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By Joseph Foley published 23 December 21
The best Cricut alternatives for cutting and crafting with vinyl, paper, card, fabric and more.
Looking for the best Cricut alternatives? Then you're in the right place. Cricut is the biggest name in craft machines for cutting on paper, card, vinyl, fabric and much more. In fact, it's become something like the Apple of the craft world – a quick glance at the design of its own website suggests that's a comparison the company even makes itself. However, again like Apple products, Cricut machines aren't cheap, and on top of the cost of the machines themselves, there's the subscription to Cricut Access if you want full access to Design Space, the software that runs its cutters.
For many uses, there is an alternative to Cricut. Several brands produce Cricut-like machines that can do at least some of what Cricut's own devices can do – in some cases even more. Cricut now has a wide range of devices, from its flagship Cricut Maker and Cricut Maker 3 to the more affordable Cricut Explore Air 2 and Explore 3 (yes Cricut's naming strategy is just as unfathomable as Apple's) to more niche devices like the Easy Press 2 and the Cricut Mug Press. See all the Cricut options with our best Cricut machines guide, and be sure to pair them with the best laptops for Cricut (or just head to the best Cricut Maker 3 bubdle deals, as that's the top dog int he Cricut family tree). Make sure you also check out our guide to the best Cricut accessories.
In this article, we'll look at the best Cricut alternatives and weigh up the pros and cons of each to help you decide which to go for. Alternatively, if you need a device for embossing, see our best embossing machines guide, or check out our guide to laser cutters if you need ultra-precision cutting.
The best alternative to Cricut Maker is the Silhouette Cameo 4. There are plenty of similarities between to two machines. In terms of speed, it's pretty on par with the Cricut Maker 3, with both being very fast, and like the Maker 3, the Cameo 4 has an integrated roller feeder. You'll find lower Silhouette Cameo 4 prices, as it's cheaper, and yet it's actually the stronger of the two machines in terms of downward force, boasting 5kg, a full 1kg more than the Cricut Maker.
The roller can handle longer designs, and the cutter has new tools like the Kraft and Rotary and can handle balsa wood, leather and even chipboard. It can cut material up to 3mm (0.11in) thick using the knife blade, which beats the Maker 3 by 0.6mm. Another big difference is the software. Cricut's is very intuitive and easy to use, if perhaps simplistic, while the Silhouette Studio has a steeper learning curve.
That said, we like the fact that Silhouette opted for standalone software that runs on your computer. This means there's no monthly subscription fee like there is with Cricut Access, and there's no need for an active internet connection. All in all, this is the best Cricut alternative for a wide range of professional and personal projects.
Brother will be a more familiar brand name for many. It's known for its printers and sewing machines, but it also makes Cricut-like machines for cutting. Its ScanNCut SDX125 is a great alternative to Cricut for hobbyists working with paper, card vinyl and fabric, and particularly for quilters.
What makes the ScanNCut SDX125 different from other alternatives is the scanning part. It features a built-in scanner so you can transfer printed pages into real projects. You can send SVG files from your computer, but you can also programme design directly on the machine using the LCD touchscreen display and its 682 built-in designs, including 100 quilting patterns and nine fonts.
Like the Silhouette Cameo 4, it can handle material up to 3 mm) thick, beating the Cricut Maker 3. It has an AutoBlade that automatically detects the material thickness. However, in terms of width, The SDX125E is limited to 29.7cm (11.7in) compared to the Cricut Maker's 33cm (13in). The other downside is that it's actually more expensive than the Cricut Explore Air 2. Note that the Brother ScanNCut SDX125E is sold in the US, see below if you're in Europe.
If you're in Europe, you might be scratching your head wondering why you can't find the Brother ScanNCut SDX125E anywhere. Well in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, Brother has the SDX900, which is a very similar machine in terms of size and functions. Like the ScanNCut SDX125, it's a great alternative to Cricut for hobbyists working with a wide range of materials.
Again, it has a built-in scanner, LCD touchscreen and 682 built-in designs, and it beats the Cricut Maker 3, handling material up to 3 mm thick. However, it is expensive. If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, you may prefer the Cricut Explore Air 2 unless you really need to cut thicker material.
You can cut for a lot cheaper if you're happy to put in some arm work. Cricut's cutters are automatic, digital machines that you programme from your laptop, but there's still a lot to be said for a manual die-cutter, not least the fact that there's no need for a computer or even an electricity supply. The elegant grey-and-white Sizzix Big Shot has a 15.24 cm (A5) wide opening and can cut a wide range of materials, from paper, tissue and cardstock to felt, cork, leather, balsa wood, polyfoam, sheet magnet, static cling vinyl and more.
The roller system's steel core is wrapped in a heavy-duty outer casing and it can handle material that’s up to 22.5cm wide and 1.6cm thick. For amateur crafters that are just getting started with die-cutting, we'd certainly recommend starting with this before working up to a more technologically advanced option like a Cricut machine. The assembly instructions aren't the clearest – we'd recommend watching the many tutorials on YouTube. There's also a Pro and Plus version for those that need to cut at bigger sizes.
If you do want an automatic cutter without the price tag of a Cricut device, in steps the Gemini. This compact, highly portable electronic cutter is most comparable to the size of the Cricut Joy but comes in a good bit cheaper. It does the work for you, with cutting plates feeding through automatically like a laminator. There's also a reverse button, which can be handy in an emergency.
It's compatible with many dies and can cut through even the thickest card stock without a problem. It also offers a wider cutting width than the Sizzix Big Shot, cutting material at up to A4 width, while happily fitting in the corner of a desk. Like all die cutters, the plates will eventually need replacing, but that's fairly easy and inexpensive.
If you're printing rather than cutting, and particularly on T-shirts, sweatshirts or other fairly large textile items, then Cricut's EasyPress 2 is a handy, portable device that works a treat. However, it is expensive, and there are cheaper options out there than can do the job. The Fierton heat press is light, portable and it's suitable for vinyl and textiles like sweatshirts, banners, and T-shirts using thermal transfer and sublimation paper.
It's very easy to use. Simply set your preferred time and temperature, then watch it do its things in under sixty seconds. There's a safety mode and an insulated safety base, and you can work for a good couple of hours without it getting too hot. There's also an automatic turn-off time to help if you forget. The iron sits a little way from the surface and takes a little longer to heat up than some options, but once it's ready it does the job very well.
Cricut has its own mug press, but it's quite expensive for a device that limits you to one very specific size of mug (Cricut recommends you use its own). For a cheaper price, you might want to consider the O Bosstop Mug Printing Machine. While it might not be as pretty as the Cricut Mug Press, it's still light and portable enough to allow you to customise mugs out at craft fairs or other events, and heats up fast and evenly. It's more flexible on mug size than Cricut's device, and it's very easy to install and use.
Cricut's BrightPad is a great lightbox for tracing on paper or fabric or for weeding vinyl, but it's fairly pricy. There are far cheaper lightboxes on the market. Many of them have lower levels of brightness, and might not be enough if you're working with a thicker paper or fabric, but this super cheap Amazon bestseller delivers an impressive 4,000 lux of LED illumination, which is comparable with the power of Cricut's own lightbox. It also has adjustable brightness and smart memory to recall the last brightness level you used. Powered by a USB, it's a slim and lightweight device. The only downside is that it does get hot quite quickly. See our guide to the best lightboxes for more Cricut BrightPad alternatives at different price points.
Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He's in charge of getting our product reviews up onto the website and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to office supplies. A writer, translator, he also works as a project manager at a design and branding agency based in London and Buenos Aires.
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