I have to say that the Silhouette SD is an awesome cutting machine/plotter. Just. Awesome. The automatic three-point makes for accurate and easy Print-n-Cuts. With Make-The-Cut! It works with svgs and many more graphics (like the Lettering Delights graphics).
Let me say that I have no experience with the other CraftRobo cutters, just with the Silhouette SD. I would love it if they would come out with a machine that would cut heavier materials and a wider format. But that is just me dreaming!
There are many questions is about blades and blade holders so let me address that first.
1. The original blade and blade holder comes with your machine. Blades are expensive (about $12-$15) so many people look for alternatives. It is also easy to loose those caps for the holder. The caps are interchangeable and allow you to control the depth of the blade. A new blade set (blade, caps and holder) runs about $32 (before shipping).
Update: there is now a listing on ebay for the Silhouette blade for $9.99 (free shipping) Ships from China. http://cgi.ebay.com/CraftRobo-Wishblade-Silhouette-blade-high-quality-bits-/160596061338?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2564456c9a#ht_576wt_905
There is a special at KnK with 2 blades, 2 mats and Easy Tack spray for $29.99 (before shipping).
2. Click blade holder from http://thatsscrapinc.com/clickholder.aspx for $41 ($35 plus $6 shipping). This blade holder uses the Roland blades (the same ones that so many other cutters use, like the Gazelle, the Cricut, the KnK cutters and the Black Cat cutters). These blades can be picked up reasonably on ebay for about $2 each. The blade depth is adjusted by clicking the top ring, settings from 1-6. It works a lot like the Cricut blade holder.
UPDATE: I am now having better results with this holder. I used a video from the BossKuts forum to fine tune my blade holder. It was not adjusted correctly. After this, I have been getting better cuts with this holder and the Roland blades.. The video is found here but I believe that you have to be a member of the BossKuts forum in order to access. The BosKut forum is a private forum, open only to Gazelle owners.
3. CB 09 holder. I have heard good reports about this holder from the Yahoo Silhouetteusers group. It is available for about $25 (after shipping) on ebay. It takes Graphtec blades, which are about $3 each (if purchased in sets and from China) or $5 -$6 (in a set of.6 and shipped from Ohio) on ebay. Blade depth is adjusted by turning the dial at the top, allowing for an infinite number of depths. You will need to learn how to use the holder to adjust the depth.
1. The original Silhouette mats are thin but with good stickiness (almost too sticky at first) and of course they work well. But they are also rather expensive at about $10-$12 each, usually sold in a pack of 2. They are available as a thin media mat (for lighter paper) and a mat for thicker paper and card stock. Supposedly the only difference between the two is the amount of stickiness that they have. I have only used the thin media mat and I use it to cut the Georgia Pacific 110# card stock without any problem. Others report that they cannot cut anything type of card stock on the thin media mat but must use the thick media mat.
If you live near an Archivers you can get a 2 pack of mats (either thin or thick media) for $20.50 ($14.35 after 30% coupon).
2. Cricut mats cut down to size. They are thicker than the Sil mat but reports from the Silhouetteusers group are that they work well. I found a 2 pack of 12x24" Cake mats on clearance at Hobby Lobby ($8 for 2 mats) and picked them up to cut down. I just made one of these and can report that it cut well with the original blade and holder. I have only used it a few times and will update this with any new information after I have used it for some time. It fed into the machine without any problems. I used the 3M spray to make it tacky.
3. The mats that KnK sell. These are not the original mats but they are designed for the Silhouette I have not used these yet, but will report back to you on how they work when I get them. It is reported that they are the cheapest Silhouette mats available. I have not found them any cheaper elsewhere. They are 3 for $14.95 (before shipping). They are not sticky but do include a can of spray so that you can make as sticky as you want.
4. A Quilter's template, cut to size. I found a 12X18" one, with grid marks at JoAnn's for $3.99 (of course I used a coupon). It is heavier than the original mat. This does work, although the edges (where the rollers run) are starting to curl. This does not affect its use and I just reverse curl them as needed. To make it sticky I taped off the edges (where the rollers go) and sprayed it with the 3M Spray Mount. More on adhesives later. You can get one 9x13 mat out of this (original Silhouette mat size) or go with the 9x12" size and get 2 mats out of one template. They are very easy to cut with scissors or a cutting blade (like the X-acto craft knife).
Putting the Tack back on your mat
If the stickiness looses it tack or you are making your own mats there are several options. Personally I like the 3M Repositionable Spray Mount. I purchased it at Michael's for about $14 but of course I used a 40% off coupon (about $10). One light spray is all that it needs. It holds paper well enough that it does not move, yet it comes off easily and it does not really feel sticky. Just a little tacky.
Some recommend running the mat through the 9" Xyron with the Repositionable adhesive. I tried this (without the machine, I just placed it on) and have not been pleased. It was and is sticky enough and has lasted well but the adhesive comes off in little "glue buggers" on the back on my paper. Although it did work, I will not be trying this again since I am not fond of glue buggers.
I used the Crafter's Companion Stick and Spray on my Cricut mats. It worked well but was not as economical as the 3M spray.They also have a Sticky Away Adhesive Remover Spray. It worked well (if left to soak) but I had to use 2 applications to clean the mat completely.
Some other options include the using Krylon Easy-Tack Respotionable Spray, Zig Jumbo Chisel Tip 2-Way Glue, stencil adhesive, repositionable tape runners and Quilt Basting spray.