What is a Cricut Machine & What Does it do?

Cricut machines have been a hit for crafters and DIYers for years now, and it’s time to find out why!

We’ve assembled a comprehensive guide on what a Cricut machine is and what it does. You will learn everything you need to know about Cricut machines, including:

  • materials you can cut,
  • free features and subscription options
  • devices and accessories needed with a Cricut machine
  • how a Cricut machine works
  • choosing the right blade for your projects
  • the different types of Cricut machines on the market
  • how to make money with your Cricut machine

What Is The Point Of A Cricut?

Whether you create craft projects for personal use or plan to start a vinyl decal business, a Cricut is a good investment. It is a great machine for crafters, anyone who loves DIY projects or does a lot of cutting. With a Cricut, you can save time while producing professional, high-quality creations! 

A Cricut is an electronic cutting machine that can cut most materials, depending on the specific model you purchase. Some models can also emboss, draw, and create folding lines for 3D projects or boxes. A Cricut works similar to a traditional printer because it receives data about imagines from the computer then converts the image into a cut design, drawn pen design, etc. Lastly, the machine uses small blades to cut the pattern, draw the pattern, etc., of the image into your material of choice. 

What Can You Do With A Cricut Machine?

A Cricut machine can make your craft project ideas come to life since it can cut fabric, craft foam, leather, and all types of paper. You can easily add a creative touch to greeting cards or gift tags for holidays. You can also make refrigerator magnets, furniture, wall decor, signs, and vinyl decals. Keep reading for details on examples of what you can do with your Cricut machine. 

What materials can you cut with a Cricut machine?

Depending on the type of Cricut machine you get and the blade you use, you can cut heavier or more delicate materials. The various materials compatible with the cutting machine include:

  • plain paper
  • woven burlap
  • metallic poster board
  • wool felt
  • linen
  • glitter vinyl
  • card stock
  • pearl paper
  • holographic sparkle vinyl
  • metallic foil
  • parchment paper
  • denim
  • light glitter paper
  • corkboard
  • iron-on materials
  • Genuine and faux leather
  • textiles
  • bonded fabric 
  • thin woods, such as balsa wood
  • corrugated paper
  • removable vinyl 

Make crafts with fabrics 

With fabric crafts, a Cricut machine can help produce cutouts for sewing or making clothing and accessories. For example, suppose you want to make a stuffed animal or clutch. In that case, you can access digital patterns and send them to the Cricut Maker to cut and mark the fabric pieces you need for sewing. Quilting also becomes a breeze when you let the Cricut Maker cut the blocks of fabric for you. 

Even if you don’t sew or quilt, you can use a Cricut machine to create iron-on transfers to customize t-shirts, scarves, pillows, bags, and more. Iron-on transfers are images printed using iron-on transfer inks that you can transfer to fabric using an iron or heat press.

Help with wood projects

Some Cricut blades can easily cut materials such as basswood, balsa wood, chipboard, and matboard up to about 2.4 mm thick. Create personalized wall art, shadow boxes, architectural models, puzzles, and more. 

Create unique paper crafts 

Paper is versatile for making various crafts for party decorations, origami, notes, or more. For example, you can create bouquets of paper flowers for table settings at your home party. You can also easily make homemade cards that combine various materials like paper, corrugated cardboard, foil, and card stock.

Make vinyl decals

Vinyl decals, commonly known as stickers, can be made for a diverse range of occasions. Depending on the material used, you can put on vinyl decals on various surfaces. For example, you can make custom vinyl decals to put on:

  • electronics, such as computers
  • school binders or backpacks
  • envelopes to show an address or create a seal
  • cars as advertisements or for personal style
  • helmets, skateboards, and bikes
  • gifts, such as jars of homemade jam or pickles

Is There A Monthly Fee For Cricut?

There is no monthly fee required to use the Cricut Design Space software that comes with your machine. You use this software on your desktop or smartphone to create projects and operate a Cricut Machine. On Design Space, there are free fonts, ready-to-make projects, decor ideas, and images, including SVG files.

SVG files are scalable vector graphic files that are optimal for digital graphics. This is because a vector image can look great regardless of the size. You can also upload free fonts and images to Design Space or create your own designs. Cricut adds new ready-to-make projects, fonts, and images all the time to Design Space so that you can expect exciting updates. 

If you want more fonts and images than what is available on the free version of Design Space, you can sign up for a subscription to Cricut Access.

What is a Cricut Access subscription?

Cricut Access provides additional membership perks, including:

  • over 500 fonts
  • over 100,000 images
  • 1,000s of ready-to-make projects, including 3D-projects
  • 10 percent off licensed images
  • 10 percent off cricut.com purchases, including machines
  • priority member care

The standard subscription includes all the benefits listed above for $9.99 per month or $95.88 per year. The premium subscription includes all the benefits above and the two additional below for $119.88 per year:

  • 20 percent off all materials
  • free economy shipping on orders of $50 or more

What is Cricut free cut Friday?

