Find out the key differences between the Cricut Maker and Explore Air 2 Machines

What Makes Cricut Maker™ Different from Explore? We’re Glad You Asked…Plus 15 Other Top Questions.

September 18th, 2017 • Contributor: Cricut Blog Team

The Cricut Maker has been on the market for almost one month. Here are the top questions we are getting about our latest addition to the Cricut Family:

First … Will there be different colors of Cricut Maker? This is the top question? Well, not really, but it gets asked a LOT. The answer: We love Cricut Maker’s sleek design and plan to keep it a simple-but-elegant color palette for now.

For more top questions, please read on. If you don’t see an answer here, please be in touch with our Customer Care team.

1. How is the Cricut Maker different from the Cricut Explore line?

It’s smarter & cuts more. It cuts a wider variety of materials, papers, fabrics, and thicknesses with a greater degree of precision and control than many professional cutting machines (that cost a lot more!).

It is designed with our new Adaptive Tool System™. This new feature brings together three major technologies that give Cricut Maker professional-class cutting versatility and performance.

  1. It delivers 10 times (4 kilograms) or more cutting force than our Explore line.
  2. It uses a sophisticated steering system to actively control the direction of the blade at all times.
  3. It intelligently adjusts the pressure of the blade to match the material, even after multiple cut passes.
  4. It also tests to be sure that you are using the correct blade before it starts cutting and it tells you to change it if not.
  5. And … drum-roll please: the system is built to add new tools in the future, so that the Cricut Maker grows with you as you tackle new and exciting projects.

Other differences … quickly … no dial, rather all the details are in Design Space. Those details are transmitted to the Cricut Maker wirelessly. And, for sewists it marks patterns with a washable pen – wait, what?!

2. Can I use my existing blades in the new Cricut Maker?

Yes! You can use the Fine Point, Deep Point, and Bonded Fabric blades and housings in both Explore and Maker.

3. Can I use the new rotary & knife blades in the Cricut Explore machine?

No, but here’s why: The Rotary and Knife Blades are part of the Cricut Maker’s Adaptive Tool System (see question 1!).

4. Is it just for people who sew? What’s the “big deal” with sewing and the Cricut Maker?

It’s for every maker! Cricut Maker is for everyone who is passionate about paper or fabric arts crafting, as well as sewing. What’s the big deal for sewists?

  • It’s our first machine that can cut fabric without a backing, which opens up so many possibilities for sewists as well as any crafter who wants to add dimension and texture to their projects.
  • And, get this: it marks your patterns with a washable fabric pen – how cool is that?!

5. What materials can it cut?

You name it and we’ve probably tested it! Cricut Maker cuts everything the Explore machines can cut and much, much more. It cuts everything from crepe paper and Mulberry paper to fine fabrics, like lace and chiffon to leather, to matboard and balsa wood. Cricut Maker also cuts traditional craft materials such as cardstock, vinyl, and iron-on.

6. Does it require a computer/internet?

Yes, it does. The Cricut Maker is used with our Design Space software on a computer, iOS device, or Android device (US only) … and, Design Space requires an internet connection.

7. Can I use the sewing patterns on my Explore?

This is where the Rotary Blade comes in. All of the new ready-to-make patterns are designed specifically for Cricut Maker. These patterns use non-bonded fabrics, which can only be cut using the Rotary Blade. If you’re using fabric on Explore, you’ll have to use bonded fabric, which the Fine Point Blade cuts effectively.

8. Can I modify my patterns?

Yes, you can modify your own patterns, but you cannot modify most pre-made patterns in Design Space, such as Simplicity or Riley Blake Designs. This is because these patterns are scaled to fit together perfectly.

9. Where do I find patterns in Design Space?

Under “Projects.” When you click on a project, under the title it says whether it’s designed specifically for Cricut Maker. From the Projects tab on the Design Space canvas, you can select a category and search for something specific, for example, “Riley Blake Designs” or “Simplicity.”

10. Do cartridges work with Cricut Maker? How do I use my cartridges with this machine?

Yes. To use your cartridges with the Cricut Maker, you just need to link them to your account. If you have already linked them to your account through your Explore or other Cricut machine, they will already be there for you in Design Space as long as you use the same Cricut ID to sign in that you used when linking the cartridges. There is no need to link them again.

