Compare Cricut Machines

Which Cricut Smart Cutting Machines are Right for You?

March 31, 2020 • Contributor: Cricut Blog Team

If you’re wondering which Cricut machine is right for you, you’ve come to the right place. This is an overview comparing Cricut Joy™, Cricut Maker®, and Cricut Explore Air™ 2 to help you decide. 

If you'd like to watch a video, Anna Rose walks through each of the machines below, otherwise, read on! 

Cricut Joy™, your new DIY best friend.

Just like full-size Cricut machines, Cricut Joy™ cuts and writes for you. It can cut 50+ materials, including materials you probably already have at home (copy paper, construction paper, etc.), popular crafting materials (iron-on, vinyl, Infusible Ink™, etc.), and new Smart Materials™, for super-easy, super-long cuts without a cutting mat. It’s the perfect companion to any Cricut machine and a great way to dip your toe into DIY.

For space savers and people on the move.

If you live in an apartment, a tiny house, or just love the simplicity of small, Cricut Joy will fit right in.  Literally.  It fits in a cubby, looks great on a counter, packs away easily, and sets up instantly. 

For extra-long project people.

Cricut Joy may be small enough to hold in the palm of one hand, but with Smart Materials, it can cut continuous shapes up to 4 inches wide and 4 feet long or make repeated cuts up to 20 ft long. 

For last-minute makers.

We mentioned that Cricut Joy sets up instantly, which is particularly helpful when you’re busy. It also works with new pre-scored Insert Cards, so you can bust out a custom card right before an event, a birthday bash, or a baby shower without breaking a sweat. 

You’ll also find lots of new projects in Design Space made specifically for Cricut Joy that take just about 15 minutes. If you’re tight on time, this little beauty’s for you. 

Cricut Joy Making Cards

For avid and not-so-avid organizers.

Some of our favorite Smart Materials for Cricut Joy are Smart Label™ Paper and Smart Label Vinyl. They make organizing quick, easy, and fun. Cricut Joy writes directly on Smart Label in any font, cuts it into any shape you say, and all that’s left to do is for you to peel and stick. 

We can see it already – neat rows of spices, ordered pantry shelves, and tidy storage bins that you don’t need to open to see the contents.  

For more information, here’s everything you need to know about Cricut Joy

Cricut Explore Air™ 2, creative bang for your buck.

With the flexibility to cut a wide range of craft materials and the precision to deliver exactly what you need, the best-selling Cricut Explore Air™ 2 cutting machines make DIY easy, fun, and – dare we say – amazing. 

For popular material lovers.

Cricut Explore Air 2 is our best-selling machine for a reason! It cuts 100+ materials, including vinyl, iron-on, cardstock, and backed fabric.

For full-width project DIYers.

The “biggest” difference between Cricut Joy and full-size machines is ... size. Reach for Cricut Explore Air 2 or Cricut Maker when you need to cut anything wider than 4.25 inches, up to 12 inches. 

For speedy makers.

If you’re in a hurry or just like to make the most of your time, you’ll love Fast Mode, for up to 2X faster cutting and writing. It doubles your speed when working with popular materials like vinyl, iron-on, and cardstock. Both Cricut Maker and Cricut Explore Air 2 have Fast Mode. 

For color-obsessed crafters.

One of our favorite things about Cricut Explore Air 2 is the wide variety of hues it comes in, from Flamingo Pearl and Wild Rose to Emerald, Peacock, Peach Kiss, and Cherry Blossom. 

If you like to express your creativity by color-coordinating your craft room, Cricut Explore Air 2 just may be the machine for you. 

Cricut Maker®, the ultimate smart cutting machine.

Cricut Maker® has all of the same amazing features as Cricut Explore Air 2, plus 10X the cutting power, making it our most versatile smart cutting machine. 

For next-level makers.

Cricut Maker offers more tools, more materials, and more possibilities. It cuts 300+ materials (more than any other Cricut machine), from the most delicate paper to the tough stuff like leather and basswood. Check out this video that overview of what is possible. 

For creative crafters who crave more.

Cricut Maker Tools

With its expandable suite of tools, including Knife Blade (for thicker, denser materials), Rotary Blade (for backed AND unbacked fabric), and the QuickSwap™ family of tools (for scoring, engraving, debossing, and adding decorative effects), Cricut Maker lets you take on practically any project.

For dimensional DIYers.

Because it can cut thicker, denser materials, Cricut Maker is perfect for creating structural elements for 3D projects, including models, decor, and more. 

For sewing enthusiasts.

If you sew or think you might ever want to learn, Cricut Maker can help with one of the most difficult and tedious parts, marking and cutting pattern pieces. You can even upload your own sewing patterns. 

For savvy quilters.

Quilters love Cricut Maker for cutting out appliqué and quilt pieces with precision so they can focus on the fun stuff.

For the sleek & stylish.

Cricut Maker has a streamlined look that comes in 5 sophisticated hues (Champagne, Blue, Rose, Mint, and Lilac) with a shimmery metallic finish. 

