Ah! We meet again! This time we present to you with the perfect guide everything you need to know about the Cricut Maker machine vs Cricut Explore Air 2 before you go and purchase it.
Main Differences Between Explore Air Family Machines
Even though our main topic is about the Cricut Maker vs Cricut Explore Air 2 (because it is what the title says), we also need to consider the two other versions of the Cricut Explore machines as well.
Remember that all of the Cricut Explore Family machines are capable of cutting the same materials while using the same tools, each one of them differs in features they provide. Here is what you need to know about the Explore Family machines:
- Cricut Explore One: The first of the Explore family comes with only one tool holder, so cutting, drawing, and scoring happens separately. Needs a connection to the computer through USB or with a separate adapter.
- Cricut Explore Air: Comes with a built-in Bluetooth perk for wireless activities and two tool holders for you to cut and draw simultaneously.
- Cricut Explore Air 2: It has the same functions and abilities as they explore air, but it is 2 times more robust and fast.
What is Common in the Cricut Maker and Explore Air 2?
One thing is for sure, the Cricut Maker and Cricut Explore Air 2 both are stupendous machines. If you judge the quality of the machines, you will feel their sturdiness and strong built. It is simply impressive.
When you order from Cricut, you will only feel satisfaction. The packaging of the machine truly tells that the Cricut company cares for its products.
Cricut Explore Air 2 & Cricut Maker Side by side
With both machines you will get:
- The machines work on the same Cricut Design Space and all for free.
- You can upload your customized designs and projects.
- You will also get free ready to cut projects. You will receive 50 free projects or more to get a grip on how things work in the Cricut world. These projects usually cost money by an individual purchase or through Cricut Access (monthly or yearly subscription).
- Both machines are capable of cutting more than a hundred materials like vinyl, paper, fabric, leather, etc.
- You can cut, draw, and score with both machines.
- Both machines offer a first project for you to get familiar with how to use them.
What are the differences between the Cricut Maker and Cricut Explore Air 2?
The significant difference is the cutting force between the Cricut Maker or any of the Cricut machines. The advantage Cricut Maker has over other Explore machines is that it has ten times more cutting force and strength.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 has a cutting force of 400 grams, while the Cricut Maker machine has a whopping 4000 grams of force. This is a vast difference that enables you to use more powerful tools and impressively complex materials with the Cricut Maker.
For example; think of the force and pressure you will need to apply when you cut through softened butter vs hardened, frozen butter. The harder the material, the more pressure, and the bigger knife you will apply to cut through it.
The ten times more power of the Cricut Maker machine has more powerful tools added to it for cutting complex materials, even wood and fabric without backing material.
Go through this table and we will discuss some more on the types of tools you can use with the Cricut Maker or Cricut Explore Air 2.
|Features List||Cricut Maker||Cricut Explore Air 2|
|Cutting Force||4000 g||400 g|
|Technology||Adaptive tool system||Smart Set Dial|
|Max Cutting Size||12 x 24 inches||12 x 24 inches|
|Cartridge Slot||No – Needs Adapter||Yes|
|Software||Cricut Design Space||Cricut Design Space|
|Color||Blue||Pink, Mint, Black,|
|Rose||Blue, Red, and more!|
|Weight||24 Pounds||16 Pounds|
|Dimensions||24 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches||22.6 x 7.1 x 6.2 inches|
|Max Depth Cut*||Up to 2.4 mm||Up 2 mm|
|Fine Point Blade||Yes||Yes|
|Deep Point Blade||Yes||Yes|
|Bonded Fabric Blade||Yes||Yes|
|Quick Swap Tools||Yes||No|
|Print then Cut||Different Colors||White Only|
*It totally depends on the type of material and/or blade used.
Different Types of Tools You Can Use With the Cricut Maker vs Cricut Explore Air 2
At this point, things start getting better and progress!
In the previous sub-topic, we explained what cutting force is and its importance to be able to cut through strong materials. Now comes the time to consider the tools you would need to cut different materials.
Take the different kitchen knives as an example. Every knife has its purpose. You use the butter knife to spread something, to cut the bread you need a bread knife, and we use a steak knife while eating meat.
Basic Tool Set + Scoring Stylus / Works for both Machines
Even though we can use a butter knife to cut the bread, the cut won’t be clean and the bread will be torn into pieces. The same will happen if you use the other different types of knives to cut different materials.
The same thing happens with the Cricut Maker. You might think that you can use one blade to cut through any material, but that is impossible. It will adversely affect the blade because each blade has a different purpose and to cut through a material under different types of pressure.
