With the announcement of Cricut Joy this year, a lot of people are asking “What Cricut machine should I buy?” Today we’ll answer that question with an in depth look at the Cricut Maker, Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Joy. By the end of this post you should be able to know what machine will work best for your needs and wants.
In today’s day and age we are constantly bombarded with new and improved models of just about everything. From our cell phones, to our cars and everything in between. Even the makeup women wear are often updated with “new” formulas promising to improve the way that product functions. But are all new products really that great?
What Cricut Machine Should I Buy?
I’ve been using a Cricut machine through three new machine launches, the Explore Air 2 in 2016, Maker in 2017 and now Cricut Joy in 2020 and I can honestly say that with every new machine, the greatness level of crafting because of Cricut machines has increased. Does that mean you need every single machine. Maybe… but most likely not! Let’s take a look at these three machines and talk about what they can do, what they can cut and who they are designed for.
Cricut Explore Air 2
The Explore Air 2 was the second Cricut machine I owned (I had an Explore Air prior) and it was the machine that really got me to fall in love with everything Cricut. I had used a Silhouette Cameo before and really loved how easy Cricut Design Space was to use. I also loved being able to change the blade depth with just the turn of the dial. You can read more about why I chose the Air 2 over the Cameo here.
The Explore Air 2 is a great machine for both beginner and advanced crafters. It allows you to cut a variety of materials from paper to faux leather and even bonded fabric. There are three different blades you can use with the Explore Air 2:
- Fine Point Blade – For most materials including paper, cardstock, vinyl, iron-on, poster board and more!
- Deep Point Blade – For thicker materials like magnetic sheets, cereal boxes and foam
- Bonded Fabric Blade – For fabric that has bonding on the back (like Heat’n’Bond)
You can also use Cricut pens to write with the Explore Air 2 and the scoring stylus to make score lines for easier folding on cards, boxes and other paper projects.
Print Then Cut is another great feature of the Air 2 (and Maker)! It allows you to print images on your home printer and then cut them out with your Cricut machine. This is great for invitations, cupcake toppers, planner stickers and more. You can read more about Print Then Cut here.
If you’re just starting out with Cricut and want room to grow in your crafting this is a great machine for you! The Explore Air 2 has an MSRP of $249 but you can often find it on sale for $199-$229.
The Cricut Maker is the best of the best when it comes to cutting machines, in my opinion! It can do everything the Explore Air 2 can plus a whole lot more! Thanks to the Adaptive Tool System, the Maker has a whole suite of tools that allows you to cut thicker materials, deboss, perforate and even engrave! Cricut Maker Tools include:
- Rotary Blade – allows you to cut over 130 types of fabric without bonding
- Knife Blade – allows you to cut materials up to 3/32″ thick. Learn more about the knife blade here
- Scoring Wheels – make even deeper score lines making creating boxes, lanterns and cards a breeze! Learn more about the scoring wheels here.
- Perforation Blade – makes perforation cuts for tearing away things like cards, countdowns and more.
- Wavy Blade – adds a whimsical effect to cuts by adding a wave to your straight line cuts.
- Debossing Tip – allows you to deboss everything from foil poster board to leather and everything in between
- Engraving Tip – allows you to engrave materials like aluminum, acrylic and more.
The last five tools all have a QuickSwap Housing that allows you to use the same housing and just swap out the tip or blade making it even easier to use. You can learn more about how to use the QuickSwap Housing here.
You can use the Print Then Cut feature with Maker just like Air 2, but unlike Air 2 where it only works with white paper, you can use colored paper with the Maker!
Even if you’re new to Cricut, the Maker is still a great machine for you if you’re wanting to eventually cut fabric to make quilts, clothes, bags and more or if you’re wanting to cut thicker materials like wood and genuine leather. The Cricut Maker has an MSRP of $399 but you can often find it on sale for $349-$369.
Joy is the newest cutting machine to the Cricut family and is quite a bit different than the previous two machines we talked about. While Cricut Joy can cut all the things an Explore Air 2 can, it also has some NEW materials it can cut without the need of a mat. These materials, known as Smart materials include:
- Smart Vinyl
- Smart Iron-On
- Smart Labels – Writable Vinyl that takes labeling things and organizing to a whole new level
Because you can cut these materials without a mat you’re able to make cuts up to 20′ long!! The maximum cut width with Cricut Joy is 4.5″. Learn more about matless cutting, and the other features of Cricut Joy here.
There is also a new Card Mat available for Joy that allows you to cut and write on pre-scored cards available. Learn more about the Card mat here.
Cricut Joy is a great machine for someone who is a creative “dabbler” or someone who doesn’t know how often they are going to be able to craft. This is also a great machine to those limited on space. It is the perfect machine for professional organizers and teachers too.
Cricut Joy also makes a great companion machine to the Explore Air 2 and Maker machines because it gives you the freedom to craft whenever and wherever you want and has some new features not available with other machines. The Cricut Joy has an MSRP of $179. Because this machine was just released it has not gone on sale yet. HOWEVER if you’re a Cricut Access member you can save 10% in Cricut’s shop everyday!
If you need to order your Cricut machine or other Cricut supplies, and you’re shopping on Cricut.com, use code FRUGAL to save 10% and get FREE shipping on all $50+ orders. That’s on top of the 10% discount Cricut Access members get automatically! Code does not work on machines, digital content or Cricut Access.
By now hopefully you have an answer to question “What Cricut machine should I buy?” The answer is likely to be different for everyone and there is a chance that maybe you need or want more than one machine! I have all three machines are use all three for different projects on a regular basis.
If you want to check out project ideas you can do with all machines, check out this post!
Want to check out some Cricut Maker project ideas, this is the post for you!
Want to see what accessories you may want to get with your new Cricut machine, check out this post!
Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to check out all my Cricut video tutorials! For more Cricut projects and tutorials, check out these posts. For tips, tricks and immediate help, be sure to join our FREE Cricut Support Group.
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