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Cricut Machine Comparison 2024: What You Need to Know!

Are you thinking about getting a Cricut or wondering which new Cricut machine to buy for a friend or family member? Picking the right Cricut to suit your needs can seem a bit overwhelming, but I’m here to help!

I have owned eight different Cricut cutting machines and I definitely think they are one of the best tools for crafters. I started with the Cricut Expression (back when you needed Cricut cartridges) over a decade ago, then moved up to the Cricut Explore Air, then the Cricut Explore Air 2, Cricut Maker, Cricut Joy, Cricut Maker 3, Cricut Explore 3 and now I have the Cricut Joy Xtra in my craft room.

So, I know all about the different Cricut machines and the biggest differences between them all. Because I love and use my Cricut all the time, Cricut sponsored this post and asked me to write a post explaining the differences between them to help you find the right Cricut machine.

Let’s talk about what each of these amazing vinyl cutting machines can do before you decide which Cricut is the right machine for you!

cricut machined comparison

As with any new hobby, there is a learning curve so be patient with yourself when learning to use a Cricut. You don’t want to start a small business right away. You’ll want to get to know your new machine and the design software before trying to make money from it.

All of the Cricut machines use Cricut Design Space software and the design space app, so you will need a computer, laptop, tablet, iPad, or smartphone to use any of them. Plus they all have Bluetooth connectivity.

Let’s start with the smallest Cricut machine (and cheapest) and go up from there!

cricut sizes

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from Shareasale, Cricut, Awin, CreativeFabrica, and Amazon.com. 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.

Cricut Joy Family

The Cricut Joy machines are smaller, but they are still great cutting machines since they can cut over 50 different materials.

size of different cricut models

The Joy and Joy Xtra are perfect for crafters who like to make small projects and have a small craft area.

cricut joy machine

Here is what I love about my Cricut Joy:

  • Cricut Joy is perfect for making cards! With the card mat and card inserts, card making is easy peasy!
  • The Cricut Joy can use the writing function, has a foil kit, can cut Infusible Ink, and has its own line of Joy materials.
  • The best thing about the Cricut Joy is that it’s so much smaller than the larger machines and does not take up much room.
  • With the Joy smart material, you can cut very long material but only 5.5 inches wide.
  • The Joy is not able to use the print then cut function so you won’t be able to make stickers with your own designs.

Because of the lack of the print and cut feature, Cricut came out with its newest machines – the Cricut Joy Xtra. These machines are a bit bigger than the compact Joy, but not even close to the size of the bigger machines.

cricut joy xtra
cricut joy vs xtra

The Cricut Joy Xtra has its own line and size of new materials like smart iron-on, Infusible Ink, smart vinyl, sticker paper, and more because of its unique size.

cricut joy xtra info

But it shares the Cricut joy fine point blade, Cricut Joy markers and pens, and the foil transfer kit.

But now you can make your own stickers and other print then cut projects using your home inkjet printer (a Cricut can not print!). The maximum size on the Joy Xtra is larger than the Joy and I love that it US Letter and A4 (8.5×11 inch) paper size.

cricut model comparison

The cutting mat that you use for the Joy Xtra is specific to this machine and for using 8.5×11 inch material (like the printable vinyl and sticker paper!).

Cricut Explore Family

Now let’s move up in size and price point. If you want the option of cutting bigger and more materials (over 100 materials!), this next family of machines might be for you.

We are talking about the Cricut Explore series. As of writing this Cricut comparison, there are two Cricut Explore machines available in this family – the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Cricut Explore 3.

cricut explore air ()

When you are comparing the Explore Air 2 and the new Explore 3, the first thing you’ll notice is that the look of the machine has changed.

The Explore 2 has a smart set dial and a cartridge port.

cricut explore air setting wheel

While the new Cricut Explore 3 looks more like the Cricut Maker in that there is no dial or cartridge part (for adding old cartridges into CDS). All the material settings are controlled by the software itself. 

  • Cricut Explore Air 2 – This is a great machine. It is their most popular Cricut machine that can make so many different projects.
  • Cricut Explore 3 – The new Cricut machine in the Explore line is more expensive. This machine is built for speed and more cutting options. The main difference is that the Circut Explore Air 3 can cut without a cutting mat with the new Smart materials, which means long cuts and is twice as fast as the Explore 2 on faster cutting speed. Plus you can use the vinyl roll holder with it.
new cricut comparison

These machines can cut up to 100 different materials including vinyl, iron-on vinyl, paper, cardstock, bonded fabric, cork, and much more!

