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Cricut Machine Comparison For 2024 – Maker vs Explore vs Joy

Cricut Machine Comparison For 2024 – Maker vs Explore vs Joy

cricut explore vs cricut maker vs cricut joy

Do you need help deciding which Cricut machine is right for you? You’re in the right place! In this post, we’re comparing the top Cricut machines of 2024 so you can make an informed decision between the Cricut Joy, Cricut Explore Air, and Cricut Maker. From crafting intricate designs on sticker paper to carving out custom decorations on balsa wood, Cricut machines are the go-to for DIY enthusiasts. Let’s dive deep into the features and functions of various Cricut models to help you decide which is the best Cricut machine for your creative journey.

What is a Cricut Machine?

A Cricut machine is more than just a tool; it’s a gateway to a whole new world of DIY possibilities. The electronic cutting machine, developed by Provo Craft & Novelty Inc. in Utah, has been revolutionizing DIY crafting since its introduction in the early 2000s. The first Cricut machine was designed to cut paper and vinyl, using simple cartridges loaded with pre-designed images and fonts.

As technology advanced, so did Cricut machines. The introduction of models like the Cricut Explore and Cricut Maker allowed users to cut a broader variety of materials such as fabric, leather, and balsa wood, expanding creative possibilities further. These machines also embraced modern tech trends, integrating with software like Cricut Design Space, which enabled users to create and upload their own designs from a computer or mobile device.

Today, Cricut machines are known for their precision-cutting capabilities across a diverse range of materials—from delicate tissue paper to tough leather—making them indispensable for both hobbyists looking to personalize their projects and professionals aiming to produce intricate designs. With continuous innovations like the Smart Set Dial, adaptive tool system, and compatibility with Smart Materials, Cricut continues to elevate the crafting experience, making intricate cuts and custom designs more accessible to everyone.

Types of Cricut Machines

I’ve been a Cricut user for years and love the quality of their machines. But with so many options to choose from, it can get overwhelming. So what’s the biggest difference between each machine?

cricut machine comparison 2024

Cricut Joy Family: 

Compact and handy, the Cricut Joy is perfect for quick, everyday projects. Its small size makes it ideal for people with limited space but big ideas. It handles basic cuts, making it a great entry point for those new to the crafting world.

The Cricut Joy is designed as an accessible, easy-to-use machine, perfect for both beginners and those who need a compact solution for quick crafts. Its size is one of its most appealing features, making it suitable for small workspaces or portable crafting sessions. Despite its small footprint, the Cricut Joy packs a punch when it comes to functionality, handling everything from vinyl and paper to adhesive decals and custom cards.

This combination of portability, ease of use, and versatility make the Cricut Joy an ideal choice for those looking to start their crafting journey without the commitment to a larger, more complex system. It’s perfect for quick projects, last-minute gifts, or everyday creative tasks, proving that good things come in small packages.

Cricut Explore Family: 

A step up, the Cricut Explore machines are known for their versatility. Capable of cutting over 100 different materials, they offers endless possibilities for both hobby DIYers and small businesses.

The Cricut Explore and Cricut Explore Air models mark significant steps in the evolution of Cricut’s cutting machines, each designed to enhance the crafting experience through technology and user-friendly features.

Cricut Explore Series

This series was a game-changer upon its release, introducing the ability to cut a wider range of materials. The original Cricut Explore features the Smart Set Dial, which allows crafters to easily adjust the machine to cut different types of materials correctly. It supports Bluetooth for wireless cutting and is compatible with Cricut’s Design Space software, enabling users to create and upload custom designs.

Cricut Explore Air Models

Building on the success of the original Explore, the Explore Air models include all the capabilities of the earlier versions but with improved connectivity options. The Explore Air introduced built-in Bluetooth for easier wireless connections. The Cricut Explore Air 2, an upgraded version, not only continues with these features but also offers faster cutting speeds. The “Fast Mode” allows crafters to cut and write up to two times faster than previous models, significantly speeding up project times.

Both machines support a variety of tools such as the fine-point blade, deep-cut blade, and scoring stylus, and can handle over 100 different materials, including vinyl, cardstock, and fabric. The choice between the Explore and Explore Air models often comes down to specific needs for connectivity and speed, with the Air models providing enhanced efficiency and ease of use for frequent users who value time savings and the convenience of wireless technology.

Cricut Maker Family: 

At the pinnacle of Cricut’s product line is the Cricut Maker. This machine introduces an adaptive tool system that works with advanced tools like the rotary blade for fabrics and the knife blade for thicker materials. Its ability to handle complex cuts and thicker materials makes it a powerhouse for serious crafters. The adaptive tool system automatically adjusts the blade and cutting pressure to match the material being used, making it incredibly versatile for handling a multitude of crafting materials.

