It’s not easy to find a top-quality vinyl cutter especially if this is your first time interacting with these machines. To break it down for you, if you really want to make your work look professional, it’d be a good idea to find a vinyl cutting machine that combines speed with reliability. Bad machines ultimately lead to poor quality output and of course, frustrations. One mistake we’ve seen newbies make is that they mainly consider factors such as force, speed, and price when making a choice. This is a terrible approach! Instead, you should focus on the practicality of the machine and whether it’s capable of living up to reasonable cutting standards or not.
To help you make this challenging decision, we have reviewed some of the most sought-after vinyl cutters. In addition, we’ve included some thoughtful considerations you need to make in order to land a printer capable of delivering intricate cuts for you.
1. Cricut Explore Air 2
The Explore Air 2 graced the markets in 2015 and since its grand entry has witnessed remarkable success. For starters, it is available in peach pink, mint green, and baby blue variants.
One of the notable things about this unit is that it works quite fast – thanks to its Fast mode ability. Besides speed, the Explore Air 2 presents you with the ability to cut pretty much anything ranging from iron, cardstock, leather to vinyl.
If you are the kind of person who pays close attention to detail, the Air 2 has just the flexibility you need to craft finer details. Talking about flawless precision, this machine boasts the capability to use Cricut Pens which you can use to create handwritten projects.
You will get the freedom to explore over 370 fonts and that means you can create customized designs in a matter of minutes. What’s more? You can even go ahead and create your own custom font and store it for free. Isn’t that so cool?
Another awesome addition to this vinyl cutter is the Smart Set Dial. What’s that? Well, this is a simple addition that’s meant to help you find the best settings for your upcoming project. So, in case you love designing award-winning artwork, this cutter is certainly up to the mark. And that’s not all – you enjoy the freedom to design using a computer, iPhone or even iPad.
Keeping up with the other vinyl cutters from Cricut, this one also comes with Design Space software. The software is amazingly easy to use plus it also comes with cloud-based storage. In case you’re too busy to design your own stuff, you’ll be happy to learn that there are dozens of pre-made choices that you can find for free within the Design Space repository.
The only challenge with Design Space software is that it is a web-based software and you will, therefore, need to have a fast internet connection to use it. This can slow you down especially if working in an area with poor internet connectivity. Fortunately, for iPhone users that is, there’s the possibility of offline access through the software’s mobile app. Read full review here.
- Loaded with innovative spooling functionalities
- Comes fully loaded with a blade holder, USB cable, power cable and pen holder
- Its blade holders are Roland compatible, offering quick access
- Generally easy to use
- Offers multi-color workflows without the need to swap in between rolls
- Small qualms with the otherwise perfect vinyl cutter would be that it does a terrible job when used to cut sandblast resist
2. Cricut Maker
This is the latest release from Cricut and since its entry into the market, we feel that it has achieved incredible milestones. So, what’s so different about this new kid on the block? To begin with, this machine comes with a superior rotary cutter. Any ordinary machine can cut fabric, but it takes a rotary cutter to achieve an extra-deep cut. It’s therefore, safe to say, this is one of the strongest machines in its price range as far as making cuts is concerned.
The Cricut Maker also boasts a fresh new software. The company no longer uses Flash and has since shifted to the web-based Design Space software. Of course, this new software offers much better usability and experience. On the flipside, though, it requires a high-speed internet connection to work. That said, they have gone ahead to include an offline feature that works with the iOS Design Space app so you might want to consider trying that if internet connectivity is an issue to you.
Also, instead of storing your files in cartridges, this unit empowers you to store your stuff in Cloud-based storage. So, in a nutshell, this is quite an awesome vinyl cutter save for the fact that you will need reliable, high-speed internet.
Compared to its elder brother, the Explore Air 2, the Maker comes without the popular Smart Dial feature. As you might be aware, the Smart Dial tool is all you’d need in the Explore generation of cutters to select the right settings. However, the Cricut Maker is quite advanced, technology-wise and the Smart Dial is no longer needed.
Another awe-inspiring aspect of this machine is that it offers a two-tool capacity. This means you will have the freedom to switch back and forth between tools without the need to stop in between. This is definitely the kind of workflow efficiency needed to handle multiple cuts in quick succession. You can even put a pen and a scoring tool so you’ll only need to balance between the two in between sessions without the need to pause. Read full review here.
- This is a versatile vinyl cutting machine
- Can work with fabric thanks to the Rotary Blade
- Can slice up to 2.4mm thick material
- Boasts Adaptive Tool System which automatically controls blade direction
- Reasonably priced machine
- Has a limited cutting area of 12×24 inches
- Does not come with a knife blade
3. USCutter MH Series
This vinyl cutter is popular for straddling the line between personal and commercial use. It comes across as a fantastic choice for small business setups because it is slightly cheaper than most average desktop cutters. But despite that, it offers a much larger cutting capacity with the 34-inch edition being capable of cutting up to a maximum of 31 inches in width.
On board the MH Series are vinyl rolls, squeegee, a knife, magnetic blanks and transfer tapes. In addition, you will receive free lifetime support via phone and chart from the warm and friendly MH team.
