Cricut Explore Air 2 VS Cricut Maker
When the Cricut Maker was introduced to the public in the summer of 2017, one of the buzzing questions was; how does it compare to the Cricut Explore Air 2?
It’s a valid question because the Cricut Explore 2 (a fantastic machine), had just been released also, and is by all standards, a fantastic cutting machine.
The truth is that both are excellent stand-alone machines that are extremely efficient at what they are designed for, however, there are pros and cons associated to both, and each crafter will be more suited to either one.
The bout between the Cricut Maker and the Explore Air 2 is on, and this is an opportunity for you to closely examine the right choice of cutter for you.
Below are some comparisons;
In terms of versatility, there’s only one winner – The Cricut Maker!
The Cricut machine does 100% of what the Explore Air 2 can do, and even more. It consists of an adaptive tool system that can cut over 100 different materials and a huge library of sewing patterns. When you consider all this, you’ll realize that the Cricut Maker is versatile enough to work with a variety of tools – including all types of blades released by Circuit, the brand new Knife and Rotary blades, and yet to be released ones also.
You don’t have to look any further because the Rotary blade that comes with the Cricut Maker during purchase already puts it above the Explore Air 2.
The blade needs no supporting or backing material because it easily cuts through all types of fabric.
In theory, the Explore Air 2 is capable of cutting fabric, but not as good as the Maker. Thus, a backing material is always required because the fine blade often catches on the fabric. Furthermore, users of the Explore Air 2 machine always use separate fabric cutters to get their desired cuts, but in contrast, the Maker is an all-purpose machine, that does it all.
When we talk about cutting specs, we are referring to the machine that cuts best. Besides, cutting is the reason why people even go out to buy the machine in the first place.
If you consider the price (entry-level price) of the Cricut Explore Air 2, you’ll agree with me that it is extremely cost-effective. The machine remains one of the best cutters around because it’s German-made carbide blade cuts through materials with extreme ease, and that’s why it is used to make designs that are small and intricate.
In contrast, the Cricut Maker comes with blades that aren’t only sharp and precise, but also possess a lot more force behind them; the Cricut Maker has about 4,000 grams of force, whereas the Explore Air comes with a paltry 400grams only.
The Cricut Maker cuts easier and neater, requires fewer passes on thicker materials and can work with way more materials than the Explore Air. Furthermore, the Marker is designed to potentially work with newer and sophisticated blades (such as the Knife blade and Rotary blade), as opposed to the Explore Air.
In terms of fabric cutting, the Rotary blade remains a revolutionary invention that has greatly improved the industry, however, the Knife blade has proven to be safer and more effective – It is the ultimate tool for cutting thick materials.
The Explore Air 2 is a highly efficient cutting machine that is perfectly suited for crafters that stick to thin materials, and do not require any special intervention.
The maximum cutting size of both machines is 12” wide by 24” long, and most industry experts are of the view that the Maker’s cut size should have been increased to at least the size of the Silhouette Cameo 3 (12” wide by 10” long).
It is obvious that the Cricut Maker is an improved version of the Explore Air 2, however, many people are of the view that those improved features fail to justify the hike in price.
The Cricut Maker is listed at $399.99 on the Cricut website, and although it comes with improved features, many people see it as a significant amount to lay down on a cutter.
On the other hand, the Explore Air 2 is listed at $299.99 and during sales, the price drops down significantly.
Generally, when people weigh their options for products they intend to purchase, most times they consider price ahead of other factors, but the truth is that price isn’t everything. Thus, another factor to look out for is the products’ longevity.
In terms of longevity, the Cricut Maker and the Explore Air 2 are very solid machines and there’s absolutely no doubt about their durability. However, the Maker seems to be more suited for the future because the cutter will ultimately outlive that of the Explore Air 2.
Besides, the Cricut Maker comes with the Adaptive Tool System, meaning that it is guaranteed that it’ll be compatible with all types of blades and tools that will be released in the foreseeable future.
No matter how much the crafting process evolves over the next couple of years, the Cricut Maker will remain effective and relevant.
On the other hand, the Explore Air 2 is not designed to offer more than it already does, and although it won’t become obsolete, it just can’t support the newer blades and tools that are being released by Cricut.
In comparison, the Explore Air 2 is meant for people that are happy with their available options and concerned about upgrading their skills, whereas the Cricut Maker is suitable for people that intend to experiment and develop their crafts further.
In terms of software, there’s nothing that separates these two machines because they both use the Cricut Design Space software.
