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. 

Cricut smart cutting machines

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.

Cricut Joy on desk

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 greeting cards and machine

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. 

Cricut Explore Air 2 smart cutting machine

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. 

Cricut Explore Air 2 with various mats and materials

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. 

Cricut Maker

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 and Quickswap housing set

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

Cricut Maker with 3D elephant project

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. 

Cricut Maker smart cutting machines in five different colors

Click image below to compare all Cricut machines

Cricut smart cutting machines comparison

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

95 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,
    Tammy

    • 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.

      • i am looking as well for the right machine that i can afford. i am needing a machine that i can make custom t-shirts for a non profit. i don’t know what exactly i need to buy. do i just need a press or a press and cutter i am lost. any help would be appreciated

        • Hi Christy,

          The Cricut Maker, Cricut Explore Air 2, and the Cricut Joy are all able to cut Infusible Ink transfer sheets and iron-on material (commonly also know as HTV). However, Cricut Joy will have a smaller cutting width due to its compact size. These machines also connect to our design software, Design Space, so that you may cut your desired pattern or design. It is possible to use a household iron for iron-on material, but we highly recommended the EasyPress machines. The EasyPress machines are great for pressing iron-on and Infusible Ink material. Hope this helps.

  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 JoAnn.com. 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.

    • Cricut.com! 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!

    • Hi Ginger, yes. The Cricut Maker can cut wood with the knife blade. Please check out this list for a full list of qualified materials that the Cricut Maker can cut.

  13. Hi, I’m interested in buying a Cricut but not sure which model. I heard that one of the larger machines can cut stained glass patterns. Is this correct? Do you have any information on using it for glass patterns or even on the glass itself? I’ve only ever hand cut patterns and pieces. Thanks!

      • Thank you. Is there anything that I should consider when choosing between the Maker and the Explore Air 2, concerning creating and cutting patterns on paper or vinyl?

  14. I am just getting into the Cricut world and would like to create letter boxes with lids, What is recommended??

    • Hi Gloria,

      I’d recommend the Cricut Maker for creating boxes with lids so that you can utilize the single or double scoring wheel tool.

  15. Which machine would I need to make my own stencils with Mylar sheets please,would ac cricut joy be able to do it. Thanks

    • Hi Linda, I would recommend the Cricut Explore or Cricut Maker machines if you are cutting Mylar due to the size and convenience. With these bigger machines, you will have more flexibility for cutting larger-sized stencils. Cricut Joy is also able to cut stencil vinyl (and similar materials) but it will be limited to the size of the appropriate cutting mat for that machine. Hope that helps.

  16. I’m definitely a novice so this might be a dumb question, but I am looking to use the Air2 or Maker to make some mylar stencils. I dont know what the longest size sheets come in yet, but is there a maximum length for the material that the machines can cut? I know the width max is 12″

    • Hi Sam, the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Cricut Maker currently cut on mats that hold materials no larger than 12″ W x 24″ L. The default mat that the machines come with hold materials no larger than 12″ x 12″. Depending on the mat that you are using, the length may vary upon those two sizes.

  17. What is the best way to get shapes to the maker? Do I have to buy them every time I use them ? Is there a website where I can buy to own? Does it use cartridges?

    • Hi there, there are default shapes in Design Space. Please check out this tutorial for Working with Shapes. You can also upload your own images. Here’s a quick help article on uploading images. Cartridges are now accessible in Design Space. Feel free to also do a search within the image library. Hope this helps.

  18. I have a cricut explore air . I want to buy an other cricut so I can keep one at home and at the place I scrape book.
    Will the cricut design work on both the maker and cricut explore air ?

    • Hi Tammy,

      Yes, typically a design for Cricut Explore Air 2 is also compatible with Cricut Maker. If you save your design as a project, you will also be able to access it through your Cricut Design Space account.

  19. Which cricut machine is best for making designs to be ironed on tshirts. Do I need to order a heat press as well?

    • Hi Kathy,

      The Cricut Maker, Cricut Explore Air 2, and the Cricut Joy are all able to cut iron-on material (commonly also know as HTV). However, Cricut Joy will have a smaller cutting width due to its compact size. We do recommend using the Cricut EasyPress machines to press your designs for consistency and ease, but consumers have also used a household iron to press iron-on to T-shirts.

  20. My daughter wants to make stickers and she learned how to create them on your design software. To print them, do I print them on sticker paper on a normal colour printer, and then put it in a Cricut maker to cut out the edges of the sticker, or does the Cricut maker do both of those steps?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Susan,

      The current software is not compatible with Cricut Create. For more information, please check out this FAQ for Cricut Create.

    • Hi Caillou, you can cut vinyl with all of our machines! Depending on the size of your projects, you may opt for the larger machines (Cricut Explore Air 2 or Cricut Maker).

  21. Looks like I want the Maker. I do know that I want a Joy but am still on the fence about one of the EA2 or the Maker. Probably leaning towards the Maker because of the possibilities and more options to craft.

    • Hi Lital,

      The Cricut Maker can also make the same cards that Cricut Joy makes. However, the Cricut Maker does not utilize the special card mat that is available for Cricut Joy, so you may need to align and size the image appropriately to your base material.

  22. Do you have to pay $10 a month to use the machine? I’ve been researching the Explorer and many people are telling me it’s not worth it because you have to pay $120 a year to use the machine.

    • Hi Pedals,

      No, there is not fee to use your Cricut cutting machine after it has been purchased. However, we do offer a subscription service that allows access to a library of over 100,000 images and ready-to-make projects called Cricut Access. There is a monthly or annual fee associated with this subscription.

  23. Please tell me when you will have more products for sale. I am interested in Cricut Maker and it is sold out.

    Thanks…Laura

    • Hi Laura,

      As inventory ebbs and flows, I recommend utilizing our “Notify me when this product is in stock” feature on the product page of your choice. This feature is usually located just above the “Out of stock” notice on the product page and alerts you when inventory returns for that product. Hope that helps!

  24. Looking for suggestions on which one to purchase a cutting machine and can’t decide between the Joy and Air 2. And would like recommendations which one would be best for my plan projects. Mainly for cardstock for cutting paper flowers and leaves and writing letters & sayings to put for shadow boxes. Thanks, Ora

    • Hi Ora! Sounds like you would be better suited to the Cricut Explore Air 2, especially if you want to cut out lots of flowers for shadow boxes. You can simply cut more at one time with the Cricut Explore Air 2 than you can with Cricut Joy because the cutting surface is bigger!

  25. I am looking for a machine that will allow the import of a svg file for cutting fabric for appliqué quilting. Do any of the machines accommodate this?

    • Yes, the Cricut Maker sounds like the best machine for you! You can upload your own SVGs AND the Cricut Maker has a rotary blade that can cut through unbacked fabric! Perfect for quilting.

    • Hi Roberta,

      FE designates that the packaging and the inside materials have two languages: French & English. Otherwise, the machine itself (including plug) is the same as the US one.

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