If you’re looking to buy your first Cricut machine or are looking to upgrade your Cricut Maker, this post is for you! The Cricut Maker 3 is the newest machine from Cricut, but is it really better than the original Cricut Maker? I’ll break down all of the details for you and give tips to help you make a decision on which cutting machine you should buy!
Cricut Maker 3 vs. Cricut Maker
Ever since the Cricut Maker 3 hit the craft stores last year, everyone has been asking me what I think about it! And the most frequent question I get asked is how different is the Cricut Maker versus Cricut Maker 3?
Anytime Cricut launches a new machine, it’s a great idea to compare Cricut models. In this case, it will be on the market with the Cricut Maker, Cricut Explore Air 3, Cricut Explore Air 2, and Cricut Joy! So which machine is best for you?
The Cricut Maker 3 is a direct upgrade to the Cricut Maker, so let’s start with the basics of the Cricut Maker. If you’re familiar with the original Maker, skip right ahead to the list of differences between the Maker vs. Maker 3.
And if you’re still on the fence between a Cricut Maker and a Cricut Explore Air series, I have a whole post that breaks down all of the details of those two machines! It’s a good starter post if you are just learning about Cricut machines.
Cricut Maker Overview
The Cricut Maker was first introduced in 2017 and quickly became a favorite among crafters and DIY enthusiasts. I have had a Cricut Maker since the day it launched, and really love how it has helped me to create some of my favorite crafts and parties.
Cricut Maker is designed to work with hundreds of materials, including fabric, leather, paper, cardstock, thin wood, and even thin metal. Cricut has an entire line of Maker-only materials that suit the machine perfectly. The original Maker came with a rotary blade, which is ideal for cutting fabric, as well as a fine-point blade for more precise cuts.
The Maker also has a powerful cutting force, which means it can handle thicker materials with ease. And with the expandable tool system, tools like the Knife Blade, Engraving Tool, and Scoring Wheel take your crafts to the next level.
Because the machine can cut so many different materials, it makes an excellent choice for crafters that want to experiment with a variety of materials and create a wide range of products.
What is the Difference Between a Cricut Maker and Cricut Maker 3?
The Cricut Maker 3 is the latest addition to the Cricut family, and it has a few significant upgrades over its predecessor. It launched at the same time as the Cricut Explore Air 3.
*Note: there is NOT a Cricut Maker 2, Cricut changed the name to match the Explore Air 3.
Cricut Maker 3 is Faster than the Cricut Maker
One of the most notable differences is the Maker 3’s ability to cut up to 2 times faster than the original Maker. If you are running a small craft business, this is an important upgrade!
Cricut Smart Materials
Another exciting new feature of the Maker 3 is its ability to work with the new Smart Materials. These materials are specially designed to work with the Maker 3, and they can be cut without a mat.
Smart Materials allow you to cut longer designs without having to stop and reload your mat. This makes your projects faster and more efficient because you no longer have to piece together long designs!
You can cut up to 12′ long with one piece of Smart Material on the Maker 3, and only up to 2′ with regular material and/or with the Cricut Maker.
In addition, cutting Smart Materials without a mat allows you to cut up to 11.7″ wide instead of 11.5″ (not a huge increase, but it’s still something).
Roll Feeder for Cricut Materials
With the Cricut Smart Materials, the Maker 3 also has a new roll feeder that will hold your material roll as it feeds into the Cricut machine to cut.
The roll feeder is not required to cut long designs, but is helpful with holding thick rolls of materials (new Smart Material rolls are up to 75′ long!)
Cricut Maker 3 is More Expensive
The Maker 3 is more expensive than the original Maker. At the time of this post, the original Cricut Maker is $249.99 and the Cricut Maker is $379.99 on Cricut and Amazon (prices subject to change). The price increase may be a consideration if you have a smaller budget.
Color & Design
The original Maker is a champagne color, and the Maker 3 is a light blue color. Other than a few minor changes (the Cricut “C” button now is a triangle “Play” or “Go” button), the design remains the same.
Can you use the same power cord for Maker models? No, Cricut Maker 3 and Cricut Maker power cords have different connectors and are not interchangeable.
What Things are the Same Between a Cricut Maker and Cricut Maker 3?
The Maker 3 uses the same software as the original Maker, which is the Cricut Design Space.
Tools & Materials
With the exception of Smart Materials, the Cricut Maker 3 is also compatible with all the tools and materials that the original Maker can cut, so you can still use all of your favorite materials.
You can also use the knife blade, engraving tool, and other speciality tools can easily go between the machines.
In addition, all of your cutting mats will work perfectly with the Cricut Maker 3 – you don’t have to buy new mats!
Both the Maker and Maker 3 can connect wirelessly to your computer or mobile device, making it easy to send your designs to your machine and start crafting right away.