This family of vinyl cutting machines can use the fine point blade, deep point blade, scoring stylus, foil transfer tool, and pens/markers.

cricut comparison all machines

The Cricut Explore Air 2 is a great starting machine. It is definitely more affordable than the new Explore 3 and Maker line.  

Cricut Maker Family

Now we are getting to the machine that has the most versatility on the types of projects you can make.

cricut maker project ideas

The Cricut Maker machines can cut much thicker materials and offer much more extensive cutting abilities with the adaptive tool system.  

cricut maker comparison

The adaptive tool system consists of different blades and tips that you can switch out with just one housing (save money!).

cricut maker adaptive tool system

As of now, the available tools that work with both the Cricut Maker and the new Cricut Maker 3 are the fine-point blade, double scoring wheel, knife blade (for thicker materials like chipboard and bass wood), rotary blade (for fabric), debossing tip, engraving tip, perforation blade, and wavy blade.

cricut maker vs

The Maker does all the same things as the Cricut Explore Family, plus a bunch more.

The biggest difference is that it cuts over 300 different materials including thicker materials such as tons of different fabrics, chipboard, balsa wood, and leather.

cricut maker cutting fabric

The newer Cricut Maker 3 is faster than the original Maker and can use the new Smart Materials including Smart Iron-on, Smart Vinyl, and Smart Paper.

cricut maker smart vinyl

Cricut Machine Comparison Checklist

When deciding between the machines, think about the following things before you make the final decision:

1. What are you wanting to cut?

  • Mainly vinyl, iron-on vinyl, insert cards, and cardstock = Explore Air 2, Explore 3 or Joy or Joy Xtra
  • A ton of different materials including very fine paper, fabric to thicker materials = Maker or Maker 3
making cards with cricut machines

2. Are you wanting a machine for fabric cutting?

  • Not really. Maybe just bonded fabric = Explore Air 2 or Explore 3
  • Yes!! I want to be able to cut patterns out of hundreds of different types of fabric = Maker or Maker 3
  • The Joy can not cut fabric.
cricut felt

3.  Are you wanting a huge variety of blades and tips to use?

  • No, I just need the standard cutting blade, a deep-cut blade, and a scoring stylus = Explore Air 2 or Explore 3
  • No, I just the standard blade and to be able to use pens to write = Joy or Joy Xtra
  • Yes, I want to be able to engrave, cut thick material like chipboard and balsa wood, deboss, and so much more = Maker or Maker 3
cricut maker knife blade

4. What craft are you wanting to make the most?

  • Custom cards, personalized tshirtsmugstumblerslabels, small projects, anything with vinyl or iron-on on it = Joy
  • All of the above plus a bit bigger projects including stickers and other print then cut projects = Joy Xtra
  • Personalized Tshirts, signs, mugs, tumblers, tiles, cards, stencils, totes, anything will vinyl on it, anything with iron-on vinyl, print and cut projects, draw projects, Infusible Ink projects.  Everything in my Ultimate Guide of Cricut Ideas list was made with an Explore = Explore Air 2
  • All of the above plus the ability to use Smart Materials without cutting mats (can make cuts up to 21 feet long!)= Explore 3
  • All of the above plus sewing projects, 3D projects, engraved acrylic, chipboard decor, balsa wood projects, debossed cards, leather projects (wide variety of materials!).  Make sure to check out all of these amazing Cricut Maker projects to get an idea = Maker
  • All the above plus the ability to use Smart Materials and want the fastest machine = Cricut Maker 3
cricut machine comparison

5. Is cost or space a factor?

  • If you are limited on space to make craft projects and on money = Cricut Joy
  • If you are on a limited budget and just need a great vinyl cutting machine to start a side business or to craft your little heart out = Explore Family
  • If you can afford the extra cost and want the latest in cutting machine technology and the best Cricut machine = Cricut Maker 3
cricut sizes

I hope that now you know the main differences between the Cricut Joy series, Cricut Explore family and the Cricut Maker line and that you have a better understanding of which Cricut to buy and which Cricut would suit your needs best!

If you have made up your mind and are ready to buy one of the best tools for crafters, hop on over to buy a Cricut Explore, a Cricut Joy, or to buy a Cricut Maker!

If you have any questions about these amazing cutting machines and which is the right machine for you, please email me at amy@leapoffaithcrafting.com. And remember there is a learning curve with any new machine, so give yourself grace!

Thanks so much for stopping by and have a creative day!

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