Cricut releases some cut files for free every week, starting on Friday. However, you can only use those files for the particular week it is released, but this is a neat way to access new features. If you subscribe to their newsletter, you can get a notification when the free cut files are released.

Do You Need A Computer To Use A Cricut?

You will need to have a smartphone, tablet, or computer to use the Cricut Design Space software to operate your Cricut machine. The Design Space mobile app is available for IOS and Android devices. However, it can be easier to have a tablet or computer with a wider screen to choose or adjust designs before sending it to the Cricut machine. Most people use a combination of their phone and computer. Design Space is cloud-based, so you can easily access your design or image files from any device you use. 

You will need a computer if you plan to make your own designs, utilizing such programs as Adobe Illustrator. With Adobe, you can easily create SVG files. CorelDraw is another easy-to-learn software with user-friendly tools to edit designs for a Cricut cutting machine suitable for both advanced and beginner designers.

What Other Supplies Do You Need With A Cricut Machine?

Besides a computer or smartphone to run the Design Space software, some other supplies and accessories are useful to accompany a Cricut cutting machine. These additions include:

  • adhesive vinyl sheets and rolls for vinyl decals
  • different types of cutting mats to load materials and keep them in place
  • Cricut Easypress for transferring designs to fabrics
  • weeding tools such as knives and tweezers
  • a case to protect for storage or travel with your machine
  • portable trimmers to cut materials
  • Cricut Infusible Ink markers for vibrant, pro-quality transfers

While a Cricut Machine can help you cut fabrics as well as a rotary cutter does, you may still want a Cricut rotary cutter to cut patterns by hand. It can also help with cutting vinyl off the mat during projects. 

You may also want to purchase different tools for your Cricut machine, depending on your project. For example, you will need a Bonded Fabric Blade for cutting fabric, and you can use a Scoring Wheel to create score lines for folds. Different cutting machines are compatible with different tools such as a pen, precise blade, or scoring tool. For example, you can use the following tools with the Cricut Maker 3:

  • Fine-Point Blade
  • Deep-Point Blade
  • Pens & Markers
  • Scoring Stylus
  • Foil Transfer tool
  • Bonded-Fabric Tool
  • Rotary Blade
  • Knife Blade
  • Scoring Wheels (Single & Double)
  • Engraving Tool
  • Debossing Tool
  • Wavy Blade
  • Perforation Blade

How Do Cricut Machines Work?

The steps for using a Cricut machine are straightforward, and it comes with a comprehensive online manual. You upload a design or choose one from Design Space. Next, place the material on the cutting mat, load it into the machine. Lastly, send your design from your computer or phone to the Cricut machine and let the machine go. The Cricut machines work by using small tools such as a blade, rotary cutter, pen, or scoring tool.

Once the cutting, drawing, or scoring is complete, you will have to “weed” the design or assemble the components yourself, depending on the type of project. The weeding process involves removing negative parts of the design by hand. For stickers, you will need to apply a transfer tape. For transferring designs to fabric, you will need to use a heat press.

There are plenty of Cricut tutorials online to guide you through getting started and completing specific projects.

How Do You Choose The Right Cricut Blade For Your Project?

There are many different types of blades that you can use with Cricut machines. Just like different knives are best for different uses in the kitchen, a different blade works best in different situations. The main three types of blades that work with all Cricut machines are:

  • Premium Fine-Point Blade: Great for thin to medium weight projects such as cutting card stock, paper, poster board, vinyl, iron-on, and more.
  • Deep-Point Blade: Has a steeper angle and more durable steel for intricate cuts on materials such as magnet, stamp, chipboard, foam sheets, stiffened felt, and some fabrics. 
  • Bonded Fabric Blade: Great for fabrics with a stabilizer or backer iron-on.

The Cricut Maker 3 is compatible with the most variety of blades, including the:

  • Rotary Blade: Best for soft, delicate, or less-dense materials such as tissue paper and cork. It also cuts through any fabrics without needing a backer material.
  • Knife Blade: An extra-deep knife for thicker materials such as balsa wood, matboard, and chipboard.
  • Scoring Wheel: Use to create crisp creases in thick and thin materials to make perfect folds.
  • Engraving Tip: Use to inscribe decorative flourishes and embellishments, monograms, personalized text, and more.
  • Perforation Blade: Create perforation lines for projects needing tears, such as tear-out booklet pages and raffle tickets.

The Cricut Joy machine has an all-purpose blade that works with most materials, including insert cards, vinyl, iron-on, paper card stock, poster board, infusible ink transfer sheets, and more. It is also compatible with the foil transfer tool used to add a foil effect to projects.

What Are The Different Types of Cricut Machines?

All Cricut machines come with easy-to-learn software and are beginner-friendly. There are plenty of instructional videos for different skill levels and techniques and great chat and phone support if issues arise. You can also become a part of a helpful, creative Cricut community by joining various groups online. Below are details on the specifics that set each Cricut machine apart so you can choose the best option for your use.

