Sure-Cuts-A-Lot (SCAL) is independent (third-party) software that you can use to design images and drive most craftcutters and many similar devices (like signcutters) directly. It does NOT work with Cricut Expression 2, Imagine, Mini, Joy, Explore, or Maker. There are some slightly illegal hacks that will allow you to use it with earlier Cricuts, though (most Personal Cutters, Expressions (1), Creates, Cakes, and Cake Minis).
I like it because I can use the same program to drive different devices. For instance, I still cut "easy" stuff like vinyl on my ancient Expression (1), while I can use the same program to cut more demanding materials on my Cameo 4.
SCAL doesn't have the design features of high-end vector graphics programs like Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator. Many folks who don't want to invest in those programs learn Inkscape, a free and less powerful program to design their graphics. But ALL of those programs can export files like .svg that are easy to import into SCAL and manipulate from there.
On the other hand, SCAL has cutter-friendly features that vector graphics programs don't tend to have, like the ability to "weld" overlapping shapes into a single shape for cutting (a feature that it shares with Make-the-Cut, Design Space and others). In fact, I've saved .svg files from Corel and imported them into SCAL just to use the "Union" feature, then taken them back into Corel for more tweaking. To say you can't do that with Design Space is the understatement of the century.
SCAL likes to save your projects in a proprietary format, but it is easy to export them in .svg as well. (This is a feature that Design Studio is sadly lacking, for reasons not worth discussing here. Silhouette Studio - the version that you get free with your Cameo or Portrait - can't do it either, for no good reason at all.)
SCAL seems to have ongoing support that includes features of new machines as they are released. For example, SCAL5 supports that Autoblade feature of my Cameo 4.
If you are a SCAL users and you find yourself owning a Cricut Joy, Explore, or Maker, you will appreciate SCAL's ability to export "Cricut-ready" .svg files. In most cases, you can simply import those into Design Space and cut without additional tweaking.
If you're using Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw, SCAL supposedly has an add-on driver that will let you cut patterns directly from those programs.
They insist that you have to have a legal, full version of the software before it will work. I tried it with my legal, full version of Corel Draw and couldn't get it to work, but it is so easy to save the file in Corel Draw and re-open it in SCAL that I never bothered to troubleshoot it.
In addition, you can activate SCAL on two computers at once, and activating on a third or fourth requires only a small add-on-fee (currently $15).
As of this writing (June, 2021), SCAL seems to be the best way forward for anyone wanting to keep using their legacy Cricuts or anyone who wants to be able to go back and forth among various brands.
Questions, criticisms, hints, tips, cautions, welcome,
What is Sure-Cuts-A-Lot?
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