How To Choose The Proper Cutting Machine?
I am very well aware of the struggle when you need to choose a new device for your work, hobbies or just for your home.
It is so stressful to find the right one between so many options on the market today. And all those options and different features could easily drive you crazy, can't they?
So if you decided to buy a cutting machine or you want to replace your old one with a new and modern one, please let me help you with this review.
I will quickly solve your first problem in choosing the right brand. If you ask me, it is, for sure, the Cricut Company.
The second problem is which Cricut cutting machine you should consider buying?
When speaking of this brand, today I’ll give you an answer to the most evident question out there: Cricut Maker Vs. Cricut Explore Air 2 - which one to pick?
Cricut today can offer you a lot of models. But to be able to decide and purchase the right machine, you first need to determine what you want to do with it. That's where I jump in to help you.
- Cricut Maker Vs. Explore Air 2: Alongside Comparison Chart
- Cricut Maker Vs. Cricut Explore Air 2: Closeup Look
- What Differentiates Cricut Maker from Cricut Explore Air 2 exactly?
- Correlations between Cricut Maker and Cricut Explore Air 2
- Cricut Maker Vs. Cricut Explore Air 2: Final Settlement
Cricut Maker Vs. Explore Air 2: Alongside Comparison Chart
I love to make transparent comparison charts before every review, so you can all be able to get a glance at what we are going to discuss. Here you can get acquainted with specs and dimensions, and all other relevant information before we start with more detailed explanations. If you know what you’re looking for, this handy table could be all that you need.[ninja_tables id="7826"]
On the other hand, if these pieces of information are not enough for you, please continue with reading my comparison guide to learn more.
Cricut Maker Vs. Cricut Explore Air 2: Closeup Look
If you are not a complete newbie in the crafting world, then you must have heard about Cricut company and their products. No matter your experience level, you will be surprised how simple, and user-friendly these machines are.
You can automatically cut, write and score with all Cricut models. Cricut Design Space software and Print And Cut ability are the staples of this product family.
One small distinction, though - only Cricut Maker can Print And Cut on the colored and patterned paper. Others work well only with white paper.
Cricut machines will open a whole new world of crafting for you, and let you boost your creativity. At the same time, you will have so much fun that you will be swoon of your feet. So, for now, I will stop praising and cut to the chase.
Get a Glance of Cricut Maker
This is the newest addition to a Cricut family and their most valuable machine by now. In my honest opinion, this machine is the real gem of this company.
But, If you are genuinely hyped about crafting the next thing you should do is to take some time and learn more about this cutting machine in this in-depth review.
Most of the Cricut machines are in general much bigger and heavier than most others. That's the case with Cricut Maker too. With 22.6 x 7.1 x 6.2 inches in dimension, you will need to make quite a bit of space for work. To be honest, 24 pounds of weight is not so easy to carry around, so I recommend you to move it only when needed.
Watch the introductory video for Cricut Maker cutting machine on this link:
Cricut Maker is a very powerful machine that will deliver professional quality to all your projects. With this device, you will be able to cut through a broad spectrum of materials without bonding (Cricut states it can cut through 300+ different materials).
From soft fabrics, paper, foam, to harder materials like iron-on vinyl, leather, balsa wood, vinyl and cardstock - this machine plows through everything with ease.
Maker is the only Cricut machine that uses Adaptive Tool System about which we will talk a bit later, but in short, I can tell you that this system will let you use and utilize a wide variety of new tools. These include:
- Rotary and Knife Blade
- Scoring Wheel
- Engraving and Debossing Tip
Thanks to built-in Wireless and Bluetooth connection, your creativity won't be hampered. After all I just wrote, I hope you are aware that with this machine you will be in a position to work faster and more precise than ever.
If you are eager to learn more about this fantastic machine, I recommend you to read my thorough Cricut Maker review.
Take a Glimpse of Cricut Explore Air 2
Compared to the previous one, this model feels a bit modest. It will provide you with all the basic operations that you need to get the job done, though.
Here you can see the official presentation for the Cricut Explore Air 2:
Explore Air 2 is very close to Maker in dimensions, but when we talk about weight, there is quite a difference between them. Still, according to most other cutting machines, this one is voluminous and requires a spacious workplace. But compared with the previous model, this one is portable.
This device has lower power, so it is mainly intended for crafters that only perform light-duty work. It is equipped with Fine-Point Blade so it can cut through 100+ types of materials but most important is that it can cut with incredible precision through iron-on vinyl, cardstock, vinyl, even leather.
