How to find the best vinyl cutting machines for your hobbies
Any crafter knows that having a quality reliable cutting machine is like having the hard part of crafting already done for you.
If you are here then you’re interested in getting advice on the best vinyl machines for beginners. Most likely, you need advice on the best vinyl cutting machine for t-shirts.
Whether you are a beginner crafter or you have been practicing the hobby for years, there will come a point in time when you’ll want information about new cutting machines.
Maybe your trusted machine had died on you or the company is no longer offering software updates to it. Chances are that you will need to either upgrade to a new cutting machine sooner or later.
Do your research to find out which machines are best suited for you.
Verify the options included with the machine, for example, if it comes with the basic version of the software app or the unlimited version. Does it even have a seperate software application to upload files?!
In this case, the difference in the two versions could mean whether or not you can use certain graphic file types and whether or not you have access to extra resources.
Uses for Cutting Machines
Before I get into the different types of cutting machines on the market, let’s just quickly go over what they can do.
On a big picture level, a vinyl cutting machine works like a computer with a moving blade.
- You upload an image (png, jpg) or a template to the app software on your computer
- The image is transferred to the machine
- The machine reads the cut lines (the borders)
- You load the material to be cut on the cutting mat
- The machine cuts out the image into the material
Basically, you start out with a picture and you end up with a physical cut out of the picture. Think of it as a 2-D printer for crafts.
*Pro tip – You can get 3-D printers like the Silhouette Alda machine to make other crafts like silicone bracelets and acrylic cake toppers.
It’s amazing just how many different uses are available for vinyl cutters.
Of course, a vinyl cutter will cut vinyl but did you know that there are some that can cut harder materials like leather and suede? If you like making jewelry, you can make faux leather earrings. You can also cut common and not so common materials like chipboard, cardstock, paper and wood. Some models have the capability to etch glass and draw using markers.
If you’re still new to your hobby, this post covers 25 craft ideas for beginners and advanced crafters. This will give you more options and let you discover new crafts that you might like to try.
Now that you know the possible uses for cutting machines, let’s see what options are out there.
Best Machines for Home Use
I’m guessing that you need a cutting machine for home use and not for use in some huge factory. I’m going to mainly cover the machines that are suitable to use at home and not industrial use cutting machines.
There are two very popular brands of home cutting machines.
Other well known brands are
I’ll cover the two most popular brands, Silhouette and Cricut. Each set of machines has its benefits and disadvantages.
In the family of Cricut machines, you have
Explore One (the beginner machine without lots of bells and whistles)
Explore Air (the intermediate level machine for those who have some experience crafting with a printer)
Explore Air 2 (the semi-pro machine for the crafter that makes multiple crafts, like t-shirts, tumbler, paper flowers, greeting cards…)
Maker (the granddaddy of them all. This machine is for those that really want to make the best of use their crafting time. It has all of the features of the previously mentioned machines, but is more powerful and can cut hundreds of more craft materials. Many of these capabilities require separate attachments which you must buy in addition to the machine.)
The most popular of these for hobby crafters and small business crafters is the Explore Air 2. The reasons are because
- Simple and easy to use
- Cuts, writes, and scores many craft materials (paper, glass, leather, fabric, vinyl, cardstock and 94 other popular craft materials)
- No messy wires and cables needed – it has Bluetooth® wireless technology
- Plenty of storage supply space – it has two tool holders
- Speed of use – it cuts and writes twice as fast as other machines
In the family of Silhouette machines, you have
Silhouette Curio (for crafters that like to get fancy), the Curio is the only machine that can unlock stippling, etching, debossing, embossing. You’ll need to make you base design in Silhouette Studio on your computer first, then send it to Curio to put in the finishing touches.
Silhouette Portrait 2
Silhouette Portrait 2 (easy to use for all crafting skill levels) This is a simple to use standard cutting machine that’s perfect to use at home. Think of it like a printer with a blade. Plug it into your computer (works with PC or Mac) to get started. It will cut paper, cardstock, vinyl, fabric, and other material up to 8 inches wide and 10 feet long.
Silhouette Cameo 3
Silhouette Cameo 3 (for crafters that make many different kinds of diy projects) The Cameo is very popular. That is probably because of its versatility. Of all the Silhouette machines, it has the largest cutting space and can cut a larger variety of materials.
- Cuts over 100 materials, including paper, cardstock, vinyl, and fabric up to 12 inches wide.
- It has a dual-carriage which means you can use two tools at once.
- It works with a separate software that you can download called Silhouette Studio.
Best Vinyl Cutter for You
I hope this review leaves you feeling confident when the time comes to upgrade your cutting machine.
Whether you need a vinyl cutting machine because you are a hobby crafter or a small business owner, you now know the pros and cons of the different models and are ready to choose the best vinyl cutting machine for you.
Do you have a favorite vinyl cutter? Which machine do you prefer to use for crafting?