If you haven’t linked your cartridges to yet, we will be coming out with a cartridge adapter later this year. The cartridge adapter will connect directly to your computer to give you digital access to your cartridges. In the meantime, if you don’t have a way to link your cartridges, contact our Customer Care Team for assistance.

11. Is Design Space the same for the Cricut Maker as for the Explore?

Indeed. You use the same URL to access it and the same Cricut ID to sign in. A big difference, however, is that Cricut Maker does not have a SmartSet dial. When you are instructed to cut using a Cricut Maker, the Set Material, Load Tools and Mat steps will look slightly different, as you can now set up your project on one screen. You select the material and our software does the rest.

12. Can I use the Washable Fabric Pen with Cricut Explore?

Yes, you can. However, because the Washable Fabric Pen marks on sewing patterns specifically designed for Cricut Maker, the pen won’t mark your patterns but can simply be a water-soluble drawing tool.

13. Can I use the pink fabric mat in my Explore machine?

Yes, but fabric must be bonded or stabilized because the Cricut Explore Family uses a drag motion for cutting.

14. Can I use the bonded fabric blade in my Explore?

Yes. It’s exactly the same as the regular fine point blade, just pink so you can tell at a glance which are your “fabric scissors” and which you use for other materials.

15. What does it cost? What comes in the box?

For $399 you get all of this: A Cricut Maker and Rotary Blade + Drive Housing, Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing, Fine-Point Pen, FabricGrip™ Mat, LightGrip™ Mat, Welcome book, USB cable, Power adapter, Cricut Access™ free trial membership, 50 free ready-to-make projects (including 25 sewing patterns), and materials for a practice project. You can buy it here or at our retail partners!

69 thoughts on “What Makes Cricut Maker™ Different from Explore? We’re Glad You Asked…Plus 15 Other Top Questions.

  1. Craft machines are great – until the next best thing comes out. I would LOVE to have this new machine – if I hadn’t recently coughed up the money for the new bluetooth Explore Air. Since I sew a lot, this machine is a big temptation. SO, when you offer a trade in program with significant savings (at LEAST $150 rebate), I may consider purchase. ALSO, I have TONS of patterns I’d love to be able to use – particularly patterns for little stuffed animals I make for children (both of them are Simplicity patterns). I made a dog the other day – I made 6 of them, in fact, and I thought, “wow, these would be SO easy to cut out on that new Cricut machine, if I had one, and if the pattern was available.” So that’s another hurdle – I’m not going to pay AGAIN for something I already own – hundreds of paper patterns. The equivalent of all the cartridges I’ve purchased over the years.

    The THIRD and final suggestion for improvement to your overall system – PLEASE develop Android (non-“Apple”) based software for those of us who own those types of tablets and phones. I’d much rather use my spare time designing cool stuff than playing solitaire while waiting for my car, camping, or when I have some “brilliant” idea for a project.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share my ideas.

    • Yes! You took the words right out of my mouth….I just received the Explore Air 2 AND a sewing machine this past Christmas. You can only imagine my frustration right now. A trade-in program would be marvelous!!!

    • Yes! You took the words right out of my mouth as well….I just purchased the Explore Air 2. A trade-in program that provides a substantial rebate to upgrade is the only way I can justify buying the Cricut Maker as much as I would love to.

  2. I got the explore 2 and was so excited to think I could now cut my quilt patterns automatically…surprise it just rips the fabric ….I was told it would cut the material…the box said it cuts fabric will it doesn’t …I make quilts for Foster Children was wanted to speed up my output due to the number of children in the system ….shame on you for selling something that does not work for what is stated. Now it just sits collecting DUST….

    • I am so sorry that you have had a frustrating time trying to cut fabric for this charity project. With the Explore 2, it will cut fabric if you have a stabilizer on the back of it. There are stabilizers that you can remove after you have done your cutting. I hope that it will work well for you if you try this.

