Scrapbookers and Crafters ; The Cricut Machine Guide

Are you thinking about buying a Cricut machine? These personal die cutters from Provo Craft offer a wealth of crafting possibilities, but it can be very confusing trying to decide which model to buy. The machines do share some features, but they also are each unique from one another in various ways.

Before we discuss their differences, let's talk about how they are same. First, these die cutters are considered cartridge-based machines. They use artwork and fonts that are available on cartridges. This means that all the machines, with the exception of the Cricut Mini, can be used without a computer. Simply plug in the cartridge, select your shape and size, and press cut.

In addition to the cartridges, all the electronic die cut machines from Provo Craft can be used with the company's online design tool, known as the Cricut Craftroom. They can also be used with the Gypsy, which is a handheld design device. As a side note, the Mini is still not compatible with the Gypsy, but the Provo Craft company is promising that there will be an update soon to correct this. Both the online tool and the Gypsy allow users more creative control over customization of their die cuts. For example, users can cut a larger variety of sizes than factory settings allow and can weld and flip images. The Craftroom also offers digital cartridges for purchase, but to use these, the machine must be connected to a computer.

The Personal Electronic Cutter was the original Cricut, and if you are looking to purchase one new, it may be difficult to find, because they are not as widely available as they once were. However, you can still find this model if you do not mind buying it secondhand. It uses the standard cartridges to cut die cuts ranging from 1" to 5-1/2 inches in size, in half inch increments.

The next step up from the Personal Electronic Cutter is the Cricut Create. This machine uses the same size mats as the Personal Electronic Cutter, but can cut a wider range of sizes, ranging from 1/4" to 11-1/2", in quarter inch increments.

The Expression is arguably the most popular machine from Provo Craft. It uses larger cutting mats, either 12" x 12" or 12" x 24" mats, and can cut as small as a quarter inch to as large as 23-1/2" in length.

The Expression 2, also called the E2, is very similar to the regular Expression in its cutting capabilities. However, it has a few extra features, including a full color LCD screen and stylus with mat preview, which can be used in place of the keypad overlays to select shapes and sizes to cut. It also a lighted cutting area, and can be connected to the computer via wi-fi using the optional wireless adapter.

The Cricut Imagine is the only die cut machine from Provo Craft that can not only cut, but also print. In addition to the regular cartridges, it also uses Imagine cartridges, which contain not only die cut shapes, but also patterns for making your own scrapbook papers. The machine uses HP printer cartridges and can print 1200 dots per inch.

As of this writing, the Cricut Mini is the newest die cut machine from Provo Craft. The Mini is unique in many ways. For one, although it has a cartridge port, it must be connected to the computer and to the CraftRoom design tool in order to cut. It is not yet compatible with the Gypsy, but this capability should be coming soon. It has the smallest footprint compared to the other models, and it uses a uniquely sized cutting mat of 8-1/2" x 12".

Which Cricut machine is best? If you ask ten different people, you will likely get ten different answers. To decide which one to buy, think about how you will use it. Will you use it for only card making and scrapbooking? If so, the Create may be a good option for you. Do you also plan to make home decor projects and three-dimensional paper crafts? In this case, you may want to consider the Expression or the E2. Do you want to use your computer when designing die cuts? The E2 or the new Mini may be your best option.

Learn more about the Cricut machine models by visiting, where you can also see the different types of Cricut cartridges that are available for use in Provo Craft's electronic die cutters.
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