Cricut Maker vs Cricut Explore Air 2 (2020): Should You Upgrade?

Whether you’re a new crafter who’s thinking of buying a Cricut machine in 2020 or you already own the Explore Air 2 and are contemplating upgrading to the flagship Cricut Maker, this will hopefully 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 this 2020.

Cricut Maker vs. Cricut Explore Air 2 Comparison Chart

ModelCricut Maker MachineCricut Explore Air 2
Cricut MakerExplore Air 2
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
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″ FabricGrip™ 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.

RELATED  Cricut Maker Bundle vs Cricut Machine Only (2020): Is The Maker + Everything Bundle Worth It?

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?

RELATED  Cricut EasyPress vs EasyPress 2 (2020): Worth The Upgrade?

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

Cricut Maker Machine

Cricut Explore Air 2

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 this 2020.

Rhodaline Escala-Phelps
Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

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