      • Just got my Explore 2 Air — man, should have waited a week or two. I did try to cut fabric and it did rip but I did cut the pattern on parchment. I thought it was because I did not have the right blade or did not have the fabric mat.

        Do I need the fabric mat on Explore 2 Air? What kind of stablizier? What blade?

      • I found the comment about material cutting misleading too. Stabilizer name? Shame on you! Also not clear that you need to separately buy oodles of tools to do the things it says you can do. Like saying I can fly to the moon. (Yes man can now, but …)

  3. When will the Cricut maker be available in the UK?
    Do you have stockists?
    I also want to know if the blade (when available) will be able to cut cork and mdf for lettering.

  4. I opened my vinyl brights sampler pack this evening and the Grape, Berry & Caribbean have several raised wrinkles running thru them. I’m really afraid they are not going to cut properly. Is there any way these could be traded out?

  5. So if a newbie asks which machine to get Explore Air 2 or Maker, the answer would be Maker? Does the Air 2 do anything the Maker can’t do? (Besides cost less 😉 )

    • It really depends on your budget and the types of projects that you want to do. If you are wanting to work with things like fabric, leather and delicate materials, the Maker is a better choice. If you prefer things like vinyl and paper (with the capability of dozens of other materials), the Explore Air 2 will work just fine for your needs. The Maker has all of the functions of the Air 2.

  6. Never owned a cricut yet, but saving for a Cricut Maker. So excited! Am I able to use the Cricut Design Space on a Chrome laptop? That’s all I have or can I just use the app on my iPhone?

    • Yes, as it begins the project, it checks for the correct blade (including all available now) and will inform you if you need to switch it over to a different one.

  7. I love my Explore Air and have been a loyal Cricut owner since the Create (I have the Create, Expression, Gypsy, and 90+ cartridges.) I will not even consider the Maker until the much talked about stand alone Design Space is a reality. I keep hearing that ‘it is coming in the future’, and then you came out with a whole new machine first. Come on Cricut/Provo Craft. Give us DS that we can use while off line. While you’re at it I would love to see the android app upgraded to at least equal that for Apple devices. Then, and only then, do I want to commit to a bigger/better/pricier machine.

    In my humble opinion, I don’t think I am the only one who shares these feelings.

    Thank you for letting me speak my mind.
    Sue Dickson

  8. I live in New Zealand and getting cricut products cost me a LOT more because I have to use a USA address. I would love an exchange option so I can upgrade my explore 2 and get the maker so please Cricut think about doing this and please consider making it more available to this end of the world as we are a growing group of cricut users here and product is extremely expensive for us.

  9. I was told it automatically senses how much pressure needed so you don’t have to worry about what weight paper or cardstock you are using? Is this true?

  10. I am looking for a fabric cutting system that will accept a variety of fabric toy patterns as well as a diversity of different fabrics. Is the Maker able to do this?

  11. Can I tell the Maker what shapes I want to cut out of my fabric? Example….can I tell it to cut ten 2″x2″ squares? Or do I need to use a premade Cricut sewing pattern?
    Thank you!
    Jenny

    • Sure! For example, you could make a 2″x2″ square and quickly duplicate it in Design Space so you can have 10 of them cut at once. Save it as a general pattern and you can use it for your different fabrics.

  12. I would very interested in a trade in program. I have not had my explore are 2 for a full year yet and I know the maker is really more of what I want. Thanks

  13. I have the original Cricut, the expression, cake, explore and mini (as well as the jukebox, gypsy and imagine, all of which you made obsolete). At some point it would be great if you offered a trade in, or trade up program, for your customers who have been with you since the beginning. I’m at the point where I don’t want to buy the next great thing because it’s going to be replaced with something more expensive.

  14. I am so looking forward to being able to purchase the Cricut Maker, and would love to see a trade-in program for it. I have the Explore Air, Air 2 and would love to trade one in to get the upgrade so I can use that fantastic rotary blade! 2 of my DD have an Explore or Explore Air, and they are also interested in a trade-in or trade-up deal for this wonderful new machine.

