A good die cutter is one of the most beneficial tools any artisan scrapbooker or designer can possess. However, with so many models and brands available for purchase, it is hard to decide which one to choose. After testing a number of die cutters, we have discovered that all of the machines available on the market are, in fact, slightly different from one another.
Below you can read about the advantages and disadvantages of each of these machines so that you can pick the one which is most appropriate for your personal needs.
Best manual die cutting machines.
If you are a hobbyist, then a manual die cutting machine is probably the best choice for you. When you own one of these machines, the possibilities of what you can do with it are almost endless. Here are some top picks in this category.
Cricut Cuttlebug is an excellent little machine which is considered to be the best option for beginners. Although at first glance, it seems little, the system it houses is actually quite powerful, and you will be able to cut and emboss any shape without any major problems.
On the other hand, this machine utilizes manual rolling technology, which means that you will need to put in some energy to achieve the desired result.
Another advantage of this machine is that it is quite flexible in terms of usability. It is able to accommodate a wide variety of different dies, and you can also use it to craft different materials.
It is also quite compact and travel-friendly. So if you would like to take it on a trip with you, you will have no problem doing that. In fact, it has a pop-up handle, which will enable you to transport it anywhere you go with ease.
With all of these useful features, it is easy to see why Cuttlebug continues to dominate the under $100 market. Once you purchase it, you will be able to experience for yourself its impressive cutting and embossing capabilities, all contained in its convenient portable size.
- A relatively small size makes it portable.
- It is able to emboss a wide range of materials.
- The final product looks professional.
- It is compatible with the majority of folders and dies.
- You can use it to emboss foils, ribbon, leather, and tissue paper.
- A smaller size means reduced capacity.
- Utilizes technology that is relatively old.
Sizzix Big Shot machine (comes in gray and white).
This machine is famous for being compact and stylish. The Big Shot enables you to emboss many different types of materials, and it is a valuable tool for those who are working on scrapbook pages, quilting, art projects, home decor, and unique cards.
In addition, an extended multipurpose platform and a pair of cutting pads come with the machine. The big shot is thinner than an average die cutting machine, and thanks to this well-thought-out design or you will be able to take it to your next crafting party without any problem whatsoever. Another advantage this machine has is that it is able to accommodate a wide range of dies. It can even accommodate QuicKut, AcquiQuilt, and Spellbinder dies.
However, you should keep in mind that the opening on this machine is only 6 inches wide, which means that it cannot accommodate dies, which are larger than that. If you plan to use wider dies, then you will need to purchase a larger version of the machine, the Big Shot Pro.
- Easy to use and versatile.
- It can accommodate different dies from various companies.
- A reasonable price tag.
- Enables you to access the whole Sizzix product library.
- It can accommodate different types of materials, including fabric and paper.
- The crank handle screws are relatively weak.
- The working capacity is rather limited.
Spellbinder’s PL –001.
This is another manual die cutter that has a strong build and elegant design. First and foremost, the PL-001 is able to accommodate a wide variety of different dies with varying degrees of thickness. In addition, its design enables it to accommodate dies from different companies such as Sizzix.
As for the material it is made from, the exterior of the machine is created from plastic, and the interior is built from solid steel. On the one hand, the fact that it is made from steel means that it is much stronger, but on the other hand, it is relatively heavier. Because of this added weight, it is not as portable as its counterparts, which makes it less appealing than other small-size die cutters.
However, we should mention that the additional weight means it possesses a stronger cutting force. So if you’re planning to use your manual die cutter to make some deep and highly precise cuts, you should definitely consider purchasing this machine. In fact, this is one of the few manual die cutting machines which has no problem whatsoever going through many different materials simultaneously in the same way a hot knife goes through butter. If the steel dies are being used, the machine can cut up to eight layers at the same time.
- The core is constructed from solid steel.
- Has no problem cutting through a wide variety of materials.
- It can cut through leather.
- Possesses a cutting area that is larger than average.