At present, there are five blades you can use to cut and score and different accessories with the Cricut Maker machine.
What tools Does the Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine Support?
This sub-topic contains an overview of all the tools you can use with any Cricut Explore family machine.
Cricut Explore Air 2 and all of the tools inside it
The Fine Point Blade
Known as the most commonly used blade in the Cricut world, every Cricut machine has the fine point blade in it. It has a composition of German Carbide, which is a material known for its impeccable quality and extreme durability. It is mostly used for cutting tools materials.
To make the perfect detailed cuts, the fine point blade is perfect. Plus the size of the blade is designed to cut through medium-weight materials. Its first color was silver, but now it comes in golden color.
But, maybe just maybe, you get it in silver.
Deep Point Blade, Fine Point Blade, and Bonded Fabric Blade
The Deep Point Blade
For cutting through thicker materials, you should use the deep point blade. You can use this friendly blade with any of the Cricut Explore Family machines and with the Cricut Maker machine as well.
The blade has a steeper angle of 60 degrees (more than the fine point blade which has a 45-degree angle). The blade easily penetrates through thick materials and cuts it neatly.
The Bonded Fabric Blade
This special blade came into existence to specifically cut fabric material. Never use this blade to cut any other type of material because you will damage it.
The issue or point to consider with this blade is that you will need to bond the fabric to a backing material before cutting it. If you are an expert in sewing then you know what the bonding material means. For other readers, we will give a quick explanation.
Blades, Black Pen & Scoring Stylus
The backing material means that you need a material (like heat and bond) to stick your fabric to the mat. Otherwise, the bonded fabric blade will not be able to cut the material.
What is a Scoring Stylus?
With the scoring stylus tool, you can create folds on the material. You can use this tool to make perfect folds on gift cards and boxes.
What are Cricut Pens?
Cricut Pens are truly amazing!
The Cricut Pens are a fabulous addition because not only you can cut and score, but you can also write on your materials. The Pens allow you to create a more personalized project.
What is Print Then Cut?
Don’t confuse it with tools because this is not a tool. Instead, it is a feature; a feature that allows you to print your designs on white-colored paper, and then cut them. It is a great feature to use if you like making tags, patterns, cards, and planner stickers, etc.
What Tools Will Your Cricut Maker Support?
A piece of good news for you- Cricut Maker supports all tools! Read along to find and read all the details of this beneficial machine.
Cricut Maker and all of its tools inside it
Cricut Explore Air 2- all the blades & tools
Another good news for you about the Cricut Maker is that it allows you to use every tool available along with the features of the Explore machine. It is why we recommend Cricut Maker. Though the Maker is expensive, you get to use all of the tools and a little birdy told us that new tools are coming up soon.
Note: the Print Then Cut functions enable printing on a colored paper!
Knife Blade, Scoring Wheel, and Rotary Blade
The Rotary Blade
The Rotary Blade allows you to cut through any type of fabric. Plus, you don’t need any backing material to settle down the fabric on the Cricut mate. That must be comforting and a breath of relief.
You will be ecstatic to know that the Rotary Blade comes with the Cricut Maker too. Ain’t it amazing when usually you need to buy these type of tools individually or in a bundle, and you could use these only with the Fabric Grip Mat.
The Knife Blade
The Knife Blade makes the Cricut Maker a complete “creating” machine. The Knife Blade is the sturdiest and strongest out of all the blades. It allows you to cut stronger materials like thick leather, balsa, and basswood, etc.
Think of all the materials you can cut with it easily, and all the projects you can make with it. With it, you can create wood signs for your home, boxes, and other sturdy things, and more!
The Quick Swap Tools
Quick Swap Tools
The Quick Swap system enables you to use five different tools- three tips and two blades, which is unlike any other blade with a different housing. The five tools are:
- Scoring Tip
- Engraving Tip
- Debossing Tip
- Wavy Blade
- Perforation Blade
Another awesome thing about the Quick Swap tools is that you can use it in the same housing, which means money savings!
Let’s have an overview of all these tools.
- Scoring Wheel- you can make attractive, edgy, and crispy folds on the materials. For the best results, the Cricut offers the scoring wheel with two different tips, 01 and 02. Design Space will suggest which tip to use depending on the material you will select.
- Engraving Tip- crafters’ favorite and most awaited tool is the engraving tip. You will be able to engrave a wider selection of materials with this tip.
- Debossing Tip- this tip helps you in pushing the material inside to create intricate and beautiful designs. Your projects will have a totally different (high) level of detail.