  15. I am so disappointed that the Cricut Maker came out AFTER my acquisition of of my explore air 2, sacrificially gifted to me some months ago by my daughter, because I wanted it so much. I wanted the explore air 2 because it supposedly cut fabric. Having to use stabilizer is just another expense. Purchasing yet another cricut machine is not financially feasible. I love the new features of the Maker, ESPECIALLY the idea of new tools as opposed to whole new machines. I wished the explore air 2 had the option of new tools, especially the rotary blade and knife blade. I thought I was getting the Cadillac of cutters, then all of a sudden, before I have even used it much, a new machine is out. Please consider the inventing of new tools to enhance all Cricut machines. An upgrade program is nice idea, but not sure even that would work for me, since, being a senior citizen my income is very fixed, which is why my daughter got it for me. I was hoping to supplement my income with this machine only to find out that the Maker would have been a better match for my interests.

  16. Hi Cricut users and company, I want to share my feeling with the company. I feel bad for Cricut users like myself because there is no special plan for us, to replace old machine that we just bought. For example, I bought first machine it was three years ago before Explore air. Last year, I bought Explore Air 2 which is real nice. Now the new Circuit Maker just came out, it does many things that I really want with fabric and thin wood. I feel discouraged and wish I could wait for this time. I feel Cricut company should give us, only Cricut users special plan like some discount or something like that. That will motivate and appreciate us. Circuit Company, Can you do that for us?Please don’t consider for some free or discount for supplies for us. Thank you, Cricut User

  17. I now own 3 Cricuts and 1 Scan n cut. I have invested a lot of money and thought of a great idea for making some of my money back and will allow me to invest in this new machine. I decided to have a craft night once or twice a month. This class will allow people who don’t want to invest in any of these machines but would like to enjoy the fun of creating their own shirts and other crafts to do so. I will allow them to use my machines for their projects and just charge a fee for the Craft Night. They can bring their own shirts or whatever project they would like to do or I will supply them and they can pay me. I also have two of the brothers embroidery machines. Christmas is coming, use your imagination everyone… I already have several interested and ready to go.

    • Hi Pam
      I am really interested in one of these machines to use with my brother V3 embroidery machine. You mention that you have the scan n cut as well. Please would you advise me if it is possible / easy to use cricuit with the brother embroidery machine i.e. produce shapes to cut from PES. I’m not sure how this works, never having owned either cricuit or scan n cut. The cricuit maker seems much more versatile but won’t be a lot of use to me if I can’t use it from PES shapes to use for appliqué

  18. Please Please Please… offer a trade-in program! I have had my cricut for less than a year and I absolutely love it but I was hoping it cut wood, leather and fabric… then low and behold, my wishes were answered. Please consider your current happy customers.

  19. I have a cricut expression machine which I still like. I, like others would like to upgrade to some of the newer machines, but….I like to use my machine while on vacation which in most cases, do not have internet service. I cannot understand why cricut will not make these new machines to be a stand alone along with internet use, so we can use them wherever we are. Why not make this available on the machine?? There are a lot of us that would upgrade and continue to support cricut if this was the case and I know they have the technology to do so. Also, I spent the money on their design studio program for my laptop when I purchased my first machine and now that they did an internet version, they will no longer support the computer version. So I can no longer upload and use any newer cartridges on my design studio program. I have been a long time cricut user and enjoy it very much, but these issues do make me limit what I will purchase from cricut.

  20. I love the creativity that Cricut helps me bring to life – however. I just received the Explore Air 2 AND a sewing machine this past Christmas, so less than a year ago. You can only imagine my frustration right now. A trade-in program would be marvelous!!! We definitely cannot afford the Maker after those purchases. I literally cried when I saw the video for the Maker, knowing without a trade-in or upgrade program, it would be many years before I’d be able to get one and try all those awesome projects for the Maker I keep seeing in Design Space. Please consider a trade-in/upgrade program, Cricut.

  21. I am excited to purchase the cricut maker Oct 3rd. I also have five other cricuts. Was wondering if by chance scoring glass for stained glass projects is a possibility for the future and for now what about cutting laminate that is backed with sticky paper, into designs, using the different colored laminates. Just wondering. Thanks, Gini-oh by the way, barely a day goes by that I don’t say, I love my cricuts.

