Cricut Maker evaluate: Extraordinarily versatile machine that wants software program innovation

Article Hero PictureCricut Maker evaluate: Extraordinarily versatile machine that wants software program innovation

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The king of the craft world, the Cricut Maker, might help convey your paper, card, and sticker-based tasks to life, however with software program limitations and at a hefty value.

Cricut has come a good distance from the mid-2000s. You could keep in mind the primary Cricut commercials that includes chipper girls inserting clunky cartridges into one thing that appeared like a mixture of a fax machine and a toaster oven.

Within the fifteen years since its launch, Cricut has expanded its capabilities significantly and added a number of new machines to its lineup.

One such machine is the Cricut Maker. It is designed to take your crafting to the following degree by including within the capacity to chop materials, chipboards, leather-based, and extra.


Earlier than your Cricut even arrives, you need to most likely go forward and register for a Cricut account and obtain the Design Area app onto no matter gadgets you intend on utilizing your Cricut with. Design Area works with Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, and Android gadgets.

As soon as your machine arrives, you may use Design Area to set it up, which solely takes a matter of seconds to do. I used to be pleasantly shocked that inside 5 minutes of unboxing the Cricut, I used to be already slicing my first check undertaking.

But, earlier than we go into precise tasks, let’s talk about what you are actually moving into whenever you purchase one thing just like the Cricut Maker.

In for a penny, in for a pound

One of the necessary issues you have to notice earlier than buying any craft slicing machine — be it one from the Cricut lineup or from Silhouette or Brother — is that it is hardly an inexpensive interest.

The Cricut Maker is not a cheap device by any means.
The Cricut Maker is just not an inexpensive machine by any means.

That is essential so that you can perceive earlier than continuing ahead. Not solely is the machine an funding in itself, however the whole lot you utilize with it’s an added expense.

I scored my Cricut Maker on a steep sale — $279 for the Cricut Maker The whole lot bundle — and I’ve nonetheless managed to spend $70 on different issues for it. To make issues worse, I am not that removed from dropping one other $80 on extra slicing blades.

That is the place a big portion of your bills will come from. If you buy a Cricut Maker, you get the machine, the Rotary Blade (for slicing cloth), the Effective Level blade (For slicing paper and cardstock), a Gentle Grip mat, a FabricGrip mat, a wonderful level pen, and that is it.

Nevertheless, the Cricut Maker is suitable with 13 instruments, together with the Scoring Stylus, the Scoring Wheels, Foil Switch Instruments, the Debossing software, the Engraving Instrument, and the Perforation Blade — and that is not even all of them.

Many of those instruments are usually not solely useful however required for tasks.

For instance, I wished to make some playing cards to present to members of the family for upcoming holidays. I figured, maybe considerably naively, that I would have the ability to make do with the Scoring Stylus and the Effective-Level blade. Because it seems, not a lot.

The Scoring Stylus, in my view, is basically ineffective. It could not even rating 80-pound cardstock, which meant I had to return and manually rating my playing cards with a blade by hand. Positive, it isn’t the tip of the world, however discovering out that my machine included a ineffective software in a bundle I paid for was lower than superb.

Moreover, the the whole lot bundle additionally consists of foil poster board, which I assumed — once more, perhaps a bit naively — might be reduce with the Effective-Level Blade as a result of it was included in a bundle with my Cricut Maker. The blade did okay on among the cuts, however some extra detailed cuts tore out. Because it seems, many Cricut customers notice that you need to solely use the Deep-Level blade.

The Scoring Blades and Deep-Level blades are round $30 every. Actually, most of Cricut’s proprietary blades can be found at $30 apiece — so the prices can add up rapidly.

Happily, in terms of issues you possibly can reduce, you are not locked into Cricut’s line of supplies. As an alternative, you possibly can head to almost any craft retailer, to Amazon, and even your native Greenback Tree and be met with a good quantity of supplies designed for use with craft slicing machines.

Should you’re uncertain if the Cricut can reduce a selected materials, simply Google it. Somebody on the web has most likely already tried to chop no matter you have an interest in. Cricut’s web site has a useful record, but it surely’s hardly exhaustive, together with 300+ gadgets.

