Cricut Comparison: Which Cricut To Buy in 2022?

Are you planning to buy a Cricut cutting machine, but wondering which model would be the right one for you?

There are currently 5 different Cricut machines to choose from, so deciding which Cricut to buy isn’t an easy question to answer.

In this article, I’ll compare all the different Cricut machines and give the pros and cons for each of them. At the end of this article, you should be able to choose a model with confidence.

So let’s get started!

Types of Cricut machines

There are three series of Cricut machines to choose from: the Cricut Explore, the Cricut Maker, and the Cricut Joy.

There are several models available in the Explore series and the Maker series. While there is only one Cricut Joy model since it’s still relatively new. However, the differences between models within a series aren’t huge. More important is the difference between series.

The machines in the Cricut Explore series are the most popular and are great for any DIY or hobby projects. They offer a lot of flexibility while still being affordable. If you really don’t know which series to go with, going with a Cricut Explore is a safe bet.

The Cricut Maker series is geared to more professional use cases such as small business owners or very avid DIYers. These machines are a lot stronger than the models in the Explore series and can cut a wider range of materials. The Cricut maker is definitely the most powerful and versatile among all Cricut machines, but it also is considerably more expensive.

The Cricut Joy is a very small cutting machine. This makes it the only truly portable model among all the Cricut machines. However, the small size can be very limiting, and it also can’t cut as many materials as either the Explore or Maker models. However, if you are new to die cutting or simply only need a cutting machine for small projects, the Cricut Joy might be all that you need.

Now that you know the difference between the Cricut series, let’s take a closer look at each machine individually.

Cricut Explore machine differences

Several models have been released in the Explore series including the Explore, Explore One, Explore Air, Explore Air 2, and Explore 3.

Of these 5 models, only the Explore Air 2 and Explore 3 are still available and supported by Cricut. However, you might still be able to find one of the older models from a different retailer or second-hand.

In terms of specs, both the Explore Air 2 and Explore 3 are pretty similar. They can both cut over 100+ materials because they have the same cutting force and can use the same blades.

So most of the standard materials such as paper, vinyl, cardboard, leather, etc. will be no problem for either Explore machine.

However, not every Cricut cutting blade is compatible with the Explore models. Some of them, such as the rotary blade, are exclusive to the Cricut Maker.

Pros:

  • Cuts, writes, foils, and scores
  • Can cut over 100+ materials
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Print Then Cut compatible
  • Free Design Space software

Cons:

  • Not compatible with all Cricut blades
  • Not portable

Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Cricut Explore 3

There are three major differences between the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Explore 3. I wrote an entire article on the new features of the Cricut Explore 3. But here is the quick summary:

The first improvement made to the new Explore 3 is the extra powerful motor. In practice, this means that you can now cut almost 2x faster than with the old Explore Air 2. You’ll really feel this difference in speed if you use your Cricut a lot.

Secondly, the Explore 3 is now compatible with Cricut Smart Materials, which lets you make long continuous cuts up to 12 feet long without a mat. This is a great feature if you want to work on bigger projects or many smaller projects at once.

The last difference between the Explore 3 and the Explore Air 2 is the price. At the time of this writing, the Explore 3 costs around $300 while the Explore Air 2 costs roughly $250.

Cricut Maker machine differences

There are two models available in the Maker series: the Cricut Maker and the Cricut Maker 3. There is no Cricut Maker 2 model. For some mysterious reason, they decided to skip it and go straight to 3.

In terms of specs, both the Cricut Maker and Maker 3 are pretty similar. The Maker models have a 10x cutting force compared with the Explore models, are compatible with all the blades, and can cut 6x deeper.

As a result, the Cricut Maker machines can both cut over 300+ materials. Besides the basic materials such as paper, vinyl, and cardboard, the Maker can also work with more difficult materials such as wood, leather, felt, and plastic.

