How to Choose The Best Cutting Machine for Beginners
Cutting machines are so handy these days as they can be used for projects like stickers, posters, signs, decals and so much more! Finding the best one can be tough as you want to make sure you are spending your money on a product that will provide you the best quality. Lucky for you I’ve done some research on two brands that most crafters prefer, both Silhouette and Cricut, so you can decide what might be best for you. Below are some key features to keep in mind when comparing the two.
- Although both machines have quality software the Cricut Explore Air 2 is more suitable for beginners. It also provides a more enjoyable experience to use as the blades cut with more precision than the Silhouettes.
- Both have dedicated followers who support both products, however, we’ve found that beginners tend to like the Cricut Explore Air 2 more. The Cricut offers a wider variety of projects and images that help guide beginners and provide customer support in case you run into any issues.
Speed and Noise Level
- Although the Explore Air 2 is not the fastest, it performs a lot more quiet than the others. However, the new Cricut Maker machine is both fast and quiet. It also lets you cut fabric without having to add interfacing or anything to it, unlike any other machine. For those looking for a speedy and fast machine, we recommend Cricut Maker for smaller patterns such as bags and doll clothes and the Explore Air 2 for anything else. Both are a great investment and will bring great value to your crafty life!
- A huge benefit for choosing Cricut is that many of their machines offer different bundles of accessories. They come with extras which can include blades and spare cutting mats. Which is great to keep in mind because this fall the Cricut will be releasing a new knife blade that will cut thicker materials like wood!
- When it comes to crafting a lot of us are always looking to upgrade our machines after a few years of good usage. Cricut happens to have one of the best resale values as they have great software and provide value that is worth its an investment. The software in the Cricut Maker is also updatable so many people don’t opt to sell it however, if one does insist, it can still be sold for a great value. The Maker is definitely also very useful if you sew a lot of smaller projects and need to use heavy materials or need a quiet and more speedy process.
Smaller Projects When it comes to the Silhouette Portrait, this machine is great for creating smaller scale projects. It won't work for signs or iron-on decals for bags or t-shirts because the cutting area maxing out at 8 inches wide, but it still can cit many of the same projects that larger machines can. Although the Silhouette Software is harder to learn it’s still a great choice and can cut a lot of the same things their more expensive machine’s can for cheaper the price. They’ve also created the Portrait 2 which will be replacing the Portrait this fall, however, there will be a few months overlap between both models once the Portrait 2 releases so you’ll still have time to purchase the first one if interested! Materials If you have an interest in creating projects like vinyl decals, custom cards, posters, and stickers an electronic cutter would be a great option. Silhouette’s electric die cutters may be your best option. You have so many options when it comes to the materials you want to use as these cutters can design out of a variety of materials. Their software allows you to create, upload, or purchase designs to be cut as well. You can also try putting a pen in instead of a blade and they’ll be able to draw too. Manual die-cutting machines Another machine that some crafters are into are these manual machines that are only limited to cutting paper. Many find that if you already have one of these and are satisfied with the work you get out of it there is no need for you to upgrade. However, the expense of constantly purchasing single images can add and manual die cutters that do cut fabric cost just as much like an electronic cutter so getting an electric cutter may save you overall time and money.
Here are key features to keep in mind when looking for a machine:
1. User-friendly - Many experts say a machine's software is the biggest factor as it is what makes an electric cutting machine cut well. Setup should also be quick and should include a large library of images and ready-to-cut projects. As a beginner, you should comfortable using the machine right away.
2. Good Blade System- This is essential for any machine. If it can’t reliably and cleanly through materials without nicking or bending them you may waste your materials. If changing the blades and using the pens isn't easy as well, you may not find much use out of the machine. ALways look for the easiest and cleanest systems.
3. Customer Service and Community Support- Having a responsive customer service team is key as you can never have enough support when you’re first getting started. Brands that come with a variety of how-to videos are also very reliable and helpful.
4. Speed- Good speed is a great quality for a machine to have although it doesn’t have to be the fastest. Just as long as the motor isn’t lagging and can get your projects finished in time especially when you’re on a deadline, you should be good!
5. Range in bundles: Your projects may require up to about half a dozen tools to help complete your projects so using a brand that offers these great bundles is the best way to go. Some helpful tools these bundles may include are burnishing tools for applying vinyl, weeding tools, different sizes in mats, and a spatula to help get your projects off the sticky mat.
6. Resale value: it’s always a plus being able to resell your machines for a good price when you want to upgrade. Especially when you’re putting such a great investment into these machines it is worth it to consider it’s worth and value when it comes to reselling later.
Overall, it seems like the Cricut Explore Air 2 hits all these special selling points and would make a great option for beginners. Especially for those using these types of machines for the first time and are looking for more helpful guidance while using them. The quality in blades and software also provide a lasting and great quality cut also being easy to replace if needed. They have great bundles and variety in tools with great customer service that respond in a very timely manner compared to Silhouette’s machines. Although expensive, you are definitely getting exactly what you pay for and also has a great resale value when it comes to selling it further down the line.
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