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Cricut Explore 3 Unboxing and Set Up Guide!

Learn all about Cricut Explore 3 as we unbox the cutting machine and set it up for the first time. See you easy it is!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Cricut. However, all opinions are my own.

Are you thinking about getting a Cricut machine or did you already get the Cricut Explore 3 and it’s still sitting in the box?? Well, no matter where you are at, you are in the right place!

Today we are going to deep dive into the world of the Cricut Explore 3!

This is a brand new Cricut cutting machine for me, so I’m going to walk you step by step through what’s in the Cricut Explore 3 box to how to activate the machine and start crafting!

unboxing cricut explore

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from Shareasale, Cricut, Awin, CreativeFabrica, and I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my links (purple text). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

How Much Will I End up Paying when Using a Cricut?

First, let me try to answer some questions you might have if you are new to the wonderful world of Cricut. If you are new here, you might not know my history with the Cricut machines.

I started with my first Cricut (Cricut Expression) over ten years ago – long before I started blogging! There was no Cricut Design Space back then and you needed cartridges for everything so it ended up being a lot more expensive.

The amazing thing to me is the price of the machines hasn’t gone up much in the past decade. I remember paying $250 for a machine and then each cartridge was $15-60, that added up quickly!!

The machines have changed so much and they are so much easier to use nowadays and with not needing cartridges or paying for software, it is a lot cheaper!

I mention the cost because the initial investment is one of the big hesitations I hear from people when they are thinking about purchasing a machine.

cricut explore unboxing

You might be asking yourself, how much will it really cost me to own a Cricut? Are there more things I need to pay for when I first start using the machine?

Let’s think about this:

  • Cricut machine – let’s use the Cricut Explore 3 as an example. I would recommend always waiting until the machine is on sale! There are lots of sales throughout the year, so if money is an issue, purchase during a sale or consider a machine bundle (more on this later). The regular price of the machine right now is $319, but you could get it on sale from $279-299 during regular sales and even cheaper during big sales like Black Friday.
  • You will also need some tools and materials to use. This is going to vary greatly on the type of craft projects you want to make with your machine. A lot of people start off making vinyl projects with both adhesive vinyl and/or iron-on vinyl. The average cost of rolls of vinyl is probably $3-12 and then more for bulk vinyl or long rolls.
  • With the Cricut Explore 3 and Cricut Maker 3, you can use Smart Materials that can come in rolls up to 21 feet! The benefit of being able to use Smart Materials is that you don’t need a cutting mat and you can cut things longer than 24 inches (which is what the longest cutting mat is).
cricut explore smart materials
  • I’d still recommend getting a few Cricut mats to use with other materials and scrap pieces. Mats will vary with sales also, I’ve gotten a pack for $6 but usually between $10-20. There are various mat sizes so make sure you get the correct one for your machine! The Explore 3 uses the standard 12×12 and 12×24 green, blue, pink, and purple cutting mats.
  • You will also need a few tools. The basic tool set has everything you need to get started and depending on sales, you can purchase one for $15-28.
  • So let’s round up to be on the safe side. You’re looking to spend around $300 (machine)+50 (materials) + $20 (mats) + $25 (tools) = $395 to get started with the Cricut Explore 3 if tools and materials are not on sale.

This is where purchasing machine bundles can save you some money! As I look at right now, they have an Essentials bundle that includes the machine plus:

  • Everyday Iron-On Sampler, Elegance
  • Premium Vinyl Sampler Removable, Elegance
  • Transfer Tape
  • True Control Knife, Blue
  • Cutting Mat Variety Pack, 12 in x 12 in (3 pack)
  • Tools Basic Set
  • Portable Trimmer
  • Monthly subscription to Cricut Access Standard (First month included)*

For only $339!! That’s a huge savings and you get the trimmer and true control knife too (two of my favorite Cricut tools!)

So if you are still looking to purchase a machine, I would recommend finding a bundle to save money! You can check out the bundles available at here.

