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Cricut Maker 3 vs Cricut Maker (2021): Comparing the New to the Tried-And-Tested Cutting Machine

The Cricut Maker 3’s release date has long passed, and the company has delivered on its promise of a newer and better cutting machine. But exactly how much better is it? For one thing, it’s faster than before, and it’s also compatible with Smart Materials. Elsewhere, there’s not much of a difference, but improvements are improvements.

We compare the Cricut Maker 3 to the original Cricut Maker to clear up how it builds on its predecessor and to help you make a more informed buying decision. And before anyone asks, no, there isn’t a Cricut Maker 2. Coming straight from the horse’s mouth, it’s because it was launched alongside the Cricut Explore 3 and it was just simpler to call it Cricut Maker 3.

Cricut Maker 3 vs Cricut Maker Comparison Chart

ModelCricut Maker 3Cricut Maker
 Cricut Maker 3Cricut Maker, Champagne
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Cutting Speed2x faster than the Cricut MakerStandard
Smart Materials CompatibleYesNo
Max Materials Width12 inches or 13 inches with Smart Materials12 inches
Max Cut Length12 ft1.9 ft
Compatible Materials300+300+
Adaptive Tool SystemYesYes
Compatible Tools1313
Double Tool HolderYesYes
ColorsBlueBlue, Champagne, Lilac, Mint, Rose

Design

The Cricut Maker 3 has a few but noticeable design changes from the Cricut Maker.

Cricut Maker 3 vs Cricut Maker Design
A closer look at the tool housing of the Cricut Maker 3 (left) and Cricut Maker (right).

In terms of appearance, the Cricut Maker 3 shares a lot of similarities with the original Cricut Maker, but there are a few differences here and there. For one thing, the Go Button on it is now a play icon rather than a C, and on its tool holder, it reads “Cricut Maker 3” instead of “Cricut Maker Adaptive Tool System.” Their load/unload mat buttons also look different, but they work the same.

The power ports of the Cricut Maker 3 and Cricut Maker aren’t the same, and their cables aren’t interchangeable either. That’s because the former has a new power adapter with higher amperage.

At the time of writing, the Cricut Maker 3 only has one color option, a sort of light blue. Hopefully, that’ll change sometime in the near future. After all, the Cricut Maker is available in blue, champagne, lilac, mint, and rose.

Performance

The Cricut Maker 3 can cut two times faster than the Cricut Maker.

Cricut Maker 3 vs Cricut Maker Performance
The Cricut Maker 3 (in photo) has a cutting speed that’s up to two times faster than its predecessor.

The biggest distinction between the two is that the Cricut Maker 3 can cut up to two times faster than the original. That comes in handy since it can potentially reduce the time needed for cutting projects by half. Just imagine that you can do a whole day’s worth of tasks in only half a day, or even better, you can increase overall production by twofold.

Elsewhere, they’re pretty much the same, from their commercial-grade cutting technology to cutting force (10 times more powerful than the Cricut Explore range, as Cricut puts it), meaning they can more or less cut the same materials. The same goes for their free design app for Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS and their connectivity options, namely Bluetooth and USB.

Materials

The Cricut Maker 3 is compatible with Smart Materials, while the Cricut Maker isn’t.

Cricut Maker 3 vs Cricut Maker Materials
The Cricut Maker 3 (left) can use Smart Materials aside from all the standard materials the Cricut Maker (right) can use.

Like the Cricut Maker, the new Cricut Maker 3 is also compatible with more than 300 materials. That includes balsa wood, fabric, vinyl, and leather, to name a couple. 

However, only the Cricut Maker 3 works with what Cricut calls Smart Materials. For the uninitiated, they’re basically materials that don’t need a cutting mat. Thanks to that, the machine can cut up to 13 inches in width and 12 ft in length as opposed to the Cricut Maker only going up to 12 inches and 1.9 ft, respectively. It’s worth mentioning that the new Cricut Explore Air 3 can use Smart Materials too.

Now Cricut Maker 3 bundle options include Everything Materials Bundle and Essentials Materials Bundle, similar to Cricut Maker bundles. When it comes to their standard packages, Cricut includes materials for practice projects so you’d have what you need to get started out of the box. They’re not the same, though, as the Cricut Maker 3 is packed with a sheet of Smart Sticker Cardstock, Smart Vinyl, and Smart Iron-On and Transfer Tape, obviously to let users test out Smart Materials right away.

Click here to see our comparison between the Cricut Explore 3 and Maker 3.

Tools

The Cricut Maker 3 and Cricut Maker are compatible with the same tools.

Cricut Maker 3 vs Cricut Maker Tools
The Cricut Maker 3 (left) and Cricut Maker (right) can use the same blades, tips, and more.

Both cutting machines feature Cricut’s Adaptive Tool System and Double Tool Holder. They also work with the same tools, including the Knife Blade, Rotary Blade, Fine-Point Blade, Wavy Blade, Deep-Point Blade, Bonded-Fabric Blade, and Scoring Wheels. There’s also the Debossing Tip, Engraving Tip, Pens & Markers, Perforation Tools, and Foil Transfer Tool. In short, anything you can do on the older Cricut Maker, you’d be able to do so as well on the newer Cricut Maker 3.

As for what tools are included with the machines, the Cricut Maker has a Rotary Blade + Drive Housing, Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing, black Fine Point Pen, 12” x 12” FabricGrip Machine Mat, and 12” x 12” LightGrip Machine Mat. The Cricut Maker 3 only comes with a Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing, but as mentioned earlier, it’s bundled with Smart Materials, so there’s that.

Verdict

It’s clear that the Cricut Maker 3 is better than the Cricut Maker, but it’s not exactly a worthwhile upgrade for hobbyists who already own the original model.

The Cricut Maker 3’s price isn’t far off from the Cricut Maker, but is it worth the upgrade? Besides Smart Materials compatibility, the only advantage of the Cricut Maker 3 is faster cutting speeds, and if you aren’t churning out one project after another, then that doesn’t really matter.

Instead of declaring a winner, it’d be better to say that the Cricut Maker 3 is better suited for businesses that have a huge load of projects every day. On the other hand, the Cricut Maker is more than enough for hobbyists and even small businesses, and in that case, trading up to the newer model doesn’t seem worthwhile.

FAQs

📌 Is the Cricut Maker 3 worth the money?

Yes, the Cricut Maker 3 has up to two times the cutting speed as the previous iteration, and it’s also compatible with Smart Materials, which are materials that don’t require a cutting mat.

📌 Is the Cricut Maker 3 worth the upgrade from the Cricut Maker?

It depends. If you’re using the Cricut Maker for your business, then the Cricut Maker 3 can do wonders because of its faster cutting speed, but if not, then the original model is already enough for DIYers.

📌 Is there a Cricut Maker 3 bundle?

Yes, the Cricut Maker 3 has two bundles available: the Everything Materials Bundle and Essentials Materials Bundle.

📌 Where’s the Cricut Maker 2?

Cricut skipped the Cricut Maker 2 moniker because it was released at the same time as the Cricut Explore 3, and it was easier to simply call it the Cricut Maker 3, according to the company.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.