Cricut is arguably the best in the business when it comes to crafting. They make cutting machines that work quickly and can cut up a hundred different materials. Moreover, they’re more user-friendly than the tools you’d normally use to cut up metal, plywood, and others.
The only problem is that Cricut has several products available for sale, and choosing between them will prove to be difficult for the uninitiated.
Two outstanding machines worthy of mention are the Cricut Explore Air and the Cricut Maker, but which one is better? What are the similarities between them, and how are they different in terms of features?
Check out our Cricut Maker vs Explore Air and see which one is the last cutting machine standing.
The Cricut Explore Air
The Cricut Explore Air, with its unassuming white shell and simple, streamlined design looks like nothing new, but underneath the precise cutting machine lies a few nifty features.
For one, it uses smart technology to do cuttings faster and more efficiently. Manufacturer specs state that the Explore Air 2 can cut over a hundred different materials, from iron-ons and vinyl to cardstock and even thick leather. Moreover, it uses a patented Cut Smart technology for more precise work.
Don’t have a cable or a laptop and need to do some cutting? Easy. You can activate the Bluetooth mode and download the Cricut Explore Air app on your Android or iOS smartphone. This means you can bring the equipment (and any needed materials) on craft shows, meets, and other events without being encumbered by a heavy computer.
There’s also a smart dial located at the side for continuous cutting without any further input from you. Cutting the same material for a big project just became easier!
Cricut has a platform called Design Space, where users can browse through hundreds of available project photos or upload their own creations in SVG format. You can download pre-mades or visit the Ready to Make site to get that creative juice flowing.
What stands out on the product is the inclusion of three Air 2 Blades. There’s the Fine Point, which you can use for posterboards, cardstock, iron-ons and vinyl, the Bonded Fabric, which is often used to cut lightweight fabric and the Deep-Point, for cutting thick and stiff materials such as cardboard, felt and leather.
The Cricut Maker
The Cricut Maker sports the same white cover and a few neat functionalities as well.
Let’s start with the fact that it can also cut a hundred different materials, from crepe to fabric and even wood or leather.
Then, there’s the Adaptive Tool System. This addition to the Cricut family gives the Maker the ability to cut in any direction and with more force than ever. Working with tough materials suddenly becomes an effortless affair!
Love to sew? Then you’ll love the Rotary Blade included in the Cricut Maker. This tool can be used to cut fabric without needing marking pens, tracing paper and patterns. You can concentrate on precision and have a better craft using this nifty addition. The Knife Blade works exactly like an X-Acto blade in that it penetrates matboards, leather, and balsa wood easily and without any problems.
Scoring Wheels are combo attachments that can create score lines to any project.
Sewing enthusiasts will love the fact that the Maker comes in with the Sewing Pattern Library, which eliminates manual pattern tracing and cutting. Moreover, the Design Space has several ideas for quilting patterns that you can try out anytime.
Last but not least, the Cricut Maker comes with a washable marking pen, 50 ready-to-make projects, and a trial membership.
With the Explore Air 2 and the Maker, you get wireless connectivity via Bluetooth. Both machines are quite adept at cutting vinyl and paper (with the Maker having 100% compatibility on the blades), and they use the same file format (SVG).
Though both machines have access to the Cricut Design Space, the platform looks a bit different on the Maker as it doesn’t have the SmartSet dial. For the fashion-savvy, you’ll be happy to know that Explore Air and Maker come in several color options.
Let’s get down to the most important differences between the two cutting machines by Cricut.
The Cricut Maker is a bit heavier than the Air for a reason- it’s rated 10x more powerful in terms of cutting, thanks to the Adaptive Tool System. Moreover, the system can hold different blades and pens, while the Air 2 touts a Cut Smart 2 for its own set of pens and blades.
Need to charge up your smartphone or tablet while using a cutting machine? This can be done when you get the Cricut Maker. Also, it has a built-in shelf or stand for your iPad or iPhone, which considerably gives users more options in terms of convenience.
Tool storage is greater with the Maker than the Explore Air. The bottom compartment of the Maker has rubber reinforcement for sharp ends. The Explore Air has the edge in having a SmartSet material dial for a variety of cutting applications. You’ll find that in cutting power, the Knife Blade cuts 2.4mm deep while the Deep Cut from Explore Air can only go 1.5mm.
Which Is Better?
The main factor in choosing which cutting machine is better for you will depend on your budget and how you intend to use it.
The Explore Air comes at a lower price tag than the Maker and is perfectly fine for cutting standard materials such as paper, cardstock and the like. Budget-minded crafters will find the wireless connectivity to be a welcome feature, especially if they’re still using previous wired cutting machines.
The Cricut Maker has more features and is more versatile than the Explore Air. If you do most of your crafts sewing or working on materials such as leather, wood or fabric, then it’s the best choice. The added force, Adaptable Tool System and quality of life improvements make the Maker a worthy buy.