cricut explore 3 review

The news of the release of the new Cricut Explore 3 and the Cricut Maker 3 spread amongst the crafting community like a wildfire and we’re very excited to be here with our Tried & Tested feature testing one of them for you. And if you happen to be a total newbie to digital cutting machines, we’ll take you through the entire process of creating a very professional looking etched glasses in a few simple steps that anyone can master, whilst pushing the creative possibilities to the max.

So, what’s all this buzz about, you ask? What’s new and different this time? Let’s take a look…

This is not a sponsored review and all findings and opinions are Ingrid Vichova’s own and are unbiased. The review was written for Simply Cards & Papercraft magazine issue 224 and prices and conversions were correct at the time of going to print.

What’s new about the Cricut Explore 3?

Just like the machine predecessors, it can cut cardstock, various types of vinyl, fabric, paper and more, 100+ materials to be precise, and the only limitation is your own imagination. You can draw, score, foil and more using extra tools that are available to purchase at a good price. All this with ease and without any extensive technical knowledge. With a bit of practice and guidance, anyone can master it. The deal maker here is the machine’s ability to cut twice as fast, up to 12ft of continuous length of what’s known as Smart Material, released alongside the new machines.

New features different from previous models:

  • Two times faster when cutting Smart Material
  • Cuts up to 13”-wide vinyl with Smart Material or 12” on a cutting mat
  • Cuts up to 12ft long continues design in one go
  • Can cut vinyl without a mat
  • Sleeker improved design aesthetically as well as improved groves
  • Compatible with the new Cricut Roll Holder to support up to 75ft of Smart Material
  • Docking slot for mobile devices & built-in storage
  • Material selection within the Design Space

What are the benefits of Cricut Smart Material?

And if that wasn’t enough, using Smart Material comes with a couple of advantages. One is that you can cut without a cutting mat and two is that you can cut up to 13” in width. The concept was first introduced with the release of their ‘little sister’ Cricut Joy. Smart Material used with Explore 3 and Maker 3 are simply wider to fit the size of the machine. They have a strong backing sheet, which allows for mat-free cutting. Simply load your chosen material in and through the improved grove guides of the machine opening, select the said material within the Cricut Design Space in the settings, the machine will measure and check the required length of the material and cut your chosen design effortlessly and fast. Cutting longer designs (up to 12ft) in one fast swoop can not only be time saving but also easier as you no longer need to piece parts of longer designs together. Granted, all these amazing benefits means that the products within the Smart Material range retail at a higher price end. They are made of high-quality materials designed to worked with the machine for the perfect precise cuts. The good news for those thriftier crafters out there is that you still have an option to use any other vinyl with this machine using a cutting mat, meaning there are minimal limitations when it comes to being creative.

What’s in the box:

  • Cricut Explore 3 machine
  • Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing
  • Welcome card
  • USB cable
  • Power adapter
  • Free trial subscription to Cricut Access™ (for new subscribers)
  • 100 ready-to-make projects online
  • Material for a practice cut

How is the Cricut Explore 3 Connected?

The machine can be connected via the USB cable and the in-built Bluetooth technology. This means that you will need the USB for the set up but with a good Bluetooth connection you can cut wirelessly, saving yourself tripping over cables. The machine can be used with iOS, Android devices as well as Windows and Mac. You can print and cut white or coloured designs, just like with the previous machines.

What are the drawbacks of the Cricut Explore 3?

All this sounds amazing, right? So, what’s the catch? Well, unlike its ‘big brothers’ Cricut Maker and Cricut Maker 3, this machine does not come with a commercial cutting technology, meaning it cannot cut tougher materials, hence cannot be used with some of the special tools available for purchase for Cricut Maker and Cricut Maker 3. Is this really a limitation? It depends what you’re planning to use the machine for. The Cricut Explore 3 machine is designed for hobbyists and comes at a lower price point because of it. Just like with anything, you need the right tool for the job, so if you know that engraving or embossing various materials or cutting balsa wood etc is your primary goal then you simply would need to buy one of the machines offering such advanced technology. This, however, doesn’t mean that you cannot use this machine for commercial purposes. It means that you can still work with 100+ materials and that, in my mind, is pretty impressive and screams endless creative opportunities. With this in mind, we conclude that you can create a hundreds of beautiful projects for your family, friends or your small business and, once you start, you won’t want to stop.

Ingrid's Verdict

As a busy mum of three with a limited time for crafting, I most certainly appreciate the amazing speed at which this machine cuts precisely and perfectly, making crafting a breeze and utterly enjoyable. Mat free cutting saves me time too so it’s a win-win!