  22. I have the Air 2 and I will be getting the maker shortly because of the extra cutting power, fabric and wood cutting abilities. I know other blades /adapters are being considered/designed I really want a metal engraving tool! I know there is one that is sold by someone else that people said they use but I’d rather have one that is designed specifically for the cricut maker! Thank you for your incredible machines and vision!

  23. I would also be interested in a trade in program. I now own three machines and the Explore Air 2 was the most recent less than a year ago. I really can’t justify a brand new machine to my husband right now. It would really help to get a machine that will work on all the materials I need it to.

  24. I have been doing intensive research on the Cricket Maker. Some questions were asked on here that didn’t get an answer. If I am understanding correctly, all of your projects (patterns) are stored in the cloud. I have a smart phone and a Kindle Fire. If I read correctly, Apple products and some other phones/tablets have better results than what I have to access and make the projects (patterns)…..no problems using my home computer. If I read some incorrect information, I apologize. I did read the Circuit machines are not free-standing…..they require an internet connection……due to your use of the Cloud. When traveling, many hotels and motels have internet connections…..even some of the less expensive ones. I definitely want a Circuit Maker, and I have researched your other models plus other brands via the internet. My niece is coming to live with me, and we are going to make all of our Christmas gifts, etc. We have talked about them, and she was able to use her tablet to see them. We are both thrilled to be able to make signs and other decor. I already have most of the supplies we need. We have been been making homemade gifts for years. We watched many videos and read many explanations. It won’t take us long to learn how to use the Circuit Maker. Also, I taught offset printing for 20 years, and I had a professional print shop in my classroom. (Some of your customers who own several of the Circuits have made comments about how much they like the Circuit Maker format and how easy it is to use…..love all the new features.) We can hardly wait to get it. Please consider a trade-in option for those who want to upgrade. The trade-ins could be donated to schools, Boys and Girls clubs, YMCA, churches, Crisis Centers, senior citizen groups and others who do creative projects. These donations would be a great hands-on projects for youngsters, adults, and senior citizens. The donations would be a blessing for them, and a financial benefit for your company. Please thank the Project Development Department and all associated with it for making such a fine product.

  25. I have a Samsung note 8 phone and I also have a Samsung tab E tablet. If I’m understanding correctly these are not going to work well as an iPhone or Mac book pro? I also have a Mac book pro.

  26. I HAVE 5 Cricuts and one of them I used once, the Imagine which was out what a day…it sits in a box in the basement. Trade up would be beyond helpful. I am sure like others we are loyal to Provocraft/Cricut would appreciate a true trade in that would be worth something. Also, for those that have some the order models that uses design studio…upgrade the firmware so we can use design space….You shouldn’t forget about the crafters who put you on the map.

  27. My print to cut did not cut clean with vellum and a new blade. Was this due to the black paper lint on the mat from the previous cut before it cut vellum for the same project?

  28. I bought my cricut maker and asked the clerk to verify that it will work on my android. I was told that it would work as it is stated on the box. I take it home and go to download cricut design space on my android only to learn that it is not available in Canada! I am not very happy! When will Canada be able to use their cricut maker with an android system?

  29. I too would like to see a trade-in/trade-up program of some sort for those of us who have relatively new machines (less than 6 months old!) Having made my purchase of an Explore Air 2 over this past summer and spending the roughly $250, I was excited to begin working with numerous materials and intricate cuts. Then, shortly after my delivery, the grand announcement concerning the release of Cricut Maker was made…. to be released in October (only a couple of months after my purchase….).

    While the Explore Air 2 is just fine, the Cricut Maker would suit my needs much better, but I cannot justify the $399 price tag in addition to the previously spent $250. I am disappointed in the marketing department for not considering those individuals making purchases of Explore machines so close to the release of the Maker. There could have been an alert that the new machine was in queue for release. I would have preferred to delay my purchase for a few months and purchase the Maker (for the additional $150) but currently the purchase amounts to $650 (without a trade-in/trade-up program) to essentially do “fabric cutting”.