I’d also recommend checking out different stores like Amazon, Joann, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, and Target. They all carry Cricut machines and might have a better sale going on or a bundle that would work better for your needs.

Then of course, venturing out into different materials like cards and the card mat, Infusible Ink, pens and markers, and cardstock will cost more but that doesn’t need to be purchased all at once and only if you want to start making those particular Cricut projects.

cricut explore first time

That initial purchase can seem hefty, I know it took me a while to build up to buy one but I have saved so much money over the years with all of the personalized gifts and decor that I have made with it!

Plus crafting is an outlet for my anxiety and I love having something that can bring me so much joy and calmness!

Do I Need to Pay to Use a Cricut?

The short answer to this is NO. Cricut Design Space is completely free to use. Design Space is Cricut’s software that you will download and use to make all your Cricut crafts.

You don’t need to pay to download and use Cricut Design Space.

Cricut Access is different than the actual software and this is what people will be talking about when they say they have to pay a subscription to use a Cricut.

Cricut Design Space by itself gives you free access to about a thousand images, basic shapes, about 15 Cricut fonts, and a la carte digital purchases.

However, you can purchase a standard subscription or premium subscription for under $10/month that gives you Cricut access, or access to everything in Cricut’s library. Hundreds of thousands of images, hundreds of fonts, and thousands of ready to make projects.

There are still a few images not included in Cricut Access, which are usually licensed images from Disney or Marvel, but everything else is included.


Cricut Access is completely optional. If you like to design your own SVG files or upload fonts or free SVG files you find online, you probably won’t need it.

However, if you want everything right at your fingertips and not have to search the entire internet for a specific SVG, then purchasing Cricut Access is probably worth it. I honestly love having Cricut Access, I use it all the time!

I didn’t get it for the first few years to save money, and now I can’t believe I went that long without having it! There are so many amazing projects and files included that one of the downsides is that there might be too many and can be hard to pick!

For those of us who started out with cartridges, know that $100/year for over 500,000 images is super cheap and worth it! Just think of it as the same price as two coffees a month and how much more you get out of it than the calories of those coffees, lol!

What Comes in the Cricut Box?

Ok, so let’s unbox the Cricut Explore 3 and find out what’s included in the box. The box is even pretty!

cricut explore box new

When you first open the box, you’ll find an envelope, a few materials, and a foam wrapped machine.

what comes with cricut explore

After you remove the Cricut machine from the box, you’ll see the power cord and USB cord at the bottom of the box.

whats in cricut explore box

Remove all the padding and plastic wrap from the machine to get started with it!

whats in cricut explore box

The Cricut envelope contains a green Welcome card that states the website to activate the machine and also includes a piece of Smart Vinyl in black to make your first cut.

The material pack included in the Cricut Explore 3 box contains 4 sheets of materials for practice cuts: Black Smart Iron-On, white Smart Paper Sticker Cardstock, black removable Smart vinyl, and a transfer tape sheet that you’ll use for adhesive vinyl.

getting started with cricut

The power cord plugs into the back of the machine. You’ll only need to the USB cable if you don’t want to use the Bluetooth wireless technology.

cricut explore power cord

There are only a few buttons on the machine itself which makes it very user friendly!

Once you plug in the power cord to an outlet, you can turn the machine on by pressing the power button on the right side of the machine.

cricut explore power button

Then press the button to open the machine on the left side (it has four raised dots).

open button explore

The top will lift and the bottom flap will open and lay flat on your table. The cutting part of the machine with the fine point housing blade in Clamp B and Clamp A (which is used for Cricut pens and markers) is now visible.

unbox cricut explore

Make sure to remove the foam under the clamps!

To remove the fine point blade housing, open Clamp B and remove the entire silver housing. You’ll only need to remove this if you are replacing the blade or inserting a different housing such as the foil tip or deep housing blade.

fine point blade housing

The blade is inside at bottom and you’ll see a very small sharp blade sticking out.

