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Cricut Maker vs Cricut Explore Air 2: What to Know Before You Buy
What Cricut machine should you buy? Is the Cricut Maker the best machine? There are many types of cutting machines and one of the most famous brands is Cricut. Of course, Cricut didn’t just make one cutting machine. So what machine should you get? Read on to help you decide.
Cricut Explore Air 2
Table of Contents
A Thorough Comparison
The Cricut Machine: An Introduction
If you’re new to the arts and crafts hobby, you’ve probably heard of the importance of a Cricut machine. It’s your primary cutting machine that easily cuts your designs and fonts. It uses Design Space as its main designing software, and it cuts on command.
Cricut has several machines available in the market. After all, it caters to different customers with different materials to use. So far, the most famous one is the Cricut Maker, but this isn’t their first model. Cricut’s first model is the Cricut Explore One. The Explore series has three models, but the latest one is Explore Air 2.
For this post, you’re going to be reading about both the Cricut Maker and the Cricut Explore Air 2. Why? They’re the newest and most versatile machines so it’s fitting that the two go head-to-head. What are you waiting for?
The Cricut Explore Air 2
Explore Air 2 is the newest version in the Explore series of Cricut. This means that if you’re comparing the Air 2 to the other Explore cutting machines, then you would definitely find the former to be much stronger and faster.
For starters, the Explore Air 2 uses a Smart Set Dial for its technology. In other words, it is able to cut more accurately and it makes use of a Bluetooth connection. Now, this is a big deal because back when Bluetooth connection wasn’t found everywhere, the Explore Air 2 already had it. It was advanced for its series, yet it retained the simplicity of the Cricut machines.
Today, the connectivity features of the Explore Air 2 is nothing new. However, it still manages to stand out because of its ability to cut up to 100 materials. If you plan on cutting vinyl, different types of paper, and other medium-weight fabrics, then look no further because the Explore Air 2 is perfect for you.
Known as a mid-range cutting machine, the Explore Air 2 is ideal for those who want to cut different materials, but not necessarily need a heavy-duty device.
Tools and Blades of the Explore Air 2
Aside from the materials, what are other tools and blades that you can use with the Explore Air 2?
1. Fine Point Blade
The fine point blade is not unique to the Explore Air 2 because all Cricut machines have this. Nonetheless, it’s right to mention it so you know that you have a go-to blade to use for a number of materials. If you don’t know what blade to use, this will usually be your first choice.
2. Deep Point Blade
If there’s a fine point blade, there’s also a deep point blade. This blade is great for cutting thicker materials like boards and thick fabrics. What makes this possible is the angle of the blade. If the fine blade has 45 degrees, this one has 60 degrees. The steeper angle helps to cut through thick materials.
3. Bonded Fabric Blade
Another blade that you can use with the Explore Air 2 is the bonded fabric blade. This is specifically for fabrics only. If you use it on other materials, you’re just going to ruin the blade and you definitely don’t want that. Before you cut, though, don’t forget to bond the fabric.
4. Cricut Pens
Other than blades, the Explore Air 2 also has Cricut pens that come with it. These pens are great for making your crafts more personalized. Did you know that these pens can cut and write?
5. Scoring Stylus
This stylus is used for materials that you plan on folding. So if you’re into creating cards and boxes, then you’ll find the scoring stylus very useful.
The Cricut Maker
By now, you’ve been hearing a lot about the Cricut Maker. What makes it so special? Among all the other Cricut machines, the Cricut Maker is the only machine that can cut through a number of materials. No, you don’t need to bond your fabric for the Cricut Maker. It can cut through unbonded fabric, denim, and tissue paper. How’s that for a heavy-duty machine?
The Cricut Maker uses Adaptive Tool System, a technology used in cutting different materials. This technology makes this machine adaptable to different blades. This means that if you use different tools, the pressure will adapt to make the cuts precise no matter what the tool is.
What about the tools? You’ll love to know that the Cricut Maker has 12 tools that it can use. It’s thrice as many as what the Explore Air 2 can use. Plus, it is compatible with tools that are for professional use. If you’re a professional craftsperson, then this is the ideal cutting machine.
Tools and Blades of the Cricut Maker
Speaking of tools, here are additional blades and tools that the Cricut Maker has that the Explore Air 2 doesn’t (take note that all of Explore Air 2’s tools and blades are also compatible with the Cricut Maker).
1. Rotary Blade
Do you ever struggle cutting into fabric when they’re not placed in a backing material? With the rotary blade you don’t have to worry about that anymore. This blade comes with every purchase of the Cricut Maker so you don’t have to pay extra for a new tool.