Design Space Software is a decent program that is easy to use and contains plenty of editing options for users to effectively personalize their designs. Besides, there’s a store that contains hundreds of editing options for users to use and personalize their designs.
Users can upload their designs and convert them free of charge, thus for expert users can create their complex designs in more sophisticated programs like Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Make the Cut, and Sure Cuts A Lot.
Cricut Design Space is cloud-based, so users can design on their personal computers, tablets, and phones.
It is a user-friendly program but it has its flaws: sometimes it gets buggy and limiting, especially while creating new designs within the program.
In terms of the usage for sewing projects, it’s a no contest! The Explore Air 2 is a versatile machine but it doesn’t measure up to the Cricut Maker.
On the other hand, apart from the actual Sewing Machine, the Cricut Maker is what people use for serious sewing projects. The Maker comes with a library that contains plenty of sewing patterns, and not only will it cut the sewing patterns; it also marks them with the washable fabric marker pen. The Cricut Maker eliminates guesswork with regards to the marking of patterns and this ultimately improves the final output of the work.
One of the most important but often overlooked features of machines is portability. If you’re a crafter that prefers to be static, then you can overlook it, but if you’re someone who prefers to travel with your cutting machine, then you have to consider the size of the machine.
Between the two machines, the Cricut Maker is heaviest, weighing almost 24lbs as against the Explore Air 2 that weighs only 14.8lbs
The Cricut Maker is a static machine specifically designed for use in a specialized space, home or craft room. It has plenty of storage space and even comes with a provision for charging of phones and/or tablets.
The Explore Air 2 is nimble and it comes with a smaller amount of storage, thus, it is perfect for people that like to craft on the road.
In terms of portability and ease of movement, the Explore Air 2 stands taller than the Cricut Maker.
viii. Ease of use
Both machines are relatively easy to use with little practice, but in terms of ease of use, the Cricut Maker edges the Explore Air 2.
The Explore Air 2 is built with the Smart Set Dial on the front and this allows users to easily select from the most common materials. Once the dial is set, the machine automatically adjusts its cut settings accordingly.
However, the problem most users face is that most materials most cutters use are not always the most common materials for members of the larger Cricut community. Thus, you have to manually set the material settings from within Design Space if your material isn’t on the dial.
It is not an extremely difficult process, but it is a bit frustrating, especially when you have to carry out the same procedure over and over again.
On the other hand, the Cricut Maker automatically adjusts its settings according to the type of material that is loaded on the cutting mat.
It is extremely easy, and the user doesn’t have to do any settings at all.
Newcomers in the world of Cricut and the cutting of crafts might not understand this, however, long time Cricut users will know all about the cartridges – they might even have a space dedicated to them in their craft rooms.
It is no longer mandatory to use cartridges for designs on both the Cricut Maker and the Explore Air 2.
However, in case you have a couple of old cartridges at home, you might want to use them; thus you can plug them directly into the Explore Air 2, and use.
It is possible to use the cartridges with the Cricut Maker but it is a bit more complex. You will have to get the cartridge adapter that will allow you to link the physical cartridges into Design Space. The cartridge adapter connect uses a USB port to connect the Cartridges with the Maker.
There is also the option of using digital cartridges instead of buying the adapter. The digital cartridges are downloaded directly into Design Space.
Print Then Cut
The last and final battle between the Explorer Air 2 and the Cricut Maker is which of the machine has a better for Print Then Cut.
The Cricut Maker comes with the Print Then Cut (PtC) feature which allows users to print out their designs onto a white paper, and then cut.
This feature comes in handy for crafters that tend to experiment more on new designs, as opposed to just downloading designs from Cricut Design Space.
The Explore Air 2 also has the same PtC feature as the Cricut maker, however, the difference is that the Cricut Maker can PtC on colored and patterned paper, while the Explore Air 2 cant.
Thus, in terms of Print Then Cut, the Cricut Maker edges the Explore air 2.
At this point, it is obvious that the Circuit Maker is the superior machine.
It is more durable, offers better Print Then Cut functionality, easier to use, more versatile, and an all-round better cutter.
The Explore Air 2 is a very good machine that has served crafters for some time now and will continue to do in the future; however, the Cricut Maker is just too good for it.
The Explore Air is the perfect machine for crafters that use paper, thin materials, cartridges, and also those that have a limited budget.
Both machines are highly efficient, and they serve their purposes perfectly; the Cricut Maker is for makers, while the Explore Air 2 is for cutting crafters.