Those in the crafting industry can tell you fifty different things about what you need to know before you buy a die cutting machine. Factors such as price, ease of use, and name brand will likely float through your head as you begin your comparison shopping.
What are the most important factors to consider before you buy one of these machines? That’s what you’ll get to answer here. Once you have reviewed everything you need to know about purchasing your next crafting partner, you’ll be ready to create something special.
What Kind of Die Cutting Machine Should You Purchase?
One of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a die cutting machine is the type of model you’ll end up buying. There are two major variations to choose from when you are ready to make your investment.
There are manual machines that operate with a crank. You’ll use this crank to feed your pressed material through a slot. Inside, this is where the cutting or embossing takes place. If you’re concerned about price and portability, you should definitely look into a manual cutter. They’ll save you the most money and you can easily pack them up to take on the go.
You can also pick a digital cutter, which functions mostly like a printer. You can plug in cartridges to each digital cutting machine, or you’ll connect the cartridge to a working computer.
If you need to create any custom designs, a digital machine is the way to go. Be sure to check into what the machine allows you to do, as not every single model on the market lets you import your own creations.
How Much Does a Die Cutting Machine Cost?
If you’re going with a hand-operated die cutter, you won’t be breaking into your savings account. Manual cutters can cost as little as $50, leaving extra money for you to spend on fabric and other material for crafting.
Digital machines can run much higher in cost. Some machines at the top of the mountain can cost as much as $1,000 depending on the capacity and number of features or accessories that come included. If you’re a small business or any kind of professional crafter, this will be a worthy investment. It might seem like a lot up front, but it will be worth it once you increase your output.
Along with the initial cost of the machine, you’ll also need to remember the price for maintenance and upkeep. Die cutting machines require blades, cartridges, dies, and cutting mats. All of these are eventually going to wear down and need replacements. If you use a professional version of software, such as Silhouette Studio, you’ll have to retain a paid subscription as well.
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What Kind of Material Will a Die Cutting Machine Use?
Think about what kind of fabrics, textiles, or metal you’ll be using to create your projects with the machine. If you’re only planning to use lighter material, you might be able to get away with a manually-operated machine. Without the need for anything on the heavier side, you don’t have to spend the extra money necessary for a higher-end product that features a ton of automatic settings.
Once you move past the point of working with just paper and thinner material, you can check out heavy duty die cutting machines that have deeper penetration. You’ll risk damaging a cheaper machine and having to replace it quickly if you feed it too much of a thicker material.
Another thing to keep in mind is how many different tasks you want to perform with your machine. If you’re looking to find one that is capable of embossing and drawing, a manual machine isn’t going to work for you.
Manual machines with cranks are designed to do the bare essentials. They’re fantastic for beginners and those who don’t plan on making a whole lot of projects. If you’re running your own store on Etsy or maintaining a storefront, a manual die cutting machine probably won’t do the job for you. Remember that the more you invest in a machine, the better it will pay off down the road.
Finding Software and Support for a Die Cutting Machine
This mostly applies to automatic die cutters, especially in terms of software. Those who are just starting out in crafting might get overwhelmed by software if they are already having trouble with the actual crafting. If the idea of creating something from scratch is too much to handle, imagine trying to feed that image into a brand-new program you have never seen before.
Most of the time, a die cutting machine will include software. The question is how long you will have access to it, and how you can use it to its full potential. There are some machines that require you to maintain an active internet connection in order to unlock all of the included features.
In other cases, you’ll need to pay for a subscription to cloud-based software, similar to Adobe. Without a paid link to your projects, you’re cut off from using much of the folder included with each machine. There are free versions of software available on websites, but these are typically trial versions of bigger, more powerful pieces of software.
Before you complete your purchase, check into the reliability of each company’s die cutting machine. Cricut, Silhouette, and Sizzix all have reputations for different amounts of consistency and durability for their cutting machines.
You can also check out each company’s website for online support material. Using each website will give you the most up-to-date tutorials, troubleshooting, and drivers. If these don’t work for you, each company should provide a direct email support line, as well as a phone number to speak to a representative.
How Big Do You Like Your Die Cutting Machine?
Taking your machine with you on the road can mean the difference between one model or another. Usually, a higher price means you’ll need more space on your desk or in your studio to give your die cutting machine a proper home.
If you only have a small working area and don’t plan on making a lot of overly complex projects, you could get away with a manually operated machine. This also works out if you plan on traveling to different event or conventions.
You should also check out the weight of the machine if you plan to take it out with you. Smaller machines don’t weight much more than an empty handbag, but larger ones can exceed 40 pounds. Hauling that kind of weight from table to table across different events can be stressful and exhausting.
How Much Cutting Space Do You Need?
Aside from physical space in your working area, you also need to think about how much space is necessary for the machine itself. When purchasing a die cutting machine, you’ll get cutting pads included with the device. There will be a size limit for each machine, and you’ll have to work within the limits with each of your projects.
Although you can buy additional upgrades for each machine, the sizes you can increase to often change with each model. You’ll also need to find out which machines include additional mats, as some companies like to charge more for extra accessories. Rather than include them in the box, you’ll have to add on extra purchases when making your decision.
Where Should You Purchase a Die Cutting Machine?
For those that prefer to check out their purchase before they buy, consider going to a local arts store. It could be a smaller vendor near you, or a larger arts and crafts chain such as Michael’s. You’ll be limited to what they have available on the shelf, but you can easily preview each device and see what it will look and feel like.
Amazon has many different models from the biggest die cutting machine vendors in stock. Search anything by Cricut or Silhouette and you’ll find models sold by Amazon or third parties. If you prefer to shop directly from the manufacturer, you can purchase directly from them to guarantee a new machine right out of the box.
Final Decisions on a Die Cutting Machine
You can never be too careful when doing research on a future die cutting machine. There are so many different factors to consider that you might start to wonder why you are buying one in the first place.
Remind yourself of why you got into crafting. Whether it’s to have fun, distract yourself from the worries of life, or make some extra money, a die cutting machine will make your art projects much easier to distribute and show.
Choose the best machine that suits your crafting lifestyle, personally and professionally. You could go with a small manual presser that makes simple prints or a deluxe automatic cutter that crafts jewelry and other metal. As long as you do your homework in advance, you’ll come away a happier person when you buy a die cutting machine.