I'd like to preface this review by saying that the final rating for this machine is based on usability as it relates to SVG files. Since the scanning function has nothing to do with the ability to cut our SVG files, we're not going to discuss this feature and it will not be factored in to the overall rating for this machine. I'd also like to mention that Brother isn't really targeting the paper crafts demographic with the release of the Scan N Cut. Based on the information I have, they're actually targeting the fabric community which is part of the reason the ScanNCut isn't as SVG "friendly". It works great, but the workflow isn't the most efficient.
Cutting SVG Files
Unlike the Silhouette CAMEO, Sizzix eclips and pretty much every other personal electronic cutting machine on the market, the Brother ScanNCut does not give you a direct interface for cutting SVG files. This means that you cannot connect the machine directly to a computer. (Note: The unit does have a USB port so this could change in the future). In order to cut SVG files with this machine, you'll need to login to the ScanNCut Canvas website, open your file and convert it to a proprietary .FMC format which you then transfer to a USB flash drive that plugs into the ScanNCut for cutting. Let's take a look at the steps involved in cutting SVG files in further detail.
Note: The Brother ScanNCut is currently NOT compatible with Sure Cuts A Lot or Make The Cut! software so this is the only method for cutting SVG files.
1. Login to Brother ScanNCut Canvas website https://scanncutcanvas.brother.com (Registration required).
2. From the Project Menu, select Import SVG/FCM file...
3. Click Choose File.
4. Locate the SVG file you'd like to convert, click Open.
5. Once you have the SVG file selected, click OK.
6. The file will appear on your virtual cutting mat. Click the Project option and select Download for ScanNCut...
7. Unless you name your project in a special field, the ScanNCut Canvas software will convert the file to Untitled.fcm. Right-click Untitled.fcm and click Save Link As...
At this point, one of the files has been converted and saved to your desktop or flash drive. If you only need one file, you're done. You can take the flash drive, connect it to the ScanNCut and cut. But if you're like us and use more than one SVG file (usually dozens), you'll have to repeat the process above for each and every SVG file you wish to cut.
As you can see, this can become a bit tedious. We really hope that Brother sees the benefit in giving users the option to directly interface with the machine. We're not saying they should change the way it works! We can see the benefit of saving files on a flash drive, especially if you're going to a crop or don't want to be tied to your computer. We're just saying that many users would benefit from being able to cut directly to the machine from the ScanNCut Canvas software.
Keeping your files organized, locating and selecting the correct SVG file from a flash drive is going to be a bit harder to do compared to being able to keep your files organized in folders on your desktop. When it comes to using SVG files, the Brother ScanNCut workflow isn't ideal, but it does work.
How Does It Cut?
To be honest, I'm not completely in love with the level of accuracy of the Brother ScanNCut. When cutting, I noticed that the blade housing wasn't very sturdy, it seemed as if it was a bit wobbly. The good thing about the ScanNCut software is that our files open at the correct native size so you don't have to worry about resizing any of the SVG files required to create our 3D projects. When I compared the final cut from the Brother to a cut from the Silhouette CAMEO, the dimensions were identical, but it was obvious that the cuts were not as precise.
One of the major complaints of Cricut Expression users was the machine's inability to cut circles very well, in my testing with SVG files, the ScanNCut doesn't do much better. Larger circles aren't as much of a problem as smaller circles. Take a look at the comparison below, the circles are .14" in diameter and were cut using Brother's recommended blade setting for cardstock. We also tried various speeds without any difference.
Another example of the machine's lack of precision is seen in the tab section of the cut pictured below. As you can see, they are more rounded when they should be straight. We're not 100% if this is related to the conversion of the file or the accuracy of the cutting mechanism. It's not really visible to the naked eye and I doubt it will alter the way the final product looks, but we wanted to show a side by side comparison, especially since our fans want to know which machine is "better". While it's not bad, it's obvious that there are better options, namely the Silhouette CAMEO or the Sizzix eclips. For example, the Sizzix eclips was able to cut a perfect circle at .05" in diameter (click to see photo). The differences are hard to see in the image below. If you want to see a full resolution comparison, click here.
Mats and Blades
The mats are also a bit expensive and we had a bad experience with the mat not staying sticky, even after two or three cuts. Based on Amazon reviews, it looks like we're not alone. (Click here to see the reviews). The cost for replacement blades is in line with CAMEO and eclips (around $10).
If you're looking for a cutting machine to use with our SVG files, or SVG files from other sources, I would consider looking at the Sizzix eclips2, Silhouette CAMEO or the Cricut Explore. At least until Brother gives users the ability to cut SVG files directly from the ScanNCut Canvas software. But even if Brother enabled a direct way to interface with the cutting machine, the precision doesn't match up to that of the Silhouette CAMEO and Sizzix eclips. The machine gets the job done, but it's simply not as efficient, precise and cost effective as some of the other options out there.