The best Cricut machine is a great investment for any crafter to make, whether you’re using it for a hobby or for professional work. Cricut is most widely known for its cutting machines, which look a little like upmarket printers. These allow you to create a design on a computer and then automatically cut it out from your required material, be that paper, vinyl, card, felt, fabric, leather or matboard, with precision accuracy.
This is a lot faster and easier, and probably a lot more accurate than cutting by hand. But it’s not the only thing the best Cricut machines can do. Cricut has machines for a range of other specific tasks, such as printing designs onto clothes, mugs and more. Read on for our guide to the best Cricut machines. If you need more details about which machine you need, skip down to how to choose a Cricut machine at the end of this guide. You may also want to make sure you have the best laptop for Cricut makers.
The best Cricut machines in 2021
Unless you’re working with smart materials, The Cricut Maker is probably the machine you want to go for. If you’re looking for the best Cricut machine for vinyl, the best Cricut machine for fabric, indeed the best Cricut machine for most purposes, you’ll find it here.
This impressive machine allows you to precision-cut more than 300 materials, from delicate fabric and paper to tough materials such as like matboard and leather. It offers a choice of 13 tools to cut, score, write, deboss, engrave, or add other decorative effects with precision. These include a rotary blade for cutting fabrics, a knife blade for thicker materials of up to 2.4mm, scoring wheels to create creases and folds, and a foil transfer tool for foil embellishments.
In short, this is the Rolls Royce of Cricut machines. And while it isn’t the cheapest model you can buy, it offers supreme versatility and excellent value overall.
If you want to work with smart materials, then the recently released Cricut Maker 3 is the one to go for. Note that there’s no Cricut Maker 2; the company simply skipped a version for some unexplained reason. Despite being quite a lot more expensive than the Cricut Maker, the Cricut Maker 3 is pretty similar in most respects. The biggest difference is that it can cut smart materials without a mat, which means you can make cuts of up to 12 ft (3.6 m) in one go.
It’s also twice as fast as the Cricut Maker when working with smart materials. On top of that, you get two extra accessories in the form of a larger portable trimmer and a roll holder, which can help you feed your smart materials into the machine.
If you’re just getting started with machine cutting, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is a great choice. It’s not quite as versatile and powerful as the first two models on our list, but that makes the software easier to follow for complete beginners. And it’s still a very capable machine.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 will cut more than 100 different types of material, including premium vinyl, iron-on and HTV vinyl, cardstock, faux leather, adhesive foils, specialty paper and poster board, and you get five tools for cutting, writing and scoring. So it’s great for everything from making everything from custom stickers and greeting cards to personalised home decor and home-made gifts. We wouldn’t recommend this for anyone doing commercial cutting, but it’s certainly the best Cricut machine for anyone at the start of their journey.
The Cricut Explore 3 is the recently released successor to the Cricut Explore Air 2 (see above). While there’s not a huge amount of difference between them, the main benefit of the Cricut Explore 3 is its ability to work with smart materials. You also get a larger portable trimmer and a roll holder.
This means that, like with the Cricut Maker 3 (number one on our list), you can make cuts up to 12 ft (3.6 m) long in one go. The main reason to choose this model over the Cricut Maker 3 is the price. If you’re a hobbyist wanting to use smart materials but you don’t need the professional-level features, it makes sense to opt for this more affordable model.
The Cricut Joy is wonderfully compact and portable. Measuring just 21.4 x 13.8 x 10.8cm, it’s significantly smaller than other models, and with a light weight of 1.75kg, it’s easy to store and carry from place to place. This makes it the ideal choice for smaller crafting tasks. We’d say it’s the best cricut machine for labels, for instance, and the best cricut machine for stickers and the best cricut machine for greetings cards.
That doesn’t mean it’s not capable of bigger things, though. In fact, you can use the Cricut Joy for continuous cuts without a cutting mat, up to 20 feet long and four inches wide. More generally, it can be used to cut over 50 types of material, including iron-on, cardstock, vinyl, paper, and smart materials.
Note that while you can connect this machine to your computer via Bluetooth, it doesn’t have a USB connection (unlike the devices listed so far). All in all, however, if you’re crafting as a hobby, this is a great, low-cost choice, particularly if you want a machine that’s light and portable.
Cricut machines aren’t all about cutting. The company also manufactures iron-on machines for making custom-designed T-shirts, tote bags, pillows, aprons, sweatshirts, banners, blankets and much more. The best of these is the Cricut EasyPress 2, which allows you to transfer Iron-On or HTV (Heat Transfer Vinyl) designs to any piece of fabric.
It’s very easy to use in practice, and Cricut’s online guide provides the ideal heat settings to use for different projects. Once you’ve programmed the correct settings, you apply the plate to your materials for the suggested time, using the timer function. This takes all the guesswork out of the process, making it much more likely your designs will be transferred successfully.
The base plate of the EasyPress provides a consistent heat, making it better than a normal iron, where the core of the plate is hottest. There’s also a larger surface area than most irons, so you can adhere the whole design in one go. This machine comes in two sizes. The 9 x 9 inch (22.5 x 22.5cm) model is good for standard items, while the 12 x 10- nch (30 x 25cm) model is ideal for larger items. For smaller items, you’ll want to look at the Cricut EasyPress Mini (see below).
If you want to print onto smaller items, such as hats, caps, socks, shoes, headbands or small bags, you’ll want the Cricut EasyPress Mini. This natty little 50W device essentially works in the same way as the Cricut EasyPress 2 (see above), but its tiny ceramic heat plate (it measures just 4.8 x 8.2cm) makes it ideal for unusually small or challenging surfaces, helping you curve around contours, work between buttons, and navigate seams.
The device itself is beautifully compact, measuring just 10 x 8.5 x 5.3cm and weighing only 0.35kg. This makes it very easy to store and transport.
Another recent addition to the Cricut stable, this – as the name suggests – is the best Cricut machine for making custom mugs. Pressing your design onto blank mugs, it couldn’t be easier to use – in fact, it has just one single button.
Just be aware that you’ll also need a Cricut cutting machine to cut out your transfer, which needs to be on a Cricut Infusible Ink sheet (you can’t use normal vinyl). Once you’ve done that, you wrap your transfer around your mug, put it in the machine, press the button and the Mug Press does the rest.
It works really well in practice, creating professional-looking microwave and dishwasher-proof results that stand the test of time. It’s not a cheap approach, especially if you don’t already have a Cricut cutting machine, but it’s a solid, reliable and easy way to print customised mugs.
The best Cricut machine for you
How do I choose a Cricut?
However, if you just want to cut a few simple light materials, such as paper, card and felt, you may not need all that, and you may prefer a lighter, cheaper model.
Some Cricut machines are also capable of cutting smart materials. These are special materials you can cut without a cutting mat. This means you can load large pieces into your machine and cut them in one go, which is really useful for big projects. Commonly used smart materials include Smart Vinyl, Smart Iron-On, Smart Label Writable Paper, and Smart Label Writable Vinyl.
If you have no need for cutting, and instead want to print custom designs onto items, take a look at numbers 6, 7 and 8 on our list. These are the best Cricut machines for this purpose.