Cricut Explore 3 Vs Cricut Maker 3: What’s The Difference?

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Today we are going to look at the Cricut Explore 3 Vs Cricut Maker 3 and find out what the main differences between these two cutting machines in a detailed comparison?

Cricut Explore 3 and Cricut Maker 3 are two popular cutting machines that are designed for cutting and crafting. While both machines share some similarities, there are also some key differences between them. Thus it’s important for Crafters to know the difference before they buy one of these new Cricut machines. This guide will hopefully help you decide which is the best Cricut Machine for you? Also see our Cricut Blades Guide.

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What the best? a comparison between the Cricut Maker 3 and Cricut Explore 3

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Cricut Maker 3 vs The Cricut Explore 3

Here is an in-depth comparison of the two machines. The Cricut Maker 3 is the newer improved model of the Cricut Maker. Whereas the Cricut Explore 3 is the newer model of the Cricut Explore and Cricut Explore Air. The great thing is these machines are designed to use with Cricut Smart Materials. Both these machines are connectable by bluetooth, after initial set up with a USB cord. The also have USB ports to comment and charge iPads and phones to your machine.

Do you need an pc to use the Cricut maker 3

What Are Cricut Smart Materials?

Cricut Smart Materials are a type of vinyl, iron-on, or paper material that is specifically designed to work with smart cutting machines. These materials have a special backing that allows them to be fed directly into a Cricut cutting machine without the need to use a cutting mat. However you can still use the scraps on a mat to avoid wastage.

Cricut Smart Materials come in a variety of colours and finishes. This including matte, glossy, metallic and holographic. They are also available in a range of sizes, from small rolls to larger bulk rolls.

Using Cricut Smart Materials can save time and effort in the crafting process. Especially as there is no need to prepare or apply a cutting mat before cutting. Additionally, the adhesive backing on many of these materials allows for easy application to a wide range of surfaces, such as fabric, glass, metal, and more.

Cricut Maker 3 Review

Cricut sells a variety of Smart Materials, including:

  1. Smart Vinyl: Is available in permanent, removable, and also specialty finishes like holographic and metallic.  Cricut Smart Vinyl comes in many lengths from the standard 12 inch sheets, however is also available in rolls up to 75ft. To help manage longer lengths of vinyl you can purchase a roll holder for longer rolls of vinyl to fit in. 
  2. Smart Iron-On HTV: This is a type of heat transfer vinyl which is designed to be applied to fabrics with a heat press or iron.
  3. Smart Paper Sticker Cardstock: This is a type of cardstock that has an adhesive backing. It is designed for making stickers, labels, and other paper crafts.
  4. Smart Label Writable Vinyl: Is designed to be written on with a pen or marker. It is ideal for making labels and signs.
  5. Smart Iron-On Infusible Ink: This is a type of heat transfer vinyl that infuses into the fabric rather than sitting on top of it. And is designed for use with Cricut’s Infusible Ink blanks or sublimation blanks.
  6. Smart Poster Board: Is a type of sturdy, thick material that is ideal for making signs, cards, and other paper crafts.
Cricut Explore 3 Vs Cricut Maker 3 a mchine comparison

Comparison Chart Of The Cricut Maker 3 Vs Cricut Explore 3

This comparison chart highlights some of the differences at a glance between the Cricut Maker 3 and Cricut Explore 3.

Comparison Of Both MachinesCricut Maker 3Cricut Explore 3
Cutting Force 4000g400g
Adaptive Tool System YesNo
Design SoftwareCricut Design SpaceCricut Design Space
Price£429.99£296.52
Size16 x 18 x 58cm 24 x 24 x 61cm
Weight 4.84 kg (10.68 lbs.)4.98 kg (10.98 lbs)
Blades
Fine Point BladeYesYes
Premium Fine-Point BladeYesYes
Deep Point BladeYesYes
Bonded-Fabric BladeYesYes
Rotary BladeYesNo
Knife BladeYesNo
Scoring Wheel &
Double Scoring Wheel
YesNo
Scoring StylusYesYes
Debossing TipYesNo
Engraving TipYesNo
Perforation BladeYesNo
Wavy BladeYesNo
Foil Transfer Tool YesYes
Roll Holder For VinylYesYes

