Cricut Comparison: Which Cricut Machine is the Best for You?
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Cricut machines continue to rise in popularity. With the many functions they offer, it is so easy to see why! You can create amazing crafts and customize almost anything! But, with the different models available, you are probably wondering, what is the best Cricut Machine to buy? This easy-to-follow guide will help you pick the best Cricut Machine to buy in 2021 that fits your budget and needs!
At a glance, here are the top Cricut Machines that are currently available to buy in 2021:
What are the Differences Between the Cricut Machines?
There are three main Cricut models – The Cricut Explore, Cricut Maker and Cricut Joy. The Cricut Joy was just released in March 2020 and is a miniature sized version of the other two models. So, this makes it perfect for smaller crafting and labeling projects.
The Cricut EasyPress is not a cutting machine, but an accessory that many Cricut users use for their heat transfer and infusible ink designs. Since the EasyPress isn’t a cutting machine, we’ll cover this after you find the perfect cutting machine for your crafting projects.
Now let’s cover what each machine specifically does and what projects you can use them on.
Cricut Explore Air – Best Value
The Cricut Explore Air 3 is the newest model for the Cricut Explore series machines. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing any later model than the 2 or 3 as the software may be outdated and they don’t offer the Bluetooth function for wireless cutting like the Explore Air 2 and Explore Air 3 models do.
The Cricut Explore Air gives you access to the Cricut Design Space Software and App. Both are used to create or upload designs so you can send your projects to be cut from a computer or any device! This machine also has the ability to cut over 100 materials, making it the perfect machine for making shirts, vinyl stencils, decals, labels and more! However, the Explore series cannot cut fabric or thicker materials like thin wood, like the Cricut Maker can.
- Powerful cutting blades
- Budget Friendly, but still Great Value!
- Ability to customize your designs
- Compact design and easy to use
- Comes with multiple storage compartments for keeping your tools
- The design software can only be accessed with internet
- Louder than most Cricut Machines
- Cannot cut Fabric
What is the difference between the Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Explore Air 3?
Both versions of the Explore Air cutting machines are very similar. Features that the Explore Air 3 has that the 2 doesn’t are:
- No turn dial for your cutting settings. Instead, you will use the custom settings for each project.
- Faster cutting speed – about twice as fast as the Explore Air 2.
- Matless cutting when you use Smart Materials. This allows you to cut longer than 24 inches which you cannot do with the Explore Air 2.
- Higher Price – Right now you can find really low prices here on the Cricut Explore Air 2 with the release of the Air 3.
Is the Cricut Explore Air the right model for you? If so, the Cricut Explore Air 2 has a lot of great deals that you can find here. However, if you want the newer version, you can still get a deal on the Cricut Explore Air 3 here.
Cricut Maker – Best Overall
The Cricut Maker has more advanced technology so you have more options for cutting. This machine can cut everything the Cricut Explore Air can cut, as well as: fabric, leather, crepe paper and thin wood. You can cut over 300 different materials with the Cricut Maker as well as the ability to engrave and deboss!
You will also have access to the Cricut Design Space Software and App just as with the Cricut Explore Air. Additional tools are available for the Cricut Maker that aren’t available with the Cricut Explore Air. These include tools that can engrave, perforate and deboss allowing you to create just about any crafting project you can think of!
- Comes with an extensive sewing library of patterns
- Very powerful cutting blades
- Can detect if you are using the correct blade or not
- Includes a docking port
- Great value for the price
- The additional cutting tools have to be purchased separately
- Still uses web-based Design Space Software
What is the difference between the Cricut Maker and Cricut Maker 3?
Both versions of the Cricut Maker cutting machines are very similar. Features that the Maker 3 has that the Maker doesn’t are:
- Faster cutting speed – about twice as fast as the Maker.
- Matless cutting when you use Smart Materials. This allows you to cut longer than 24 inches which you cannot do with the Maker.
- Higher Price – Right now you can find really low prices here on the Cricut Maker with the release of the Maker 3.
Is the Cricut Maker the right model for you? If so, the Cricut Maker has a lot of great deals that you can find here. However, if you want the newer version, you can still get a deal on the Cricut Maker 3 here.