- An 8 1/2-inch-wide cutting area is inconvenient for cutting standard 6-inch plates.
AccuQuilt Go fabric cutter
If you have been putting off quilting due to concerns about all of the material you would need to cut, then you might want to consider purchasing this 15-pound machine. It is exactly what you have been looking for.
This machine is able to cut through fabric approximately 90% faster than ordinary handheld scissors. In fact, there are some reviewers who claim that this die cutting machine works better than even the rotary one.
This powerful die cutting machine can cut through up to six layers of fabric simultaneously. In order to achieve this type of results with good old fashion scissors, you would need to put in a few hours of work. Not to mention how people with fibromyalgia, arthritis, or carpal tunnel syndrome may not be able to perform this task at all due to their health condition.
The AccuQuilt Go Offers you a powerful and convenient alternative that can satisfy all of your fabric cutting needs.
However, it isn’t without its downsides, the main one being its weight, which stands at 15 pounds. This relatively heavy weight makes the machine inconvenient to carry around, Which is an issue if portability is one of your major requirements when purchasing a die cutting machine.
- It is very easy to use.
- A free 20-page pattern book comes with the machine.
- It is quite compact when it’s closed up.
- The design is user-friendly and rather convenient.
- It can cut through many different types of materials.
- It cannot be transported easily due to its relatively heavy weight.
- It doesn’t have a re-designing and welding capacity; therefore, it may waste fabric.
Best electronic die cutters
The advances in digital technology are affecting every industry in the 21st-century, and die cutters are no exception. One of the advantages of going digital is flexibility. You can access unlimited design options online, edit them and arrange them however you like. This gives you the opportunity to express your creativity to the maximum as well as save space and materials.
Two words that define this electronic die cutting machine are strength and precision. This newly launched embosser/cutter is approximately ten times more powerful than the machines from Explore.
Another feature that makes this machine an excellent die cutter is that it uses both a rotary blade and a special knife blade. Although this machine is primarily famous for being a vinyl cutter, these two aforementioned blades provide it with impressive die cutting power, which means that you will have no problem whatsoever cutting through leather and even metal. But if your cutting needs are relatively modest, you can downsize its power and make it cut through much lighter materials such as glitter paper or even tissue paper.
To put it simply, it doesn’t matter what your creative mind comes up with; this machine will be able to help you achieve the desired result.
As for the design of the Cricut Maker, it is quite stylish and relatively compact. However, in terms of portability, it isn’t as convenient as Cricut Cuttlebug.
What gives this machine an advantage over its competition is the fact that it utilizes digital technology well. Now you are able to feed your unique designs into the machine thanks to the patented Design Space software. The interface of the machine is intuitive and easy for anyone to use, starting from newbies all the way to the masters.
In addition, a collection of free designs comes with each unit sold.
One concern shared by many people who purchase die cutting machines is that you need to constantly keep up with the latest gadgets released on the market. Recently the machine manufacturers have launched a wide variety of products which have rendered many excellent die-cutting machines obsolete (especially the ones from Explorer). One advantage of Cricut Maker is that it has taken into consideration many of the possible upcoming changes. The machine comes with an adaptable tool system. This tool system enables it to take advantage of new technology as it comes along, which is wonderful news for the buyers.
The Cricut Maker offers us two modes. These are the precision mode and fast mode. In the fast mode, you will be able to print and cut up to two times faster without making any compromises on quality. This mode is ideal for those who want to meet tight deadlines without overexerting themselves. In the precision mode, you will be able to cut fine details and very small designs.
- Powerful cutting capability.
- Ability to cut as deep as you want it to.
- Precision cutting.
- Each line is well-defined.
- Impressive workflow efficiency.
- Enables you to create a personalized and unique product.
- Newly released, relatively unknown on the market.
- Less portable than some other die cutting machines.
