Three best Cricut machines
Cricut machines make beautiful creations that appeal to everyone from the beginning scrapbooker to the professional crafter. And as new models come out, the list of available features keeps getting longer. If you're looking for a Cricut machine, you've got the fun - and sometimes difficult - job of deciding which features you'll need and use. To make that job easier, we've put together this shopping guide with the information you need to find the Cricut machine that's best for you.
Considerations when choosing Cricut machines
How will you use your Cricut machine? A craftsperson who runs a business has different needs than someone who makes homemade cards at Christmas. Think about how often you'll use the machine and what you need it to do. If you'll use your machine daily, you will probably want automatic adjustment features, a choice of cutting speeds, and several blades for handling different materials. Those who craft less often might not need to cut through as many materials, and slower cutting speeds won't make much of a difference. For those who will only use the machine once in a while, a manual Cricut will save money while still providing the features you need.
Cricut machine features
Cutting speed: The most advanced Cricut models can cut nearly twice as quickly as a basic machine. Cutting speed varies by machine, with the best machines having several speeds from which to choose. The more materials you want to cut, the more speeds you'll need.
Automatic depth and pressure adjustment: Adjusting the depth and pressure for each project uses up precious time and materials. Machines that do this automatically make it easier to jump right into your projects. Even with the automatic adjustments, it's still a good idea to do a test cut before committing to a design.
Scoring: This creates a groove that enables you to fold paper to make two- and three-dimensional creations. Scoring can be done manually, but a machine makes a more precise line and shortens your work time.
Wireless capability: Several Cricut machines have WiFi and/or Bluetooth capabilities. These models can access Cricut's online image library without a USB cord. This minimizes the wires in your workspace and gives you remote control of the Cricut machine.
Cricut machine prices
Inexpensive: Cricut machines powered by a manual crank cost less than $100. These can emboss and die-cut various types of materials like paper, thin leather, and ribbon.
Mid-range: Machines in the $100 to $200 range cut a wider variety of materials, including poster board and foils. These machines might have wireless capabilities along with automatic depth and pressure adjustments.
Expensive: For $200 to $300, you'll find the same models as at lower prices except these come with comprehensive accessory packages that include pens, blades, materials, and extra designs for use with the machine.
Premium: At well over $300 are Cricut machines that write, score, and cut materials like leather, wood, and metal.
Q. Can Cricut machines upload custom designs?
A. Some machines can upload custom designs. However, you'll have to upload the design into the company's Design Space, which only accepts certain sizes and formats. The specifications are fairly rigid, so you'll need to check before uploading your designs.
Q. Do Cricut machines come with software or accessories?
A. Some Cricut machines can connect either with a USB cord or wirelessly to the Design Space library, where you can access some images for free. However, most of the library is only available through a monthly subscription service or per image purchases. The subscription service comes in three tiers, with the premium package providing full access to all images and fonts.
Cricut machines we recommend
Best of the best: Cricut Maker
Our take: This top-of-the-line machine can handle everything from delicate vellum and paper to wood and leather. The Maker is an investment, so only serious crafters will get the most use out of its many functions.
What we like: It comes with all the bells and whistles like pens, scoring tools, and several different blades. Quilters will love that it can cut fabrics, including lace.
What we dislike: While it comes with all the bells and whistles, the technology can be glitchy and freeze up.
Best bang for your buck: Cricut Cuttlebug Die Cutting & Embossing Machine
Our take: The Cuttlebug keeps things simple and basic. If your crafting needs are limited to scrapbooking, cardmaking, and embossing, this machine comes at a great price.
What we like: We love the size and portability. Despite its simple design, it works on a good number of materials, including thin leather and tissue paper.
What we dislike: If the designs are too intricate, this machine might not cut all the way through your materials.
Choice 3: Cricut Explore Air
Our take: While it doesn't cut as quickly as some of the other models, this is a reliable machine that enables you to upload customized designs. If you craft on a regular basis, this machine provides a balance between performance and price.
What we like: It comes with an app that gives you wireless control. The quick setup makes this one of our favorites because you can start cutting in no time.
What we dislike: It doesn't utilize space well and for some reason struggles to cut foam.
Stacey L. Nash is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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