Cricut Joy – Most Compact
The newest Cricut Machine is the Cricut Joy. This machine is compact and weighs under 4 pounds so it’s easy to store and use. This machine works with the Cricut Design Space Software and App. So, you can create and upload images to cut from any device.
This is the only machine that lets you cut up to 20 feet at once, making this perfect for vinyl wall quotes. The Cricut Joy is ideal for smaller crafting projects like labeling, customizing, monogramming, greeting cards, tags etc. Because this only has a cutting width of 4 inches, it is not ideal for creating shirts or larger projects that you can make with the Cricut Maker or Cricut Explore Air.
- Compact and Light making it easier to store
- Least expensive Cricut Machine
- Can print up to 20 feet!
- Comes with 50 ready to make projects
- Has a custom matt for creating greeting cards
- Requires Cricut Smart Materials that can only be used for Cricut Joy
Is the Cricut Joy the right model for you? If so, find the best price for the Cricut Joy here.
What Cricut Machine is Best for You?
If you are looking for a Cricut machine that will give you great value for a low price and only plan to cut cardstocks, paper and vinyl, then the Cricut Explore Air 2 is the right choice for you.
However, if you think you may want to cut fabric or more versatile materials, it’s best to go ahead and go with the Cricut Maker. The price isn’t that much more and you will never have to worry about upgrading your machine.
If you only want to cut small projects for monogramming, labeling or wall quotes or want something that is super small and compact, then the Cricut Joy is the right machine for you.
Cricut Machine Side by Side Comparison
For a better idea of what each Cricut Machine is cable of, you can compare the Cricut Joy, Explore Air and Maker below:
Best Cricut Machine by Project Type
Still not sure which Cricut Machine is the best for you? Search by project type:
- Best Overall: Cricut Maker
- Best For Beginners: Cricut Explore Air
- Best For T-Shirst: Cricut Explore Air
- Best for Cutting Thick Materials: Cricut Maker
- Best For Vinyl: Cricut Explore Air
- Best For Teachers: Cricut Maker
- Best Cheap Cricut Machine: Cricut Joy
- Best Embossing: Cricut Maker
- Best Portable: Cricut Joy
- Best For Labels: Cricut Joy
- Best for Engraving: Cricut Maker
The Cricut EasyPress gives you the option to have an affordable, compact heating press that is for your home. There are 4 different sizes to choose from, so you can find one that fits all of your project needs. All models have advanced heat plate design with a ceramic-coated surface so you can take the guesswork out of it. With the adjustable, even temperatures, you will always get the quality results you are looking for! All models are compatible with all Infusible ink products and all Cricut iron-on materials.
Cricut EasyPress 2, 12″ x 10″
Ideal for larger T-shirts, sweatshirts, blankets, banners and more!
Cricut EasyPress 2, 9″ x 9″
Ideal for basic T-shirts, tote bags, aprons, pillows and more!
Cricut EasyPress 2, 6″ x 7″
Great for smaller projects like baby/toddler clothes and smaller accessories.
Cricut EasyPress Mini
Perfect for unusual sized projects, such as shoes, bows, hats, stuffed animals or any other items that can’t lay flat under a regular EasyPress or iron.
Do I Need a Cricut EasyPress or Can I Use an Iron?
You do not need an EasyPress to use Infusible Ink and heat transfer vinyl with your Cricut Machine. An iron will work just fine for this. However, if the bottom of your iron is textured, it may leave the vinyl textured as well. I have had this issue a few times when working with regular heat transfer vinyl. The glitter vinyls don’t have this issue.
So, if you plan to make a lot of shirts, the large sized Cricut EasyPress is a must! If you plan customize unusual items that won’t fit under an item, then you will want to get the Cricut Easy Press Mini.
- Easy to Use
- Provides even heating temperatures unlike Irons
- Lightweight and Compact
- Heats up Quickly
- Comes in a variety of sizes
- Can be pricey
If you purchase an EasyPress, I recommend the large sized Cricut EasyPress and Cricut Easy Press Mini. Between these two heat presses, you will be able to heat press any size item, whether it’s a large T-shirt or an odd shaped stuffed animal. These are well worth the purchase, but you can still use the Infusible ink and heat transfer vinyls without them.
Not sure what vinyl material to use? View my comprehensive guide on vinyl types and best brands for your Cricut projects here!