Unfortunately, you can’t cut all of these materials with the standard Cricut Maker. You’ll often have to buy additional blades. Here is a quick overview of the blades available:

  • Rotary Blade: Allows you to cut fabric such as denim without dragging or fraying. Can also be used for delicate materials like crêpe paper and tissue paper.
  • Knife Blade: Allows you to cut thicker and denser materials like balsa wood, leather, and chipboard.
  • Scoring Wheels: Allows you to make creased on paper materials to make them easier to fold. Both single and double scoring wheels are available.
  • Engraving Tool: Allows you to engrave metal, leather, acrylic, and more.
  • Debossing Tool: Allows you to create debossed designs on paper or leather.
  • Perforation Blade: Allows you to cut perforation lines for tear-out projects.
  • Wavy Blade: Gives a wavy edge to your cuts.

The Cricut Maker machines are the strongest and most flexible among all the Cricut machines. The other machines really can’t compare.

However, the Maker models are also more expensive. And for many people, the extra features and benefits that the Maker provides compared to the Explore models aren’t really necessary.

Pros:

  • Cuts, writes, foils, scores, engraves, debossed, and more
  • Can cut over 300+ materials
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Compatible with all blades
  • Print Then Cut compatible
  • Free Design Space software
  • 10X cutting force than Explore models
  • Can make deep cuts

Cons:

  • Not portable
  • Most expensive

Cricut Maker vs Cricut Maker 3

There are three major differences between the Cricut Maker and the Cricut Maker 3. I wrote an entire article on the new features of the Cricut Maker 3. But here is the quick summary:

The first improvement made to the new Maker 3 is the extra powerful motor. In practice, this means that you can now cut almost 2x faster than with the old Cricut Maker. You’ll really feel this difference in speed if you use your Cricut a lot.

Secondly, the Maker 3 is now compatible with Cricut Smart Materials, which lets you make long continuous cuts up to 12 feet long without a mat. This is a great feature if you want to work on bigger projects or many smaller projects at once.

The last difference between the Cricut Maker 3 and the Cricut Maker is the price. At the time of this writing, the Maker 3 costs around $400 while the Cricut Maker costs roughly $350.

Cricut Joy

The Cricut Joy is a relatively new addition to the Cricut family. It is relatively small compared to the other series and is a lot less powerful. Of course, this means that the Joy is quite different from the others and has its own unique pros and cons.

Its small size makes it the only Cricut machine that is portable and easy to store out of sight. On the flip side, it also means that it can only cut much smaller projects. Whereas the Explore 3 and Maker 3 can both cut up to 13″ wide, the Joy has a maximum cutting width of 5.5″.

It’s also only compatible with three of the Cricut specialty blades (cutting, writing & foiling) and can only cut 50+ materials due to the weaker motor. However, the most basic materials such as paper and vinyl should be no problem for the Cricut Joy.

However, at a price of only $180, the Cricut Joy is still a good entry-level model if you are planning on making small projects such as labels, stickers, decals, or cards.

Pros:

  • Cuts and writes
  • Can cut 50+ materials
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Portable
  • Free Design Space software

Cons:

  • Maximum cut width of 4.5”
  • Not compatible with all blades
  • Not compatible with Print Then Cut projects

Comparing Cricut machines

Now that you know roughly what the differences and similarities between the Cricut machines are, let’s compare the newest models with each other to see which Cricut to buy.

Note that all Cricut machines use the free Design Space app to receive the cutting instructions.

Cricut Explore 3 vs Cricut Maker 3

The biggest advantages that the Cricut Maker 3 has over the Cricut Explore 3 are the higher cutting force, compatibility with more specialty blades, the option to make deeper cuts, and the ability to work with more materials.

However, the Maker 3 is also roughly $100 more expensive than the Explore 3.

So you really have to ask yourself if you need these extra features. Being able to cut extra materials is nice. But it’s only useful if you are actually planning to work with those materials in the future.

So for most crafters and DIYers I suggest going with the Cricut Explore 3 unless there is a particular material you want to work with that the Explore can’t handle.

However, if you are running a small business it will be worth investing the additional money to buy a Cricut Maker 3 instead for the added versatility.

Cricut Joy vs Cricut Explore 3

The most important differences between the Cricut Explore 3 and the Cricut Joy is that the Explore 3 can cut much wider, much longer, and the cutting speed.