Cricut Explore Air 2

Although one of the older Cricut machines, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is one of the most popular Cricut Explore machines since it can cut over 100 materials. You can create DIY projects using vinyl, cardstock, paper, and chipboard. With a Fabric Grip Mat and a Bonded Fabric Blade, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is optimal for cutting fabrics.

Additional features include:

  • Built-in storage
  • Compatible with six tools for cutting, scoring, writing, foiling, and more
  • Bluetooth wireless technology
  • LightGrip Machine Mat, 12 in x 12 in, included with purchase
  • 50 ready-to-make projects included

Cricut Explore 3

The Cricut Explore 3 replaces the Explore Air 2. It has the same amazing features as the Explore Air 2 and can cut and draw twice as fast. The maximum cutting width is 13 inches by 12 feet, making it compact enough for home space and optimal for larger projects.

Additional features include:

  • Compatible with Smart Materials and Cricut Roll Holder
  • Compatible with six tools for cutting, scoring, writing, foiling, and more
  • Bluetooth wireless technology
  • 100 ready-to-make projects included

Cricut Maker

The Cricut Maker can do everything the Cricut Explore Air 2 does and has some additional features. It can cut over 300 materials, including delicate materials such as leather and thin woods. The Cricut Maker allows you to use 13 tools for writing, scoring, cutting, foiling, engraving, embellishing, and more. It’s a good machine for anyone planning to work on more complicated projects that use a wider range of materials. 

Additional features include:

  • Times 10 cutting force
  • Max cut length of 12 feet
  • Compatible with Smart Materials and Cricut Roll Holder
  • Bluetooth wireless technology
  • 100 ready-to-make projects included

Cricut Joy 

The Cricut Joy is Cricut’s most compact machine and much smaller and lighter than the Cricut Maker. It can cut over 50 materials up to 5.5 inches wide and 20 feet long. You can use two tools for writing and cutting. The Cricut Joy is a great affordable option for projects such as cards, vinyl signs, and small iron-on designs.

Additional features include:

  • It weighs only 3.9 pounds and fits in a cubby
  • Bluetooth wireless technology
  • StandardGrip Mat, 4.5 in x 6.5 in included with purchase
  • 50 ready-to-make projects included

Cricut Easy Press 2

The Cricut Easy Press 2 is a great machine for making customized crafts with iron-ons. While not a cutter, it allows you to transform iron-ons to various materials for professional results. Its 9 in x 9 in size is optimal for basic totes, t-shirts, bags, pillows, aprons, and more. It is also equipped with an auto-shutoff feature and insulated safety base.

Additional features include:

  • Precise temperature control up to 400℉
  • Advanced heat plate design with ceramic-coated surface
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Compatible with all Cricut Infusible Ink products and most major brands of iron-on material

Can You Make Money With A Cricut Machine?

While most DIY-lovers and crafters can make ample use of a Cricut, it is also an optimal choice for anyone wanting to start a small craft or vinyl decal business. It doesn’t take much overhead to sustain a business around your Cricut machine. From custom t-shirts to vinyl decals with brand logos, there are plenty of opportunities to make money with your Cricut machine.

You can easily have an online business by setting up an online storefront through your own website, Shopify, or a selling platform such as Etsy or Society6. You can also create a local business from your home and make money by:

  • Selling your crafts or vinyl designs wholesale to local businesses, such as small boutiques.
  • Setting up at craft fairs to sell your original designs.
  • Making logos and signs to sell to local organizations, schools, or sports teams.
  • Networking with family and friends to spread the word about your services.

Who are potential customers?

Almost any person or local business can use vinyl products in one way or another. For example, political organizations, schools, or interior designers with projects could use vinyl decals for signs or giveaways. Wedding planners, party planners, or other people who host events can also become potential customers. You can use vinyl crafts at:

  • Shows or concerts to promote the event or band.
  • Weddings to thank guests or remember the day.
  • Fundraisers or community events to promote the cause.
  • School events to promote fundraisers or school logos.
  • Business events or conferences to generate brand recognition.
  • Birthday parties to use as party favors.
  • Events to include in swag bags.
  • Sports competitions needing custom t-shirts

What is licensing?

Designs or images with a registered trademark will require you to purchase a commercial license to use the design. It is important to pay the right fees and get permission to use trademark designs, especially when earning profits from the created items. You can get sued and have legal problems if you create products for profit without proper licensing. A subscription to Creative Access can give you 10 percent off a selection of licensed images.

On the flip side, if you create your own original designs, you should have a commercial license to protect your work from copycats. Get in touch with a lawyer if you find someone is using your design without your permission. They can help you determine if you have a legal case against this person and walk you through the process of sending a cease-and-desist letter.

Final Thoughts

With a Cricut machine that best suits your crafting or business needs, you can easily make your design ideas come to life professionally. Cricut provides solutions for most projects, including cutting various materials, drawing, scoring, and transferring materials. It has user-friendly features that can please both beginners and advanced crafters. Save time and potentially make money with your own Cricut machine.

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