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What is a Cricut machine?

What is a Cricut?

If you’ve been to a craft store or read a DIY blog lately, you have probably heard of a Cricut, but you may not know anything about what it does or why it’s so popular with hobbyists and artists. 

Simply put, a Cricut is a branded cutting plotter or an intelligent computer-controlled cutting machine that etches shapes and designs from an array of materials. The devices have become a versatile but expensive tool used to make everything from home decor and greeting cards to posters and t-shirts. Here’s a closer look at the Cricut brand of cutting plotters and what they can do.

What does a Cricut do?

Cricut is a brand of smart-operated cutting plotters that create exciting DIY projects by cutting custom shapes and etching lettering and designs out of various materials, including paper, vinyl, cardstock, fabric and aluminum foil, to name a few. 

Cricut offers three models of cutting plotters along with several discontinued legacy products: the Cricut Explore Air 2, Cricut Maker, and Cricut Joy. Each model has its intended use and unique features, but all serve the same primary function of cutting custom designs using proprietary software accessed by smartphones or computers. 

The company also offers two heat-transfer products, the Cricut EasyPress and Cricut Mug Press, that apply designs to t-shirts, coffee mugs, and more.

How does a Cricut work?

A Cricut machine, like other commercial cutting plotters, is similar to a standard computer printer. You make a design and send it to the machine via Bluetooth or USB, but instead of printing an image onto paper, the Cricut uses etching and heat transfer technologies to create a custom project out of materials as diverse as leather, denim, vinyl, and wood. 

There are several interchangeable blades and tools to execute specific actions and cut the design into the material. Through its design platform and smart app, you can access an extensive library of images, fonts, and ready-to-make projects to inspire your creativity or easily create a craft. 

What’s the difference between Cricut models?

The Cricut Joy is the basic model. It’s smaller than the other two and with fewer features. It can handle less width than the other models, but it supports material up to 20 feet in length. It is simple, compact, and suitable for small everyday crafts and projects.

The Cricut Maker is the top-of-the-line model and is advertised as “the ultimate smart cutting machine.” It has more tools and capabilities than the other models and works with over 300 types of material.

The Cricut Explore Air 2 handles materials no larger than 20 inches by 12 inches in size and can cut 100+ different types of material. It is more advanced and has more features than Joy but is surpassed by the Maker in both areas. It is suitable for a wide variety of DIY projects.

Should you buy a Cricut?

If you are a dedicated hobby crafter or DIY creator and seller, a Cricut cutting plotter is a solid investment, but you should consider your budget as well as your crafting needs before you buy. Cricut machines are priced between $150-$400, with bundles running upwards of $600. 

A Cricut Joy is likely to suffice for casual users and smaller projects, whereas a Cricut Explore Air 2 is for more advanced crafters and more detailed designs. Professional crafters and sellers should invest in the more expensive Cricut Maker, which may take your Etsy store or Pinterest board to a new level of creative crafting.

What you need to buy for a Cricut

Cricut Essential Tool Set

This seven-piece set of tools includes a scoring stylus, scissors, a portable trimmer and more additions to help start or finish your Cricut project. Best for experienced users.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Cricut Beginners Bundle with Iron-On Combo Pack

This bundle is geared toward novice Cricut users and includes a Starter’s Guide, project ideas, tutorials and resources, and several custom tools. It also includes adhesive vinyl, glitter iron-on material, and transfer tape.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

EVISWIY Replacement Mats and Blades, Variety

This set includes the four different grip cutting mats, standard, light, strong and fabric, and replacement five-point, deep cut, and shallow cut blades, keeping your projects going after extended use.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Matt Fleming writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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