After all, with it being a hefty funding, there are a whole lot of issues you are able to do with a Cricut Maker.

Attending to know the Cricut

As I’ve already defined, the Cricut is a machine that you just use to — ostensibly — reduce issues. It isn’t dissimilar to a CNC machine, which you are undoubtedly conversant in should you’ve ever fallen down the YouTube maker or woodworking rabbit gap.

To chop issues on a Cricut, no matter mannequin, you usually adhere the fabric you want to reduce (or draw, or rating, or deboss) on a sticky mat. Then, you snap your favourite instruments into the Adaptive Instrument System, load the mat into your machine, and comply with the steps within the companion software program.

The unique Cricut Maker could make incisions as much as 12 inches huge and 24 inches lengthy. As acknowledged above, the producer estimates the Maker can reduce greater than 300 supplies, although that could be lowballing it. Just about, should you can reduce it with a craft knife or a field cutter, you possibly can reduce it with a Cricut Maker.

Here is what you have to learn about what makes your Cricut work.


The mats offered by Cricut vary in value from $3 to $18, relying on dimension, sort, and whether or not or not Cricut or the retailer is holding a sale.

That’s one thing to notice — Cricut gadgets are very continuously on sale. It could behoove you to match name-brand supplies and mats with third-party gadgets, as Cricut supplies are sometimes equally priced.

Cricut mats, from left to right: FabricGrip, StandardGrip, StrongGrip, LightGrip
Cricut mats, from left to proper: FabricGrip, StandardGrip, StrongGrip, LightGrip

The Cricut mats are available in a number of differing types and sizes, and they’re rated by grip power.

Some supplies, equivalent to balsa wooden, require you to make use of a StrongGrip mat to make sure the Cricut does not pull the fabric free whereas making use of additional strain throughout cuts. Different supplies, equivalent to wrapping paper, require a LightGrip mat, guaranteeing that the fabric will not tear when eliminated.

The mats inevitably develop into gunked up with bits of paper, fuzz, hair, glitter — making it much less efficient. Happily, you have bought a number of choices.

For instance, if a StrongGrip mat loses a few of its bonding energy, many customers select to “downgrade” it and use it for extra delicate supplies. This apply is prevalent for individuals who use their Cricut as a part of their enterprise.

Others, like me, gently take away bigger items of particles — like paper bits and cloth by hand. Afterward, I throw it in my sink and wash it with heat water and a little bit little bit of hand cleaning soap. Washing the mat removes any remaining stray fuzz, hair, or microscopic bits of paper free from the adhesive.

As soon as dried, the mats return to their former glory, roughly.

Blades, instruments, and the Adaptive Instrument System

The Cricut Maker has two software slots it may use at any given time. Clamp A, which is plastic, is used primarily for Cricut pens and the scoring stylus. Clamp B, which is aluminum, is used with blades and scoring wheels.

There are a whole lot of instruments for the Cricut Maker. Whereas I am not going to delve into each software out there, I’ll talk about how a number of of them work.

Cricuts Adaptive Tool System, aka, the tool clamps
Cricuts Adaptive Instrument System, aka, the software clamps

You will have to clamp within the right software everytime you arrange a reduce in your Cricut. For many tasks, you are both going to make use of the Effective Level blade or the Deep Level blade. Each are analogous to craft blades. You will use these to make playing cards, reduce pleather, reduce sure cloth varieties, and most vinyl — they’re your workhorses.

The Rotary Blade, which comes with — and is unique to — the Cricut Maker, is used to chop cloth. Because it seems, the Cricut Maker maker has a fairly large following within the quilting neighborhood. The rotary software permits artists to exactly reduce fiddly bits of material with out counting on stencils.

There’s additionally a Knife Blade, which can be utilized to chop thicker supplies, together with leather-based, balsa wooden, basswood, and chipboard.

Cricut’s line of non-cutting instruments

Like every good crafting large, Cricut additionally sells a good quantity of issues to associate with the Cricut to develop its capabilities.

Many of those are often known as “weeding” instruments, which you may use to “weed out” bits of fabric out of your reduce design. Scrapers, weeders, and tweezers fall underneath this class.

