Last updated on October 23rd, 2019 at 09:46 am
If you’re thinking of buying a Cricut machine, this handy guide will help you choose the right machine for the things you want to do. Now updated to include the Cricut Maker!
I am often asked to break down the differences between the different Cricut machines, and I’m finally getting a post together. Bookmark this page and I’ll update it any time a new machine is released or discontinued. You’ll have all the information you need to make an informed decision!
UPDATE: this post now includes details for the Cricut Maker AND the new tools launched in July 2019.
There are four Cricut cutting machines. (The base prices for the machines are in the outline below, but click these links to Amazon — you can often save yourself quite a bit!)
Legacy machines that aren’t being sold anymore include the Cricut Expression, Cricut Expression 2, and the original Cricut Explore.
Note that there is also the Cricut Cuttlebug, which is a different type of machine altogether, and is mainly for die cutting and embossing. It was discontinued as of spring 2019.
The Cricut Maker
The Cricut Maker is Cricut’s latest cutting machine. It looks similar to the Explore line of machines, but it has been re-designed from the bottom up. It does everything the Cricut Explore will do, but it has a few added features.
It cuts unbonded fabric (so you don’t need a stabilizer like you do with the Cricut Explore line) using the tiny Rotary Blade. It cuts thicker materials (up to 3/32″) like balsa wood and thick leather using the Knife Blade. It can score all sorts of materials using the Scoring Wheel (a step up from the Scoring Stylus).
In July 2019, four new tools were announced. You can see how to use each of these tools in these posts:
The Maker’s adaptive tool system is built with expansion in mind—meaning it was built to use tools that Cricut hasn’t even thought up yet! They have a dozen additional tools in testing—so this machine will do more and more as new tools are released.
The price point is the highest in the Cricut line—$399, sometimes on sale for $349. But if you’re a serious crafter who likes to use a variety of materials, or if you are a sewing enthusiast, an avid papercrafter, or perhaps even a woodworker, this machine is for you.
I wrote up a lengthy post about the Cricut Maker — I attended the big release event and talked with many people on the Cricut team about it.
BEST FOR: Crafters who want it all—especially those who cut fabric or cut thicker materials.
The Cricut Explore One
The Cricut Explore One is the most basic and economical machine that Cricut offers, and at $199 the price can’t be beat. It has all of the precise cutting, writing, and scoring capabilities of the Explore Air machines, and you can cut all the same materials (there are more than 100!). None of the three machines require cartridges, though you can use your legacy cartridges in all of them.
BUT, it has two notable differences.
The first is that it is not Bluetooth-enabled, which means that you need to run a cord from your device to your Cricut to connect the two. Not a big deal, but it can be a bit of a pain depending on how your crafting space is set up. My original Cricut Explore (which is no longer available) wasn’t wireless and it wasn’t the end of the world (that being said, I now really love having my Cricut on one side of the room and me on the other at my desk!).
The second is that there is not a double tool cartridge, so you can’t write and cut (or score and cut) in the same pass. You can still write and score, you just have to do it separately. Again, not a huge pain unless you’re writing and cutting or scoring and cutting a lot. If you’re just cutting, this won’t make that much of a difference.
BEST FOR: Users who mainly want to cut using their Cricuts, and those who have a crafting space where their device is set up near their Cricut machine.
The Cricut Explore Air
The Cricut Explore Air is the next step up and offers you the two things that the Cricut Explore One does not—it is Bluetooth-enabled so you don’t have to plug it into your device, and it has the secondary tool holder, so you can write and cut or score and cut at the same time. At $249, I think it’s worth the upgrade to get these two extra features, but you may decide that they aren’t worth it for what you want to do with your Cricut.
BEST FOR: Most users will find this to be a wonderfully capable machine for everything they need to do.
The Cricut Explore Air 2
This is the Cricut Explore that I have (in addition to my Maker), and I must say that I love it. At $299, though, I know it might be out of the price range of some users.
There are two differences between the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Cricut Explore Air. One is big, and one is small. The big one is that the Air 2 will cut and write up to 2 times faster than the Air. It’s not all materials, but it works well for most materials that you’d want to cut. This is a game changer if you use your Cricut a lot—you know what it’s like to wait for a long cut or write job to finish!
The small difference is that the Air 2 comes in this gorgeous minty green color. I love it. It’s so pretty. And for most people, it’s totally not worth spending the extra $50, but it might be if you just LOVE that minty color!
BEST FOR: Users who own a crafting business will really notice the speed difference, and it will make a difference with how quickly they can produce items for clients.
I hope you found this little breakdown helpful. If you have any questions about your personal needs, please leave me a comment and I’ll make a recommendation!