Cutting Performance Of The Cricut Maker 3 vs The Cricut Explore 3

Both machines are capable of cutting a wide range of materials, including vinyl, cardstock, fabric, leather, and more. However, the Cricut Maker 3 has more cutting force, which allows it to cut thicker materials like balsa wood and craft board. The Cricut Explore 3 has a maximum cutting force of 400 grams, while the Cricut Maker 3 can apply 10 times more, up to 4,000 grams of force.

Is The Cricut Maker 3 Worth it

Price Of The Cricut Maker 3 vs The Cricut Explore 3

The Cricut Explore 3 is priced lower than the Cricut Maker 3, making it a more affordable option for those who are on a budget. However, the Cricut Maker 3’s increased versatility and cutting power make it worth the higher price for those who need the extra capabilities. The current UK price for the Cricut Maker 3 is £429.99 and the Explore Air 3 is £296.52.

Design Software Of The Cricut Maker 3 And The Cricut Explore 3

Both machines use the same Design Space software, which is a web-based application that allows you to create and edit designs on your computer or mobile device. However, the Cricut Maker 3 offers more advanced features and tools, such as the ability to upload your own images, use custom fonts, and more.

Cricut Design Space is available for the Cricut Maker 3 and Cricut Explore 3

Adaptive Tool System

The Cricut Maker 3 features an adaptive tool system that allows it to use a wide range of cutting tools, including rotary blades, knife blades, and scoring wheels. This notably makes the Cricut Maker makes it more versatile than the Cricut Explore 3, which has a limited selection of cutting blades and tools. However its important to consider if these are features you will actually use?

Blades For The Cricut Maker 3 And The Cricut Explore 3

  1. Fine Point Blade: This is the standard blade that comes with the Cricut Maker 3 and Cricut Explore 3. As a result it can cut over 100 materials, including paper, cardstock, cardboard, vinyl, and more.
  2. Rotary Blade: This blade is designed to cut through fabric, leather, and other soft materials with ease. It can be used to cut intricate patterns, curved edges, and tight corners and can be used with the Cricut Maker 3
  3. Knife Blade: This blade is designed to cut through thicker and denser materials like balsa wood, matboard, and leather up to 2.4mm thick. It can be used to create 3D objects, puzzles, models, and more. And can be used with the Cricut Maker 3.
  4. Deep Point Blade: This blade is designed to cut through thicker materials with ease. It’s compatible with the Cricut Explore 3 and also the Cricut Maker 3 machines, and it can be used to cut materials that are up to 2mm thick, such as magnet sheets, chipboard, thick cardstock, poster board, and more.Scoring Wheel: This tool is used to create score lines on materials like paper, cardstock, and acetate, allowing you to fold and crease your designs accurately.
  5. Bonded-Fabric Blade can be used with the Cricut Maker 3 and Cricut Explore 3 and is designed to cut through bonded fabrics, which are made by laminating two or more layers of fabric together using an adhesive.
  6. Double Scoring Wheel for the Cricut Maker 3, It has two scoring wheels that work together simultaeously to create deep, double score lines on materials like cardstock, poster board, and more.
  7. Engraving Tip for the Cricut Maker 3. Can be used to engrave designs onto materials like metal, acrylic, and leather, creating personalized gifts and accessories.
  8. Debossing Tip for the Cricut Maker 3. Can be used to create a debossed effect on materials like paper, cardstock, and foil, adding depth and dimension to your designs. There is also a debossing tool available, this fits in the pen holder of your Cricut Machine thus giving a similar result. 
  9. Wavy Blade for the Cricut Maker 3. This blade creates a wavy edge on a variety of materials, such as paper, cardstock, and more.
  10. Perforation Blade for the Maker 3. This tool creates a series of small cuts in a straight line. Thus allowing you to create perforated edges on a variety of materials, such as paper, cardstock, and more.
  11. Foil Transfer Tool, for the Cricut Maker 3 and also the Explore Air 3. A pressure tool designed to transfer foil to card stock.
Cricut Maker 3 Vs Cricut Explore 3

Size Of The Cricut Maker 3 vs The Cricut Explore 3

The Cricut Explore 3 and Cricut Maker 3 are both compact machines that can easily fit on a desk or table.

