Few things in life are as rewarding as exploring one’s creativity. The beauty of the Cricut Explore Air and other cutting machines of its type is the variety of creative possibilities. Originally used for scrapbooking and card making, the uses of these craft machines have expanded to everything from fashion to home design. Cricut is a brand that has several models of craft cutting machines on the market, so we decided to take a closer look at the Cricut Explore Air and see how it compares to the company’s other offerings. We did a lot of research and read through numerous Cricut Explore Air reviews from customers to ultimately arrive at a final verdict on how this clever cutting machine ranks.
What Is a Die Cut Machine?
A die cut machine is a device that, in its simplest form, is used to cut shapes out of materials. While die cutting began in the 19th century as a way of cutting leather for shoes on an industrial scale, the process has evolved, and modern users cut everything from sheet metal to tissue paper. In the crafting world, small die cut machines are most commonly used to clip paper for projects such as card making and scrapbooking. Traditionally, cutting dies were placed into die cut machines to determine the path of the cut, thus altering the ultimate shape of the material.
What Is the Cricut Explore Air?
- Embedded Bluetooth for wireless cutting
- Dual carriage for cutting and writing or cutting and scoring in one step
- Upload your own images for free (.svg, .jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, .dxf) Cut over 60 materials from...
The Cricut Explore Air is a high-tech die cut machine for modern crafters. It goes beyond cutting, extending to writing and scoring as well. It is compatible with a variety of tools and blades in order to work with over 100 different materials. The cutting dies can take the form of traditional, physical Cricut cartridges, which all work with this machine. However, the Cricut Explore Air goes further than this, and through its Design Space software, offers a vast library of designs and fonts. The built-in Bluetooth allows for wireless transfer of designs from your mobile device to the machine, but it also has a USB port if needed. The iOS Design Space app for iPad has offline capabilities if you find yourself without an internet connection. It has a maximum cutting width of 11.5 inches and height of 23.5 inches, which is fairly impressive for an 11-pound machine. The following is a more in-depth look at the details of this remarkable crafting device.
Cricut Explore Air Specifications
This Cricut is called “air” for a reason. The slick wireless design has a couple of advantages over wired models. First, there’s no need to hook up a computer to the Cricut machine through a wired connection. This adds a lot of flexibility as to where you can keep it. Second, not having wires gives your crafting area a less cluttered look and takes up less space, which means more room for crafting. Third, and this is important, you can send designs wirelessly from your mobile device to the Cricut Explore Air. It is much more convenient to design comfortably from your sofa instead of having to sit at the computer.
One element that sets Cricut apart from other craft cutting brands is the large assortment of incredibly effective blades. The Cricut Explore Air is no exception, featuring blades that can cut through a variety of materials. The following are more details on the blades.
Fine Point Blade
These precise blades are surprisingly durable, thanks to German carbide steel. This blade is capable of intricate, detailed cuts. It works best on thin to medium materials, such as paper, cardstock, vinyl and poster board.
Deep Point Blade
Like the fine point blade, the deep point blade is ideal for intricate cuts. However, it can do so on thicker materials. It is made from even more durable steel and has a 60-degree blade angle as opposed to the 45-degree angle on the fine point blade. This blade is great for cutting detailed designs on thick cardstock, stiff felt, foam sheets, magnet, cardboard, some fabrics and even chipboard.
As the name implies, this blade is perfect for bonded fabrics. It cuts detailed designs in material that is bonded or has iron-on backing. Using this blade for the rigors of cutting bonded fabric preserves the integrity of your other blades.
Smart Set Dial
The Smart Set Dial is a lifesaver for beginner crafters. It’s located on the top of the machine and has settings labeled by material, such as vinyl, light cardstock, cardstock, fabric and more. The crafter simply turns the dial to the material he or she is using, and the machine does the rest. The Cricut Explore Air adjusts cutting depth, speed and pressure automatically based on the setting, which eliminates the struggle of manually changing all these elements.
This model’s dual carriage design allows for the machine to hold and use two tools at once. For instance, the machine can write and cut in one step. This proves to be a major time and energy saver, as it means less changing of tools and waiting for actions to complete.