Cricut pens, weeder tools, scrapers, and a Cricut-branded craft knife
Cricut pens, weeder instruments, scrapers, and a Cricut-branded craft knife

You completely don’t want to purchase these instruments — the one cause I personal them is as a result of they got here with the bundle. A good friend of mine identified that dental plaque scrapers are simply as efficient and infrequently value much less.

Moreover, the market is flooded with third-party sellers that yow will discover on nearly any promoting platform.

There are a number of different instruments that Cricut presents, together with Warmth Presses for iron-on vinyl transfers, a Brayer for serving to to position supplies on mats, and an entire line of markers you should use with the Cricut.

Cricut Design Area — surprisingly first rate

Now that I’ve coated your Cricut’s bodily facets let’s check out the brains of the operation.

Provo Craft, the makers of Cricut, have finished a very good job of stopping any third-party software program from accessing the Cricut {hardware}. Sadly, meaning you may should make the most of Cricut’s Design Area, on the very least, to chop your design.

Design Area is obtainable on Mac, Home windows, iPhone, iPad, and Android. I usually apply it to my iPad, which is superb as a result of the Cricut made a slot for holding your iPad on the machine itself.

The iPad app can also be improbable, and there is sufficient display screen actual property on my iPad Air 4 to effortlessly zip by the interface and do what you want.

I do, sometimes, use the app on my iPhone, but it surely’s considerably extra cramped on the smaller display screen. I discover this to be completely wonderful for fast prints that do not require me to vary instruments.

I have never managed to attempt Design Area with my iMac but, as my Cricut is housed in a wholly completely different room.

Nonetheless, I have been pleasantly shocked with Design Area. The interface is someplace between computer-aided drafting (CAD) software program and Adobe Illustrator, however nowhere close to as complicated.

Whereas it could look intimidating at first, it is fairly simple to determine methods to add design recordsdata, scale your picture, and alter software features with out specific route.

Cricut Maker evaluate: Extraordinarily versatile machine that wants software program innovation

Actually, though I am apparently solely averse to studying instructions of any variety, I have never hit that many snags. Those who I’ve run into have been both altogether solvable by myself with a little bit little bit of trial and error or with a fast Google search.

For lots of informal Cricut customers, Design Area will probably be adequate. In any case, the app permits you to rapidly buy ready-made designs, permitting you to finish a complete undertaking with out ever altering a design as soon as.

Nevertheless, for the extra bold customers, you are undoubtedly going to wish to make use of different choices.

Designing your personal undertaking recordsdata

Whereas it is true you could’t entry the Cricut {hardware} with third-party packages, that does not imply you are restricted to utilizing Design Area in terms of making undertaking recordsdata. Actually, you have bought just about countless choices for creating designs that may be imported.

The one basic requirement for reduce recordsdata is that they should be within the right format.

Design Area accepts a handful of various file codecs underneath two broad classes.

  • Raster: .JPG, .PNG, .BMP, .GIF
  • Vector: .SVG, .DXF

Should you’re simply doing a easy operate, like slicing out letters for signage or doing a print-then-cut (typical for stickers and labels, raster pictures are completely wonderful. These pictures are uploaded as a single file and can be utilized with a single operation.

Should you’re doing a posh reduce, equivalent to a multi-step card that entails drawing, scoring, and slicing, you may completely have to make the most of a vector file.

I am not going to present you a whole rundown on methods to use packages, however I’ll level you in the best route on the place to search out them.

Packages that may make raster pictures run the gamut from costly to free and embody packages like Adobe Photoshop, Affinity Photograph, Pixelmator Professional, and Procreate. Actually, we have an entire record of Photoshop-like packages that you should use to make and edit raster pictures. Many of those packages have each iOS and macOS variations, too.

Packages that may make vector pictures embody Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Designer, and Inkscape. We even have a listing of our favourite vector design packages you could try, too.

Should you already know methods to use CAD software program and your software program of selection exports .DXF recordsdata, you may give {that a} go, too. Fusion360 is one choice, however I would guess that the majority CAD software program would work simply wonderful.

What you can also make

Cricut typically highlights the hobbyist-meets-crafter facet of issues you are able to do together with your Cricut. This consists of making playing cards, slicing vinyl for wall decals and shirts, or designing labels for gadgets in your house.