Click image below to compare all Cricut machines.

We've had fun comparing the best Cricut cutting machines. Let us know in the comments below which machine is right for you or at least on your wishlist! #cricutmade

44 thoughts on “Which Cricut Smart Cutting Machines are Right for You?

  1. My neighbor makes t-shirt designs, stickers to coffee mugs and pens which one does she have that makes these awesome things????

    • That is a great question! All of our machines can cut iron-on (for t-shirt designs), vinyl (for stickers,) and can draw with a pen!!

      • Can Cricut maker make standard labels?
        Those peel off labels for office folders?

        And what products do I need to make it? Label paper?
        Thank you.

        • Hi Priya,

          Yes, the Cricut Maker can make labels. Just cut the appropriately sized and shaped labels from either label paper or writable vinyl.

  2. I’m interested in printing company logo t-shirts for my husband’s business. Which Cricut machine should I purchase and can I create my own design? What kind of templates or icons are available for creating a design?

    Thank you for your time and help,

    • All of the machines can cut t-shirt vinyl, the Joy is just smaller and more compact. I’d suggest the Explore Air 2 because it’s a nice size and the mid-range expense of the three.

  3. I make face masks for essential workers, teachers and students. I think kids would love the creativity possible with personalized iron ons. I’ve never used a Cricut but love the ideas on your website and Which machine do I need and what accessories and supplies? Thanks!

    • Hi Judith! If you love to sew, the Cricut Maker would probably be the best machine for you because it can cut unbonded fabric with its rotary blade! The Maker can also cut iron-on so that you can add personalization to all of your creations! To get started, I would buy the Maker, some fabric you want to try cutting, a roll of iron-on, and a weeding tool (which helps remove excess iron-on)!

  4. Buenas tardes, quiero comprar la cricut maker, quisiera saber que herramientas adicionales se necesitan y si cuentan con servicio técnico en Perú.

    •! You may also find it at various retailers such as Michaels, Joanns, Target, and Amazon.

    • Hi Liz,

      Cricut Maker and Cricut Explore can both cut paper and stencil material, but the machines do not automatically create rhinestone templates.

  5. I want to be able to cut craft foam sheets into mats– just angular cuts and nothing curved. Would the Explore Air 2 be able to do that?

  6. Hi, I have a few questions before I buy one of these machines and due to the current pandemic I can’t go into a store to ask, please can you help?
    1. Can I cut felt designs with the machine?
    2. Can I design my own designs and cut those?
    3. Can I cut any card on it or must it be your card stock?
    Thank you

    • Hi Joan,

      Yes, the Cricut Maker is able to cut felt. The Cricut Explore Air 2 can also cut felt if it is stiffened or backed with an iron-on stabilizer. You can definitely upload your own designs in Design Space to cut them. And correct, you don’t necessarily need to buy Cricut brand cardstock (though, we hope you will!) to cut in the machines.

  7. i just got the maker and i have big plans…. so many things i want to do with it… just have to get a few more tools and supplies and i will get started… good luck and have fun everyone…

  8. Hi there, I just received a Cricut expression 2 machine for my birthday last week. It is new in the box but I see that it is a “legacy” machine and is no longer supported. I have codes for the cricut alphabet and essentials. Is there any way to download any images? Thanks.

    • Hi Patricia,
      Downloading images won’t work for the Cricut Expression 2, you will need to have physical cartridges to plug into the machine in order to cut shapes.

  9. I am interested in buying a cricut maker to assist cutting on resist for sandblasting so I can get more precise designs and sand time on hand cutting. Which machine is ideal to sandblasting resist?

  10. I am just getting into the world of the Cricut and would probably need to start with the Cricut Joy. What is recommended?? I am designing vanity trays, labels for candles, body butters, shot glasses, tumblers, etc.

    • Hi Stephanie, depending on what materials you would like to cut and what size projects you would like to create, the Cricut Joy may be a great machine for beginners. Anna Rose provides an overview of the machines in this video.

  11. Hi want to purchase a cricut. Main uses will be for crafting purposes. Want to be able to use for putting designs on wood crafts, glass and tshirts. Which machine is the most practical and easy to learn for my craft purposes? Your advice is appreciated. I am also a huge Disney fan, will I be able to find these type of designs?

    • Hi Lori, the right machine would depend on what materials you would like to cut and what size projects you would like to create. This may also help determine the most practical machine for you. Anna Rose provides an overview of the machines in this video that may be helpful in understanding the differences. And yes! There are many Disney designs and projects within Design Space. Hope that helps!

  12. I am interested in cutting small to medium size shapes (some basic and others using my own design) on recycled materials such as tire tubes. I’d also like to make earring display cards on recycled cardboard with information about the earrings. Can a cricut do this and if yes, which one would be the most appropriate for these purposes? Thank you in advance for your assistance!

    • Hi Susan,

      That sounds like a fun project! In this case, we would likely recommend the Cricut Maker. Note that any materials you are cutting must be adhered to a flat surface and within a certain thickness to fit in the machine. Hope this helps!

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