Have you ever wished you could create an elaborate pattern on paper or other slim surfaces, which you can then use to decorate menus, stick on postcards, or otherwise wear on your shoes?
Well, if the answer is a resonating ‘yes’, have we got news for ye!
Thanks to the advances in technology, now you can get yourself a small but mighty printer-looking contraption that allows you to do just that.
Stick a piece of paper, cardboard, or some other slim malleable material in it, do some button pushin’ and designing via the specialized app, et voila! – your brand new pattern has already been printed!
The machine, or rather, the machines we’re talking about come from a certain company called Cricut, and it’s pretty safe to say they are every designer’s dream come true. All you need to do wonders with this piece of technology is a desire to design and create exciting patterns, and some willingness to get to know it’s many amazing possibilities.
In this article, we’ll present to you 10 versions of this curious contraption, so that you can choose the model that suits your interests the best.
Right then folks, without further ado, here’s the deal.
Editor’s Picks : 5 Best Cricut Machine
A Brief Buyer’s Guide
While Cricut machines will be able to work effortlessly with several different designs, they’ll still be limited by their dimensions when it comes to the size of the material you’re working with.
For example, an average Cricut machine is roughly the size of a chunkier laser printer, so this represents the largest possible area these machines can work with at a time. This makes these contraptions a perfect choice for T-shirts, thin fabric shoes, and other smaller paper projects.
That said, there is a special line of mini Cricut machines, which further reduce the dimensions of the materials you can work with.
Other than simply cutting the materials in question, there is a special breed of Cricut machines capable of performing several different processes at the same time they’re cutting the material you’ve put inside them.
For example, the Cricut models Explore Air and Explore Air 2 both enable you to cut the designs you want while the machine also writes and scores at the same time. This can cut down the time you spend preparing the new project and help you produce the designs of your choice quicker and more efficiently.
In case you don’t really like cables, or just find it more convenient to use Bluetooth instead, here’s a prospect you may want to think about when buying a Cricut machine. The thing in question, of course, would be the fact that you can use Bluetooth to send the data you fancy back and forth.
To accomplish this, all you need to do is obtain a Cricut cutter with Bluetooth connectivity. There are several models coming from this manufacturer that enables you to connect your device of choice (laptop, tablet, iPhone, etc.) with the Cricut machine you have.
And what we mean by ‘docking station’ is an iPhone holder, possibly with a charger.
The thing is, many folks choose to create and edit their designs via their iPhone, so a docking station serves to hold your phone while you’re making your design. Also, some docking stations will charge your phone while it’s placed in its station, so that’s another benefit of having one of them. (meaning the docking station)
To be fair, however, a docking station isn’t exactly the most important part of a Cricut tool’s arsenal, so you shouldn’t obsess too much about getting a model with one of these.
Arguably the most important piece of hardware in a Cricut machine represents its blade. This part will be responsible for cutting out different designs and patterns in the material you put inside this machine, so it’s important to make sure this thing is high-quality stuff, so to speak.
So far, the folks at Cricut have devised two types of blade for their Circuit contraptions – a fine point blade, and a rotary blade. Each of these is perfectly capable of getting the job done, so no matter what sort of blade you get on your Cricut machine, you won’t make a mistake.
Best Cricut Machine – A Top 8 List of Products
1) Cricut – Explore Air 2 Mint
With an appearance and roughly the same size of your regular laser printer, this model from Cricut offers its user a wide array of options you can use to make brilliant designs and patterns. Using this here curious contraption, both savvy and not so savvy designers can create greeting cards, customized apparel (like shoes and T-shirts), as well as a wide variety of stickers, personalized home décor pieces for any occasion and so forth.
The functioning principle for this thing is simple enough – all you need to do is come up with a design, upload it to the app that comes with this machine, and then proceed to perform the edits until you feel ready to print out your masterpiece!
The specific design software you’ll be using for making unique designs with this Cricut tool is called Design Space and it allows you to use your computer, iPhone, or tablet to create whatever design you fancy of seeing on your material of choice. (Paper, leather, cloth, etc.)
- Allows you to make stickers, greeting cards, customized apparel, etc.
- Comes with a double tool holder
- Unique designing software called Design Space
- Can cut through over 100 different materials
- Bluetooth connectivity
- To use the software, you need to pay subscription fees
- Not compatible with any 3rd party software
2) Cricut – Cuttlebug Die Cutting & Embossing Machine
Fancy owning a compact paper and other material cutting contraption the size of a handbag, which also looks like a handbag? Well, this here model from Cricut carries all the characteristics described in the sentence above.