However the Cricut Maker can achieve this rather more than that. A fast journey to Google will present you that tons of individuals on the market pushing the boundaries of what has been finished with the machine.

I discovered myself most excited for sensible causes. Since getting the Cricut in February, I’ve made desk organizer bins utilizing cardstock, twine keepers utilizing pleather, and two software rolls.

A very small selection of things I've made with the Cricut
A really small number of issues I’ve made with the Cricut

Finally, I hope to snag some low cost acetate to clarify storage bins to assist preserve a few of my bigger craft bins extra organized.

The Cricut has develop into an indispensable software for a lot of textile artists who make quilts, toys, and clothes utilizing the Cricut for precision slicing, significantly fiddly bits. As an apart — Cricut additionally sells a material pen, permitting customers to switch patterns to cloth rapidly and precisely.


Whereas the Cricut is an awfully highly effective machine in a comparatively pleasant bundle, there are some shortcomings I’ve observed. The most important situation I’ve discovered is that the Cricut “Print, Then Reduce” function is just not the best.

This function is designed for artists seeking to do small-scale manufacturing of stickers, magnets, labels, and the like. It entails you printing your designs together with your printer, throwing it to the Cricut, after which the Cricut reads registration marks to — and I say this loosely — “precisely” reduce out your design.

In idea, that is fairly cool. It is a quick strategy to make sticker sheets or home made labels. It is a helpful function for artists who aren’t able to decide to sending their artwork out for print by a third-party distributor.

Sadly, you continue to have to print your designs by Design Area, which suggests you have bought no management over the DPI and minimal management over the print high quality.

Moreover, relying on the fabric you are slicing, the Cricut won’t precisely reduce out Print, Then Reduce designs. To its credit score, Cricut warns customers about this, stating that metallic, ultra-glossy supplies or these with a sample won’t work.

Sadly, most printable waterproof vinyl is shiny, so that you danger your designs not slicing appropriately since you wished to make stickers which have some longevity.

I proceed to routinely waste some pretty costly holographic printable vinyl I bought as a result of I’ve not discovered my lesson.

Moreover, suppose you print something with a darkish shade too near the registration mark. In that case, it is extremely believable that your Cricut will assume the art work is the registration mark, which throws off the place it cuts.

The opposite notable drawback is that you’re locked into utilizing Design Area. Whereas Design Area is first rate, it is definitely not all it might be. As a result of Cricut’s core demographic tends to be crafters, it’s catered towards lighter, extra simple tasks.

That is nice should you’re somebody who owns an entry-level machine, just like the Cricut Pleasure or Cricut Specific Air. Nevertheless, should you’ve invested within the Cricut Maker line, you may really feel a bit hamstrung.

The Cricut Maker is an especially highly effective software. If customers had entry to software program that allowed customers extra management, or a extra strong design area, it could open up the product to a fair wider viewers.


The Cricut Maker is a software that I am extremely impressed with, though there are a number of hangups right here or there. Should you’re an individual who genuinely enjoys making issues, there are lots of methods to make use of it past simply making playing cards or shirts. Should you run your personal small enterprise, it is a good way to make your personal small batches of merchandise or stickers.

Simply bear in mind that the Cricut is hardly an inexpensive interest and that when you get began, it may be form of laborious to cease.


  • Newbie pleasant
  • Wide selection of obtainable instruments
  • Cuts greater than 300 supplies
  • App is dependable, simple to make use of on iPad, iPhone
  • Third get together merchandise convey down value


  • Slicing blades are costly
  • Can solely use Design Area to carry out cuts
  • Print, then Reduce function is severely missing in choices


It is troublesome to precisely fee a undertaking that may be utilized in such all kinds of the way. Most of the flaws I see with Cricut are solely relevant to a extra superior consumer, and a hobbyist could not see a problem with it by any means.

For common objective: 4 out of 5

For superior customers: 3 out of 5

The place to purchase

You’ll be able to rating your personal Cricut Maker beginning at $229 from Amazon, with a little bit of variation relying on the colour. Cricut itself is providing reductions on Maker bundles.


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