Which ScanNCut Should I Buy?
Boy, do I get asked this question A LOT! I’m personally on SNC #3 (the SDX 325) and I started with the previous CM model 650W so I’ve been around the block a bit on this. The thoughts in the post below are just from my personal experience. I’m not a Brother employee, dealer, or any type of Brother ambassador. If a model number I discuss has a + sign after it, then that means that model and all other model numbers higher than that one. So a SDX225+ would mean the SDX225, 230, 330, 330D, etc. The models mentioned in this blog post are for models sold in the USA and this post contains affiliate links where I’ll make a small commission from the seller at no cost to you.
NOTE: I’m a fabric crafter not a paper or vinyl crafter. So this post is geared strictly to cutting fabric with a ScanNCut.
First of all, as a fabric crafter, why should you get a ScanNCut vs. a Cricut or Silhouette? Because the SNC can scan in paper applique patterns and cut your shapes exactly to the size needed for the pattern. But better yet, the cut file created by SNC is called an .fcm file and .fcm files can be imported into software like BES4 or Simply Applique (a module extracted from BES4 with fewer features and therefore less expensive than BES4) or into Embrilliance Stitch Artist 2, and with the touch of one button, turn that .fcm file into an embroidery applique file. It makes the placement line, tack down line, and the final blanket, satin, or motif stitch that works with all home embroidery machines regardless of brand. You do NOT need a Brother embroidery machine to do this because the embroidery files created in any of the software mentioned above works on all home embroidery machines. Magic my friends; pure magic. Check out my playlist on YouTube to see how this is done.
Let me start by saying that ALL ScanNCut machines scan and cut the same. They all use the same optical scanning and blade cutting technology no matter whether you have the basic SDX85 or the top of the line (as of July 2022) the SDX330D. However, there are differences in the on-board screen size, the number of dpi (dots per inch) for scanning resolution, number of designs internal to the machine, accessories that come in the box, the ability to scan a 24″ mat, and most recently, the ability to ‘talk’ to the Brother Luminaire via My Connection technology. I’ve added some comparison charts at the bottom of this post.
If you see a SNC with an F in the model number, the F stands for fabric so this one usually comes with a gold fabric blade and gold fabric mat. However I just purchased an SDX325 (no F in the model number) and it came with both the gold blade and mat as well.
If the SNC model has a D in the model number, it has internal Disney designs and therefore will be more expensive than one without. For instance, the SDX330 is less expensive than the SDX330D but the only difference between them is that the 330D contains Disney designs. If you have smaller grands, then this might be worth it to you. From the age of 2-4, my granddaughter ate, lived, and breathed Minnie Mouse.
The newer SDX325+ models have a wireless capability to talk to the Brother Luminaire XP2 (or an upgraded XP1 to XP2). If you don’t need that capability because you don’t own a Luminaire, then you might not need to purchase that model of SNC and you might look around for a last-chance SDX model from a dealer that is being phased out by Brother and will be at a lower price with the same features as the latest & greatest with all the bells and whistles. Even if a dealer doesn’t carry that model any longer, they will still provide support to you.
I’m Confused by All the Mats. What are the Differences Between Them?
All mats are at least 12″ wide but there are two different lengths: 12″ and 24″. When you buy a SNC, you only get 12″ long mats in the box. If you want a 24″ mat, you must purchase it separately. You cannot interchange the mats between the older CM models and newer SDX models. The mats are different so if you have mats from your CM model of SNC, you’ll need new ones for an SDX model because the mats for the CM model won’t work. However, the color codes are the same between them.
The stickiness of the mats are determined by the color of the mat.
1. BLACK SCANNING MAT – No sticky. It has a clear flap to keep dust and fur out of your scan. I use this to scan paper applique patterns.
2. AQUA MAT – Low tack for paper or quilting cottons with a substrate on the back like HeatNBond or Hot Fix Adhesive. You can put fabric side up, HNB side down, paper off.