The Cricut Maker 3 measures: 16 x 18 x 58cm and a weight of 4.84 kg (10.68 lbs.) Where The Cricut Explore 3 measures: 24 x 24 x 61cm and a weight of 4.98 kg (10.98 lbs)

Overall, while there are some very slight differences in size between the Cricut Maker 3 and the Cricut Explore 3. However they are both compact and easy to store.

Cricut Maker And Cricut Explore Both Use Cricut Pens

Cricut  Pens are specially designed pens that are compatible with the Cricut Maker and Cricut Explore cutting machine. These pens can be used to draw designs or write text on a variety of materials, including paper, cardstock, vinyl, iron-on, and more. The Cricut machine can hold a variety of pens with different tips, such as fine point, medium point, calligraphy, glitter, and gel pens, allowing you to create a wide range of designs.

To use Cricut Pens, you need to first insert the pen into the pen holder of the Cricut machine. Then, you can select a design or text in Cricut Design Space, and set the machine to draw or write the design using the selected pen. Lastly the Cricut machine will then use its precision cutting technology to create the design or text on your chosen material.

It’s also important to note that not all pens are compatible with the Cricut Maker machine. Thus you should use only pens that are specifically designed for the machine. This ultimately avoids damaging your machine or the material you’re working with. Therefore, Cricut offers a range of Maker Pens that are designed to work with the machine and produce high-quality results.

How to use  infusible ink pens

What Materials Does The Cricut Maker 3 And Explore Air 3 Work On?

The Cricut Maker 3 and Explore Air 3 are versatile cutting machines that can work with a variety of materials, including:

  1. Paper and Cardstock: The Cricut Maker 3 and Explore Air 3 can cut paper and cardstock with precision, thus making it great for creating custom cards, invitations, and also other paper crafts.
  2. Vinyl: Both machines can also cut vinyl, which is perfect for creating custom decals, stickers, and labels.
  3. Iron-On: Both machines will cut iron-on material, to create custom t-shirts, hats, and other fabric projects.
  4. Fabric: The Cricut Maker 3 has a rotary blade attachment that can cut fabric with precision, making it great for creating quilts, clothing, and other textile projects.
  5. Leather: The Cricut Maker 3 can cut leather with ease, making it perfect for creating custom leather goods, such as wallets, purses, and belts.
  6. Balsa Wood: With the Knife blade the Cricut Maker 3 can also cut thin balsa wood, making it great for creating custom home decor, models, and other craft projects.
  7. Acetate: The Cricut Maker 3 and Explore Air 3 can cut acetate, which is great for creating custom stencils, window clings, and other decorative items.
  8. Foam: The Cricut Maker 3 and Explore Air 3 will cut thin foam sheets, which is great for creating custom foam shapes, toys, and other projects.
  9. Magnetic Paper: The Cricut Maker 3 And Explore Air 3 will cut magnetic sheets, to create custom magnets for your fridge or other metal surfaces.
Summer sun floral layered wreath for crafting

Or Is The Cricut Joy The Machine For You?

However if space if a premium then check out the more portable sister of these machines the Cricut Joy. It’s a fantastic portable cutting machine, and whilst its doesn’t do a lot that these machines do. If you are simply creating small projects then check out this blog post.  

In summary

the Cricut Explore 3 is a great entry-level cutting machine that is ideal for beginners or those on a budget. It is capable of cutting a wide range of materials and has a good selection of cutting blades and tools. The Cricut Maker 3, on the other hand, is a more advanced cutting machine that offers greater versatility and cutting power. It is a better option for those who need to cut thicker materials or require more advanced cutting tools. Ultimately, the choice between the two machines will depend on your specific needs and budget.

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