- Wavy Blade- for wavy effects on the final cuts of your project, you will use the wavy blade.
- Perforation Blade- this blade specifically enables you to make projects with a tear finish. The perforation blade has opened up a new gate of possibilities. You can create coupons, raffle tickets, and much more with it!
Physical Differences between the Cricut Maker and Cricut Explore Air 2
For their physical differences, you may prefer one machine over the other. For us, we like the Cricut Explore Air 2 a tad bit more than the Cricut Maker. They both are lovely to look at, but there are some minor details that we prefer.
Most of these physical differences are already in the comparison table. But, let us cover some more of the physical differences.
- Color and Weight – The Cricut Explore Air 2 machine offers more colors, while the Cricut Maker only has three colors from which you can choose (Champagne, Blue, Green). You can purchase any color that you like.
Cricut Explore Air 2 and Maker from the top
- Storage Space: People like us, like to store all of the blades and tools we use on the storage space the machine offers. Although both the machines have good storage space for the blades and tools, the Cricut Maker gives more storage than the Explore.
- Cartridge Slot – The cartridge is a bundle of images and/or ready to cut projects. Some years ago, one would have to buy physical cartridges and them into your machine. Now though, you can buy all these cartridges in the software, so that is why the Maker doesn’t have a slot for this.
- Smart Set Dial – The dial allows you to choose from a range of materials before you cut. You can choose the most common materials from it. Some also prefer to select them on the software, but choosing from the dial sounds stylish.
- Adaptive Tool System – The system makes the Maker ten times stronger than any of the exploring machines. This technology is responsible for controlling the direction of the blade at all times. It also adapts the pressure of the blade according to the material you use.
Smart Set Dial
Adaptive Tool System
- Docking Station – The Maker gives you space to dock your iPhone or iPad on top of the machine. It seems like a cool feature in the machine. Plus, you get a USB port as well to charge your device if required.
Should You Get the Cricut Explore Air 2 or Cricut Maker?
If you haven’t already purchased a machine, we suggest you go for the Cricut Maker. It is expensive- and we know this- but, there are so many more features for you to have in the Maker that you should take advantage of.
If you work only on vinyl and paper, Cricut Explore Air 2 is suitable, but at some point, you would want to take a step forward and cut more dense materials like wood, leather, etc. without any backing material, and with crisp folds.
But, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is a beautiful and excellent machine too. If you already have it, we suggest you to not buy the Maker (not yet at least).
Cricut Maker and Cricut Explore Air 2- Opened
There are reasons why people buy both of the machines. It could be because they truly need to benefit from both for their work. Or it could be to keep their website updated with new and different tutorials to help people gain knowledge (like us). But, that is up to you, if you want to buy one or both.
For thin materials, paper, and vinyl, for Cricut Explore Air 2. But, if you have a vision of updating the machine in the near future because you may want to cut wood and other dense materials, then wait to save money for the Cricut Maker machine, because that will be the right investment.
Even though we talked about getting a machine that gives you the freedom to buy extra materials individually because they can be expensive, we also think that practicing on paper, for the time being, is right. Then you can start upgrading and investing in other materials.
It is you who will pay for the machine and out of your pocket. So be sure of what you want from this machine and how you will achieve it.
We can’t decide for you. But we did try to help you with this extensive tutorial for you to make a sound decision.
What Should You Get- a Bundle or a Machine?
When we ordered the machines, we purchased bundles with them. Look at the price of the machine individually and the bundles, you will find that you get so much more for the money you spend.
For us, we suggest and think that investing in a bundle at the beginning is a great start for you. Usually, you get bundles that either come with some of the materials, or bundles that come with different blades and some materials.
Cricut Maker, Mats, and Tools
Let us tell you about the bundles we purchased. The first we ordered from amazon contained a mixture of tools and materials because that was what we wanted. The second one that we purchased from Cricut’s official website contained all the materials only (because from the first one we already had the blades and other necessary tools).
If you only recently took the first step, we suggest you get a bundle that has a few tools, materials, and everything. Then from there, you can expand and order more, because these tools and materials can be expensive.
These are some really awesome bundles you can get to get started:
- Cricut Explore Air 2: Includes a fine point blade, a deep point blade, and a lot of other materials and tools to help you get started.
Cricut Maker: We got this bundle for our use. It includes a fine point blade, a rotary blade, and so many other materials as a plus! But, the downside is that it doesn’t come with the essential tools. If you don’t have them already, add them to your shopping cart.