The 5 Best Cricut Machines of 2020
The story behind Cricut machines is that they were built to help creative minds to create beautiful projects all while being fun and easy to use. This principle still applies today, with the current units incorporating innovative technologies for enhanced performance and functionality.
Over the years, Cricut has added a wide variety of machines in its lineup, and in this review, we look at the best Cricut machines that you should buy for your different craft projects.
5 Best Cricut Machines – Review
1. Cricut EasyPress 2 (Best Heat Press Machine)
2. Cricut Maker (Best Smart Cutting Machine)
3. Cricut Joy (Best Compact Cutting Machine)
4. Cricut Explore Air 2 (Best Cutting Machine for DIY Use)
5. Cricut Explore Air (Dual Carriage Cutting Machine)
1. Cricut EasyPress 2
(Best Heat Press Machine)
2. Cricut Maker
(Best Smart Cutting Machine)
3. Cricut Joy
(Best Compact Cutting Machine)
4. Cricut Explore Air 2
(Best Cutting Machine for DIY Use)
5. Cricut Explore Air
(Dual Carriage Cutting Machine)
1. Cricut EasyPress 2 – Best Cricut Heat Press Machine
- Material Compatibility: Heat-Transfer Vinyl, Infusible Ink
- Dimensions: 13.14 x 7.36 x 13.58 in.
Cricut’s EasyPress 2 is a 9 x 9 in. handheld heat press that has a large handle for easy lifting and provides a grippy surface for pressing down to apply pressure. It is equipped with an advanced heat plate that contains two heating elements, which are evenly spread out.
This ensures you get even heat distribution for professional iron-on results. Additionally, this plate has a ceramic coating that helps with the heat distribution and also gives some non-stick properties.
The machine has a precise digital thermostat that allows you to control the temperature up to 400ºF (205ºC), which ensures you get professional iron-on results in less than 60 seconds.
You simply have to set the temperature and time using buttons while a screen shows you the adjustments in real-time. This temperature range is ideal for HTV (Heat-Transfer Vinyl) or infusible ink projects and it can be used on t-shirts, aprons, pillows, etc.
Other features include a heat-up time of under 2 minutes, an insulated safety base that keeps the hot plate above your worktable, and an auto shut-off feature for safety purposes.
The only problem is that the machine is not ideal for large t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. because the 9 x 9 heat plate is not big enough. For such garments, you should get the Cricut EasyPress 2 12 x 10 in. heat press.
2. Cricut Maker – Best Cricut Smart Cutting Machine
- Material Compatibility: 300+ Materials
- Dimensions: 21.18 x 6.99 x 5.93 in.
If you are looking for a commercial Cricut cutting machine, Cricut’s Maker is the best option. This is a pro-level tool that has Bluetooth and USB connectivity for computer and mobile support.
You can also use it with an iOS, Mac, Windows, and Android compatible free design app to develop new designs, then upload them to it for cutting. This is in addition to access to a digital sewing pattern library, which has hundreds of patterns and marks to help you get started.
That said, the tool has a quick-swap system for easy switching between different blades and tips for writing, scoring, debossing, engraving, and cutting, just to name a few. This makes it compatible with over 300 materials, which include vinyl, paper, leather, fabric, and many others.
Other features include rotary and knife blades for cutting through fabrics and heavy materials respectively and a docking slot for holding your tablet or smartphone. However, the machine is very expensive.
Cricut Joy – Best Compact Cricut Cutting Machine
- Material Compatibility: 50+ Materials
- Dimensions: 8.43 x 5.43 x 4.25 in.
As compared to the Cricut Maker, the Cricut Joy is a compact cutting machine that occupies very little desktop space. It only measures 8.43 x 5.43 x 4.25 in. and despite this, it offers decent performance because it can make continuous cuts that are up to 4 ft. long.
It can also make repeated cuts of up to 20 ft. on Cricut smart materials, which are available in HTV iron-on, label vinyl, and vinyl varieties. That said, the machine can be used to cut or write on over 50 materials.
