Review: Brother CM550DX ScanNCut Machine

Brother CM550DX ScanNCut Machine.

If you enjoy creating your own cushions, quilts and greeting cards but find it time consuming, this machine will help speed things up.

The ScanNCut machine looks like an inkjet printer. It uses a mat and a blade to cut out patterns. You put the material on the mat, load it into the machine and it cuts out the desired pattern.

There are more than 800 to choose from - including circles, hearts and stars, to words and phrases such as "Happy birthday" and "I love you".

The range of possible materials - papers and fabrics, including regular printer paper, cardstock, vellum, cotton, flannel and felt - is amazing.

If you prefer using your own patterns, you can upload and save images to the machine through a USB drive or scan the image directly using the machine's built-in scanner.

The 300dpi (dots per inch) scanner can be overly sensitive, picking up stray lines or dots created by dust or creases. An edit function comes in handy here, to clean up the pattern and remove unwanted lines.

Use the 9.4cm LCD colour touchscreen to edit and preview the patterns before cutting. It is rather small, but enough to let you resize, rotate and move patterns around accurately. A "welding" function lets you combine different patterns together.

The seam allowance feature is useful if you intend to sew fabric pieces together. It provides an allowance so you do not have to calculate it manually.

You can also load a set of erasable pens in place of the blade to mark sewing guidelines on the pattern. 

Two blades are provided - a standard blade for cutting paper and thin fabrics, and a deep cut blade for felt and other heavy fabrics.

The machine supports widths of up to 29.8cm, letting you create some large patterns. Using cardstock and printer paper, intricate shapes like snowflakes were easily handled by the machine. But, easily separated layered materials, such as lame or foil, will not work.

To keep fabrics from slipping while being cut, you need an adhesive support sheet. Two such sheets are provided. But some fabrics did leave fibres on the adhesive sheet which proved hard to remove. The fabric support sheets will eventually need to be replaced when they lose their adhesive quality.

Papers and thin materials worked well. Felt and thicker fabrics were harder to cut. Felt went out of shape easily, snagging the blade on complicated patterns. The machine had no problems cutting out larger and simpler patterns such as circles, squares, chevrons and hearts.

This machine is quite pricey but is great for saving time and speeding up home arts and crafts projects.



Price: $828

Display: 9.4cm colour touchscreen

Scanner resolution: 300 dots per inch

Cutting area width: 29.8cm

Weight: 3.75kg


Design: 4/5

Performance: 4/5

Value for money: 3/5

Overall: 4/5

This article was first published on July 16, 2014. Get a copy of Digital Life, The Straits Times or go to for more stories.