We are reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Cricut Maker vs Cricut Explore Air 2 (2021): Should You Upgrade?

Whether you’re a new crafter who’s thinking of buying a Cricut machine or you already own the Explore Air 2 and are contemplating upgrading to the flagship Cricut Maker, this in-depth comparison will be helpful for you. Should you invest in the top-of-the-line Cricut Maker or save and get the Cricut Explore Air 2 instead? We look at their different features to help you choose which Cricut cutting machine to add to your craft room.

Cricut Maker vs. Cricut Explore Air 2 Comparison Chart

ModelCricut Maker MachineCricut Explore Air 2
 Cricut Maker
PriceCheck Price

at Amazon

Check Price

at Cricut.com

Adaptive Tool SystemYesNo
SoftwareDesign SpaceDesign Space
Max Cutting Force4000 g400 g
BladeRotary Blade, Fine-Point BladeFine-Point Blade
ColorsBlue, Lilac, Champagne, Mint, White, RoseBlue, Cherry Blossom, Lilac, Matte Black, Twilight, Mint, Persimmon, Rose
Cutting Mat12″ x 12″ FabricGripβ„’ and LightGrip machine mats12″ x 12″ LightGrip Machine Mat
Compatible ToolsAll the tools available for the Explore Air 2 plus the following:
Rotary Blade
Knife Blade
Single and Double Scoring Wheels Wavy Blade
Perforation Blade
Fine Debossing Tip
Engraving Tip
Fine Point Blade
Deep Point Blade
Bonded Fabric Blade
Scoring Stylus
Cricut Pens

Exterior Design

The Cricut Maker has a sleeker design and more storage while the Cricut Explore Air 2 is lighter and has more color options


The Cricut Maker has a cleaner, sleeker design than the Explore Air 2. It is mostly white and only has four buttons while the Explore still has the materials dial at the top. There is also more storage space available on the Cricut Maker. It has deeper pockets and trays than the Explore Air 2, something you will really appreciate once you start buying more tools for its Adaptive Tool System. To further maximize storage space, the Cricut Maker also has a device docking station where you can put your tablet while working.

As for colors, the Explore Air 2 has more choices, including stunning colors like matte black and persimmon. It is also lighter, so if you like taking your cutting machine with you to craft events or a friend’s house, the Explore Air 2 is more easily portable than the Maker.

Downward Cutting Force

The Cricut Maker has 10x the downward force of the Cricut Explore Air 2

cricut maker vs explore air 2
With more power comes greater possibilities to craft with more materials

If you are more of a paper crafter and typically cut cardstocks, vinyl, iron-on, and do not mind the extra effort of bonding and stabilizing when you want to cut fabric, the Explore Air 2 will just be fine. Since the Cricut Maker has 10x the pressure though, it allows you to easily cut materials–from the more delicate crepe paper, and lace to denser materials such as leather, balsa wood, felt, heavy-duty chipboards, and the like. You no longer have to worry about your blade getting stuck simply because the fabric was not stabilized enough.

Machine Tools

The Cricut Maker‘s Adaptive Tool System is a game-changer

The Rotary Blade of the Cricut Maker can cut through thicker materials that the Explore 2 cannot

To make a long story short, the Cricut Maker allows you to do more things through its Adaptive Tool System, a feature that the Explore Air 2 does not have. What is that, you ask? This tool system lets you upgrade to the Maker-only tools that Cricut will release or has released. In 2019 alone, Cricut released the following tools: Engraving Tip, Fine Debossing Tip, Double and Single Scoring Wheels, Perforation Blade, and Wavy Blade. Imagine what else will be released in 2020 and beyond?

The Cricut Maker‘s Rotary Blade and Knife Blade have created possibilities for cutting more fabric materials, so those who like sewing and DIY-ing will enjoy the wide array of sewing patterns available in Design Space.


The Cricut Maker is worth investing in, but the Cricut Explore Air 2 is still a solid cutting machine for those on a budget

With all the possibilities that come with the Adaptive Tool System of the Cricut Maker, it is hands down worth investing in. If you like sewing, leather-making, or crafting 3D projects and DIY stuff, the Cricut Maker will be a great partner. It is incredibly powerful and imagining what other tools you can use in conjunction with in the future is exciting.

If you feel like you will not need the Adaptive Tool System and will stick to cutting vinyl, paper, and iron-on, the Explore Air 2 is still a solid choice as cutting machine goes. Just take note that if you ever change your mind and want to upgrade to the Cricut Maker, the Explore Air 2 will have much less value when you want to sell it.

Whether you decide to get the Cricut Maker or save a smidge and get the Cricut Explore Air 2, we’re sure you will enjoy crafting with these machines.


πŸ“Œ Which is better, the Cricut maker or the Cricut Explore Air 2?

Specifications-wise, the Cricut Maker is clearly better than the Explore Air 2. It has better cutting power and can cut a wider range of materials than the Explore Air 2. However, if you’re still new to crafting and still want to test the waters, the Cricut Explore Air 2 will probably be a better fit for you.

πŸ“Œ What can the Cricut Maker do that the Explore Air 2 can’t?

Quite a lot. The cutting force of the Cricut Maker is ten times more powerful than the Explore Air 2’s and that alone allows the Maker to cut thicker materials. In addition, the Cricut Maker features an Adaptive Tool System, which makes the Maker compatible with crafting tools and blades that Cricut will release in the future.

πŸ“Œ How long do Cricut blades last?

It depends on how often you cut and the type of materials you typically cut. In general, a Cricut blade can last several months before it gets dull and requires sharpening. One of the best ways to sharpen your Cricut blade and prolong its life is through sticking the blade in a ball of tin foil for about 50 times.

πŸ“Œ Is the Cricut Explore Air 2 worth it?

If you like to take crafting to a new level, yes it is. You can use the Cricut Explore Air 2 to cut various materials, including heat transfer vinyl, iron-on, bonded fabric, and more.

RELATED  Cricut EasyPress vs EasyPress 2 (2021): Worth The Upgrade?
Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

Managing Editor and Team Leader at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about people, product comparisons, culture, and current events.