Reported by Heather Strenzwilk
Last month I had the opportunity to review the new Slice Elite Cordless Design Cutter from Making Memories. The Slice Elite weighs less than a pound, is cordless, measures 5″ x 5″ and can cut shapes, shadows and emboss a variety of surfaces, including cardstock and fabric. Shapes and letters can be cut to size in half inch increments ranging from one to four inches. The portable unit comes with a rechargeable battery and has about 60 minutes of cutting time when fully charged. Making Memories generously provided a pink Slice Elite starter kit plus paper and accessories from their two new product lines: Dilly Dally and Tie the Knot.
Since I had purchased the original model of the Slice just a month earlier, I was eager to find out if the Slice Elite really did cut 40% faster, cut materials twice as thick, and cut more precisely than its predecessor. The portability and ability to cut to size convinced me to purchase my original Slice, and I find myself using the Slice daily for crafting.
The latest model (the Slice Elite) is the same size and weight as the original Slice and is available in two new colors: pink and baby blue. The starter kit contains: the machine, power cord, glass cutting mat, 5 extra cutting blades, re-positionable adhesive, Basic Shapes design card, hex tool for adjusting the cutting blade and instruction manual. The machines work the same way but the Elite is faster and has a quieter motor and cuts more smoothly. Because I don’t own the optional “Hands Free” accessory kit, I hold the base of the Slice with both hands while it cuts.
My original Slice did a good job cutting paper and embossing cardstock. At times the cut shapes and letters were distorted or did not cut completely through the paper. This is especially true for textured cardstock. As you can see in the photo above, the old Slice didn’t cut completely through the cardstock but the Slice Elite cut through it easily.
Either version of the Slice is easy to use. Each unit comes with a brief instruction booklet (nearly identical between both models) but I initially learned more from watching online videos. The written documentation was adequate for basic cutting, but I felt it was lacking for the more advanced tasks such as adjusting the blade and replacing the blade with embossing or drawing tips.
The Slice Elite is very easy to operate. The machine arrives partially charged but the manufacturer recommends charging it for an hour prior to its first use. Spread a thin ribbon of re-positionable adhesive on one end of the glass cutting mat and spread it coat the entire surface and let it dry (about two minutes). It has a slight odor and it will turn clear so you’ll know when it is ready. Making Memories also has a spray re-positionable adhesive which I have not tried yet. Place your media (paper, cardstock, etc) on the glass mat. Smooth it so it is firmly adhered to the mat.
Insert a design card into the slot on the rear of the unit. The power button is adjacent to the design card slot. Prior to cutting for the first time the Slice Elite requires a simple calibration process (the machine cuts a sample pattern). Then you can select a category and a shape to cut. Once you have selected a shape, adjust the size (default is two inches and most shapes range from 1-4 inches in half inch increments.) You can also toggle the image style between normal, shadow and mirror. After you have made your selections, press the select button in the center and the blade will rotate to the starting position and a small “x” will appear on the screen to show where the cutting will begin. You can pick up the Slice and place it where you prefer on the paper. When you are satisfied, press the large button on the upper right corner of the gray frame and firmly hold the base of the Slice in place while it cuts.
When cutting is done, the Slice will display a completed message on the screen and ask you to press the Menu button which will lift the cutting blade. If you do not turn off the Slice it will automatically turn off after 15 minutes of non-use. Lift the Slice unit off the glass mat and gently lift an edge of the paper and pull it off the glass. It will easily lift off the glass. To remove your diecut you can use the Slice spatula, a fingernail or a razor blade. I’ve tried them all. The Slice spatula works best on thicker mediums like cardstock but can sometimes dent the rounded edges of a diecut. Personally, I prefer a razor blade because it is so thin.
The re-positionable adhesive on the glass mat can be re-used multiple times before reapplying. I can get anywhere from 5-12 (maybe more) uses before cleaning the mat, drying it and reapplying the adhesive. The adhesive is water soluble and I find it easiest to wet the mat with water and gently rub off the used adhesive into the trash.
Because embossing tips don’t come with the starter kit, I didn’t extensively test them or create projects for this review. However, I did have to contact Making Memories customer service due to the lack of documentation about embossing settings. I had a crafty friend who had never used a Slice help me perform some speed and image quality testing between both Slice machines. We embossed perfectly with the old Slice but continually tore to shreds cardstock with the Elite model, despite numerous adjustments.
A customer service representative from Making Memories assured me that my embossing tips were compatible with both models and she suggested that I decrease the Tip Height Setting by one to help prevent paper damage while embossing. The Tip Height Setting is a new adjustment on the Elite model and is the last adjustment, after Radial Home Offset. I didn’t see a reference to this setting anywhere which was disappointing. But after adjusting the Tip Height Setting I had much better results while embossing on cardstock.
While preparing this article I cut many, many shapes and letters out of many weights of paper, cardstock, vellum, vinyl and lightweight cardboard. Because the old Slice and the Elite both come with the same “Basic Shapes” design card, my friend and I were able to cut simultaneously. These “races” did in fact verify that the new Slice Elite is faster than the older model. It is also quieter and you don’t have to hold the base while cutting quite as firmly as the older model. In side by side image comparisons, we found the cuts from the Elite to be more precise. Curved areas and open areas were in general more cleanly cut and straight edges were straighter.
Here are a few of my tips for optimal Slice use: I think the Slice works better when it is plugged in versus running on the battery. I prefer a razor blade to the Slice spatula because I can lift the die cuts with less edge damage. Although I cut most media “pretty side up”, I find colored Slice vellum (discontinued product) works better cut pretty side down resulting in less white edges. The cutting tips are small and can get lost on a craft table. When I replace a cutting tip with an embossing tip I put the sharp cutting tip in the embossing tip box so it doesn’t get lost. Design cards are the same size as cards from my digital camera and can be stored in Nintendo DS game storage cases (don’t tell your kids!) The Slice has three cutting speeds and I use the low or medium setting because I find the images to be the most precise and the unit is easier to hold in place while it is in use. Lastly, with a little practice you can cut images very close to each other for maximum usage of paper and cardstock.
I am very happy with my Slice Elite and have used it during every craft session since receiving it. I find the portability and small footprint to be helpful in my craft space. I’m able to maximize use of my designer paper because I can cut anywhere on the paper. The themed design cards are small and easy to store. After waiting for several years to invest in an electronic die cutting machine, I’m very happy with the Slice Elite by Making Memories.
- Lightweight and portable
- Flexibility to cut designs or emboss anywhere on a page
- Themed design cards are small and easy to store and are available in many varieties
- Very easy to alter image size or special effects such as mirroring or shadows
- Design cards can be used on both the original and newer Slice models
- Written documentation is brief, users without access to online demonstration videos are at a disadvantage
- Maximum size for output is four inches
- Unit tends to slip while cutting slicker surfaces such as vinyl, vellum and metallic paper
The great folks at Making Memories are giving away the newest member to the Slice Family, the Slice Fabrique to one lucky reader. Just answer the any of the following questions in the comment section of this article on this blog to be entered: