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The Cricut Explore Air 2 is a favorite among amateur and serious crafters alike. It connects to your computer, tablet or smartphone through Bluetooth, and it works just as well with Mac and PC or iOS/Android devices. You can also work on the designs while you’re offline.
This versatile machine has a Smart Set Dial that senses the material being cut, and it can cut, score or write on more than one hundred difference materials, including cardstock, vinyl, glitter paper and cork. You can make your designs with Cricut’s library of proprietary templates or draw designs yourself.
There's an easy way to save money on a die cutter: Crank it yourself. The Sizzix Big Shot is the most popular of the hand-crank machines — this smaller-scale die cutter can cut through just about any material you could tackle with scissors, including cardstock, fabric, felt and foam. It also embosses materials.
Along with the machine, you get access to Sizzix’s vast project library, with designs by many big names in the scrapbooking space (though some designs are sold separately). The rollers accommodate up to 6-inch-wide trays. Another benefit of this scaled-down die cutter is its small size (and light weight), making it easy to could bring it with you on a vacation or to a crafting party with friends.
This electronic machine uses Bluetooth technology to connect to your computer, tablet or smartphone. It can cut designs up to 12 inches wide from more than 100 materials, including paper, vinyl, fabric and cardstock. With an impressive 2 mm of clearance, it can also cut through thicker materials, like leather, foam and balsa wood. The machine can hold two cartridges at once, so you can cut and write or emboss at the same time.
The Cameo 3's AutoBlade system senses the correct blade depth for your project, and PixScan technology allows you to scan an image and turn it into a cut file, or you can choose from more than 100,000 designs in its library, using the free software. For those just starting out or just getting into a different type of crafting, Silhouette offers product bundles that include the machine plus all the materials and extra devices you might need for a specific type of project or application, such as heat transfer.
Designed specifically with educators in mind, this heavy-duty hand-powered press-style die cutting machine is made to withstand years of frequent use. It can easily cut through multiple layers of any material that scissors can cut through, including card stock, magnet material, construction paper, cling vinyl and many recycled materials. It works with various Ellison dies as well as dies from some from other brands, including Sizzix and Bigz (using an adaptor).
The Prestige Pro has a simple design and a cutting pad that slides in and out along side rails, making it very easy to load materials and dies. Because no software is required, this is an easy machine to start using right away, in the workplace or at home.
While many people love the creativity and skill that goes into quilting, cutting out the fabric shapes before you piece them together can be a tedious and time-consuming project. Enter the AccuQuilt GO! Cutter, a machine designed specifically for cutting quilting fabric shapes. This machine cuts through up to six layers of fabric at once, making cutting out all your squares 90 percent faster than tackling them with scissors or a rotary cutter. The starter kit comes with templates for two sizes of squares and triangles, and dies for additional sizes and shapes can be purchased separately.
This die cut machine from Brother has a surprising feature: It works as a scanner as well as a cutter, allowing you to create your own designs using art you find from other sources (a child’s drawing, family photos or even something in nature). This gives you virtually endless design possibilities—on top of the 500+ built-in design templates.
You can use the machine two different ways: It can connect wirelessly to your computer or tablet to use the proprietary cloud-based software to create your designs, or you can use the touch-screen on the machine to create and edit your designs, without using another device (though you can still save and send it to another device). This machine can cut extra-large sizes, up to 12 inches by 24 inches, and works just as well for quilting fabric as it does for paper.
A step up from the popular Explore series, the Cricut Maker cutting machine can handle even more materials, from delicate fabrics to heavy materials, like leather, matboard and balsa wood. This machine comes with a rotary cutter to get through almost all fabrics, as well as a knife blade to slide through heavier materials. It even has a washable fabric pen cartridge to trace pattern fitting lines directly onto fabric. More tools for a variety of projects can be purchased separately.
The Cricut Maker works with your computer, tablet or phone through a wireless connection, and the company’s proprietary software allows you access to thousands of designs and sewing patterns to create your own templates. The machine comes with a 12 -inch-by-12-inch mat but can accommodate a 12-inch-by-24-inch mat.
Versatile What types of material you want to work with should help you determine the type of machine that's best for you. If you just want to do simple work with paper and vinyl, then a basic machine is probably fine. On the other hand, if you want to be able to use a variety of different materials—like cork, foam, and wood—you’ll probably need a more sophisticated model.
Price It’s easy to get wowed by all the awesome features and functions of some die cut machines, but they also can push up the price tag quite a bit. If you just need some basic functionality and won't use your machine very often, you probably don’t need to pay top dollar. However, if you'll use yours on a regular basis for a variety of tasks, you may want to invest in one that meets your needs and can potentially grow with you, as well.
Features Certain die-cut machines come with a variety of bells and whistles. For example, some also function as scanners, which gives you more creative control if you want to make your own unique designs. Others will also emboss items. Consider both your needs and your budget and decide accordingly.