What is the new Cricut Maker machine and what does it do differently than the Cricut Explore? Learn all of the features of the new cutting machine so you can make an informed decision about buying one!
I have an ongoing partnership with Cricut. This post was created as part of that partnership. This post may contain affiliate links.
I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Salt Lake City to the Cricut Mountain Make-a-Thon! I joined with hundreds of other influencers and consumers for two and a half days of Cricut fun! There were workshops, parties, and I got to see some of my best blogging friends and meet a ton of wonderful women (and a few men!) who just love their Cricuts. We had an inkling that they would be releasing a new product, but had NO idea just how much awesomeness we were in store for. At the main session on Tuesday, Cricut revealed three new products: the Cricut Brightpad (should be re-stocked soon), the Cricut EasyPress and, the pièce de résistance, the all-new Cricut Maker! You can see where to buy it here.
I’ll be writing about the Brightpad and EasyPress in separate posts, so today I wanted to give you guys a sneak peak of the amazing Cricut Maker. They announced this new machine in a keynote address by Cricut CEO Ashish Arora and some of the members of the design team. They’ve been working on this new design for three years and it was so fun to watch them finally be able to spill the beans on everything they’ve been working on for so long. I’ve never been to an event like this and the energy in the room was incredible. I love partnering with such a fun and innovative company!
While the new Cricut Maker looks similar to the current Cricut Explore, it’s been completely reengineered to do so much more. I’ll give you an overview of some of my favorite new features, and then talk a little bit about why you might want to upgrade — or why you might be just fine sticking with your current Explore machine. The Cricut Maker is $399 and will go on sale in limited quantities on August 20! As soon as I can get my hands on one, I’ll be writing in-depth tutorials and guides to this incredible new machine (but don’t worry Explore users — I won’t forget you either!).
Cricut Maker Overall Redesign
There were a lot of technical specs thrown around at the conference. One of the big ones is that the new Cricut Maker offers up to 10x the cutting power of the Cricut Explore — 4kg (which is quite a bit more than a lot of heavy duty commercial cutting machines). What does that mean for the average consumer? We can now cut much thicker and denser materials more easily, including thick leather and balsa wood up to 3/32″ thick. And it will also cut the most delicate of materials — crepe and tissue paper. Plus it will continue to beautifully cut all of the paper, vinyl, and other materials your Cricut Explore has always cut.
And as if the precision on the Cricut Explore wasn’t amazing on it’s own, the Cricut Maker now has even more control over the tools, using advanced mathematical algorithms and a system of intricate brass gears designed to improve cutting precision. Combine those with their Adaptive Tool System and you have a machine that can add new tools as they are invented — the Cricut team told us they already have a dozen new tools being tested! I’m hoping for a routing tool and maybe something to etch metal. The possibilities are endless because they’ve built this machine with future tools in mind!
The Cricut Maker also has a docking station for your phone or iPad while working on your projects as well as a USB plug for charging those devices. Tool storage has been improved with two tool cups and a larger storage bin. It’s also darn sexy, with a champagne gold lid and diamond etching throughout. It feels like an Apple product, with design and user experience at the top of the list of Cricut’s priorities.
Cricut Maker Knife Blade
To enable cutting those thicker materials, they are introducing the Knife Blade. Used like you would use an x-acto knife, the knife blade is intelligently designed to cut using several passes — a lighter scoring line, then more force cutting through the core of the material, and ending with a lighter pass to get a clean cut. I can’t wait to make my own puzzles, wood airplanes, and leather goods!
Cricut Maker Rotary Blade + Sewing Features
My absolute favorite feature of the Cricut Maker is the rotary blade! The current Cricut Explore machines can cut bonded fabric (fabric with a stabilizer attached), though it wasn’t one of its strong suits — the fine point blade is just not purpose-designed for cutting fabric. The Cricut Maker, on the other hand, was designed with fabric in mind. Cricut wanted to address one of the most time consuming and often hated parts of sewing patterns — cutting and marking your fabric. This is a big one for me — I have tendonitis in my hands and using scissors or even a standard rotary cutter can leave me with achy hands for days. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t sewn a lot in the last few years — my tendonitis got worse when I had kids.
Thankfully, Cricut created the incredible 12mm rotary blade, designed specifically to cut straight fabric — no backing required! They have also created a new pink fabric mat, with a completely different adhesive. Watching the Cricut Maker cut fabric was incredible. So intricate, so precise, no drag — and then to peel the fabric off the mat with no fray was a thing of beauty!
Additionally, they are introducing the washable fabric pen, which will — sewing enthusiasts, are you listening? — mark your fabrics for you. I hate marking patterns so this is a huge deal for me!
They are adding a ton of digital sewing patterns to the Design Space library, and have partnered with brands like Simplicity and Riley Blake to add even more projects. Most of the projects are on the smaller side since the Cricut Maker is still just a 12″ x 24″ max. But it also helps you create larger projects that have smaller pieces, like quilts! Pick a project, and the machine cuts all the pieces you need and marks them accordingly. (You can also turn off the marking feature if you like to fly by the seat of your pants.) Some projects will be included in Cricut Access and some will be between $2.99 and $9.99 for a pattern.
You can also upload your own SVG files and cut them in fabric — you can even change any draw/contour lines to be the fabric marking pen. And they have a sewing toolkit that will be released soon as well, which I thought was very thoughtfully designed. The fabric scissors even have the word “fabric” engraved in the blades, so that your family will know to stay away from them!
We learned a lot about the fabric cutting and marking features of the Cricut Maker while at the conference and I can’t wait to share more details with you about everything this new machine can do. And I am SO sewing those adorable hexie coasters and making that sweet felt doll as soon as I get my Cricut Maker!
Print then Cut Improvements
I’ve been using the Print Then Cut feature more and more for quick projects on my Cricut Explore. The biggest limitation to the Explore, however, was that the sensor could only read registration marks on white paper. The new sensor in the Cricut Maker has been reengineered and can now be used with colored paper (not really dark paper — but who prints on really dark paper anyway?). As an added bonus, it also works on most printed papers — it wasn’t really what Cricut intended, but it’s a great bonus! They’ve also reworked the registration marks within Design Space so that you can use more of the printable area on a sheet of paper (this is for all machines, not just the Cricut Maker).
Do I need a Cricut Maker?
So the big question is — do you really need to upgrade? There were some disappointed people on social media who had just purchased an Explore and were sad to find out that this new machine was just launched (trust me, I get it — I literally bought a commercial heat press two weeks before the Cricut EasyPress was announced — gah!).
The good thing is the line of Cricut Explore machines is not going away. There is still support available for these machines and they will still come out with new projects and designs that can be cut on the Explore. For my readers specifically, most of my future projects and cut files will be able to be cut on the Explore as well as the Maker. But I am excited to tackle some of these new materials, too!
So let’s get down to basics: if you don’t care about cutting fabric or thicker materials, your Cricut Explore will continue to serve you really well — I’ve had one for three years and still plan on using mine! If you are really interested in cutting fabric and sewing projects, or if you want to try it for woodworking or leather-working, you may think about upgrading. No matter what choice you make, you’ll have a great machine designed by an innovative company!
Have questions about the Cricut Maker? I’d be happy to answer them in the comments!