3. PURPLE MAT – Standard tack. Do not put paper on this mat and if you use it to cut fabric, mirror the image and put fabric side down and paper side up. Paper on.
4. GOLD MAT – The stickiest of all the mats. This is great for heavier grade fabrics like wool, cork, or felt. I don’t really recommend this mat for quilting cottons because the mat is so sticky, your cut pieces may warp out of shape as you remove them from the mat.
All of the above refers to the mat as it is brand-new sticky out of the package. Once you’ve been using them for a bit, they will lose stickiness and you’ll be able to use quilting cottons on a less sticky fabric mat without issue. To clean the mat, I use the Costco version of Cottonelle Wipes and LA’s Totally Awesome cleaner found at the dollar stores.
As a fabric crafter, I’d also get the Scanning Mat to be able to scan paper patterns on a non-sticky mat. The Scanning Mat has a clear flap to scan paper patterns to keep the pet fur and other dust or hair out of your scanned image.
Fabric can also be cut on the teal or aqua low tack mat and those aren’t standard in the box so you might want one of those. The mat below is the one I use to cut fabric with HeatNBond on the back: Fabric side up / HNB side down / paper off.
If you will be cutting large amounts of fabric or shapes larger than 12″ say for a bench pillow, then a 24″ mat might be something you’d use. Note: Only models of SDX225+ can scan a 24″ mat. They ALL can cut on a 24″ mat, but only 225+ can scan a 24″ mat. If specific fabric placement is paramount, then you’d need a 225+. If you’re just cutting quilt block shapes from a whole 12″x24″ long piece of fabric, then scanning wouldn’t be needed.
I’ve never needed or wanted a roller feeder since vinyl isn’t my jam, but it might be something you’d want. I’m not sure, but I think the roll feeder might be model dependent. Please check with your dealer.
What About the Different Blades?
Basically, there are 3 different blade types:
1. STANDARD BLACK BLADE – This is used for everyday cutting of vinyl, paper, and I use mine to cut fabric, cork, and felt. It’s an all-purpose blade.
2. GOLD FABRIC BLADE – This blade has a finer edge to cut quilting cottons and other light weight fabrics.
3. ROTARY BLADE – This blade is ideal to cut lace, organza, cork, wool, or just about anything else.
There are also additional kits you can buy for embossing and rhinestones. I’ve seen it done but I don’t personally own these so I can’t speak to them.
Should I Purchase From a Dealer?
If you are interested in one of the higher end models, usually you can only get those from dealers. All of my SNC machines have come from a Brother dealer, however Brother USA sells on Amazon so a machine purchased from them will come with a manufacturer’s warranty. Dealers will provide you support if you need it for technical issues and some offer training. Some dealers can sell their machines online and then you get the ease of an online purchase, but you still get dealer support from them even though it’s an online purchase. For instance, this Disney model is selling on Amazon from the Brother Store and will come with a Brother warranty.
Here’s a little nugget… Unlike sewing machines, dealers aren’t restricted by state or region where they can sell some models of ScanNCut machines. So if you see a machine online that you want and it’s not in your state, give that dealer a call and see if they will ship it to you. 🙂 The benefit? Many times you can skip state sales taxes that way. The downside? If you need to bring it in for service, you’ll have to ship it to the dealer where you bought it. But call them first. They may just be able to help you resolve the issue over the phone or they will have Brother Support give you a call and Brother can take care of the issue. Brother will stand behind their products whether you bought it from a dealer or not.** In all my SNC years, I’ve never had to bring a machine in for service.
**Note: If you see a new SNC online with a price that’s too good to be true, then it probably is. Brother machines purchased outside of the US, from say India, are not supported by Brother and any professed warranty won’t be honored. Be careful where you buy online. If the price is significantly less than what’s offered by the Brother Store on Amazon or Brother.com, the seller is probably not authorized to sell Brother products. If you’re not sure, attempt to call them to ask. Don’t believe the seller via email because you can’t tell where the email is coming from. If you can’t reach them by phone (overseas call) then steer clear. This warning applies to new online machine purchases vs. a used machine from a private seller on eBay or Etsy.