In contrast to the Cricut machine from above, this model represents one of its simpler members of the family, so to speak. Namely, this machine is purely mechanical, so you won’t need to plug it in anywhere to make it work. Also, there’s no software to pay for monthly and get acquainted with.
The deal is pretty much straightforward with this thing – all you need to do is stick a piece of paper in it (or thin leather, acetate ribbons, foils, or tissue paper), set the cutting plate of your choice, and start cutting up the stuff you’ve previously placed inside it!
- Comes with an A2 embossing folder
- Can cut and emboss a variety of materials (tissue paper, regular paper, leather, foils, etc.)
- Comes with different metal cutting plates
- Collapsible handle
- Compact design
- Some users have reported difficulties cutting cloth and fabric
- A tad pricey
3) Cricut – Explore Air Wireless Cutting Machine
If you’re after a Cricut machine but aren’t too fond of cables, this wireless cutting tool can be just what you’ve been looking for. Its data receiving system is based on Bluetooth connectivity, so you won’t need any cables to connect the source you’re using for sending your designs from, to the cutter itself.
When it comes to the materials this machine can cut through, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to power through as many as 60 different materials. These would include vinyl, cardstock, paper, various forms of fabric, and so on.
Now, to start working on the project you were thinking of, you’ll need to upload your designs in the form of an image to the software that will allow you to then cut the thing up according to the measurements you’ve set up beforehand. As for the formats that are supported for this purpose, you can work with .svg, .jpg, .gif, .dxf, and some other ones. (For the record, uploading your images, no matter their format, is completely free.)
- Embedded Bluetooth for wireless connectivity
- Can cut and write or cut and score at the same time
- Can work with a variety of materials
- Smart set dial
- Comes with inbuilt storage compartments
- Some users have complained about faulty software
- Some users have complained about poor image resolution
4) Cricut – Explore Air 2 Machine
Sittin’ pretty at our spot number 4 is a special edition of the Cricut’s Explore model. The main thing that sets this offer apart from the others above is the fact that this one represents a special sort of bundle that comes with some interesting accessories you can get to know as you’re using this machine.
That said, it’s probably safe to say that this bundle is primarily aimed at folks who already have some experience with the Cricut tools. Although rookies can use it as well because it’s not difficult to figure out. But then again, if you just plan to make an odd postcard now and again, there’s no point in investing in a large bundle then, is there?
Anyway, this heap of high-tech cutting equipment comes with a pen set, some adhesive-backed vinyl, some iron-on vinyl, as well as a specialized tool kit for a variety of cutting tasks. When utilized to its full potential, this arsenal of cutting tools can help you produce some of the following end-results:
- Wall signs,
- indoor decals,
- baseball caps,
- customized shoes, and
- customized pillows …
- … aaand a bunch of other stuff!
Quite an interesting package, especially if you’re an experienced Cricut user!
- Bluetooth connectivity for wireless cutting
- Smart set the dial for easy material positioning
- Comes with a bundle of accessories (a spatula, pair of scissors, tweezers, colored vinyl…)
- An electronic instruction e-booklet for beginners
- Pen set
- Some users have complained about the steeply-priced charge system for making new projects
- Fairly pricey
5) Cricut – Easy Press 2 – Heat Press Machine
Other than cutting up various materials to enrich them with different patterns, the folks at Cricut have also devised another way to print logos, cheeky messages, and artistic patterns onto T-shirts, shoes, cloth, and other pieces of equipment – the good ole heat press.
With Cricut’s Easy Press 2, you can produce a wide variety of visually-appealing patterns and pictures on your shirts and other fabric items simply by heating the press in question and then applying the heated press directly onto the area of interest, so to speak. Of course, you’d first need to place the film with the picture or pattern or slogan you’d like to see on your T-shirt, for example, onto the T-shirt itself. (Also, you have to make sure there aren’t any wrinkles underneath it, either. If there are, the visual pattern you’re going for may come out warped.)
With this contraption on your side, you can rest assured you’ll be able to reach the temperatures of up to 400° Fahrenheit, which is more than enough to help you print out whatever pattern you so desire!
- Works on T-shirts, totes, pillows, aprons, etc.
- Can get the job done under 60 seconds
- The ceramic-coated heat plate surface
- Temperature control that goes up to 400° Fahrenheit
- Lightweight design
- Some users have complained about the quality of the instruction sheet
- The size of the heating surface limits your options when it comes to larger pieces of cloth
6) Silhouette America – Portrait 2 Vinyl Cutting Machine
Simple design, a wide array of materials you can work with, and wireless connectivity are what makes this Silhouette America contraption a desirable contraption you can work within case you need a material-cutting thing for an upcoming event.