Gone are the days of a limited variety of clunky cartridges. Now a vast array of cutting designs and fonts are housed in a digital library, accessible via your tablet. The software is Cricut Design Space, and it’s the only software that works for Cricut machines. The platform is user-friendly and even allows users to upload their own designs for free, allowing for endless creative possibilities. A digital library, which has over 50,000 fonts, designs and projects, is available for a $10 monthly subscription fee or 99 cents per image. You can also access the Cricut cartridges from Design Space. The software is cloud based, but the iOS app for iPad now has an offline feature if you lose your internet connection. There is a beta app for Android as well. The software is fairly versatile and easy to use, though some crafters may feel a bit limited that they can only use Cricut’s software on the machine.
All new Cricut machines come with a one-year warranty. To qualify, the product must come from an authorized seller. A list of authorized sellers can be found in the Help Center on Cricut’s website.
This model comes in blue, teal, gold and wild orchid.
What Comes In the Box?
When you buy an Explore Air, you are not just getting a machine. A few more items come along with it.
- Circuit Explore Air Machine
- USB and power cords
- Blade and housing
- Pen and accessor adapter
- 12x12 cutting mat
- Assorted materials to try out a project
As you can see, the box comes with the basics. Cricut also offers a range of “bundles” that have a lot more tools and materials to get you started. There is an “everything” bundle that has additional blades, tools, pens and materials. Then there are smaller niche bundles customized to the type of projects you want to pursue, such as vinyl or heat transfer, for example. These bundles take the guesswork out of trying to find all the necessary tools and can also prove economical.
Cricut Explore Air Pricing
The list price of the Cricut Explore Air is $179.99 on Cricut’s website. This is a fairly good value for a high-quality cutting machine.
How the Cricut Explore Air Compares to Other Cricut Machines
Cricut is known for its quality cutting machines, and the company has a lot of products. Here’s a look at how Cricut’s other machines compare to the Cricut Explore Air.
Cricut Explore One
The Cricut Explore One is very similar to the Cricut Explore Air, except that it lacks a few features. The Cricut Explore One has one carriage instead of the Air’s dual carriage system, which means it can only hold one tool at a time, making it less efficient. The Cricut Explore One does not have built-in Bluetooth, although adapters are available. It is more affordable than the Cricut Explore Air due to the absence of these features. This model comes in gray, coral, navy bloom, pink poppy and blue.
Cricut Explore Air 2
The Cricut Explore Air 2 has all the same features as the Cricut Explore Air, plus improved efficiency. This model not only has built-in wireless technology and a dual carriage, but it also has twice the writing and cutting speed when cutting vinyl, iron-on material and cardstock. The machine’s available colors are mint, blue, rose, lilac and an Anna Griffin special edition.
The Cricut Maker is the most advanced cutting machine in the Cricut line, and according to some, in the crafting world overall. It has built-in Bluetooth, a dual carriage and twice the cutting and writing speed on vinyl, iron-on material and cardstock. Additionally, it has 10 times the power of other machines, which allows it to cut through much thicker materials, including balsa wood and leather.
In fact, the Cricut website says this machine can cut hundreds of more materials than the other machines. All the other machines cut over 100 different materials themselves, so this makes for a lot of possibilities.
The Maker is the only machine to have a rotary blade, which cuts almost any fabric, even denim, and the fabrics do not need to be bonded or have backing. Although sold separately, it also accommodates the strongest knife blade produced by Cricut to date, as well as a scoring wheel to create beautiful, clean folds. It no longer has a dial because the machine automatically adjusts when the details of the materials are input to the Design Space software. It also has a sophisticated, proprietary Adaptive Tool System that automatically adjusts cut pressure and tests to ensure the correct blade is in use. This clever device can even mark sewing patterns with a washable pen.
The array of advanced features results in a considerably higher price. This is probably not the best cutting tool for a beginner to the hobby. This is an investment for the committed crafter, and for those individuals, this machine takes the hobby to a new level. The Maker comes in one color, which is a dark gray body and champagne lid.
Cricut Explore Air Pros and Cons
There’s no doubt that the Cricut Explore Air is a great tool in the world of crafting, but like any product, it has both pros and cons.
The Verdict: The Cricut Explore Air Is a Great Cutting Machine for Hobbyists at All Levels
After thorough research and reading a lot of Cricut Explore Air reviews from customers, the overall verdict is that this machine is an impressive addition to any crafter’s toolbox regardless of experience level. The easy-to-use interface and reasonable price makes this a wonderful die cutter for beginners. However, its high-quality and precision cuts, along with versatility, make it a great machine for more experienced crafters as well. For the price, it’s hard to find a better craft cutting machine. While the software restriction may be a downside to some, overall, the pros far outweigh the cons of this impressive machine.