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A Cricut Machine is a die-cutting and craft plotter that you can use to cut out images and designs on various types of materials, such as paper, vinyl, foam, leather, stickers, and so much more. I'm sharing with you what a Cricut can do and reasons why crafters love their Cricut crafting machines.
If you stumbled upon this post, you are probably wondering what a Cricut machine can do. You probably either got one as a gift or you may be a crafter looking to level up a skillset or you are wanting to use a Cricut machine to start a creative business. Whatever brought you here, I'm going to introduce to you to a Cricut machine and all of the amazing possibilities and creative projects that it can do with just a small bit of effort.
What is a Cricut?
A Cricut is a cutting machine that can use cartridges or computer drawn dies and images to cut on various materials. You can cut and create projects for apparel, home decor, scrapbooking, parties, weddings and so much more. There is a whole family of Cricut smart cutting machines. There are two cutting machines that are part of the Cricut brand family: Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Cricut Maker.
Both are essentially small miniature CNC machines, but way easier to use. They are computer guided cutting machines that make crafting and cutting easier and more fun.
What is the difference between the Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Maker?
The main differences between the Cricut Explore Air 2 series and the Cricut Maker are cutting force and tools. More generally, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is marketed more towards new users of cutting machines. A few other distinguishing functions between the Cricut Explore Air and the Cricut Maker types of material it can cut, a few ease of use buttons, and whether the machine can use the legacy physical cartridges.
What types of materials can Cricut Explore Air 2 cut compared to Cricut Maker?
Cricut Explore Air 2 can cut cardstock, vinyl, fabric, and leather. The Cricut Maker can cut everything the Explore Air 2 can as well as materials as thick as cardboard, chipboard, solid core stock, and so much more. With additional blades, the Cricut Maker can deboss, engrave, perforate lines, and create wavy edges.
Physical Comparison between Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Maker
The Cricut Explore Air 2 has smaller features such as the open button that allows the housing to smoothly open up after it's been stored as well as a material dial button. These features are really handy, especially if you are new to using a Cricut machine because it guides the user on how to make the most of the machine.
The Cricut Maker does not have an open button, which isn't necessarily bad. The Cricut Maker also does not have a material dial, as everything is controlled from the software. The Cricut Maker is more of an advanced machine, so it makes sense that everything is controlled from the computer, giving the user the ultimate control on cutting pressure. The Cricut Maker's tool holder has a rubber button to hold sharp blades.
The Cricut Maker weighs around 30 pounds versus the Cricut Explore Air 2, which weighs in at 21 pounds. The Cricut Maker weights more naturally because it is 10x stronger than that of the Cricut Explore Air 2.
Legacy Physical Cartridges
If you were a Cricut user from before computer guided cutting machines were available to crafters, you can use those cartridges with a Cricut Explore Air 2 as there is a lot on the machine for it. However, with a Cricut Maker, you need to get an adapter in order to use those cartridges.
How deep can a Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Cricut Maker?
Cricut Explore Air 2 can cut up to 1.5mm with a deep-cut blade. The Cricut Maker supports the knife blade (which Cricut Explore Air 2 cannot) which allows it to cut up to 2.4mm.
What's similar between Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Maker?
Whether you choose the Cricut Explore Air series or the Cricut Maker series, you can upload your own files and designs and cut them out. They both can cut the most popular materials for these machines: paper and vinyl. They also both support bluetooth capabilities, which is great if you have a computer that is not close to your Cricut machine. Both machines use the Cricut Design Space software.
What is better: Cricut Explore Air 2 or Cricut Maker?
Both machines are really amazing. If you are a novice to cutting machines, I would pick the Cricut Explore Air 2. If you are technologically savvy and have a short learning curve with new technology and software and need the capability to deboss and engrave often, the Cricut Maker might be for you!
The Cricut Explore Air 2 can cut and write up to 2X faster than previous Cricut Explore models, and cuts more than 100 materials — everything from cardstock, vinyl and iron-on to specialty materials like glitter paper, cork, and bonded fabric. From cards to custom T-shirts to home decor, Explore Air 2 makes it easy to realize your creative vision. Design on the go on your laptop, iPad or iPhone. Browse and play with thousands of images, fonts, and ready-to-make projects or make it from scratch.