Beyond tools, the Cricut Maker supports Cricut Design Space, which offers users the flexibility to create custom designs on a computer or mobile device. It’s tailored for precision and speed, making it suitable not only for hobbyists but also for small business owners who require efficiency and reliability in their crafting projects.

Comparing Features of Cricut Machines

Now that we’ve gone through the basics of each Cricut machine, let’s break down the different features. 

Cutting Capabilities

Let’s delve deeper into the cutting capabilities of each Cricut machine to give you a clearer picture of what each model can do:

Cricut Joy – lighter materials and simpler projects. 

Ideal for quick, straightforward tasks, the Cricut Joy excels in handling lighter materials such as paper, thin cardstock, and vinyl. Its compact size makes it perfect for small spaces and occasional crafters who need a machine for simpler projects like creating custom stickers, labels, or birthday cards. Despite its smaller scale, the Joy is incredibly efficient, and capable of making continuous cuts up to 20 feet long with compatible Smart Materials, which is perfect for repetitive cuts or longer patterns.

Cricut Explore & Cricut Explore Air – flexible double tool holder

This machine is a fantastic all-rounder that offers flexibility across a broader range of materials, including cardstock, vinyl, and even light fabrics. With its double tool holder, the Explore Air 2 can cut and write or cut and score in one step, streamlining the creation process for complex projects like greeting cards, scrapbooking, and custom apparel. Its Smart Set Dial adjusts the machine settings for different materials automatically, ensuring the best cut every time without manual adjustments.

Cricut Maker – efficient adaptable tool system

The Cricut Maker is the most versatile and powerful in the lineup, designed for crafters who require precision and variety in their projects. It features an adaptive tool system that intelligently controls the direction of the blade and the cutting pressure to match different materials, from delicate fabrics and papers to tougher substances like thick leather, mat board, and balsa wood. This machine supports a wide array of tools, including the Rotary Blade for fabrics without backing material, the Knife Blade for thicker materials, and various scoring and embellishing tools, making it ideal for serious crafters engaged in multimedia projects.

Tools and Accessories:

Each Cricut machine has the ability to use different tools and accessories, so the right machine for you will depend on the tools you need.

Cricut Joy

  • Fine Point Blade: Comes standard for cutting a wide variety of popular crafting materials.
  • Cricut Joy Pens and Markers: Designed for drawing custom designs and writing directly on materials.

Cricut Explore Air 2

  • Fine Point Blade: Ideal for cutting most standard materials like vinyl and cardstock.
  • Deep Point Blade: Cuts thicker materials such as heavy cardstock, foam sheets, and more.
  • Bonded-Fabric Blade: Used for cutting fabric that has been backed with a bonding material.
  • Scoring Stylus: Scores fold lines for cards, envelopes, boxes, and other 3D projects.
  • Pens and Markers: For drawing and writing in a variety of colors and styles.

Cricut Maker

  • Rotary Blade: Cuts fabric without backing material with precision, perfect for quilting and sewing projects.
  • Knife Blade: For cutting thicker materials like balsa wood, matboard, and heavy leather, up to 2.4 mm.
  • Fine Point Blade: Handles typical materials such as vinyl and paper.
  • Deep Point Blade: Works well with thicker and denser materials.
  • Bonded Fabric Blade: Specifically for bonded fabrics.
  • Scoring Wheel: Offers more precise folds with two options: single and double scoring wheels.
  • Engraving Tool: For detailed engraving on a variety of materials.
  • Debossing Tool: Creates detailed depressions in a variety of materials.
  • Perforation Blade: Creates tear-away sections easily on paper, cardstock, and other materials.
  • Wavy Blade: Adds a wavy edge to craft projects.

Matless Cricut Smart Materials

Cricut’s Smart Materials are designed for use with Cricut machines to streamline the crafting process by eliminating the need for a cutting mat. These materials include Smart Vinyl, Smart Iron-On, and Smart Paper Sticker Cardstock. They are crafted to feed directly into the machine using a new roll holder without a mat, allowing for longer and more continuous cuts.

This innovation simplifies projects, reduces preparation time, and enhances efficiency, making it easier to produce larger designs or repeated patterns with precision and ease. Cricut smart materials are only compatible with the Cricut Explore 3 and Cricut Maker 3.

Comparing Price for Cricut Machines

When comparing the prices of the three main Cricut machines, it’s important to consider the features alongside the cost to determine the best value for your needs.