More features include Bluetooth connectivity, compatibility with the free design app for uploading custom patterns from your devices, access to 50 ready-to-make projects plus a sample smart material for practice cutting, a fine point pen, and blade, and a standard 4.5 x 6.5 in. mat.
On the downside, the tool cannot be used for debossing, engraving, scoring, etc. It is only designed for cutting and writing.
Cricut Explore Air 2 – Best Cricut Cutting Machine for DIY Use
- Material Compatibility: 100+ Materials
- Dimensions: 24 x 9.5 x 9.5 in.
The Explore Air 2 falls somewhere in the middle between the Cricut Maker and the Cricut Joy in terms of performance and price. Therefore, it is best suited for DIYers because it has all the required essential features.
It is designed to cut over 100 different materials, which include HTV, faux leather, premium vinyl, foils, and paper, just to name a few. Apart from cutting, you can also use it for writing and scoring, which makes it quite versatile.
That said, the machine can cut a maximum material size of 12 x 24 in. and it includes a 12 x 12 in. adhesive cutting mat to help you get started.
Other features are Bluetooth and USB connectivity, free Design Space app for iOS, Mac, PC and Android, and 2 weeks free access to Cricut Access, which contains thousands of images and fonts.
You also get up to 2X faster writing and cutting as compared to the Explore Air, a dual carriage system that allows for cutting and writing or cutting and scoring at the same time and built-in tool storage slots. However, the machine cannot be used for debossing and engraving.
Cricut Explore Air – Dual Carriage Cricut Cutting Machine
- Material Compatibility: 60+ Materials
- Dimensions: 25.39 x 9.96 x 9.21 in.
Cricut’s Explore Air is the predecessor to the Explore Air 2 but still packs in a lot of features. For starters, it has a dual carriage system that can cut and write or cut and score at the same time.
The unit also has Bluetooth connectivity for wireless cutting and a smart set dial for easy selection of the material being cut. You can cut over 60 different materials and most of these are left for the custom option on the dial.
More features include onboard storage compartments and a free Cricut Design Space online software for making custom designs. The only problem is that the machine cuts and writes at a slower speed as compared to its successor.
How to Buy the Best
1. Your Purpose
Not all Cricut machines are made for the same purpose. If you want a heat press machine for your t-shirts, garments and other fabrics, Cricut’s EasyPress 2 is your best bet. However, if you want a material cutter, Cricut’s Maker is the best option.
Another important factor to consider is the operational spesed. Some machines operate faster than others while producing the same high-quality results. For instance, the Explore Air 2 cuts and writes up to 2X faster than the Explore Air, and this performance is highly recommended.
3. Material Compatibility
Whether it's for cutting or heat pressing, each machine is compatible with a select range of materials. Comparing the cutters, Cricut’s Maker is can be used to work on over 300 materials, which makes it more versatile than the 50+ for the Cricut Joy.
This gives it an edge in terms of application areas and is, therefore, better off.
More functionality usually means more versatility and, in this case, we will also compare the cutters. Some cutters are solely designed for cutting and writing while others add on debossing, engraving, scoring, and many others.
Of course, the more the functions, the better, and this makes the Cricut Maker better than the other three cutters. It can be fitted with 11 different tools for different functions.
Even though these machines have dials for making adjustments, it is very useful to have Bluetooth or USB connectivity. This enables you to control most of the operations from your phone or computer, then let the machine do its magic.
However, this only works for the cutters. For the heat-press, a digital thermostat control is recommended for accurate adjustments.
Lastly, you need to consider the machine’s price. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to acquire a cutting machine if you are a beginner. The Cricut Joy will work just fine as a learning tool.
However, if you don’t mind spending, you can go for the Cricut Maker, which is ideally meant for professional use.
In summary, Cricut has made a name for itself in the creative world by providing a wide variety of useful machines. That said, if you want a heat press machine for your t-shirts, be sure to check out Cricut’s EasyPress 2.
However, if you want a cutting machine for professional use, buy the Cricut Maker. As a beginner though, you can get the compact Cricut Joy, which has very decent features and takes up very little desktop space.
- 5 Best Cricut Machines – Review
- How to Buy the Best Cricut Machine