2. Knife Blade
Another tool that you can have with your Cricut Maker is the knife blade. You’re probably familiar with this and know that this is the strongest among all blades you’ll find on a cutting machine. If you really have to cut through thick and tough materials, this is the blade to use. It’s perfect for cutting wood and leather.
3. Quick Swap Tools
How do you change tools easily? It’s with the help of the QuickSwap system that only the Cricut Maker has. This system includes five tools that use the same housing so you don’t need to change housings every single time you use a different material.
What are the five tools? It’s the scoring tip, engraving tip, debossing tip, wavy blade, and the perforation blade. If you have no idea how to use them yet, you’re going to find out as you try different materials and designs in the Cricut Maker.
What Does the Explore Air 2 and the Cricut Maker Have in Common?
These two cutting machines have a lot of differences, but since they’re both Cricut machines, they still have some things in common.
One of their similarities is the software that they use for designing projects to cut. They both use Design Space, which is given for free whenever you purchase a Cricut cutting machine. Unfortunately, this software is the only program you can use if you want to load your designs to the cutting machine. Other software will not have the same compatibility.
Another similarity is the number of materials each cutting machine can cut through. If you thought the Explore Air 2 was no match for the Maker, think again. It can also cut through 100 different materials.
The two Cricut machines also come with 50 free projects. These projects usually don’t come for free, but since Cricut has pre-designed templates, you can load them and see them being cut right away. If you want more projects you can also subscribe to Cricut Access which is available for buyers of the Cricut Maker or the Explore Air 2.
And the best part? Both have a starter project that acts as your guide to using the Cricut machines. Even if you’re already familiar with how cutting machines work, having this first Project is a thoughtful gesture from Cricut.
Which One is Better?
The real question here is – which model to get. If the Cricut Maker has all the features of the Explore Air 2, then why not get it? Not so fast. The Cricut Maker comes with its own set of flaws, so you really have to compare these two before deciding. Here are some factors you can consider.
Both the Cricut Maker and the Explore Air 2 cut through 100 different materials. The main difference is that the latter can cut through the 100 most popular materials. This means that if there’s a certain wood you want to try but it’s not often used in crafts, chances are that the Explore Air 2 won’t be able to cut it. If you’re into more unique materials, then the Cricut Maker has the better edge on this one.
The only catch with the Cricut Maker is that it can only cut a depth of 2.4 mm which is not as different from the 2 mm depth of the Explore Air 2.
2. Compatible Tools
Based on the specs mentioned a while ago, the Cricut Maker is compatible with more tools and blades. This means that if you will use different materials, there’s a higher chance that you will be able to use the right blade to cut through it neatly.
The rotary blade and the knife blade are two great additions to the Cricut Maker that make people want to buy it. Couple that with the quick swap tools that come with two other blades.
And then you have technology. As a newer model, the Cricut Maker has a more advanced technology in its cutting system. The Adaptive Tool System is great for adjusting the pressure the blades put on the material. Why is pressure important? Without the right pressure, the accuracy of the cut won’t be spot on. This is something the Cricut Maker has mastered.
However, the Explore Air 2 ‘s Smart Set Dial technology is not so bad itself. It’s not as accurate, but it is able to do detailed cuts on a wide range of designs. If you’re worried that the Explore Air 2 is not the best in cutting, don’t be. All of Cricut’s cutting machines are done in high-quality anyway.
Which is more expensive? For obvious reasons, the Cricut Maker is the more expensive machine given that it has more features and compatibilities with other blades. It also uses a newer technology that goes beyond “smart’ cutting machines. However, just because it’s more expensive doesn’t mean that it’s better.
For some people the features of the Explore Air 2 are enough that they don’t need to buy a pricier cutting machine. Besides, if the Explore Air 2 cuts through the materials you want to use, why waste money on a more expensive device, right?
But if you plan on upgrading in a few months or years, then you might want to buy the Cricut Maker instead so you don’t have to end up with two cutting machines.
Last but not least is the design. For some, since they’re all cutting machines, it doesn’t really matter. But if you’re the type that takes into account what their crafting tools look, then you might want to know this.
The Explore Air 2 has a lot of colors in pastel shades. On the other hand, the Cricut Maker only has three – green, rose, and blue.
When it comes to storage space, the holders for your tools and blades are more spacious in the Cricut Maker than those in the Explore Air 2. In fact, in the Explore Air 2, you only have one holder for your blades and tools. In the Cricut Maker, you have two.
So which one is better? If you’re looking for versatility and features, the Cricut Maker definitely has the upper hand here. It cuts through so many different materials. Plus, it uses Adaptive Technology so that the blades’ pressure changes depending on the material. If you’re looking for an affordable cutting machine, then the Explore Air 2 is the more ideal model. It’s not as powerful as the Cricut Maker, but it’s definitely versatile and advanced for its price.