Cricut Maker vs Explore Air 2: Which One is Best?

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Get Smarter On Architecture and Design

Get the 3-minute weekly newsletter keeping 5K+ designers in the loop.

Enter your Email to Sign up


Though they may both from the same family, they each have their distinct features that differentiate them. All Cricut Explore Family machines can cut the same materials; however, they do differ in certain aspects. If you’ve been wondering which of these two would be ideal for you, look no further. Deciding between The Cricut Maker vs Explore Air 2 can be tough as they are both quality machines. We’ll cover what these two machines have in common, what makes them different, and hopefully, this helps you decide which one would be ideal for you.

What they have in common

  •  Both machines work with the Cricut Design Space Software
  • You can upload your own personalized designs and projects
  • Both machines come with more than 50 free ready to cut free projects. Usually, ready to cut projects can only be accessed if you have either purchased them or have subscribed through the Cricut Access
  • They can both cut more than 100 materials. For a full list of the various materials, check out the Cricut Guide.
  • You can Cut, Draw, Score and add foil effects with the “foil transfer kit” with both machines
  • Both machines come with a first project allowing you to familiarize yourself with the machine.

Their Differences: Cricut Maker vs Explore Air 2

Now that you know what's common between these two, we'll cover the differences by individually looking at each product.

1. Cricut Explore Air 2

Cricut Explore Air 2 - A DIY Cutting Machine for all...
  • CUTS 100+ MATERIALS WITH EASE – The included Premium Fine-Point...
  • KEEP YOUR SPACE NEAT AND ORGANIZED - Machine comes with built-in...
  • ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES - Compatible with 6 tools for cutting,...

The Cricut Explore Air 2 is a cutting machine that uses smart technology. It cuts and writes up to 2x faster than the previous models. The Cricut Explore Air 2 can cut over 100 materials, and it cuts everything from vinyl, cardstock, iron-on to thick material like leather.

The smart technology allows you to precisely cut a large variety of materials with great precision.

You can create on a computer, tablet, or through a Smartphone, iOS, or Android app. The Cricut Explore Air 2 uses Bluetooth, so you don’t need to need to worry about cables. All you need is your phone, and you’re good to go. It features a smart set dial on the right-hand side which makes it easy for cutting. If you plan to cut the same material over and over, you can it and forget about it, which is pretty great.

The Cricut Explore Air 2 features a double tool holder, which allows you to cut and write or cut and score. The A clamp can be used to hold a pen or a scoring stylus, while the B clamp can be used to hold a standard blade, bonded fabric blade, or deep cut blade.

The Cricut Explore Air 2 has a double tool holder, which allows you to cut and write or cut and score. The A clamp can be used to hold a pen or a scoring stylus. The B stamp can be used to hold a standard blade, a deep cut blade, or bonded fabric.

The three blades mentioned have different uses mainly:

a) Fine Point Blade

The Fine Point Blade has been designed to cut light and mid-weight materials like iron-on, vinyl, cardstock, and posterboard.

The blade is made out of premium German carbide, ensuring that it delivers longer-lasting cuts while remaining sharp.

b) Bonded Fabric Blade

This blade is designed to cut bonded fabrics.

It is also made of German carbide. With it, you can cut a variety of lightweight fabrics that have a backing on them. It’s a great option for creating appliques.

c) Deep-Point Blade

The Deep point blade is ideal if you want to cut thick materials like stiff felt, cardboard, magnet, or leather. The steep angle of the blade allows you to cut through thicker materials compared to the Fine

Point Blade. You can cut materials up to 1.5mm in thickness.

 The Cricut Explore Air 2 allows you to print and cut images. It comes with an adapter that is compatible with Cricut cartridges. Another great feature of the Explore Air 2 is that it has multiple compartments for storage.


  • Does almost as much as the Maker, but is more affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Cuts over 100 different materials
  • Cuts, scores, and writes with five different tools


  • Not that versatile

2. Cricut Maker

Cricut Maker - Smart Cutting Machine - With 10X Cutting...
  • CUTS 300+ MATERIALS IN A WHIZ - Cuts everything from delicate...
  • KEEP YOUR SPACE NEAT & ORGANIZED - The device comes with a...
  • ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES - It is compatible with 13 tools for...

The Cricut Maker is similar to the Explore Air 2 in that it does everything that the Air 2 can but offers

more. The Cricut Maker also cuts over 300 materials quickly and accurately. However, the difference comes in the materials. It can handle the most delicate material such as crepe paper to tough materials like wood and leather.

What makes the Cricut Maker different is its Adaptive Tool System. The gear on the Adaptive Tool System is what enables the interchangeable tools to move in any direction. This creates an even more precise cutting ability while delivering on 10x the cutting force.

This means that you can take on difficult projects than before with even greater projects.

a) Cricut Maker Rotary Blade

The Cricut Maker rotary blade is similar to the one that seamstresses traditionally used, but it is smaller. This tiny wheel glides across fabric allows it to quickly and accurately cut any type of fabric. When paired with the fabric mat, the rotary blade eliminates the need for paper patterns, marking pens, and tracing papers. This is great if you're a sewer.

b) Cricut Maker Knife Blade

The Cricut Maker Knife Blade can cut through dense materials like heavy leather or balsa wood. The knife blade allows you to add an extra dimension to your projects by cutting precisely through dense materials with ease.

c) Cricut Maker Scoring Wheels

The Cricut Scoring Wheels allow you to create crisp and clean score lines hence adding a professional touch to your projects.

In terms of productivity, they are quite similar, and most of the materials you use are interchangeable. Hence, it can be quite tricky deciding which of the two to settle on. However, it depends on how much you want to spend on your machine and the types of projects you want to do. If you’re looking for a versatile machine, the Cricut Maker would be ideal. If you’re looking for an option that’s not too heavy on the pocket, then the Explore Air 2 would be ideal. The Cricut Maker is also ideal if you're a serious paper crafter, run, or plan to run a crafting business as you can do more with it.


  • Extremely versatile
  • Easy to use
  • Cuts, writes, debosses, engraves scores, and more with over a dozen tools
  • Works with over 300 different materials


  • Pricey
Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
Related Articles

Best Printer for Cricut: Top Picks for Crafting

The Cricut has transformed the crafting domain, enabling devotees to produce complex designs and custom-made projects. Possessing the ideal printer ...

Best Laptop For Cricut Under $500

Best Laptop For Cricut Under $500 To Create Quick Designs

Purchasing a Cricut machine requires an ecosystem that can deliver optimal performance. Therefore, the principal thing you need in your ...

8 Best Printers For Art Prints

Art is no longer limited to the traditional form of paint and canvas. These days, you can create art through ...