My Budget is Tight. Is the SDX85 a Good Buy?
In short, yes! The SDX85 that I show in my Amazon store is wireless ready and uses an app on your phone to transfer designs back and forth (or a USB) to your laptop or to the Brother Canvas. Also, while the color screen on the 85 is very small, again… it cuts the same as the higher model numbers and can be more reasonable for your budget and you can send designs to the Brother Canvas and then do all your manipulation on your computer screen vs. the tiny screen on the machine. Here’s a link to Brother with a video about it Brother SDX85 | ScanNCut DX SDX85 (brother-usa.com)
What if My Dealer Doesn’t Offer Training?
You might consider signing up for the ScanNCut Create Box class subscription by AmySews.com. I get this box every other month and the training has been phenomenal. She covers everything in a real life scenario and gives you down-to-earth advice and lessons that are invaluable. The classes are there to watch at your convenience. She also has a live box opening where you can chat with her in the chat section of the class.
You also might consider taking the online classes from Alanda Craft. When I started my SNC journey, I took these classes and I learned just about everything I know about the SNC from these two wonderful ladies out of Australia. You can watch the classes in the Training Academy (link at the top of the page) over and over and the first basic training session is free. Brother ScanNCut Tutorials Archives – Alanda Craft
ScanNCut Model Charts
Here’ are charts to compare models and I’ve included a download link to them if you want to see them bigger. Note, the CM models are no longer for sale and have been replaced by the SDX models but they are still great if you can find a used one on CraigsList or FB MarketPlace.
Here’s a video I did recently with some extra questions I wanted answer about my SNC. I hope all of this helps you to make a great choice. No matter which model you get, you will open up a whole new world to your sewing room and specifically your applique quilting.
While you’re at it, if you get a SNC, you might as well get a copy of Simply Applique too (needs to run on a Windows OS). If you use a Mac and have Embrilliance Stitch Artist 2, you can do the same thing! If you’re outside of the US, you can purchase a download from that link and not have to pay domestic shipping. Nice! Thanks Allbrands and Brother for that!
I’ve got a playlist about how to use Simply Applique that uses the .fcm file created by the SNC to turn it into applique for your quilting. Let’s go!
So that’s it! If you have other questions, please feel free to comment and I’ll answer as best I can. Hope this all helps!
Thank you and especially for the series on Simply applique. Easy to save the infor on my computer
Thank you for your email on the scan n cut. Very helpful.
Thank you! Great information
Thanks Becky for this very informative email. I look forward to using my SNC with your inspiration and the helpful tips you have supplied.
Very well done! Concise information anyone can access quickly. I’m using the ole CM650W with Simply Appliqué and love love love using this combo.
This article was absolutely phenomenal! I have an old CM 550 model and was always curious if I could use those mats with the newer machines. Thanks for all the information!
This article and the attached videos are a great introduction to this whole SNC process. THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all you do.
Such great information thank you for that!
My question is more about software. Mainly, BES4 or Simply Appliqué. I know you use both but would love to know your thoughts on both.
Thank you Becky for your very informative info for scan n cut machines. I purchased a SDX325 and it arrived a few days ago. Now to learn the Canvas workshop and Simply Applique. by rewatching your excellent videos. This will add an additional service to our longarm quilt business.
I love your tutorials. Is the Scan N Cut able to cut a mylar applique template to use with hand applique? I need to cut several templates from a paper quilt pattern.
Hi, Thank you Becky for the great explanations and comparisons! I am leaning towards a 125E because I can’t find the 225 anywhere, However, on one site I visited it mentioned you could add a seam allowance isn 1/4″ measurements using the SDX325. Is that only true for that machine?