I already mentioned that Adaptive Tool System is available only on Cricut Maker, but Smart Set Dial is not so bad either. If you need to cut through any type of material repeatedly, this system will let you quickly set the machine on the kind of material you need to cut through and make it work.
With this machine, you can cut wirelessly thanks to built-in Wireless and Bluetooth connection.
Also, the Fast Mode is a feature worth mentioning. It will allow you to cut and write two times faster on materials like vinyl and cardstock which will significantly improve your work speed.
I already got the chance to do a review of this device, so if you are interested in buying this machine, please first read my Cricut Explore Air 2 review.
What Differentiates Cricut Maker from Cricut Explore Air 2 exactly?
Now I will get right to the point and try to get you more familiar with these amazing products that I got the chance to compare for you today.
If in any case, you don't have time to continue reading my detailed interpretation, you can take a quick look on this parallel chart:[ninja_tables id="7827"]
Differentiation #1: Weight and Dimensions
When comparing sizes, you can see that there is just a slight difference between these two machines. Maker's measures are 22.6 x 7.1 x 6.2 inches while Explore Air 2 measure 24 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches - they both require larger workspace.
When we talk about weight, there is a substantial distinction. As a larger device from the two of them, Maker weighs 24 pounds, and Explore Air 2 is the lighter one with just 17 pounds.
In the total of 7 pounds, this difference in weight is significant. Think about moving your machine every day for various purposes, or traveling. It may seem small in numbers, but it can get quite uncomfortable to drag it.
I can easily pronounce the winner in this section because it's evident that you will manage to Explore Air 2 easier.
Differentiation #2: Cutting Performance and Force
I already talked about how all Cricut machines can write, cut, and score. But one of the main differences between Maker and Explore Air 2 is that the first one can engrave and deboss.
Here you can see the official video of Debossing Tool in action:
If you take a better look at Cutting Force, you will be amazed by Maker's 4000 grams of pure force. This means that Maker is more precise and neat while cutting and can easily cope with a wide variety of materials, including thicker ones too.
I assure you that there is no project that Cricut Maker cannot handle.
On the other side, we have Explore Air 2 with ''only'' 350 grams of cutting force, which seems to be so weak compared to Maker. But to be fair, most of the cutting machines out there don't even reach the Explore Air 2 cutting force.
Now let's talk about pressure settings.
As I promised, I will explain the Adaptive Tool System better. This system will allow you to handle your tools with more precision, to rotate, and lift tools to fit your needs, and to manage the pressure you are applying while working.
To learn how to work with Cricut Maker and Adaptive Tool System, follow this tutorial:
If you ask me the most beneficial thing about this system is that you can exert all types of upcoming tools that will come from Cricut. This will guarantee you that you can use your machine for years to come and keep up with all the new trends in the crafting industry.
On the other hand, Explore Air 2 is equipped with more modest technology. Let me present to you the simple but effective Smart Dial Set.
On the right side of Explore 2 machine, you will find the dial with prefixed settings for materials like paper, vinyl, iron-on-vinyl, light cardstock, cardstock, fabric and poster board. If by any chance you need to use some other material instead of the ones that are prefixed, you have the custom option too.
The point is that the Smart Dial Set will put an end to manual adjusting the pressure, depth and speed of cutting.
Here you can see the official video that will show you how to use the Smart Dial Set:
Summing it all up, the Maker’s new adaptive system is better, but its counterpart is not far behind when it comes to versatility & performance.
Differentiation #3: Tools
The tools I want to introduce to you now can only be used on Cricut Maker because they are only compatible with Adaptive Tool System. Those are:
Knife Blade - This blade will allow you to cut through thick and sturdy materials like matboard, leather, balsa wood, and some others without worrying that your blade will dull and that you will harm your machine.
To learn how to use Knife Blade follow this link:
Rotary Blade - This blade works very well with tricky and frail materials that are prone to chafing like burlap, denim, satin, or crepe paper. The point is that when you use this blade on those materials, you don't need to use the stabilizer to prevent clustering like you would when using the regular Fine-Point blade.
Scoring Wheel - This type of tool is great for creating deep, sharp score lines on thin and thick paper; you can even work on coated paper or any other kind of material as long as it won't break when being folded.
Engraving and Debossing Tip - Cricut Maker is the only model from the Cricut family that will allow you to engrave and deboss. If you love to personalize your work with monograms, you will love these tools. Luckily, the material range goes from foil poster board, coated and shimmer paper, to balsa wood, metal, leather and vinyl.
