Cricut Explore 3 Review: Is It Worth Buying?

If you like crafting, you have probably been looking forward to the release of the new Cricut Explore 3. And it’s finally here!

Like the old Cricut Explore Air 2, this new version is great for any casual crafter or DIYer who needs to use cut materials on a frequent basis.

In this article, I’ll give you a thorough review of the Cricut Explore 3 and go over all of its features. I’ll also give you my opinion if it’s worth buying the Cricut Explore 3 or not.

Cricut Explore 3 features

Just like the older model, the new Cricut Explore 3 is a beginner-friendly model that can cut over 100+ different materials such as vinyl, cardstock, paper, and fabric.

Many of these materials you will be able to cut with the fine point blade that the Explore 3 comes with. But for some materials, you’ll have to buy additional blades or tools.

The Cricut Explore 3 is compatible with the following blades and tools:

  • Fine-Point Blade
  • Deep-Point Blade
  • Pens & Markers
  • Scoring Stylus
  • Foil Transfer Tool
  • Bonded-Fabric Tool

Unfortunately, many of the blades and tools that you can use on the Cricut Maker such as the rotary blade and the engraving tips are still not available on the Explore machines.

One improvement you’ll notice over the old Explore Air 2 is the faster cutting speed. Due to the more powerful motor, The Explore 3 can now cut up to 2 times as fast.

Moreover, the Explore 3 is now also compatible with Smart Materials. When cutting these Smart Materials you don’t need a cutting mat, and you can cut up to 12 feet long.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of Smart Materials to choose from yet. And the ones that are available are often more expensive than the regular materials.

Hopefully, Cricut will offer more choice when it comes to Smart Materials and lowers the price a bit in the future.

Just like the other Cricut machines, the Explore 3 also uses the same Design Space app. Although I know it’s a free app, I really wish they would improve on it a little more.

You can find a quick overview of all the features in the table below:

Machine dimension22.2″ x 7.0″ x 5.9″
Machine weight11 pounds
Max cut length12 ft with Smart Materials
24″ other materials
Max cut width13″
Cutting force0.88 pounds (0.4kg)
Material compatibilityCan cut 100+ materials
Tool compatiblity6/13 tools available
Compatible with Smart MaterialsYes
ConnectivityBluetooth, USB
PriceClick to check latest price

What can you do with the Cricut Explore 3?

The Cricut Explore 3 can cut, write, draw, score, and foil over 100+ different compatible materials. This makes it great for crafts and hobbies like scrapbooking, cardmaking, and making vinyl T-shirts.

Just to give you an idea of what you can do with the Cricut Explore 3, I’ve listed a few simple project ideas that you can try out yourself with the Explore 3:

  • Car decals
  • Decorate flower pots
  • Gift cards
  • Leather jewelry
  • Lables
  • Nameplates
  • Stencils
  • Totebags
  • Personalized water bottles
  • Vinyl T-shirts
  • Wall decals

Cricut Explore 3 Vs. Cricut Explore Air 2

All of that sounds great, but by now you are probably wondering: what is the difference between Cricut Explore 3 and the Cricut Explore Air 2?

And you would be right. Both the new and old Explore machines can cut the same materials and are compatible with the same blades and tools.

However, there are three big differences between the two Explore machines. We did a thorough comparison between all the Cricut Machines before, but here is the quick summary:

comparing explore air 2 and explore 3

First of all, the new Explore 3 has a much more powerful motor. This allows you to cut up to 2x faster than the old Explore Air 2. So you can save a lot of time if you use your Cricut Explore frequently.

Secondly, the Explore 3 can now use Smart Materials. This lets you cut up to 12 feet long without the need for a cutting mat. Moreover, the maximum cutting width has also increased from 12″ to 13″.

So the Explore 3 is great if you want to work on those bigger projects or if you want to cut a lot of smaller designs at once.

Of course, the last difference is the price between the two machines. At the time of this writing, the Explore 3 costs about $50 more than the Explore Air 2 according to the Cricut website.

Is the Cricut Explore 3 good for beginners?

Yes, the Cricut Explore series has always been the most beginner-friendly of all the Cricut machines. If you are a beginner and not quite sure which machine to get, the Cricut Explore 3 is a good choice.

You might also be interested in reading our article on the top 5 best Cricut machines for beginners.

Is the Cricut Explore 3 worth it?

The Cricut Explore 3 is an excellent cutting machine that can cut over 100+ of the most commonly used materials. If you like to craft as a hobby, buying the Cricut Explore 3 will be worth it.

It might not be as strong or able to cut as many materials as the Cricut maker 3. But it can cut most materials that a casual hobby crafter would need and is considerably more affordable.

Is the Cricut Explore 3 worth the extra money?

