Cricut is the BEST ever craft tool. I kid you not. Cricut changed how I craft for the better (read my story here). And as of August 20, 2017, there is a new Cricut on the scene — the Cricut Maker. I am pretty frugal, so I thought long and hard about whether I really need another Cricut. I spent a lot of time researching the new cutting machine and I found that the Cricut Maker has some significant differences. So let’s put these cutting machines head-to-head — Cricut Maker vs. Cricut Explore — and see how they compare.
Trying to decide between the Cricut Maker and Silhouette Cameo 3? I have a comparison of that as well over at Cricut Maker vs Silhouette Cameo 3: What’s Different, What’s Best?
ALERT: The Cricut Maker and Explore machines go on SALE periodically at the Cricut Shop! Always check there for current pricing!
But before I get too far, let me introduce the Cricut to those who are unfamiliar. Cricuts are computer-guided cutting machines. They cut precisely and FAST. They cut over 100 materials up to 12″ x 24″ in size. They are essentially little CNC machines, but oh so much easier to use than the big ones that cut plywood and metal. Cricuts are the ultimate DIY cutting machine.
The Cricut Maker takes this to a whole new level by introducing several new blades — a rotary blade, a knife blade, a wavy blade, a perforation blade, an engraving tip, and a debossing tip. The rotary blade allows you to cut fabric without any backing material and the knife blade lets you cut thick things like leather and thin wood. You can read about the other blades (wavy, perforation, engraving, and debossing here!) The new blades glide and roll, and are very adaptive. The rotary blade can even be used to cut super thin and wrinkly materials, like tissue paper and crepe paper. (Hello, crepe paper flowers!) The Cricut Maker can control the direction of the blade and the cut pressure to match your material It’s a game-changer for makers like me and you.
This post is NOT sponsored nor affiliated with Provo Craft, the makers of the Cricut machines; it my 100% honest opinion and review. This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy.
Cricut Maker vs. Cricut Explore: How Do They Stack Up?
|Cricut Maker||Cricut Explore|
|List price||$399 (on sale right now - lowest price ever!)||$299 (on sale right now - lowest price ever!)|
|Fine-Point or Deep-Cut Blade||(You can cut all the same paper and vinyl on the Maker that you can cut on the Explore)|
|Rotary Cutting Blade||(This is what cuts fabric without the need for any backing)|
|Knife Blade||(This is what cuts leather and wood)|
|Scoring Tool||(This produces a better score)||(can only use the scoring stylus, not the scoring tool)|
|Sewing Patterns||(Via Cricut Access)|
|Machine colors||Champagne/grey (standard color), rose, blue, and lilac||Lots of colors to chose from (I have a rose and mint one)|
Is Anything Else Different?
- The Cricut Maker has a built-in shelf on the machine for your iPad, iPhone, or another smart device (you can see it in my picture at the top of this post).
- The Cricut Maker has an upgraded 3 Amp. power cord that allows you to charge a mobile device on the right side while the Maker is cutting or writing. The Explore machines do not do this (they have an output of 2.5 Amps).
- The Cricut Explore has a special place to plug in old Cricut cartridges. Cricut Maker has no cartridge slot. I’m fine with this as I have no cartridges! If you have cartridges, you won’t lose them — all cartridges, projects, and uploaded images are linked to your Cricut ID in the Cricut Cloud via Cricut Design Space, not to a machine. (Update: Cricut has an adapter that you can plug in if you need to use physical cartridges. Or just email Cricut support photos of your cartridges and they’ll help get them into your Design Space account free!)
- The tools storage area has a larger capacity on Cricut Maker (there are two compartments instead of one). The Cricut Maker’s tool holder even has a rubber bottom for sharp blades.
- The Cricut Maker weighs more than the Explore Air 2 because it is 10x stronger. The Maker is about 30 lbs, while the Explore is 21 lbs.
- The Cricut Maker does not have the Open button or the SmartSet material dial found on the Explore.
- The Cricut Maker has the awesome Adaptive Tool System which can hold a variety of blades and pens (and they are adding new blades all the time). The Cricut Explore Air 2 has a Cut Smart 2 cartridge for holding blades and pens (no new blades are going to be added beyond what is currently available). Both have two clamps.
- The deep-cut blade cuts up to 1.5mm, while the knife blade (Maker only) cuts up to 2.4 mm.
What’s the Same?
- Both machines let you upload your own files, meaning you can use my designs with your Cricut!
- Both the Cricut Maker and the Cricut Explore Air have wireless Bluetooth technology
- Both the Cricut Maker and the Cricut Explore cut paper and vinyl! (The Maker can use the same blades that the Explore can use.)
- Both machines use Cricut Design Space, although the Set material and Load tools and mat steps look slightly different on the Maker because it does not have a SmartSet material dial.
- Both machines come in a variety of colors.
Which is Best for Me?
In the battle of Cricut Maker vs. Cricut Explore, which is best? Because I love to sew and just generally make things with fabric and leather, the Cricut Maker is likely going to be more useful for me in the long run. I want to make ALL the things. If you are primarily a papercrafter, the Explore will probably suit your needs just fine! If you are a sewer (sewist?) or want to do more intricate cutting and scoring, go for the Maker.
Here’s the best deal I know of on a Cricut RIGHT NOW:
Cricut Explore Air 2
P.S. Want to learn more and make the most of your Cricut? check out my Cricut Coach Playbook, filled with over 65 printable one-page diagrams that show you how to do all the popular tasks in Cricut Design Space!