  • Cricut Joy: As the most compact and simplest model, the Cricut Joy is also the most affordable. It’s ideal for beginners or those needing a secondary, portable machine, with a price point that reflects its ease of use and basic functionality.
  • Cricut Explore Series: Mid-range in both price and capabilities, the Explore and Explore Air both offer great value for crafters who need more versatility than the Joy but are not ready to invest in the Maker. It’s a good balance between functionality and cost, making it a popular choice for serious hobbyists.
  • Cricut Maker: The most advanced model, the Cricut Maker, is priced higher, reflecting its extensive material compatibility and advanced tool options. It’s the best choice for serious crafters and professionals who require the highest level of precision and versatility.

Each model’s pricing reflects its features, making it essential to align your budget with your crafting needs and expectations.

Practical Applications

  • Cricut Joy is a great machine for personalizing small items like labels or creating quick greeting cards.
  • Cricut Explore & Explore Air can be used for mid-range projects like vinyl decals or custom apparel.
  • Cricut Maker is the best machine for complex projects involving a variety of materials, perfect for professional-quality crafts.

Making an Informed Decision

Choosing the right Cricut machine depends on your needs:

  • Consider the Cricut JoyMachine if you need a simple, portable machine for small-scale projects.
  • Go for one of the Cricut ExploreMachines if you enjoy diversity in crafting and need a machine that offers both versatility and power.
  • Choose the Cricut Maker Machine if your projects demand the use of multiple materials and intricate designs.

Where Can I Buy a Cricut Machine?

The best place to buy a Cricut machine is from the Cricut website, as you can compare them all, get help with any questions, and even purchase bundle deals that come with essential supplies. The Cricut website sells both the newer models and certified refurbished versions of older models. You can also find Cricut machines at Amazon or Walmart, where you might find the best deal on the price. If you’d like to see the machines in person, head to your local craft store like Michaels!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the best Cricut Machines in 2024

What’s the most popular Cricut machine?

When it was first released, the new Cricut maker was the most popular Cricut machine due to its advanced features and versatility. It caters to a wide range of materials and comes equipped with tools that can handle everything from light fabrics to thick woods, making it highly favored among serious crafters and DIY enthusiasts. Its ability to use advanced tools such as the rotary and knife blades also sets it apart in the Cricut line-up, appealing to users who require precision and flexibility in their crafting projects.

What’s the main difference between the Cricut Explore and Cricut Explore Air series?

The primary difference between the Cricut Explore and the Cricut Explore Air series is connectivity. The Explore Air models include built-in Bluetooth, which allows for wireless cutting. This feature enhances convenience by eliminating the need for a physical connection between the machine and your computer or mobile device.

What materials can the Cricut Explore Air handle?

The Cricut Explore Air is versatile, able to cut a variety of materials including vinyl, cardstock, and bonded fabric. Its adaptability makes it suitable for numerous crafting projects.

Is the Cricut Maker suitable for fabric projects?

Absolutely! The Cricut Maker lines shine with fabric projects thanks to its rotary blade and adaptive tool system, the maker cuts perfectly without backing material.

Can I use my smartphone with Cricut machines?

Yes, all current Cricut models are compatible with the Cricut Design Space software program, which can be accessed via mobile apps on your smartphone, enhancing convenience and portability.

What accessories do I need for my Cricut?

To get the most out of your Cricut, you’ll need some key accessories:

  • Cutting Mats: Essential for all Cricut machines (unless you’re using Smart Materials) available in different grip strengths (light, standard, strong).
  • New Blades: Various blades like the Fine Point, Deep Cut, and Rotary Blades, depending on your machine and project needs.
  • Tool Sets: Basic tools like weeding tools, scrapers, spatulas, and a foil transfer tool are vital for handling materials.
  • Pens and Markers: For drawing and writing projects, compatible with the Explore and Maker series.

Where can I buy accessories for my Cricut?

Cricut accessories are available at most major craft stores, such as Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Joann Fabrics. You can also find a wide range of accessories online through the official Cricut website or major online retailers like Amazon. These outlets often offer bundle deals that can provide good value, especially if you’re looking to stock up on various accessories.

What is Cricut Access?

Cricut Access is a subscription service Cricut users can purchase for a monthly fee. As part of the subscription, users get access to thousands of fonts and designs in Cricut Design Space that you’d usually have to pay individually for. If you’re only using your Cricut occasionally, Cricut Access probably isn’t worth the extra money. But if you put the fonts and designs to good use, it’s totally worth it!

Hopefully, this post helped you decide which Cricut machine is the best fit for your crafting needs. Once you get your new Cricut machine, there will be a bit of a learning curve. Don’t get frustrated with your new cutting machine if your projects don’t turn out perfectly at the start. With a little bit of practice, you’ll become comfortable with your new machine and will be making masterpieces in no time! 

Want to learn how to make custom rhinestone templates using your Cricut? Check out this post!