Place the housing back in the B clamp, and push the latch closed.

loading blade in cricut explore

There are also blade holders and a tool tray if you open up the compartments. If you have extra housings and tips like the foil transfer blade and deep cut housing you can store them in here.

cricut explore tool holder

Activating a new Cricut

Now that the machine is out of the box, let’s activate it! Go to on a desktop or tablet or smartphone and you’ll get this screen. Click on Cutting Machine on the left.


And you’ll get this screen.

If you haven’t already, download Cricut Design Space for Windows, Mac, or the Cricut Design Space app and create a free account.


One of the many reasons I love the Cricut brand is they make it as easy as possible to set up the machines. The software provides step by step instructions along with pictures and videos to help us!

If you are brand new, register for a new free account. Then follow all the prompts.

If you already have an account and just setting up a machine, you can always click on the three hamburger lines in the top left corner or your profile image and you’ll get a drop down screen. Choose Machine Setup.

cricut machine setup

On the next screen of my iPad, I choose Cricut Explore 3 since that’s the machine I am setting up.

cricut explore set up

Then I just followed all the onscreen prompts to finish setting up the machine. I chose Bluetooth and made sure Bluetooth was turned ON on my iPad and let the Cricut find the tablet.

Once the Explore3-ED5F popped up, I clicked on it to continue.

connecting cricut to bluetooth

And then accepted Cricut Terms and Conditions and clicked on Activate.

activate cricut help

That’s it! We are ready to go and make our first cut on the Cricut Explore 3. Cricut design space even prompts me to test my machine!

Using a Cricut For the First Time

So now we are going to follow all the on screen prompts to make our first cut with the material provided in the envelope. Click on Next.

cricut explore test

Now you’ll want to load your Smart vinyl into the machine. Place the piece of vinyl flat, under the guides on each side, and push up to the rollers.

cricut explore guide

Click on the flashing arrow button on the right side of the machine. This is the load button and the machine will pull the material into the machine on its own.

cricut explore load button

Design Space reminds you have to have enough room behind the Cricut because the material feeds through the backside.

cricut explore first cut

Now that the material is loaded Design Space is telling us to push the button with a triangle on it (this is the Go button). I love all the pictures that help us walk through these steps!

On my screen, the triangle button is actually flashing so I know exactly which on needs to be pushed!

cricut explore

The button will also flash on the machine itself, making figuring out which button needs to be pressed beginner friendly.

cricut go button

Now the Cricut will do it’s thing! It does all the cutting for us and once it’s done cutting the digital file, the machine will pause and the load (arrows) button will start blinking again. Press the button to unload the material.

cricut explore unboxing

The next step is to use a weeding tool to remove the excess vinyl. So for this partricular image, I use scissors or a trimmer to cut close to the image so I can save the extra vinyl.

Then with a weeding tool, I removed the vinyl around the rectangle and the letters inside. You can learn all about weeding (or removing excess vinyl) on my tutorial here.

first cut cricut

And we’re left with a vinyl decal that is now ready to apply to a tumbler with the transfer tape included or anywhere we want!

cricut explore beginners

A lot of the time, just making that first cut is the hardest so it’s so nice the machine prompts you and gives the materials needed to cross that hurdle!

Then to help us even more, there is a ton of support in Design Space itself to learn more about using the software and machine itself.

On the left side of Design Space, you can click on Cricut Learn which takes you to a bunch of tutorials. Or you can always check out my getting started with Cricut Design Space series on YouTube here.


There are also a ton of great Facebook groups out there for Cricut owners and lovers and crafters are always willing to help others. The Cricut community is pretty amazing and super helpful!

I will be having a few more posts all about the Cricut Explore 3 and making a few Cricut projects with it so stay tuned!

I hope this unboxing of the Cricut Explore 3 post helped answer some of your questions about what you are getting into and setting the machine up for the first time!

Thanks for stopping by and have a creative day!

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