What Is A Cricut Machine? A Definitive Guide For Creatives
What Is A Cricut Machine? A Definitive Guide For Creatives
Posted 30th August 2021 •
By Brandi Cooper
So, what is a Cricut Machine? Maybe you've seen a friend post a ton of cool projects they've recently made, or maybe you're already a seasoned crafter but looking for a new tool to help make crafting simpler.
Today, we will introduce you to the different Cricut machines available and show you some tutorials to help you along your way. We've even added a few project ideas below to dive right into.
What is a Cricut Machine?
A Cricut is a brand of die-cutting machine. It takes images or designs on your computer and then cuts them onto materials with the machine. A Cricut can cut paper, cardstock, vinyl, fabric, faux leather, thin wood, and more! They have a wide variety of machines to suit your needs, from the compact machine called a Cricut Joy to the newest machine that can cut thin wood called a Cricut Maker 3.
Cricut Explore 3 is shown above.
Cricut machines connect to your computer, Ipad, or phone either by Bluetooth, a printer cable, or USB. You can then download an image from their program, Design Space, and send it to your Cricut to cut. Once a design is ready to be cut, place your material onto a mat, then load it into the machine as you would paper for a printer. The machine carefully cuts, scores, or draws the chosen image onto your material.
Design Space is an App where you can access thousands of images and fonts that can be used with your cutting machines. These images and fonts are available free or for cost.
Another place to access free fonts and designs is at Font Bundles and Design Bundles. New items are added weekly, so be sure to check back often to score some great content.
How Much Is A Cricut Machine & Which Is the Best Cricut Machine for My Needs?
3 current machines are being offered on Cricut.com. Each one has its own pros, and cons. let's go over them together.
Cricut Maker 3
The Maker is the most powerful machine Cricut offers. It was released in June 2021. It can cut more than 300 materials such as wood, leather, fabric, thin acrylic, and more. The newest feature of the Maker 3 vs. the previous version, Maker 1, is the ability to cut vinyl without a mat using a new product called Smart Materials. This means you can cut an entire 12ft roll of vinyl in a single project! When cutting with other materials, the maximum cutting area is 11.5 x 23.5 or 11.5 x 11.5, depending on the size of your mat.
Cutting speeds are 2x faster than the original maker and 4x faster than the older Explores. This machine has 12 different blades to cut, emboss, engrave, score, and foil. Pens and markers can be used to draw within the second housing space on the machine. The retail price of the Maker 3 is currently $399.00.
Cricut Explore 3
The Explore 3 was also released in June 2021. Like the Maker, it can cut Smart Material without a mat, making creating borders or long decals a piece of cake! This machine can cut up to 100+ materials and is twice as fast as the older version, Explore 2, cutting up to 8 inches per second.
It has been upgraded with a sensor that allows it to print then cut on colored paper. Previous Explore's can only print then cut on white paper. This machine has 4 blades, the fine point, deep point, bonded fabric blade, and the foil transfer tool. Pens and markers can be used as well. The retail price of The Explore 3 is currently $299.00.
The Joy is the smallest of the family. It was released in March 2020. It weighs 3.9 pounds and can be easily moved around for those who like to create on the go. The max-width of material used in the Joy is 4.25 but can cut lengths up to 20 feet long using the Smart Materials made for the Joy! The other machines cannot do this. The Joy has a total of 2 blades and can write using pens and markers.
This machine does not have a USB port, so it must be used via Bluetooth. The retail price of the Cricut Joy is currently $159.00.
Do the Older Machines Still Work?
If you are looking for a used machine, you may come across other models of Cricut Machines and wonder if they are still good. The Cricut Explore, Explore 2, Explore Air, and the Maker 1 are all currently working with the recent Design Space update. Legacy models such as the Expression 1 or 2, Cake, and Gypsy are no longer supported.
How To Use A Cricut Machine
Unpack that Cricut Machine, and let's get it set up so it's ready to cut some projects.
Whether you have a dedicated craft room or a spot on your living room floor, you'll need a flat surface to sit your Cricut on and access to power. Make sure there is room in the front and back of your machine so you can load the mat in and out easily.
Plugin your machine and then open it up. If you have the Cricut Joy or the Maker 3, all you do is lift up on the lid (where you see the indent for your fingers.) If you have the Explore 3, a button must be pressed to open the machine on the top left.
Next, you'll need to set up your computer, tablet, or phone with the Cricut Design App. Download this program from your app store or design.cricut.com. This link will walk you step by step through setting up your machine with Design Space and even creating your first project with the example supplies provided in the packaging! (You may be prompted to enter a passcode when trying to connect to your machine's Bluetooth. Use 0000 if so.)
Once you create your first project, you'll be feeling a bit more confident to take on more projects with a variety of difficulties. Thankfully, Design School is loaded with tutorials to help you along the way with using your machine and Design Space.
If you're wondering, "what can I make with a Cricut machine?" we've got you covered.
Create stunning shadow boxes with your Cricut by cutting layers of paper cardstock and layering them on top of each other.
Image credit: Mbukimbuki's Unicorn 3D Shadow Box SVG Paper Cutting File
Leather crafting is fun too! Your machine makes cutting leather a breeze and lets you get to the project's assembly in a snap. This No-sew Faux Leather Coin Purse is a fun project to create for beginners.
Vinyl Me Crazy's No Sew Faux Leather Leatherette Coin Purse Keychain
Get your spook on by creating your own Halloween matching shirts for you and your family.