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- Cricut is a brand that sells smart crafting machines that cut all kinds of materials.
- The Maker 3 is Cricut's most expensive, advanced model — it was released in 2021.
- The device costs $429.99, but it's a great choice for experienced crafters and newcomers alike.
Since July 2020, I've been creating and crafting with my Cricut Explore Air 2. I initially bought one to cure some boredom during the COVID-19 pandemic, but eventually started a sticker side hustle.
In June 2021, Cricut released two new machines: the Explore 3 and the Maker 3. Both are redesigned, upgraded versions of the brand's previous Explore Air 2 and Maker 2. After I tried both Explore models, Cricut sent me the Maker 3 to test out.
What are the differences between the Cricuts?
Cricut currently has three lines of smart cutting machines. Cricut Joy ($179.99) is compact and best for small projects like labels and cards. Cricut Explore ($319.99) is the company's mid-range line — you can create large projects, but are limited by the compatible tools and materials. But to take advantage of everything Cricut has to offer, you'll need a Maker ($429.99).
The Maker line has always been Cricut's most advanced device line. It takes all of the basic functionality from the Explore devices and expands on it with support for even more tools and materials. The Maker 3 is by far the most capable device Cricut has to date.
What it's like to use the Cricut Maker 3:
The Cricut Maker 3 is compatible with Smart Materials that make cutting projects simpler than ever.
When you're cutting any kind of material, you typically have to adhere it to a sticky mat which is fed into the machine. Smart Materials are designed specifically to cut down on the need for a cutting mat.
Previously, only the Cricut Joy was compatible with Smart Materials. But when the redesigned models launched last summer, thesecapabilities were finally adapted for the Maker 3.
Smart Materials for the Maker 3 are 13 inches wide with a thicker, sturdy backing sheet that doubles at the mat, so all you have to do to use Smart Materials is feed the roll of vinyl or iron through a roll holder into the machine and press the "go" button.
The following Smart Materials are compatible with the Maker 3:
The Cricut Maker 3 cuts twice as fast as the Maker 2.
With expanded support for more materials than ever, the quicker cut speed is a great pro to the Maker 3. Sometimes, using thicker or tougher materials like fabric means it has a longer-than-usual cut time.
That being said, the Maker 3 cut through wood and leather much quicker than I'd expected it to.
The Maker 3 also cuts 10x more forcefully than Cricut's mid-range Explore 3, thanks to a suite of tools exclusive to the Maker models.
The adaptive tool system, exclusive to the Maker 3, lets you use a host of different blades that all serve different purposes. All of Cricut's blades come in a casing known as housing, which fits perfectly into the mechanism that moves left to right inside the machine.
Cricut Maker 3's standard blade is the fine point blade, but this system comes in when you switch to heavier, specialty blades including the knife blade (for thicker materials like wood and chipboard), and the rotary blade (for fabric). You can purchase the blade in housing known as "quick-swap housing" — this makes it easy to switch the blades without having to switch out the housing every time.
These adaptive tools all serve different purposes from the regular cutting blades and have a more forceful cut.
The Cricut Maker 3 cuts over 300 materials and has support for 13 different tools.
The basic materials that you can use with the Maker 3 include vinyl and cardstock. I was also able to make classic stickers with the Maker 3.
Because of the adaptive tool system, the Maker 3 can make things beyond the capabilities of the Explore 3. Some of the supported materials include aluminum sheets, chipboard, balsa wood, and various fabrics like leather and felt. Pictured above are a few of the things I made with the Maker 3 including a wooden bookmark (decorated with a design that the machine drew onto the wood), a felt succulent, and a keychain made with Cricut's metallic leather and foil heat-transfer vinyl.
Something unique to the Maker 3 is the engraving tip, which is compatible with Cricut's aluminum sheets; with that tool, you can engrave a design in the aluminum in seconds.
The expanded support for materials means there are more options than ever — the sky's the limit with this machine.
Cons to consider
Cricut machines come with a learning curve, between mastering the machine itself, the tools and materials, and the Design Space app where you make all of your designs before connecting your computer or tablet to the device.
This is true for all three of Cricut's current product lines, but even as an experienced Cricut user, the jump from an Explore to a Maker was challenging. That's not always a bad thing, but it's worth pointing out that this machine has a steeper learning curve than the Joy (Cricut's smallest model), so it might take some time to master the basics before you start creating more intricate projects.
Additionally, at $429.99, the Maker 3 is Cricut's most expensive machine; Explore 3 costs $319.99 and Joy costs $179.99. The price does reflect the upgrades the Maker 3 has, however, so with that steep price, you'd be getting a much more powerful machine that can essentially do double what the Explore 3 can.
The bottom line
With the Cricut Maker 3, you can take your crafting to the next level with more materials, tools, and projects than ever. With forceful, fast cutting and new Smart Materials, this smart cutting machine is the best one on the market right now.
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