I have been playing with the new Fiskars Fuse machine. Before I got it, I had lots of questions, as I am sure you do. Foremost in my mind was the question of what will it do that my other embossing, die cutting machines will not do? In addition, I wondered how this new machine compares to the other machines? Are parts from one machine interchangeable with with parts from another? In this review I hope to answer these and other questions you might have.
As with all machines, your needs will dictate which machine will work best for you. What you already have in terms of dies, adapter plates, cutting plates, embossing folders may also dictate if there is value for you in upgrading to the Fiskars Fuse.
What does the Fuse do?
This new machine has five different functions including Die-cut+Letterpress, Die Cut+Press (embossed design), Die Cut Only, Letterpress only (inked impression), Press Only. Its ability to do perform these different functions is more a function of the new Fiskars die system rather than the machine itself. If you already have a Big Shot, Big Shot Pro, Big Foot, Zip e' Mate, Sizzix Machine, Ellison, Acuquilt, Accucut, Spellbinders Grand Calibur, Vagabond, or Cuttlebug, etc., you should be able to use the new medium size Fiskars dies in your current machine. You may have to work with the adapter plates and cutting pads a bit to get the correct thicknesses for the various functions. So, you may not need a new machine to be able to Die-Cut+Letterpress, Die Cut+Press, Die Cut Only, Letterpress only, or Press Only.
The Fuse does have the option to cut larger dies that are up to 12 1/4" wide, which puts it in a different class from many of the others that are smaller. Those familiar with the larger Ellison, Accucut, Westminster, and Big Shot Pro machines will appreciate the added value of this larger size format. Until Fiskars is in full production of the large size dies, users of this machine will need to rely on the makers of other large format dies and cutting plates to take advantage of the larger size format of the Fuse. The larger dies are very expensive, as are the cutting plates. The standard platforms and cutting plates for the Big Shot Pro and Westminster machines are perfect fits for the Fuse, so if you are eager to cut with some of your larger dies on the Fuse, you may be able to get what you need from other companies until Fiskars makes them available. I was able to cut hundreds of envelopes on the Fuse using my Bigz Pro envelope die with the same precision that I get with the Big Shot Pro (Westminster). On the Big Shot Pro, the base platform and top cutting plate is required to cut these dies. On the Fuse, you do not need the base platform, just the top cutting plate or black perforation mat. This eliminates the need for a cutting tray as well. I don't have any extra long 24" dies to try on the Fuse, but I suspect that they will work fine for cutting fabric or paper on the Fuse.
The machine itself is very similar to the accuquilt machine, in that it is compact, and folds for storage. It weighs 23 pounds, so it is a bit hefty to carry or move around much. But it is nice to be able to remove it from my table when I will not be working with it.
What will the Fuse do that my Big Shot Pro cannot do? Well, it does fold up. It comes with some dies. The HSN deal included a number of additional dies and embossing plates. But purchasing just the new Fiskars dies, when they become available, will make more sense than purchasing a new machine. Big Shot Pro owners do not need the Fuse, in my opinion. However, the platform set for the Fuse might come in very handy for use on the Big Shot Pro for owners who do not have a nice set of adapter plates that are narrower than the full 12 1/4" ones that are available for the Big Shot Pro might appreciate the 7" width of this set of adapter plates when using dies, embossing folders, and embossing plates made by other companies.
Those who have one of the smaller format machines already, but would like to upgrade to a machine that handles the larger dies and larger homemade embossing folders, the Fuse may be an excellent option. I don't know of any compelling reason for purchasing the Big Shot Pro over the Fuse unless it were price. Getting a great deal on the Big Shot Pro and finding it in stock are tough. I got a good deal on my Big Shot Pro, but the HSN deal on the Fiskars Fuse was a better deal because of the additional dies and accessories. Check the sales, coupons, and do some comparison pricing before making your investment in one machine or the other.
Performance: Although the Cuttlebug did handle the medium size dies for the Fuse, the cutting pressure did not seem to be as great as what is available with the Fuse or Big Shot Pro. I was able to get very nice crisp embossing and printing with the letterpress dies in the Fuse. With the same die in the Cuttlebug, the inking and embossing worked, but not nearly as nice and crisp. The Cuttlebug also required some creative use of paper as shims as none of the Cuttlebug plate combinations worked perfectly with the Fuse dies. I'm sure with a bit more practice, I will find the perfect shim and plate combinations. The Adapter plates for the Fuse come with a nice chart to help you figure out which plates and shims work for other companies dies and embossing plates and folders. That is very handy. For the most part I found their recommendations to work well. Unfortunately, these adapter plates do not work in the smaller machines, due to their 7" width. It might be possible for you to use your existing plates and shims, along with some paper, chipboard, and cardstock shims, making the purchase of the more expensive Fuse adapter set unnecessary. Quickutz wafer dies were the only ones in my stash that were not listed on the nice chart that came with the Fuse adapter set. I quickly figured out the combination of Base, Shim A and Cutting plate works very well with the Quickutz wafer dies on the Fuse.
The optional Adapter set for the Fuse includes plates and shims that measure 12 7/8" long by 7" wide. I do strongly recommend that if you purchase the Fuse, and have dies, plates, and folders from other companies, that you do invest in the Fiskars Fuse Adapter Set. I prefer using these, even with the Fuse medium dies. The platform set that comes with the machine measures only 4.75" x 5.5" , too small for my comfort, even with the medium dies that have this same measurement. The cutting plate for larger dies for the Fuse is not yet available, so I have been unable to check its size. However, the Big Shot Pro cutting plate works very well in the Fuse.
For those who care to do the math, you may find some workable combinations using your current machines, platforms, and cutting plates with the Fuse dies. Here are some measurements of different cutting platforms, plates, and shims that I have in my stash for comparison purposes:
Big Shot Pro platforms measure 12.25” x 14.25”
Cutting Plate .091”
Black Embossing Mat .1130”
Fuse Platforms Regular measure 7” x 12 7/8” Large Platform ?
Shim A .0995”
Shim B .009”
Shim C .041”
Adapter Cutting Plate .1475”
Cuttlebug Platforms measure 5 7/8” x 7 5/8”
Platform A .2940”
Platform B .104”
Platform C .0135”
Black Platform .0585”
Spellbinders Tan Pad .16”
Let me know if you have additional questions.