If you’re shopping around for the best Cricut machine, there are a few factors you should consider before you hit that buy now button. First of all, most models will share many of the same features.
Regardless of the model you choose, all Cricut machines have the ability to write, score, and cut. The major difference is that some models will be able to handle these tasks all in one step, while others will perform them in a couple of steps. The main idea is that all Cricut machines will allow the user to cut out a project, write on them and score them.
These machines offer many uses, making them more than just something you use to cut paper with. These machines offer an impressive system for creating and designing a wide range of projects, so if you’re an avid crafter, you’ll definitely fall in love.
What can a Cricut Machine Do?
The Cricut machine is an electronic cutting machine that looks similar to a printer. However, instead of printing designs on paper, it uses a series of rollers and blades to cut out anything you can imagine.
These cutting machines have been around for several years. When most people hear about these machines that usually think they’re designed specifically for scrapbooking. But newer models are much different than machines that were produced just a few years ago. Instead of using a cartridge you can access thousands of designs of cut files on the Cricut website and upload them to your PC. The Design Space software can be used online, on your tablet, PC, or an app. You can also engrave, and draw using it.
A Cricut machine is masterfully engineered, so you’ll never cease to be amazed at the precision in which it cuts.
If you need something scored, etched, drawn, or cut, odds are, one of these machines can handle it.
Here are some popular project ideas:
• Cuff bracelets
• Paper pennants
• Gift boxes
• Coloring pages
• Tote bags
• Greeting cards
• Monogrammed clothing
What Accessories can you Expect with a Cricut Machine?
This will depend on the type of package and model you choose. You’ll find several options available. Obviously, the more you pay the more you get. However, if you purchase a standard model, you’ll find some basic components and accessories, such as:
• Cricut model
• Storage bag
• USB and power cord
• Silver pen
• User’s manual
• Cut mats
While most models don’t come with a ton of accessories, each package offers just what you need to get started. Most seasoned Cricut users recommend purchasing a starter set because they include more accessories, making it a great option with more value for the crafter who is just starting out.
So, you don’t get a ton of things, but it’s enough to get started.
If you’re ordering your first machine, here are some must-have items you should also pick up that you’ll definitely need when using one of these models:
• Different sizes of mats
• Basic set of craft tools also sold by Cricut-This includes spatula, tweezers, scraper, and scissors.
• Extra blades
• The complete starter set by Cricut is a great option. It comes with pretty much everything you’ll need including mats of varying sizes.
Know Your Machine
We also highly recommend reading the included instructions guide before you start using your new machine. Trust us, this will save you a lot of time and frustration.
A Cricut cutting mat will be essential when it comes to using one of these machines. You’ll need it to ensure that you get a precise cut on all the materials you’ll use.
If you don’t properly care for these mats, they tend to get messed up pretty quickly. We recommend always doing a test cut, otherwise, you risk ruining a mat because you have the cutting set too high. This is a common mistake and one that can be easily avoided if you take your time.
Another tip that will come in handy for mat care is cleaning the mats after each use. You can use a damp washcloth or even a baby wipe. This will allow the mat to stay sticky and clean for a longer period of time and really works to increase the longevity of the mat.
You can also use a paperclip to pick up any tiny leftover pieces that are tricky to pick up, or a lint roller to keep your mat free from dust, dirt, and debris.
If you’re trying to make your mat sticky again, there are a couple of things you can try:
• Washing it with soap and water can work. If your mat begins to feel less sticky, give it a thorough cleaning using warm water and a gentle cleanser such as Dawn dish soap.
• Krylon makes a repositionable adhesive that also has a reputation for extending the life of your cutting mat.
What Materials Can I Use with a Cricut?
These machines can cut so many things, really the possibilities are endless. They can also expertly slice through vinyl, which is pretty impressive. There are actually over a hundred different types of materials you can use, but here are some of the most common types crafters use with this machine:
• Iron-on-Heat transfer vinyl
• Paper- including poster board, vellum, cardstock, and standard
• Craft materials-This includes glitter paper, craft foam, and washi tape
• Thick materials- Such as magnet materials, balsa wood, and leather
• Upcycled materials- aluminum cans, cereal boxes, chipboard
• Vinyl-standard, chalkboard, dry erase, and premium
• Plastic-Silicone, window acetate, stencils
• Fabric-canvas, burlap, polyester, denim, and felt
You can buy materials that are Cricut compatible straight from their website, or you can use materials that aren’t Cricut brand.
As we have mentioned, it’s important to do a test cut. You’ll definitely regret not doing one if your material isn’t cut all the way through. Test cuts only take a few seconds and it’ll help to ensure that the pressure of the cut is correct.
If you’ve ever used a Cricut machine then you’re probably aware that it can be a tricky process. Certain types of materials are easier to cut than others. Using heat and bond iron-on sheets can help to make the fabric thicker. If you don’t plan to bond it to anything, then you can always attach it to some interfacing.
