them as a true SVG file that others can use. As always, I will add any SVG files I make to my Creative Fabrica Fans Page, and you are welcome to use any of those for personal use. You can click HERE to join that page for just $5 per month.