Cricut Machine Comparisons

Cricut recently released the Cricut Joy cutting machine. Adding to its already popular Explore Air2 and Maker models. Here’s your comparisons.

All three machines use design space. You can use the same software for all three machines, you don’t need anything special for one machine over the other.

The Cricut Joy has a smaller cutting area - 4.5” wide on smart materials and 4.25” wide on cutting mats. Smart materials can have an image/text cut up to 4 feet in length and a repeated 4 foot image/pattern cut up to 20 feet in length. The Cricut Joy cutting mats allow for cuts/text 4.25” wide with a length of 6.25” or 11.75” depending on which mat you use.
The Explore Air2 and Maker both use cutting mats (smart material is not supported unless placed on the mat like regular vinyl) with cutting sizes being up to 11.5” x 11.5” or 11.5” x 23.5”, again depending on your mat size.

The Cricut Joy has cutting and writing/drawing capabilities but does not currently support any scoring tools.
Both the Explore Air2 and Maker support the scoring stylus and the Maker has its own scoring wheel (as well as a double scoring wheel) as part of its available blade/tools.

The Cricut Joy offers the option of purchasing a “card mat” which allows you to slip a folded piece of cardstock (a card) under its cutting area and only cut the top layer. This mat is not supported on the other two machines.

The Cricut Joy also has its own cutting blade and housing as well as its own pens. These are designed to fit the Joy specifically and won’t fit the other two machines.
Whereas the Air2 and Maker can use the same pens (not the joy pens) as one another and the fine point, deep cut and bonded fabric blades are used for both.
The Maker has its own set of blades/tools as well that are specifically for that machine. These are the adaptive tools and include a knife blade, rotary blade, and the quickswap housing which has six blade/tools available to use - scoring wheel, double scoring wheel, debossing tip, engraving tip, wavy blade and perforation blade.

The Cricut Joy can cut 50+ materials up to a paper thin faux leather.
The Air2 has a maximum cutting thickness of 2.0mm which includes over 100 materials (and some thicker material may cut with the Air2).
The maker has cutting ability up to 2.4mm which includes over 300 materials. Wood included (up to 3/32 of an inch).
All Cricut vinyl, iron on, cardstock (and other brands) can be used on the Joy you just need to cut them to size.
All the Joy products - vinyl, iron on, smart material, adhesive paper, label paper, etc. can be used on the Air2 and Maker it just needs to be placed on a cutting mat like any other material.

Overall you can do just about everything on the Cricut Joy you can with the other two larger machines with the exception of materials that can be used. The Joy is an addition to these other machines, it isn’t anything new that requires anything special. Your biggest difference will be your project size. And if you have a larger machine you’ll love how quick it is to cut a small project on versus setting up your Air2 or Maker.


I don’t understand why anyone who has a Maker or Explore Air 2 would get a Cricut Joy. Doesn’t it just do the same thing as the other two machines - but is limited to smaller width materials, while able to handle longer length materials? Am I missing something?

It’s very convenient for small projects. I have all three machines, it’s easy to just plug in the joy and load material let it go. Instead I’m pulling out my air or maker and uncovering it, getting my mat ready and loading it all in the time the joy is done and put away. I also make a lot of banners for Jeeps, so being able to cut up to 4’ consecutive and 20’ patterns is incredibly useful. All in all it’s a great addition to my bigger machines. I also like that I can take it with me when I go to my bf’s on the weekend and not have to stop a project or pack up a bunch of things.

Thanks for responding. I can kinda see your points.

What is the “smart materials” thing with the Joy? Does it have microchips embedded or something?

Great post @Heather! :smile:
I have heard a few people say it’s ideal to take along to craft fairs with them.

It comes on a thicker plastic backing which has overhang on each side so the rollers grab that and then feed it that way. I love it! Even using it on the bigger mats on a bigger machine is nice as it’s a slightly thicker vinyl which is nice for some projects.

They’re so easy to tote around! Literally lol. I have mine in a large craft organizer tote from Michaels with the mats, 4+ rolls of vinyl, pens, tools… it’s great. I take it with me to my boyfriends house but I’m thinking of getting a second and leaving it there. He just decided to pick up my iPad and started playing in Design Space last week so I’m curious what I’d find if he had one left there haha!

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Thanks for the explanation!

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Love all of my Cricut machines! Haven’t snagged the Joy yet, but it’s on my list. Does anyone know if Cricut will ever release a larger machine? Would love to see a machine with for bigger projects so we don’t have to splice images and work off the mat.