Cricut™ Buying Guide: Finding the right cutting machine for you
October 15, 2021
Whether you’re new to making or you’re a DIY pro, Cricut™ smart cutting machines give you the freedom to design and create beautiful projects anywhere, any day. With three machines to choose from and hundreds of materials they can work with, the project opportunities are endless.
All Cricut machines are controlled by the free Design Space™ app. The easy-to-learn design software can be accessed on iOS and Android devices, as well as Windows and Mac computers. The cloud-based app can be accessed from multiple devices, and you can even work offline. Cricut machines connect via Bluetooth, plus there’s a USB option for the Explore Air 2™ and Maker™ models.
When it comes to choosing a machine, it’s important to consider the ways in which you’re going to use it. If you’re thinking of buying a Cricut machine and are not sure which is right for you, check out the differences below.
Best for: Simplicity
The one for quick, everyday, fun projects
It might be small but it’s mighty. The Cricut Joy cuts 50+ materials with precision. Everything from vinyl and iron-on to cardstock, peel-and-stick label paper.
With the all-new Smart Materials™ in vinyl and iron-on, the Cricut Joy can cut up to 20 feet at one time and doesn’t require a cutting mat in the machine (although there is one provided in case you prefer to use materials you already have to hand).
The Cricut Joy writes, draws and cuts with simplicity. It also caters for the Cricut Cardmat™ which lets you create perfect cards at a moment’s notice.
The machine is totally compact measuring in at 5.5”x8.4”x4.5” and weighing under 2kg. The small size makes it perfect for quick and easy pack-ups. Or if travelling is your thing then there’s a travel case available.
Tools and accessories include in the box: Fine-Point Blade, Fine-Point Pen, StandardGrip™ 4.5”x6.5” Mat.
Consider if: you want to cut longer projects (up to 20ft), you’d like quick and easy crafts such as labels, banners and quick cards or you want something compact that can be stored easily.
Try a different machine if: you’d like to print and cut your own images, you want to use materials wider than 5.5”, or you want the ability to use more tools and materials.
Cricut Explore Air 2™
Best for: Value
The perfect machine for hobbyists
The Cricut Explore Air 2 can cut 100+ materials with precision, delivering exactly what you’re looking for. From popular craft materials such as cardstock, vinyl and iron-on to glittery papers, foils and bonded fabrics.
The machine works by feeding in materials on a cutting mat which comes in 12”x12” and 12”x24” sizes. Smart Materials are not supported by this machine – for that you need Cricut Joy.
Create hand-drawn effects with Cricut pens, and with a versatile fine-point blade, you can cut the most intricate shapes to perfection. For thicker materials, a deep-point blade is also available, and for easy crease-folding, there’s a scoring stylus tool that works great.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 also works with home printers, allowing you to print out your own images and designs for the machine to perfectly cut around.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 has a beautiful coloured finish and has tool holders so you can keep your blades and pens handy. They’re also compatible with Cricut cartridges too so if you have an older Cricut legacy machine, you can add your cartridge images to your collections instantly.
Tools and accessories include in the box: Fine-Point Blade, Fine-Point Pen, StandardGrip™ 12”x12” Mat.
Consider if: you want a more affordable machine, are looking to use popular craft materials and want to cut large designs.
Try a different machine if: you want to cut longer materials than the 24” limit or you’d like the versatility of more tools and materials
Best for: Versatility
The ultimate smart cutting machine.
The Cricut Maker is the most versatile of all machines in the Cricut range. It can cut over 300 materials, from intricate paper cuts to leather, balsa wood and fabrics. And it does so quickly and accurately.
Like the Cricut Explore Air 2, the Cricut Maker also works by feeding in materials on a cutting mat which comes in 12”x12” and 12”x24” sizes. Smart Materials are not supported by this machine.
It has an expandable suite of tools that mean your Cricut Maker grows with you as you learn each new craft. With over 11 tools, from Rotary Blades for fabric cutting, a Knife Blade for heavy materials such as balsa wood, and decorative tools including Engraving, Debossing or Perforation tips there’s a lot you can get stuck in with. Not to mention the wide range of pens in a variety of colours, styles and thicknesses for perfect drawings.
The Cricut Maker works with home printing, much like the Cricut Explore Air 2.
The Cricut Maker comes with lots of thoughtful touches to make your DIY experience a little easier. Extra built-in storage helps to keep your tools organised. A docking slot holds up your smartphone or tablet and the USB port on the side of the machine lets you charge your device.
Tools and accessories included in the box: Rotary Blade, Fine-Point Blade, Fine-Point Pen, FabricGrip™ Mat 12”x12” and a LightGrip™ Mat 12”x12”.
Consider if: you want pro-level performance, the choice to pick from more materials, and the ability to use a wider range of tools.
Try a different machine if: you want to cut longer materials than the 24” limit or want something more compact for easy storage.
Cricut Explore™ 3
Cutting size: 11.7 inches (29.7cm) wide and 12 feet (3.6m) long with Smart Materials™
Features: Cuts more than 100 materials including Smart Vinyl™, Smart Iron-On™ and Smart Paper™ Sticker Cardstock. Works with 6 tools: fine point blade, bonded fabric blade*, deep point blade*, scoring stylus*, pens* and Foil Transfer Tool*. (* sold separately).
In the box: Cricut Explore 3 smart cutting machine, Premium Fine-Point Blade + Blade Housing, Quick Start Guide, USB cable, power adapter and power cord, material for test cut, bonus materials.
Who is this machine for? Anyone who wants to create customised or personalised projects using vinyl, iron-on or paper and card.
Cricut Maker™ 3
Cutting size: 11.7 inches (29.7cm) wide and 12ft (3.6m) long with Smart Materials™
Features: Cuts more than 300 materials including basswood, chipboard and fabrics without needing to be pre-stabilised, Smart Vinyl™, Smart Iron-On™ and Smart Paper™ Sticker Cardstock. Features an Adaptive Tool System™ for scoring*, debossing* and engraving*, as well as a wavy blade*, perforation tool* and knife blade* for thicker materials. All Explore tools are also compatible with Maker machines: fine point blade, bonded fabric blade*, deep point blade*, scoring stylus*, pens* and Foil Transfer Tool*. (* sold separately).
In the box: Cricut Maker 3 smart cutting machine, Premium Fine-Point Blade + Blade Housing, Quick Start Guide, USB cable, power adapter and power cord, material for test cut, bonus materials.
Who is this machine for? Perfect for creators who want to do more. Cricut Maker is designed to grow with you as you master each new craft.