In fact, the only thing we found missing on this vinyl cutting machine is a materials basket. As you know, it is important to have this basket in order to prevent static affecting your vinyl in the course of passing it through the machine. This is quite a common problem with larger vinyl cutters and we, therefore, think that having a materials basket would have been such a good thing for this cutter. Read full review here.
- Innovative spooling functionalities
- Compatible with standard blade
- Multi-dimensional color workflows
- Provides USB functionality and also has a pen and blade holders
- Roland compatible blade holders offering quick access to the blades
- Not compatible with MAC computers
- Lacks a materials basket
4. Silhouette Cameo
This vinyl cutting machine boasts automated blade settings, complete with a dual carriage. That means you can handle the cutting and writing parts in just one step. But perhaps this machine’s main strong point has nothing to do with its specs but the community around it. Once you purchase it, you’ll enjoy instant access to a fabulous community of other crafters from who you can gain invaluable wisdom.
Besides that, this cutter has a free Silhouette Studio design software – plus they’ve recently introduced Bluetooth functionality. In its entirety, the Cameo might seem like a basic printer but it still offers a fantastic jump-off point for beginners and small business owners alike.
Best of all, the Cameo supports a broad range of materials including fabric, paper, and vinyl among others. Struggling to find the perfect design for your latest project? Well, the Cameo comes with a built-in capacity to help you instantly access ready-made designs from their store. Of course, you’ll also have the freedom to customize your design of choice using the Silhouette Studio which, once again, is available for free. Read full review here.
- Has a built-in Bluetooth functionality
- Compatible with MAC and Windows operating systems
- Free dust cover, USB cable and power cord
- Boasts automatically adjustable blades
- Has an incredibly sensitive touchscreen
- Its cutting force is quite weak (221 g/s) compared to other commercial vinyl cutters
5. Roland GS-24 CAMM-1 Cutter
If you’re looking for a dynamic machine with the capacity of producing small stickers and large signages alike, the GS-24 from Roland is your best bet. The unit works perfectly with up to 350 grams of force which makes weeding and cutting thick materials much easier. One particular feature that caught our eye is the overlap cutting tool which significantly improves workflow and makes it super easy to make professional cuts.
Indeed, Roland is one of the few vinyl cutters that we have come across so far that offer a built-in optical registration system. This system does an incredible job of boosting the machine’s intelligence. In particular, this machine is capable of recognizing crop marks from any desktop printer. Besides that, it aligns the media precisely ensuring each cut is done accurately.
If you still believe in making manual adjustments, the fact that the GS-24 allows for manual adjustments will ultimately reassure you of the flexibility you need. With this added capability, you can confidently approach complex and small designs, fully assured of making incredible cuts with each attempt.
Speed is yet another reason why this Roland machine stands tall in our list. This added speed is attributed to the innovative digital servo motor which enables the machine to work at optimal speeds of close to 20 inches per second. If you’re a seasoned user of vinyl cutter printers, chances are that you have an idea that cutting speed is not all that matters.
So, in order to combine speed and efficiency, the GS-24 is endowed with a curve-smoothing function which ensures great precision at all times.
Another wonderful addition to the GS-24 is its software. This is not just any other off-shelf software but a bespoke solution meant to make your life easier. Indeed, the Ronald CutStudio software is specifically built to deliver awesome cuts and incredible output. What’s more, the machine’s user-friendliness is at the very top and with a few simple commands such as “resize”, “reposition” and “rotate”, you’ll be in a perfect position to get any job done to global standards.
And did we even mention the cutter’s tiling functions? Well, put simply, there’s a lot in this machine for you to discover. Read full review here.
- Delivers an incredible 350g blade force
- Works at 20 inches per second which is quite fast
- Provides a highly precise mechanical resolution of 0.0005 inches
- Built-in optical registration sensor to improved workflow
- Capable of storing a maximum of 8 settings for different blade and media combinations
- USB connectivity for simplified PC connection
- This machine is a heavy-hitter and, therefore, not ideal for paper-cutting
Finding the best vinyl cutting machine is the first step in setting up a successful production line. In fact, once you find the right unit, the only limitation will be your imagination. You can literally add new dimensions to your craft and have real fun experimenting with new works of art. What’s more? You can start producing t-shirts in your backyard. With the design and craft niche growing so fast, owning a quality vinyl cutter is the fastest ticket to conquering the markets. And even if you’re not in it for commercial reasons, these machines can provide you with a wonderful pass-time activity.
However, as you might expect, in a market full of options, identifying the right machine requires a bit of research. Having conducted a thorough research and compared the different options available on the market, our verdict is that the Cricut Explore Air 2 sits pretty at the helm of the best vinyl cutter printer hall of fame. Its ability to provide remarkable cutting power and remain fast and accurate is just one of the many reasons we really like it.
Just to clarify, the decision on which cutter to settle for is purely personal and so you should feel free to examine your unique needs versus the details we’ve provided in the review above in order to make an informed decision.
Hello there, my name is Carole Lokey from Texas. I am a die cutting and scrapbooking enthusiast and I have been sharing my passion with my friends and likeminded folks for close to 15 years now. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via the contact page. Learn More>>