Thanks to its powerful cutting blade, this Silhouette America tool can work with over 100 materials, including paper, vellum, adhesive vinyl, cardstock, fabric, as well as a host of other ones. So, whether it’s a T-shirt or a piece of cardboard you want to turn into a cheeky postcard, all you need to do is simply stick it in this machine and watch it transform into a beautiful new creation you can be proud of.
To use this device, you don’t need a cable, as the info you need to send into this machine can be sent via Bluetooth. So, all you need to do is come up with a design, or download a design you fancy, and then send upload it to this device! The rest is easy.
- Can cut through over 100 materials (cardstock, fabric, vellum, magnet paper, adhesive vinyl)
- Free software available for PC and Mac
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Powerful cutting blade
- Some users have complained about the lack of an instruction shee
- No customer service line
7) Cricut – Easy Press
Representing the Cricut Easy Press 2’s older brother, this Easy Press model comes with some pretty interesting characteristics you might want to look into. As is the case with its successor, so to speak, this model also comes with sort of the same features you’ve seen a couple of entries above. This is mostly because the working principle of a heat press is quite a simple one – take a film of paper with your logo on it and then press it with a heated ceramic thing until the surface underneath assumes the shape or the pattern you’re trying to imprint it with.
To make this happen, the folks at Cricut have left you to decide on two separate parameters – heat intensity and time. This may seem simplistic, but these two are all you need for you to be able to create the design you’re looking to make.
- Big handle for easy maneuvering
- Home friendly design
- Safety base that’s heat-resistant
- Auto shut-off feature
- Lightweight design
- Some users were not satisfied with the temperature range this model can reach (it goes lower than advertised)
- Some users have complained about the consistency of the heat (it won’t stay the same during the pressing process)
8) Cricut – Cricut Maker Champagne
Another great tool for accomplishing your designing goals comes in the shape of this Cricut contraption called Cricut Maker Champagne. Possibly the most important aspect of this Cricut maker would be the fact that it allows you to work with a variety of materials. Also, when it comes to the type of results you’ll be getting from using this tool, you can count on paper crafts, iron-on, as well as vinyl decals, for good measure.
In its mighty array of tools, this Cricut thing employs a variety of things including blades, a scoring tool, various pens, to give you absolute control over your designs and the results. Perhaps the biggest difference between this model and some of the other Cricut products lays in the fact that this one has a rotary blade – an improvement over the original design that enables this contraption to cut through a wide array of different materials with notable ease.
- A powerful rotary blade
- Comes with a range of tools you can use
- Allows you to create an infinite number of innovative designs
- Works with an array of materials (cloths, cardboard, paper, thin leather)
- Some users have complained about limited options you can work with
- This device only works when paired up with the Cricut designing software
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What Can I Do With a Cricut Maker?
- Using a Cricut Maker, you can create various designs, patterns, logos, and slogans and imprint them on a piece of paper, cardboard, leather, vinyl or some other material of your choice. (As long as the material is thin and malleable enough, you can rest assured that the Cricut’s blade will be able to pass through it.)
To make a design come to life, you’ll need a pattern (either your own or some pattern you downloaded), a material you’d like to use, and that’s it! Simple as that.
2) What Software Does Cricut Maker Use?
- Cricut machines usually use specialized Cricut software produced by the same manufacturer that made the cutter itself. So, to be able to use it, you’ll have to pay a subscription fee, which is usually required every month.
3) Do You Need a Computer to Use a Cricut?
- Since most of the Cricut’s products use the specialized Cricut software we mentioned above, you can use it on any of the platforms that are supported by this software.
- So, other than computers, you can use the Cricut designing software on your tablet, iPhone, and whatever device you have that supports the aforementioned software.
4) Can I Use My Design with Cricut?
- Yes, you can. While using the specialized Cricut software, you can choose between using some of the offered pieces of design, or upload a creation of your own to the cloud!
- This way, you can make your digital creations come to life by transferring your image of choice to the surface you like!
5) What Do I Need for a Cricut Machine?
- Once you’ve purchased a Cricut machine, you won’t need any additional tools.
- If you buy a wireless model, you’ll get the cutter thing and so you can start using it straight away. If you buy a corded model, on the other hand, the Cricut folks will provide you with the cable, as well as all the other necessary parts to make the machine run.
- Of course, when it comes to materials you’ll be using, you’ll need to provide those yourself. (Although some bundle offers will include these, as well.)
All things considered, Cricut machines represent one of the most interesting contraptions a designer can own nowadays. They allow you to create unique designs and quickly turn them into a real tangible object. Also, they’re fairly small and easy to use – even for a complete rookie! What’s not to love?