There are quite a few Cricut models out there and depending on what your artistic ambitions are, certain models are better than others. Let’s take a look:
The Cricut Explore One
Cricut markets this machine as the “most affordable entry point.” This model can cut, write, and score 100 materials. It’s compatible with Cricut cartridges, if you have some from older models. The blade is a fine-point and the machine is compatible with tools like the Scoring Stylus and Deep-Point Blade, which you’ll have to buy separately. For the price (around $250, when not on sale), you get 25 ready-to-make projects to get started and material for your first project. The main downside to the Explore One is that it can’t be connected via Bluetooth, so you need to connect your device (the Design Space software is compatible with iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac) with a cord. It also isn’t a double-tool cartridge, which means you can’t write and cut (or score and cut) at one time; you have to do one, put the material back into the machine, and do the other one.
Cricut Explore Air and Air 2
Also reasonably affordable, the Explore Air and Air 2 are wireless, with a smart dial for depth and pressure. The big difference between them is the Air 2 has a Fast Mode and a larger body. Like the Explore One, both can cut 100 materials and use a fine-point blade. The Fast Mode allows the machine to cut up to 2x times faster. If you have a lot of cutting to do, this is especially useful. The Design Space software works for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac, and the Air 2 is compatible with Cricut cartridges.
The newest Cricut machine, Maker is an impressive new member of the Circuit family. It can cut unbonded fabric and thicker materials like balsa wood and leather using the Knife Blade. That means it can cut a whopping 300 materials. Instead of the Scoring Stylus, Maker can use the Scoring Wheel, so more material types can be scored. When you buy the machine on the Cricut site, you get a rotary blade and fine-point blade, fine point pen, two cutting mats, and 50 ready-to-make projects. It’s also compatible with a host of separately-sold tools like QuickSwap tools for quick transitions between scoring, engraving, etc. The Cricut Maker has a Fast Mode, as well. It’s a fairly expensive machine at around $400.
So, which of the Cricut models should you get? There are a couple considerations you should think about before committing:
How fast does the Cricut model do its thing? The higher-end ones like Explore Air 2 and the Maker have a Fast Mode, which gives you speeds up to 2 times faster. If crafting is just a fun hobby, you might not need that speed, but if you need to churn out a high volume, speed will probably matter.
How important is a wireless Cricut to you? If you have a designated crafting space and room for the machine, you might be totally cool with plugging in your device and sending off designs to the machine. If space is an issue, however, wireless might be what you prefer. Check the model specifications before making your choice. The Explore One can be turned wireless with the Bluetooth Adapter.
Cricuts can cut at least 100 materials, with the Maker excelling at 300. If you use a specialized material like leather, you want to check and be sure that the Cricut you want can handle it. If you only plan on using cardstock and other paper, one of the beginner Cricuts will probably be good enough.
Cricuts come with a few extras, but they can really expand when you get separately-sold tools like different knives and pens. Not every pen or knife is compatible with every machine, so always find out what you can add to your Cricut before choosing it. Cricut will also sell bundles, so when looking at a model, see if there’s a bundle available that’s worth it.
Your artistic style
Taken all together, the considerations above basically boil down to your artistic style. Think about what your crafting passion is and what you really want (and need) from a machine. If you focus on making your own greeting cards, you probably won’t need a machine like the Maker, since you won’t use the vast majority of materials it’s capable of cutting. If speed is a consideration, you will probably want a model with a Fast Speed mode. Maybe you’re focusing on specific projects right now, but want the option to expand with accessories or materials. Considering what you like to do can help you decide which machine is the best fit.
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