Cricut is a household name in the crafting world with many serious crafters owning a Cricut machine or two in their art room. Out of the cutting machines it has released in the past few years, which Cricut machine is best? We compare its flagship Cricut Maker and its predecessors, the Explore Air 2 and Explore Air, to help you pick which one to gift yourself in 2020.
The Best Cricut Machine (2020): Maker vs Explore Line Comparison Chart
|Model||Cricut Maker||Cricut Explore Air 2||Cricut Explore Air|
|Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
|Major Upgrades From Its Predecessor||Cutting power and the Adaptive Tool System||Up to 2x faster and has more color options||Bluetooth and dual carriage|
|Cutting Force||4000 grams||400 grams||400 grams|
|Max Cutting Size||12 x 24 in||12 x 24 in||12 x 24 in|
|Adaptive Tool System||Yes||No||No|
|Colors||Blue, Lilac, Champagne, Mint, White, Rose||Blue, Cherry Blossom, Matte Black, Twilight, Mint, Persimmon, Rose||Blue|
|Software||Design Space||Design Space||Design Space|
|Free Ready-To-Make Projects||50 plus 25 sewing patterns||50||50|
|Included Tools||Rotary Blade, Fine-Point Blade, Fine Point Pen, 12″ x 12″ FabricGrip™ and 12″ x 12″ LightGrip machine mats||Fine-Point Blade, Fine-Point Pen, 12″ x 12″ LightGrip machine mat||Fine-Point Blade, Fine-Point Pen,12″ x 12″ LightGrip machine mat|
|Compatible Tools||All the tools available for the Explore Air 2 plus the following:|
Single Scoring Wheel
Double Scoring Wheel
Fine Debossing Tip
|Deep Point Blade|
Bonded Fabric Blade
|Scoring Stylus, Deep-Point Blade, Bonded Fabric Blade, Cricut Pens|
Downward Force and Speed
The Cricut Maker is the most powerful and versatile machine
Dubbed as the “ultimate cutting machine,” the Cricut Maker provides significant upgrades from its predecessor that make it worth switching to this newer model. It has up to 4000 grams of downward cutting force which makes it 10x more powerful than the Explore Air 2 and Explore Air. Using its compatible blades, the Maker lets you cut through leatherette, balsa wood, chipboards felt, fabric, and other materials that are up to 2.4mm thick.
Both the Explore Air 2 and the Explore Air have up to 400 grams of cutting force and though not as powerful as the Cricut Maker, these machines can still cut through around a hundred material types. If you don’t cut wood or thick fabric often, these Cricut machines can still cut through most cardstocks, vinyl iron-ons, and bonded fabric with great precision.
As for speed, the Cricut Maker and the Explore Air 2 are equipped with the Fast Mode feature and can cut and write twice as fast as the older Explore Air. Perhaps the major difference of the Explore Air 2 from the Explore Air is the speed. If you create quite a lot of projects using your Cricut, the Fast Mode makes a big difference and saves you a lot of time.
You can read our more detailed comparison chart of the Cricut Maker and Explore Air 2 here.
The Explore Air models have the same compatible tools while the Cricut Maker has the most compatible tools and materials
At a lower price tag, the Cricut Explore Air 2 and Cricut Explore Air are equipped to cut, write, and score a hundred or so materials through its compatible tools: the Fine-Point Blade, Deep-Point Blade, Bonded Fabric Blade, Scoring Stylus, and Cricut Pens. If you are a casual crafter, these are highly reliable and capable Cricut machines.
Meanwhile, with the new Adaptive Tool System of the Cricut Maker, the possibilities are endless. This feature is designed with expansion in mind. With this, you can take advantage of all of the future crafting tools that Cricut will release. This is not possible with the Explore line. In 2019 alone, Cricut released four new tools that many crafters are already raving about. This feature alone makes the Maker the best Cricut machine. What else will be released in 2020? It’s definitely something we are looking forward to.
You can read more about how the Cricut machines stack up against other machines here.
They differ in color options, tool compartments, and material dial
Throughout the years, Cricut has successfully released some of the most stylish and sleek die-cutting machines in the market. They do not take up much space and their Bluetooth wireless capability makes it easier for you to position them in your craft room.
Among the major differences between these three Cricut machines are the colors (see comparison chart for available colors), storage space, and the material dial.
Both the Explore Air 2 and Explore Air have a material dial found at the top right of the machine, a pen and stylus compartment on the left, and a tool drawer at the base. On the other hand, for the Cricut Maker, you can change the material settings in the software as it does not have the dial its predecessors have. It also has a deeper tool tray at the base of the machine and two compartments on the left for even more tool storage.
The Cricut Maker is the best overall, but the Explore Air models are still great machines for beginners and intermediate crafters
Cricut Explore Air 2
Cricut Explore Air
The Cricut Maker may be at the pricier end of the spectrum, but this machine is packed with features that makes it worth the investment. If you are a more advanced, professional crafter who works on a lot of projects using denser materials, this is the best Cricut machine for you. Even if you are not yet an expert crafter but see yourself advancing your techniques in the future, the Maker’s Adaptive Tool System lets you expand your tools as you grow as a crafter.
For the more casual crafters who want to save a smidge, the Explore Air 2 and Explore Air are well-built and reliable machines that will let you do a wide range of projects at a lower cost. Which should you choose between the two though? As the price difference between these Cricut machines is around 50 USD (at the time of writing), you can decide by considering whether the Fast Mode and choosing a color that you like is worth paying the difference.