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Cricut Maker or Explore Air 2: Which Should You Buy?

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If you’re into crafting but haven’t yet taken the plunge and purchased an at-home cutting machine, I understand that the options out there can be a bit overwhelming.

Let’s take a minute to break down two of Cricut’s top-performing DIY cutting machines: the Cricut Maker and the Cricut Explore Air 2.

A quick note: This post contains affiliate links. Shopping through these links does not cost you anything additional but merchants may pay me a commission if or when you make a purchase.

Several Christmases ago, my mom gave me a Cricut Air and since then I’ve made…basically everything with it! Invitations, Valentine’s cards, bulletin boards, banners, iron-on transfers, permanent vinyl stickers for my husband’s office.

I love Cricut crafting, and I’m always thinking about upgrading, but I’m never sure which model to upgrade to. So when I came across a Cricut Maker on Amazon Prime Day, I decided to dig deeper into the two models to see which one I might want to purchase.

But before we get into the details of the Cricut Maker, let’s look at the Cricut Explore Air 2.

The Cricut Explore Air 2

The Cricut Explore Air 2 has a 12×12 inch cutting area. It’s earlier model, the Cricut Explore, has a cutting area that can be increased up to 12×24″, so I feel confident this one does as well.

The machine has three main functions — cut, print, and score — which will do most of the creative projects the average Crafty Crafter might have in mind.

The Explore Air 2 is compatible with over 100 different material types, ranging from thin vellum to thick cardstock and many different types of vinyl. I know that my machine has required me to make several passes when cutting certain kinds of materials, such as stretch vinyl or super thick cardstock, to ensure that all cuts are fully completed.

Choosing what material to use is incredibly simple with Cricut’s Design Studio tool, which both the Explore Air 2 and the Cricut Maker use.

While I don’t have any personal experience with the scoring tool, my favorite feature of the Cricut is the ability to use pens for “hand” drawn invitations and lettering, like the wraps I made for Joshua’s Chip Chip Hooray Valentine’s in 5th grade.

The ability to choose from 370 fonts — and add your own for completely custom designs — is what I love most about Cricut.

The Cricut Maker

The Cricut Maker also has a 12×12 inch cutting area, which is also most likely adjustable up to 12×24.

Where the Cricut Explore Air 2 will work on 100+ materials; the Cricut Maker will cut over 300.

That’s because the Cricut Maker is a pro-level cutter designed to take both a knife and a rotary blade meant for cutting fabrics. ::shocked face emoji:

I cannot machine sew to save my life; my mother got all of that talent. But hearing that the Cricut Maker can cut fabrics with a rotary blade makes me want this thing like whoa.

The craft ideas running through my head are wild: earrings, leather pendants, paper crafts, simple hand-sewing projects that I can teach Emma, like mini-purses and pillows and dresses for her dolls with each piece precision-cut!

For Amazon Prime Day, the difference between the two items is $100, making the Cricut Maker the obvious winner.

Don’t forget to add in a Cricut supply bundle to your cart so you’ll have some glitter vinyl and extra pens to get started with, no matter which Cricut you choose.

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