Sure, the Explore 3 can cut 50+ additional materials and has a few extra blades it can use. But for most casual users that’s not super important.

However, the maximum cutting width and length are a big deal. If you choose to buy a Cricut Joy, you better be sure that you never have to cut something more than 5.5″ wide and 4″ long. For anything bigger than that you’ll have to go with the Explore 3.

Additionally, the Explore 3 might also be the preferred option for people that work on a lot of small designs. You might be able to cut them with a Cricut Joy. But the Explore 3 will get the same job done in way less time.

Cricut Joy vs Cricut Maker 3

There is really no comparing the Cricut Joy and Cricut Maker 3. They are both designed for completely different audiences.

If you are looking to work on a few small projects (<5.5″) and only use simple materials such as paper or vinyl, then the Cricut Joy is all that you need to get started.

Especially if you don’t use your Cricut all the time, the option to quickly store your machine out of sight is also nice.

However, for more serious projects or if you need to make many small designs, the Maker 3 is the way to go. The option to cut other materials is great and the faster cutting speed will save you a lot of time.

Cricut comparison chart

Which Cricut to buy?

When deciding which Cricut to buy, you have to start by asking yourself what kind of cutting machine you really need.

Hopefully, the following questions will help you with your decision-making:

  • What materials do I want to cut?
  • Do I need to use one of the special Cricut blades?
  • What is the size of the projects I’ll be working on?
  • What is my budget?
  • How often will I use it?
  • Do I have the space for a large machine?
  • Is cutting speed important for me?

Since people often ask which Cricut to buy for specific use cases, I’ll also answer some of the most commonly asked questions:

Best Cricut machine for beginners

The best Cricut machines for beginners are the Explore models. These machines have all the features that the average beginner would need and is still affordable. However, if you are on a small budget and don’t mind working on small projects, the Cricut Joy could be a good alternative.

For more information, read our full article on the best Cricut machines for beginners.

Best Cricut machine for making T-shirts

All the Cricut machines can cut vinyl. So if you want to make vinyl shirts, your best option is to go for the Cricut Explore (for bigger designs) or the Cricut Joy (for smaller designs). However, if you want to cut fabric, you’ll need to use the rotary blade, which is only compatible with the Cricut Maker machines.

Best Cricut machine for vinyl

All the Cricut machines can cut vinyl. So if you want to work on big projects, the Cricut Explore would be your best option. Whereas the Cricut Joy would be enough for projects smaller than 4.5″. If you are working on a lot of projects and cutting speed is important, make sure to go with the new Explore 3. For vinyl, the Cricut Maker and Cricut Explore are comparable, is it’s not worth paying extra for the Maker.

Best Cricut machine for stickers

The Cricut Joy is great for making stickers that are smaller than 4.5″. However, if you want to make bigger stickers, you’ll have to go with one of the Explore models.

Best Cricut machine for cutting fabric

For most types of fabric, you’ll have to use the rotary blade for a reliable cut. Currently, only the Cricut Maker models are compatible with the rotary blade. So the Cricut Maker 3 is the best machine for cutting fabric. But if you are on a smaller budget, the old Cricut Maker is almost just as good.

Best Cricut machine for writing

All the Cricut machines are capable of writing and drawing, for which Cricut sells special markers and pens. However, most of these pens and markers are only compatible with the Maker and Explore models, whereas just a few of them can be used with the Cricut Joy. So the Maker and Explore have more color options available. Moreover, since there isn’t much difference in terms of writing between the Maker and Explore, I believe that the Cricut Explore is the best machine for writing.

Best Cricut machine for business

The Cricut Maker 3 is the best machine for small businesses. It is the strongest of all the machines and can cut almost any material. It will provide you with the flexibility and reliability that you need to run a business. However, if the Maker 3 is too expensive, you can also go with the older Cricut Maker model. It is considerably cheaper and can work with the same materials. The only downside is the slower cutting speed, which might or might not be important for your business.

Conclusion

I hope this article helped you make up your mind on which Cricut machine to buy. I tried to cover all the pros and cons for each machine and give a complete comparison between the different models.

If you are ready to buy a Cricut machines, you can use the link below for the right model:

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