Before we dive right in I want to disclose to your that The Cricut Maker and Explore Air 2 machines were given to me by Cricut. The Cricut Expression machine and my opinions are my own. So there is all cards on the table – it wouldn’t honest if I didn’t let you know these things right? So is it time to upgrade your Cricut machine? I am sure if you’re reading this you have seen all the hype that has been circulating the web about the brand new Cricut Maker. But is it worth it? I thought it would be fun to walk down memory lane and compare differences and improvements of each machine and see if getting a new machine is worth it for your needs.
The Cricut Expression
Let’s take a little trip back in time and to the back of my craft closet…. A little more than ten years ago my mom got this Cricut expression machine. I have to say that I loved her knew toy. As a matter of fact I loved it so much, she let me permanently barrow it! While I loved all the clean cut it would make, there were multiple things that would bother me about it.
The blade depth, and pressure settings. While Circut did provide a lot of recommendations, you often had to tweak these if you ventured beyond the normal materials (card-stock or vinyl) which meant wasting a lot of material.
So expensive, so much storage space. While there are still many design on the cartridges that are classic enough to work today, they are a pain. You had to store the cartridge to project book and the keypad overlay. Plus it’s a total pain to figure out which version of the element you wanted to cut, or having to look through all your Cartidges to find the one element you want to cut (it’s so much easier to search in Design Space).
1999 Called and wants it’s tech back.
The green pixel display screen, is not only a little weird to navigate, it made laying things out on the material extremely difficult. Which caused more material waste. Eventually Cricut made it so you could lay things out on the computer, but I still found it a little frustrating to work with. Plus it had to be plugged into my computer, which meant setting it up in near it which wasn’t always convenient.
Pros and Cons:
But, here’s the cool thing about this machine, even though it’s cluggy, the thing still works and cuts great! However because of the design limitations the machine has been gathering dust in the far corner of my craft closet. I couldn’t design my own images, or layout things perfectly. After playing with the next 2 machines and seeing how much faster, easier they are to work with and material they save you really want to upgrade!
Is it Time to Upgrade Your Cricut Machine? Conclusion: Yes! Time to upgrade from the Expression.
The Cricut Explore Air 2
So before I even knew about the existence of the Cricut Maker – I did a sponsored post for Cricut using the Explore Air 2. I have to tell you this machine was so fun for me to play with! I loved how you could use different materials like – craft foam and bonded fabric with it. I liked how there were mats with different tackiness to make it easier to work with the different materials. I loved how quiet, and fast it was.
No More Guessing Games
Cricut with it’s long list of material made it so I didn’t have to mess with blade pressure and depth – the smart dial on the Explore Air 2 did it for me. And if it’s not on the dial it has a custom setting that I can select even more materials in Design Space. Plus the housing can use a scoring tool or a pen to add more dimension to projects!
I loved the new adapter in which you could put a scoring tool or a pen to mark items – genius and great for adding a “handwritten” looking items to the mix. Which is good for me since my handwriting is comparable to a five year old.
Cartridges are still usable, but not necessary.
All those Cricut cartridges are still usable – but with the Cricut Access in Design Space I can pay a flat monthly fee and have access to a library bigger than mine! And THE best part – I can use Design Space to import files that I designed. As a designer that is huge. Plus I am kind of a font junkie, and I can use all the fonts installed on my computer in Design space.
Pros and Cons to the Cricut Explore Air 2
It’s fast and quiet and can cut different materials (think faux leather, bonded fabric and craft foam). It has amazing design options. It’s definite step up from it’s predecessors and it’s has plenty to keep the hobbyist busy. Cons: You’re stuck with the traditional cutting blade system, and can’t cut thicker materials.
Is it Time to Upgrade Your Cricut Machine? Conclusion: Maybe, it depends on what you like to make and what you want out of the long term.
The Cricut Maker
So you might be wondering what the big deal about this machine is. Well it’s like it’s predecessors, and yet not. This machine has a lot more power to it. Not only can the Cricut Maker cut everything that the other machines can , it takes cutting to the next level. You can cut out fabric on this machine, no binding nor special prep. You just put it on the fabric mat and cut.
Cricut changed the system
See that golden gear at the top of the rotary blade? That is a huge difference. No more drag on the cloth, it turns and glides and cuts. It’s really cool to see. Imagine no more laying out patterns – just open the file up in Design Space and cut it out – perfectly. Even better you can mark it with a fabric pen to make sewing the seam allowance easy!
It’s constantly evolving
The best part of the new Cricut Maker system? They will be adding new tools – like the knife blade that cuts wood. So this machine will be able to cut more and more materials and do different projects on this machine. So while it can already do cool stuff – it will just get better.
It’s For The Creator
If you love to work in different mediums and love to design your own stuff the Cricut Maker is made for you. It is what I would call pro-summer level machine. It’s heavier, stronger and built to cut through some amazing materials.
Pros and Cons
It’s the only thing like it on the market – nothing comes close. It can cut some amazing materials and it’s got a lot potential. Cons: It’s a new machine so there is a learning curve and being an early adapter means that you might run into a few wrinkles that Cricut will need to iron out. Luckily Cricut has awesome tech support. The Cricut Maker machine doesn’t have slot for cartridges ( but will offer an adapter for sale at a later date) so those cartridges won’t be available for immediate use. But honestly you should just marry those cartridges to you Design Space account and make life a little easier.
Is this the machine your should buy/ upgrade to?
Ask yourself the following:
Did you just buy a Cricut Explore Air 2? Do you only pull out the machine out a few times a year? Do you not care about sewing? Do you prefer paper crafting projects and simple vinyl projects? Do you prefer tried and true methods?
If the answer is yes to these questions then I think you’ll be perfectly happy with your current machine. The truth is I was perfectly happy with the Cricut Explore Air 2 and had plenty of ideas to keep me busy. Don’t stress about getting a new machine just yet – there’s nothing wrong with being happy with what works for you!
Do you have a really old Cricut machine? Are you pushing your current machine to the brink? Do you like to sew? Do you like to create with several materials? Do you like the idea of different tools ( besides the traditional blade) to use in the machine? Are you an early adapter and love to learn new tech?
If the answer is yes to the above questions, I think it’s worth investing in the Maker. I have to tell you that as a sewist, having a machine that cut quilting squares and patterns perfectly is mind blowing awesome.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.