The Cricut Maker is the ultimate professional-level cutting machine. With its adaptive tool system, you can cut 300+ materials from the most delicate fabric and paper to mat board and leather! Like the Cricut Explore Air 2, you can cut cardstock, vinyl and iron on. But, with the QuickSwap capability, you can quickly switch between cutting, scoring, engraving, debossing, and other decorative effects. Featuring unique cutting versatility, a huge library of design ideas, sewing patterns available instantly, and easy-to-use apps, the Cricut Maker delivers professional-level cutting performance that anyone can use!
What is the price difference between the Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Maker?
I've been able to find the Cricut Explore Air 2 for around $180 at the most least expensive (without any bundles). With the Cricut Maker, you are looking to pay around $100 for more features and capabilities.
Honestly, the Cricut Explore Air 2 has amazing sales all the time and it is really reasonable for all the things you are able to do with it. I would definitely try to get a bundle, which often works out to you getting a toolset for free or vinyl included in it.
Reasons to Love a Cricut Machine
1. A Cricut machine is so easy to use!
The Cricut brand of cutting machines makes it so easy to use when you first get it out of the box. There is literally an instruction booklette with steps along with material on how to get started with your first project. I feel like sometimes, a cutting machine's box that lists all of it's many capabilities may scare someone from even beginning with the machine. However, Cricut made it so easy to use by including the first project inside of the box, that all the other projects that came after it were a breeze.
Check out the template for this "No Drama, Llama" shirt.
2. Unbelievable Storage Space
Cricut machines have so many compartments for storage space to store must have items like your toolsets and markers, it's pretty incredible. There is no reason to lose your tools with the various compartments provided by your Cricut machine.
3. Cricut Design Space Software Is Easy
The Cricut Design Space Software is easy to use and you can start creating a project in no time. Whether you are wanting to use markers, infusible ink, or just cut something, Cricut Design Space will guide you on ensuring that you have the right settings.
Moreover, you can upgrade your subscription in Design Space to add additional images and fonts that will allow you to design more quickly.
4. Quick Gift Ideas
With four little babies at home all in elementary school, we have so many projects and "themed" holidays that need a "special" shirt, it's been so incredibly easy to make gifts and outfits at home with the Cricut Explore Air 2. Moreover, I often buy empty mugs and cups that I can just whip out a quick design cut with vinyl which makes for easy gift giving.
Being able to make a personal gift that is also inexpensive is a huge win for me.
5. Home Decor Is Easy
I cannot begin to tell you the amount of home decor I have been able to do with my Cricut cutting machine. From wall art, signs, and tea towel decor, the Cricut has made it easy for me to decorate my home in a very personalized way.
6. Creativity Unleashed
It has helped unleash the creative side in me. I never thought I was a creative person, I'm more of an A type personality. However, the Cricut machine has shown me that my A type personality combined with a little creative push from my Cricut machine the possibility of what I could make with my own little imagination. If you are looking for a product that can help spur your creative side, this is it!
7. Cricut Ecosystem of Products
Similar to how Apple has an amazing ecosystem of products, this also holds true for Cricut. They have an incredible line of products, tools, and materials that are meant to work with all of the products across the Cricut spectrum.
I love it when a brand can span across the product line so that users have a seamless and frictionless experience when trying to become creative.
This is their line of infusible ink. If you wanted a screen printed feel for your shirts, this is a great alternative to vinyl!
Whether you are getting a Cricut Explore Air 2 Series or the Cricut Maker, you can't go wrong if you are looking for a product to help aid you in becoming more creative and just starting to create more projects.
It allows you to create beautiful and personalized crafts that you may never have thought you could.
Here are the Cricut machines that I talked about in this post, click the images to find out more about the machines. I use the Cricut Explore Air 2 pretty much weekly (I'm a working mom of four kids that works outside of the house). As much as I use mine, I am sure you'll be able to use yours just as often to create things that you never knew you could.
Other Cricut posts you might love
If you loved this review on the Cricut Explore Air 2, you might also enjoy these other posts on my Cricut machine below!
- How to Make Your Own Stencils in Cricut Design Space
- Cricut Shirt Maker
- Cricut Infusible Ink Project Ideas
- Cricut Infusible Ink Pens Tutorial
- How to Use Cricut Markers and Pens
- Make Earrings with Cricut