Silhouette Cameo is one of the best die-cutting machines in the under $300 category despite the fact that it doesn’t have enough power to cut through wood and leather. In spite of these restrictions, people still choose to buy it because it can handle a wide variety of craft projects very well. If you are looking for a machine to use at home and not in a commercial environment, Silhouette Cameo is a very good choice for you. One advantage of this machine is that it is cartridge-free. This means that less time is required to set it up, and from the maintenance point of you, it is also relatively undemanding.
It also enables you to create your designs off-line. To do that, you just need to load your designs onto a jump drive and let the machine take it from there.
As for the usability, this machine is a pleasure to use largely thanks to its fully colored touchscreen.
- A user-friendly design.
- More portable than its counterparts.
- The machine comes with 50 preloaded designs.
- The customer support is very helpful.
- Not powerful enough to cut through leather or metal.
Gemini Embossing Machine by Crafter’s Companion
When it comes to die cutting, it is almost impossible to find a die cutting machine that is both quiet and fast. The reason for that is the size of the engine. A die cutter needs to be fitted with a large engine to enable it to cut faster, and logically a larger engine will produce more noise. However, the Gemini embossing machine may be an exception to this rule.
The machine houses a huge engine, but in spite of that, it is surprisingly silent. This machine can be used to cut out intricate designs relatively fast and silently. So you can keep the machine going at any hour of the day and night without worrying about disturbing your next-door neighbors. Moreover, you can use third-party dies and embossing folders with this machine, which is another plus.
And another significant advantage is that it enables you to cut multiple dies at once, which is a very useful feature if the time is of the essence.
- User-friendly interface.
- Powerful, fast, and relatively quiet.
- It can accommodate different types of dies.
- A high-quality final product.
- Struggles to accommodate Cuttlebug dies.
Silhouette Portrait 2
This machine, launched in 2017, will not cost you more than $200, and it is definitely one of the best budget-friendly die cutting machines out there. It is equipped with a Studio Designer software that enables you to create and tweak unique designs quite efficiently.
The only con is that the cutting power, which stands at under 210 g, is rather limited. So it may not be able to cut heavier items such as leather and wood.
On the other hand, it is ideal for cutting vinyl, lightweight fabric, and tissue paper. So if you’re not planning on cutting heavy materials, there is no reason for you to spend your money on an expensive machine; this one will do just fine.
If you’re a beginner in the world of die cutting and you simply want to make amazing crafts at home, then this machine is an excellent option for you.
In addition, Silhouette Portrait 2 is equipped with PixScan technology, which means that you can use it to print pictures from your smartphone. This is a very useful feature if you don’t want to make your own designs from scratch.
- It does an excellent job cutting through light materials.
- It can cut through 10 feet of lined media.
- Loaded with 24 colored pens.
- Free access to Studio Design software comes with each machine.
- You can operate it off-line.
- The cutting power is limited.
- It doesn’t have a dual carriage functionality.
Brother Scan N Cut
This machine is at the forefront of innovation thanks to its 300 –dpi scanner. You can feed the images you have taken with your camera into the embosser and then produce them in real time. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time creating unique designs by yourself, this is an ideal solution for you.
And the machine is also perfect for beginners who want to take their first steps in the die-cut crafting world.
Other than the scanner, the machine also has a fully loaded starter kit that is compatible with both Windows and MAC computers.
This die cutter also has a full-color touchscreen that enables you to flip images, join the shapes together, and even edit.
You can even cut down on wastage by arranging different designs on the same material.
You can also simplify your work by using thousands of preloaded stock images, 700 ready-made designs, 140 quilt patterns, and five free fonts.
- On-screen editing.
- 1/4-inch seam allowance.
- A powerful scanner.
- Auto layout capabilities.
- Relatively lightweight (8 pounds) and portable.
- Helpful customer support.
- Struggles to print materials that exceed 1 mm in thickness.
To conclude, every die cutter on the market has both pros and cons. But all of the machines included in our list deliver high-quality results at an affordable price. The final choice depends on your personal preference and crafting needs.