Let’s compare Cricut machines. There are 5 models on the market in 2023 and this post is going to help you figure out which one is right for you.
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New! July 2023 – Cricut Venture large format cutting machine. Learn how to fits into the Cricut machine mix in this video.
I’ve been crafting and sharing projects with you for over a decade and a cutting machine has been in my craft room for almost as long. Cricut is my preferred machine but I’ve tried and tested others.
I’m going to share my expert advice on how to choose the right Cricut machine for your crafting needs. We’ll break down capabilities, features and cost to help you make the best decision. Under each heading I’m sharing who the machine is ideal for plus a price break down.
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Read to the end to see my top recommendations and tips for getting the best deal. There is also a video version of this information if you’d rather watch than read.
What is a Cricut?
A Cricut is a smart cutting machine that can cut hundreds of materials including paper, vinyl, fabric, leather and even wood. It can also score, emboss and write on many materials.
Each machine includes access to a user friendly interface called Cricut Design Space that helps you create designs to cut. You also get access to thousands of premade designs and projects that are ready to process. Or upload your own designs to use with Cricut.
A Cricut is ideal for small projects like making cards and stickers, adding a monogram to a mug or putting a graphic on a t-shirt. These machines can also do large scale projects like wood signs and sewing patterns.
These machines range in price from $179 – $429 and can be found on sale throughout the year on Cricut’s website, Amazon, retailers like JOANN, Michael’s, Walmart and Target.
What do the Cricut machines have in common?
The 5 machines currently available are:
- Explore Air 2 – check out the unboxing and first cut
- Explore 3
- Maker 3 – watch the unboxing and first project
They are all smart cutting machines that are compatible with paper, vinyl, iron on and more. They all come with access to Cricut Design Space available on your phone via an app or on a computer.
Each machine is Bluetooth capable, meaning you don’t need a cord to connect your machine to a computer. That’s what they have in common, now let’s compare Cricut machines.
Cricut Explore Air 2
The Explore Air 2 and Explore 3 are perfect for those who want to cut popular materials like vinyl, stickers and paper. The Air 2 is the original smart cutter and it’s an amazing value. It weighs about 10 pounds, on the lighter side for these machines.
It has a few spots for tool storage as well as a slot for cartridges which works with the old style Cricut machines.
The Explore Air 2 has two clamps that can hold 6 different tools that allow you to cut, write, score and foil. The machine is able to perform print then cut projects so you can create your own stickers and other cut outs.
The Air 2 has a dial on the machine where you set the material, there is also a custom setting for unique pieces. All materials must be cut on a mat, either the standard 12×12 inch mat or the long 24 inch version.
The Air 2 can cut over 100 materials, see the full list here.
Who is this machine for? This is the perfect machine for a novice. If you craft occasionally as a hobby, you like making shirts for your friend group now and then and some seasonal items then this is the machine for you. It works with all the most popular materials and the price point is ideal for a hobby crafter.
Regular price is $249 click below for the current price and to see any sales that are running.
Cricut Explore 3
This is the newest Explore model which means it has all the capabilities of the Air 2 and then some. With this model the dial has been removed and you choose your material in the Design Space app.
The Explore 3 is faster and can cut Smart materials without a mat. These materials are super easy to use and eliminate a few steps to help you get through a project quicker. With Smart materials you can cut up to 75 feet long! Think of the epic projects you can make with this feature.
Who is this machine for? If you are looking for a fast, solid machine that works seamlessly with regular and smart materials then this is the machine for you. The 100 material options should cover everything you want to make and the Explore 3 will help make quick work of your projects.
Regular price is $319 click below for the current price and to see any sales that are running.
The Maker was introduced after the Explore Air 2 and it was a big step up in functionality. The look is similar but the machine is much heavier allowing it to operate more like a commercial machine rather that a hobby machine.
The Maker can cut over 300 materials and utilizes 13 tools. With these new capabilities you can cut wood, leather, and fabric.