Let’s say you are looking to buy a Cricut machine for the first time and have set your eyes on the Explore series. Should you go with the older Explore Air 2, or is the new Explore 3 worth the extra money?

The Explore Air 2 might be older, but it’s definitely not a bad machine. So it’s a good question.

And the answer is that it depends…

As mentioned before, by paying $50 more for the Explore 3 you are basically getting a machine that can cut faster and can use Smart Materials.

For most people, the faster cutting speed is nice to have, but not really a must-have either. Yes, it can save you some time. But if you are only making a few cuts per week, then you probably don’t mind waiting a little longer.

Being able to use Smart Materials is nice if you want to make longer cuts. But for most people I know, the 1.9 feet cutting length of the Explore Air 2 is more than enough for the majority of projects.

So I would say the Cricut Explore 3 is worth the extra money if you are planning to use your machine frequently and/or need to make cuts longer than 1.9 feet.

Is it worth upgrading to the Cricut Explore 3?

If you already own the old Cricut Explore Air 2, it is probably not worth upgrading to the Cricut Explore 3. They can both cut the same materials and are compatible with the same blades.

For most crafters, the extra cutting width/length, the ability to use Smart Materials, and the faster cutting speed just aren’t worth spending another $300 for a new machine.

Cricut Explore 3 Vs. Cricut Maker 3

In terms of raw power and versatility, the Cricut Maker 3 is better than the Cricut Explore 3. However, the Cricut Explore 3 can cut over 100+ materials as well and is more affordable. In general, the Explore 3 is the more beginner-friendly Cricut machine, while the Maker 3 is the premium version.

If you are interested in learning more, you can also read our full review of the Cricut Maker 3.

Cricut Explore 3 comparison chart

Does the Cricut Explore 3 need a mat?

The Cricut Explore 3 does not need a mat when cutting Smart Materials. Currently, the only Smart Materials available are Smart Paper, Smart Iron-On, and Smart Vinyl. For all other materials, the Cricut Explore 3 still needs a mat.

Frequently asked questions

Can Cricut Explore 3 cut wood?

The Cricut Explore 3 is not designed to cut wood and is not compatible with the Kraft blade. However, some users have reported cutting wood successfully with the Explore 3 by using the Deep Cut blade and playing around with the settings.

The Cricut Maker can cut basswood and balsa wood without a problem.

However, you can use your Cricut to decorate wood.

Can Cricut Explore 3 engrave?

No, the Cricut Engraving tip is not compatible with any of the Explore models because they aren’t powerful enough. For engraving, you need to use the Cricut Maker.

Can Cricut Explore 3 cut fabric?

Yes, the Cricut Explore 3 can cut a variety of fabrics by using the Bonded Fabric blade. Some fabrics you can cut with the Cricut Explore 3 include denim, felt, fusible fabric, printable fabric, silk, and polyester.

Can Cricut Explore 3 cut acrylic?

The Cricut Explore 3 is not designed to cut acrylic and is not compatible with the Knife blade. However, some users have reported that you can cut acrylic sheets up to 1 mm thick by using the Deep Cut blade and playing around with the settings.

The Cricut maker can cut acrylics reliably with the Knife blade.

Can Cricut Explore 3 cut leather?

Yes, the Cricut Explore 3 can cut leather with ease. Use the Fine Point blade for cutting faux leather and shimmer leather, or use the Deep Cut blade for genuine leather and metallic leather.

Also read our article on fun leather projects for the Cricut.

Can Cricut Explore 3 cut felt?

Yes, the Cricut Explore 3 can cut wool felt with the Fine Point blade without any problems.

Can Cricut Explore 3 cut metal?

Yes, the Cricut Explore 3 can cut thin sheets of soft metals such as aluminum, copper, and brass.

Can Cricut Explore 3 cut magnet?

Yes, the Cricut Explore 3 can cut magnetic sheets up to 1 mm thick by using the Deep Point blade.

Can Cricut Explore 3 engrave leather?

The Cricut Explore 3 is not compatible with the Engraving tools or the Knife blade. Therefore the Explore 3 can not engrave leather or any other materials.

If you want to engrave leather, you’ll have to use the Cricut Maker instead.

Can Cricut Explore 3 engrave metal?

No, the Cricut Explore 3 is not compatible with the Engraving tools or the Knife blade. Therefore the Explore 3 can not engrave metals or any other materials.

If you want to engrave metal, you’ll have to use the Cricut Maker instead.

Conclusion

The Cricut Explore 3 is a cutting machine that is designed for the casual crafter. It is not as powerful as the Cricut Maker 3, but it can still cut over 100 materials.

Although the Cricut Explore 3 does its job well, it doesn’t offer a lot of new features over the older Cricut Explore 2. So for some people, the old Explore 2 might offer better value for the money.

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