Drawing with Your Cricut
Drawing is one of the best features on a Cricut machine. This can be fun for cards and signs. The manufacturer has their own markers that work perfectly with their machines, so we recommend trying these first. However, you can also use other products such as Sharpies or other types of permanent markers.
Cleaning Your Cricut Machine
Like with any type of machine, it’s important that you keep your Cricut clean for perfect operation. You can watch maintenance and cleaning videos on the manufacturer’s website, or you can use non-alcoholic wipes to clean all of the machine’s surfaces.
Make sure you have your model turned to the correct setting for the type of material you’ll be cutting. This is done by simply turning the settings knob, or you can also do it manually using the Cricut software.
The Design Space software program offers a ton of options for cutting materials, much more than what you’ll find on the knob. The program tends to get very specific with material and you’ll be able to adjust the settings more accurately in the event that the machine isn’t quite cutting the material you’re using the way you want it to.
The machine’s blades can become dull over time. We recommend purchasing extra blades for different kinds of materials that you use the most frequently. So, you’ll have one blade to use for vinyl, one for felt, etc. The blade for the housing should be cleaned after each use because it can get gunky pretty easily. Compressed air is another great option you can use to clean out the machine and remove built up dirt and gunk.
Design Space Software
The Design Space software program is where all the magic happens. This program is available to use via the Cricut mobile app or through their web based program. You’ll need internet access to use it, but this where you can go to create your designs.
Users can choose from pre-designed templates or you can create your own. You can also use the mobile app anywhere, even during a long car ride or when you’re spending a Sunday morning in bed.
Before you get started creating, we recommend you take some time to get familiar with the system. There’s a learning curve, but it’s actually very easy to pick up how this program works.
Design Space features hundreds of templates that you can use for so many projects. Start off by choosing the project and it will overlay it in your design screen space so you can choose the size, then, simply follow the on-screen prompts.
Is a Cricut Membership Worth it?
If you’re an avid Cricut user and you want full access to their extensive library of design templates, fonts, and images, then a low monthly membership fee is totally worth it. Most fonts and designs cost around five dollars a pop, so the lower monthly fee offers the best value if you find yourself using your Cricut machine often. The library offers over thirty-thousand images, over three hundred fonts, and thousands of project ideas.
Creating Your Own Fonts and Images
As we have mentioned, you can also use your own fonts and images in the Design Space program. If you want to use your own font, all you have to do is install a font you have downloaded or purchased online to your PC. Restart the Design Space program and it should display your fonts.
For images, located on the left-hand side of the platform in Design Space, you’ll find an uploading image option. You can use this to upload any image you want to cut with just a few clicks of the mouse. It’s that easy. Design Space also accepts a wide range of image formats including png, jpg, DXF files and more.
|Product||Cost||Portable||Wireless Connectivity||Accessory Package||Product link|
|Explore Air Wireless Cutting Machine||$$||Yes||Yes||No|
|Explore Air 2 Machine||$$$||No||Yes||Yes|
Cricut Explore Air Wireless Cutting Machine:
This is a very user-friendly die cutting machine that’s designed for both beginners and seasoned crafters. The machine’s web-based software program will allow you to choose from thousands of templates and the lightweight design makes this model highly portable, which is a huge selling point for crafters on the go.
Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine:
A popular die cutting machine and one of Cricut’s best sellers, you’ll love this machine’s versatility, power, and speed. This model is perfect for users of all skill levels and comes loaded with a ton of freebies and extras that will allow you to get started creating right away.
Cricut 2000293 Cuttlebug Machine:
Lightweight, compact, easy to use, and pretty powerful despite its small size, you’ll love the wide variety of designs you can create with this lower priced model. However, keep in mind that this machine doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles you’ll need if you’re a serious crafter or run your own home business.
The Cricut Explore Air Wireless cutting machine offers a user-friendly design that makes it perfect for beginners. It’s so packed with features you’ll feel that the creative possibilities really are endless. You’ll love the lightweight design, Wi-Fi capability, and the machine’s overall versatility, all offered in a compact design that’s made for easier transport. Users will also love the web-based software program that features thousands of templates, fonts, and designs that can be instantly downloaded and cut.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 cutting machine is one of Cricut’s latest and best selling models. It comes with a ton of freebies and accessories that beginners and seasoned crafters are sure to love. Consumers will also love the Design Space software program which provides users with access to thousands of fonts, designs, and projects. If you’ve ever purchased a Cricut machine then you already know how incredibly versatile they are and this machine is no different. However, this model is significantly faster than models of the past, which is a huge selling point for crafters of all skill levels.
The Cricut 2000293 Cuttlebug cutting machine is a highly portable model with a built-in handle and a sleek design. This machine can handle basic tasks and comes with a simple setup that makes it easy for beginners to use. It’s also a kid friendly model and the perfect die cutting machine to learn on. The Cuttlebug also comes with plenty of accessories so you can get started creating right away.