The Cricut Maker dimensions are the same for both models. (5.93″ high x 21.18″ long x 6.99″ wide). They each weigh a little bit over 10.5 pounds (10.68 lbs.)
Which Cricut Maker is Better?
Overall, both Cricut Maker models are good machines. But when looking at just cutting speed and ability to cut smart materials without a mat, the Cricut Maker 3 vs Cricut Maker is a better machine overall. That doesn’t mean that I would necessarily buy one, though!
Is it Worth Upgrading to Cricut Maker 3?
If you currently have a Cricut Maker and are happy with it, I see no major need to upgrade. If you mainly work with vinyl and paper, I would consider an Explore Air 2 or 3 machine – you will get what you want at a fraction of the price. But some of you will benefit from getting a Maker 3.
Here are the reasons I would upgrade to a Maker 3:
- You have an early launch model of the Cricut Maker. I find that my original Maker seems a little slower these days and doesn’t do a great job at cutting all materials, even after a blade change.
- You make a lot of projects that are longer than 2 feet long. If you are constantly cutting and piecing together vinyl to finish your projects, it might be worth upgrading to cut without a mat using Cricut Smart Materials!
- You want to have every latest and greatest machine. In my opinion, the Cricut Maker 3 is currently the best smart cutting machine on the market. It’s fast, powerful, and has an array of tools that perform well on hundreds of materials including wood, vinyl, HTV, felt, and more.
- This will be your first Cricut machine! If you don’t own an Explore Air or Cricut Maker and want to make a large variety of crafts, I would purchase a Cricut Maker 3. In this case, it’s a good idea to go with the latest model for the best technology out there. The addition of matless cutting and long materials is an upgrade you will not regret in the long run.
What’s Better than Cricut Maker 3?
Did you Know: There’s a Laser AND Blade Machine for Crafts!
I have an xTool M1 and I did a detailed review post – it covers all of the laser and blade functions of the machine, a comparison of xTool vs. Cricut and tips for buying your first laser cutter!
If you are only considering a blade cutting machine, the Cricut is really the best machine out there (at least for now). It’s great for beginner to experienced crafters, and the design software is user friendly.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Cricut Maker vs. Cricut Maker 3:
Is Cricut discontinuing the Maker?
According to Cricut, no, they are not discontinuing the original Cricut Maker at this time. I would assume that some time in the future, older models would be discontinued to make room for additional machines. But that remains to be seen! Customer support still exists for original Maker models.
Can the Cricut Maker 3 Engrave?
Yes, just as with the Cricut Maker, the Maker 3 can use all of the same tools, including the engraving tool. You can engrave soft metal like this necklace charm, leather, paper, acrylic, and more!
What Cricut is Best for Making Stickers?
Either the Cricut Maker 3 or Maker are great choices, as well as the Explore Air 3 or Explore Air 2 models. All have “print then cut” capability and make amazing printable or fun DIY stickers! You can even use the offset tool in Cricut Design Space to make your own stickers!
Can Cricut Maker 3 Engrave Glass?
Although I have not seen it done, you can use the Cricut Maker 3 to cut stencils that you can apply to glass and then use etching medium to engrave on glass.
Which Cricut is Best for Shirts and Decals?
I think that if you want to primarily make shirts and vinyl decals with your Cricut, you can save some money and buy an Explore Air series Cricut machine.
Can I Use a Cricut Maker 3 for Sublimation?
Sublimation is the process of heating ink from paper, turning it into a gas and embedding it in polyester material. Cricut makes sublimation-type transfer sheets called Infusible Ink that can be cut with a Cricut Maker 3, similar to vinyl or HTV. They come in a ton of amazing patterns and I love the projects I have made with them.
In addition, there are Infusible Ink markers that can be placed in the machine to “draw” designs that can then be sublimated onto polyester blanks. I have even “painted” watercolor designs with my Infusible Ink markers!
Where Can I Get Designs for My Cricut Maker 3?
In addition to my Free Downloads Library page (you need a password to access it!) where I share a ton of Free SVG cut files and printables, you can get Cricut Maker 3 designs in my shop! You can also check out this huge resource I made with a TON of places you can download SVG files to use with your Cricut machines.
Downloading designs and uploading them to Cricut Design Space is really easy! Don’t let it intimidate you from trying your own designs.
If you have a Cricut Access subscription, there are thousands of designs right inside Cricut Design Space that you can use, too!
Is Cricut Maker Being Discontinued?
At the time of this article, Cricut has not announced that they will be discontinuing the original Cricut Maker model. However, I would expect that in the future the Cricut Maker 3 will replace the old machines on the market.
If you have any questions about Cricut Maker machines, please email me! Are you interested in Cricut Joy vs Cricut Explore 3? I want to do a review 🙂