The Maker uses a quick swap system to help you easily switch from tool to tool. The drive housing is the same and the tips can be quickly swapped out for each project.
You are still able to use stand alone tools, but you can save money by purchasing one drive housing and then tips to go with it.
Here are the 13 available tools compatible with the Maker
- Fine point blade – this comes with the machine and will be your go to tool
- Deep point blade – works with thicker materials
- Knife blade – ideal for leather and wood
- Rotary blade – this works for cutting most types of fabric
- Bonded fabric blade – works with bonded fabrics
- Foil transfer – press foil into paper creations
- Single scoring wheel – create deep fold lines on paper
- Scoring stylus – a scoring tool with light pressure
- Double scoring wheel – multiple score lines for unique projects
- Perforation blade – works with thick papers to create pull away sections
- Fine debossing tip – ideal for cardstock, chipboard and kraft paper
- Wavy blade – made pretty edges on cardstock and vinyl
- Engraving tip – use this with metal blanks to make bracelets
Who is this machine for? If you want to expand you material options from the Air 2 but don’t have a need for Smart materials then this is the machine for you.
Regular price is $399 click below for the current price and to see any sales that are running.
Cricut Maker 3
In the Maker family, this machine can do everything the original Maker can do plus more. This is the newest machine, and what I like to call the dream machine. This can do it all.
It’s heavy, about 23 pounds, meaning it’s not moving around while it works. It’s faster than the original Maker too. The Maker 3 is similar to the Explore 3 in that it can cut Smart materials without a mat up to 75 feet long.
There is an optional roll holder that attaches to this to help keep your smart materials in place.
Who is this machine for? This machine can do it all. If you are a seasoned crafter looking to upgrade from an older model or a different brand, and you want to do all kinds of projects then this machine is for you. If you want commercial grade fast cutting and the option to cut wood leather and fabric in addition to vinyl, iron on and paper opt for the Maker 3.
Regular price is $429 click below for the current price and to see any sales that are running.
The Joy is different from it’s larger siblings. This little power house is meant to be used anywhere, any time. It’s incredibly portable and super easy to use on your kitchen table or in the craft room. I highly recommend the handy carrying case to take the Joy wherever you need it.
The Joy plugs into an outlet and is operated with either your computer or the app, there are no buttons on this machine.
The Joy was the first machine to use smart materials, but also works with a few different types of mats. There is a standard mat, long mat and card mat.
This machine can hold a fine point blade, pen or other writing items and a foiling tool. Print then cut is not built into the Joy but I have a workaround that you will want to check out.
Who is this machine for? Anyone who wants to craft occasionally and not break the bank on a cutting machine. I use this machine all the time to make cards, labels and small projects. It doesn’t require a craft room and can be used anywhere.
Regular price is $179 click below for the current price and to see any sales that are running.
My Cricut recommendations
You’re here to compare Cricut machines and we’ve covered all the features plus price. Let me give you my recommendations.
- If you are a die hard crafter or someone looking to upgrade from an old machine or different brand – Cricut Maker 3
- If you are a novice or occasional crafter who wants to work with the most popular materials – Explore Air 2
- Anyone who wants to craft now and then without breaking the bank – Joy
Tips for buying a Cricut machine
Use this article to compare Cricut machines and help determine which one is best for you. Then keep an eye out for sales. Check Cricut’s website, Amazon, Walmart, Target, JOANN and Michael’s for great deals. I highly recommend purchasing a bundle to get started. These comes with a variety of materials and tools to help you get used to the machine.
If you choose to shop at Cricut use code CREATIVE to save 10%.
Follow me on Instagram, I share sales and deals as well as giveaways as I see them cross my feed.
I hope this helped you compare Cricut machines and figure out which model is right for you. If you have more questions drop them in the comments and I’d be happy to answer them.
Thanks for visiting!