Follow this link to see how Engraving Tip works:
These tools are definitely a plus when it comes to sheer versatility & utilization of the product, so props to Cricut Maker on this category.
Now, we need to discuss things that are similar on these two machines.
Correlations between Cricut Maker and Cricut Explore Air 2
If you are a crafting newbie, you will surely have a hard time to separate Maker from Explore Air 2 at a glance but don't worry, experience comes with time. Besides the physical appearance, there are a few more things that these two machines have in common.
All Cricut cutting machines will offer you some essential tools and operations, which makes them both very trustworthy cutters, but Maker has some unique features that significantly distinguish their level of performance.
Here’s my parallel comparison chart before we continue with our discussion:[ninja_tables id="7828"]
Correlation #1: Software
All of the Cricut cutting machines are powered by Cricut Design Space software.
You can download this software from the Cricut official website; you can follow the installation instructions here. But first, I highly recommend you to check out this link and see what system requirements you need to be able to start working with this software.
Watch this short tutorial to learn how to use Cricut Design Space software:
This software is very straightforward to use and believe me, not even a complete beginner will have issues using it. The software offers you a lot of editing options so you can always customize designs at your taste. You can even upload the .SVG files or download premade designs from the market.
Correlation #2: Wireless and Bluetooth Connection
How many times have you had some cute pictures on your phone or on your laptop, and you just wanted to be able to print and cut them?
Luckily for you, this is now possible because both machines come with the ability of Wireless and Bluetooth connection. With these connectivity options, you’ll enhance your performance and creativity significantly. Also, it will help you maintain your workspace clutter-free because with these machines, cables are history now.
And yes, I am aware the most of you are cynical about wireless connection because it failed you so many times in the past. But do not worry my friends, this will never happen to you with these two Cricut machines. I tested them both regularly, and if by any chance you get issues with yours, call their customer support - they are great.
Correlation #3: Tools
Now let's talk about some basic tools that come with every Cricut machine.
Both machines are equipped with main Double Tool Holder. Let me explain this better; this means that the tool holder has two clamps, one that holds the blade, and second that holds other props like pen or scoring stylus. This will enable you to cut and write at the same time.
Watch this official tutorial to learn how to use Explore Air 2 & its Double Tool Holder:
And while you are doing that, you can use one more great feature - Fast Mode. This will allow your machine to work two times faster. This can come in handy when you have a lot of copies to make envelopes or cards.
Here you can see how to set up the Fast Mode on the Cricut Explore Air 2:
Let's go through some basic blades that come with every Cricut cutting machine:
- Fine-Point Blade - This is the most versatile blade of them all, and you will use it the most. It is very precise and sharp and will let you cut through light and mid-weight materials like vinyl, poster board, cardstock or iron-on-vinyl.
- Deep Cut Blade - This blade is a beast! It will enable you to cut materials up to 1.5 mm thickness like leather, felt or even a magnet, thanks to its steep angle.
- Bonded Fabric Blade - This blade is specially designed if you are cutting through light materials that have a backing. If you love to create appliques, Cricut machines are your best choice!
Correlation #4: Cutting Width
The dimensions of these two cutting machines are very similar, so that means the cutting width can't be much different, right? The cutting area on both machines is 12 inches which is quite good.
You can easily work on smaller and larger projects on both devices.
Cricut Maker Vs. Cricut Explore Air 2: Final Settlement
In most of my comparisons, I was quite indifferent, and I was not prone to pronouncing the winner. Because honestly, there was never some significant distinctions in performance between the two cutting machines. But the situation is way different now.
Cricut Explore Air 2 is an excellent cutting machine if you are up to do some light work. In any case, you can see a lot of improvement in comparison with Cricut Explore One. I would recommend this to someone who has intermediate crafting skills and is willing to make some progress.
I am seriously amazed by Cricut Maker’s performance, power, and precision. No matter if you are just a hobbyist crafter or you are a professional, this machine will satisfy all your needs.
All your projects will be taken to another level with this machine, and you will work 10x faster than you did before so you will save so much time.
And we all know people always say time is money, right?
Don’t be afraid to splurge on Cricut Maker. It will pay off ten fold!
Quick tip for the newbie readers - if you are interested in stepping into the world of crafting and scrapbooking, I will gladly recommend you to start learning slowly with Cricut Cuttlebug manual cutting machine.