    I have been considering the purchase of other accessories for the Cricut system (such as the EasyPress and LightBoard) but I will not be purchasing anything until I have further information regarding any possible trade-in/trade-up programs to determine what direction my machine purchase will take.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

  30. My question may sound petty. First of all I cant afford the Maker machine, and I am quite content with my E- Air, but I do go thru a lot of cutting mats. Right now I have 9 that are useless. Please come up with a way for us to send them back to you to be cleaned off and re tacked at a reasonable cost. I would love to be more responsible and not keep throwing these out, they are not cheap. I feel the recycle would also benefit you in the scheme of things, Reuse/Recycle. I would pay a small price to have this done and shipped back to me. Please get back to me on this, I would love to know what your thoughts are. Besides you can pitch this at your next brainstorming session and who knows what from there. Thanks, I will wait ti hear from you.

    • I would love to see this be an option in the future as well Dottie! Great idea! Environmentally friendly options are always a plus!

    • I have found that sometimes wiping them down with a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol cleans off any gunk and makes them sticky again. If you are unable to use them anyway it might be something you would want to try. Good luck!

  31. I recently bought the Cricut Maker to use to make American Girl Doll clothes for my daughter. I was disappointed to see that there isn’t any modern styles for patterns and there is no 18” doll tee shirt template to use to make iron on designs. I was planning on buying the press so I could make tees and other items for her and her friends. Is there plans to incorporate more for 18” doll styles and possibly a shirt template? Or maybe I’m missing the options?
    Thank you for any info!

  32. I just want to say that I’m new to the Cricut world and boy let me tell you. I haven’t had a thrill like this since forever. My Cricut Maker exceeds my expectations. I love it and I love it some more. Thank God I waited because if I didn’t I would have purchased the Explore 2. I am a seamstress and I need this in my life. Thank you so much.

    Sincerely,
    Mother to a Cricut Maker

  33. I live in Canada and am interested in purchasing a cricut maker i do not have any apple products my phone is android will this work with cricut?

  34. So January 2017, I purchased the Explorer Air, wonderful machine and what happens, Hello… MAKER!!! Well seeing I am a seamstress mostly, the Maker is my dream come true machine, I design cat toys and have been wanting a machine to cut out the toys since I started back in 1994. And here comes a machine with a rotary blade where I don’t need backing which would defeat the purpose of speeding up things for me. Well… I just bought the maker last week… OMG.. what a beautiful machine, it cuts fabric with that rotary blade just like butter and so precise I was in awe.

    Well the Explorer found a new home with my daughter, she and my granddaughter can now make some fun projects together.. ME.. I have been playing with the Maker daily. With Christmas around the corner I can whip up many gifts in no time at all. My next project is that adorable felt doll and bunny. And for a Christmas gift hint to my husband.. I would really love the Easy Press to add to my Cricut collection.. :-)

    The only complaint I do have.. The MATS.. I wore out the fabric mat in just one afternoon.. all I hear is leave the threads on the mat they wont interfere with cutting, well that part is correct, but it fills up the mat and then it doesn’t stick anymore. You really need to design a different type of mat where after cleaning, it renews itself or lower the prices to justify the money being tossed away so quickly. And the other point that bothers me is once they are used up, what do we do with the mats.. throw them away, so on the environment side, more waste products for the land fills.

    I totally recommend these machines as this is now two machines in 11 months but the mat system is a total disappointment. I understand this is how you make money but WOW.. really… $16 for the 12×24 mat which I know I might get 2 days use out of, but with that felt doll project ready to go, I just might trash the mat sooner?

  35. Cricut isn’t even answering the concerns for those of us who recently spent money or acquired an Air 2 and are now wondering wtf?? I haven’t had the Air 2 that long at all, and now the MAKER cones out? How about updating and fixing the Design Space or making a way to upgrade the current machines everyone has spent an arm and leg on?

    Love Cricut, but come on. :(

  36. I too bought the explore air 2 and wish I had waited for the maker. However, my skill level at this time does not necessitate buying the maker atthis time. However I must echo the call for a trade-in program. But first!! PLEASE UPDATE THE ANDROID APP!! I cannot justify purchasing the Maker until this is done- love my cricut but honestly exploring other options.

Got Something To Say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *