Are you still confused about the vinyl cutting machines? Don’t worry, and most people have the same issues. And it is good to have doubts because without doubts you won’t learn and without proper knowledge, you won’t be able to get the best vinyl cutting machines for your needs.
By the way, we have done all the research on your behalf. We tested 13 popular vinyl cutting machines and consulted eight experts who have a good amount of experience in vinyl cutting. After 132 hours of testing and expert views, we were able to create a list of 6 vinyl cutters that are above all other cutters. Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint is best in all respects.
Best Vinyl Cutting Machines
1. Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint – Best For Home
We instantly fell in love with the Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint. Though looks are not that important for a vinyl cutter, the design looks slick and elegant. It was the first name suggested by our experts because, according to them, it is probably the most popular and high-performance vinyl cutter at present. The specifications of it are also impressive. It can cut more than 100 types of material, which is way more than its competitors. You can create your design on your phone and print it from anywhere, which is a cool feature to have for a vinyl cutter.
The present age is all about doing things wireless and smartly. The Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint completely justifies that. When you get this machine, all you have to do is create a Cricut account. It gives you access to the program to manage the machine. To use the machine, the internet is a must. You are anywhere in the world; you can print your designs. However, there is one thing that might bug some users is a monthly fee of $10 is required to make full use of the online software of Cricut. We suggest paying for it because there are some preset projects and thousands of fonts, icons, and designs that you can use.
2. Silhouette Cameo 3 4T Wireless – Best Software Support
It can be considered as the biggest competitor of the Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint. However, it doesn’t have the cloud capability like Circuit, but you can print out your design from various computers. Another thing that works for it is the compact and hence can be used for home. Some features like Autoblade is perfect for the average users of cutter machines. The Autoblade impressed us. With most of the vinyl cutting machines, you have to make sure that the blade is in the right position, but with this model, the machines automatically bring the blade in the right position.
Another thing that adds to its pros is that it is compatible with Print & Cut and also PixScan. This software allows you to take a picture using your phone and extract a design out of that picture. It’s like a dream combination for an artist. We also tested the PixScan designs. The result was excellent, but we observed that it depends on the quality of the picture you take from your phone.
3. Silhouette Cameo – Best For Budget Conscious User
If you are not a big fan of wireless technology and you like everything on the cutter than Silhouette Cameo is just perfect. The main reason being it has a touchscreen that gives everything needed for your cutting job. The other cool thing is that you can see what your design will look like on material. The way it is possible is by replacing cutter with a pen.
As far as cutting is concerned, it is precise and fast. Though we think if you are using it daily for hours, you might need to change the cutter after a month or two. Even the mats will need replacement. It is acceptable for any professional who uses vinyl regularly.
4. Brother CM350 – Best Machine With Scanner
It was one of the unique variants that we tested. The Brother CM350 comes with an inbuilt 300 DPI scanner. Sometimes having a scanner with a vinyl cutter is an advantage. Many artists are known to create a design on paper using hands. Not all like to work on illustrator for their designs. If you are one of those who creates their designs by hand, then you won’t require a separate scanner. During our test, we also tested the scanner. The 300 DPI is enough to get a quality result.
As far as cutting is concerned, the cutting is exact. However, we found that if the image quality is really low, you won’t see the finishing. We loved the cutting area it uses. The 12″ x 12″ mat is included in the package, but if you still want to go bigger, you can always upgrade it. The machine can accommodate easily. It is the biggest reason why we think it is very good if you like creating your design.
5. Cricut Expression – Best For Monograms
We have already included one Cricut vinyl cutting machine on our list. The Cricut Expression is another powerful offered by the manufacturer. Though it does not have cloud capability like Cricut Air 2, it is one of the best standalone vinyl cutting machines. Being a good standalone machine offers quality results. We also believe that it is probably the best for monograms.
We used all six modes and four functions. The result was satisfying. Even the most intricate designs were clean and precise. It uses a 12 x 12-inch mat, which is standard for most of the vinyl cutting machines. We have to admit to understanding the working of this model we had to do a few searches online as the instruction DVD is not clear. The designs you get are also limited. You require a subscription to get more designs.
6. USCutter MH 34in Bundle – Best Cutting Kit
The US cutter is one of the most versatile vinyl cutters we have tested. The type of materials it can cut covers almost all the materials used in designing and printing. The biggest reason for this is three pinch-rollers that can easily adjust to the dimensions of any material. Also, the cutter is highly effective and precise.
However, if you still require software to go with the machine. It supports Flexi SignBlaster, Sure Cuts A lot and SignCut Productivity Pro. However, we used VinylMaster Cut during our tests, which are recommended by the manufacturer.
Buyer’s Guide – What to Consider?
The vinyl cutting machines have evolved a lot, and the software used for designing has also come a long way. But not all will be the same. In some or other way, one cutting machine will be better than the other. So the only way to get the vinyl cutting machines for home or business, you must know the factors that affect your buying decision. Let’s look at them one by one:
Each vinyl cutting machine has a different cutting depth. Depth is decided by the type of blade it uses and also by the pressure it applies. During our test, we found that the maximum extent any vinyl cutting machine can cut is 2 mm.
If you are planning to use the machine for materials like leather, thick papers we suggest go for the machines that can manage that thickness like Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint or USCutter Vinyl Cutter MH 34in Bundle.
In addition to cutting depth, you also have to look at the maximum length of the material it can accommodate. Having a long roll of material can improve your productivity. Otherwise, you will have to change the roll again and again.
2. Driver Motor
The type of motor a vinyl cutting machine also uses an essential factor. The motor is solely responsible for the machine’s speed and precision. Generally, there are two types of motor used in vinyl cutting machines—Servo and Stepper. But today most of the vinyl cutting machines use servo motors because they provide more precision and don’t make much noise. On the other hand, stepper motors are noisy and tend to have less accuracy if you plan to cut an intricate design. Most of the cutting machines on our list have servo motor, but if you plan to go for a machine outside our list, check if the machines use a servo or stepper motor.
Vinyl cutting machines are used, creating for different types of things like stamps, adhesive stickers, cards, vinyl, prints, etc. All things will use a different material. And each material has its thickness and hardness. Whatever machine that you plan to buy must be able to cut that material.
The right thumb of the rule should be to know the product you want to make using a vinyl cutting machine. If you plan to make t-shirt prints, you need a machine that cuts the design precisely. If you plan to make cards, you require a machine that is powerful as well as accurate. For commercial use, the machines may differ. Still, for home use you want something that can do it all for that we recommend machines like Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint and Silhouette Cameo 3 4T Wireless.
Design plays a vital role in any vinyl cutter machine. Most of the users like to create designs on the computer. That is why software becomes essential. All the top vinyl cutting machines include software. The software provides you the ability to edit the design as well as print it on the desired material.
With machines like Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint provide you the ability to use the software over the cloud. That means you can use the software from any device without having to install it on the computer. Such software does a small subscription fee, but if you create designs on the move or want to print it from any device. It is not necessary to use the software, but sometimes they make your job easier. So choose wisely which software you use it with our vinyl cutting machine.
5. Ease of Use
To have fast and quality production, the machine should be easy to use. Too many settings and buttons will always cost time. While buying a vinyl cutting machine, you have to make sure that it has speed and should not require too many settings.
How We Conduct Tests?
We began by getting the popular 13 vinyl cutters to the lab. We designed several tests based on parameters like quality, versatility, speed, durability, and ease of use. We used almost all kinds of materials that are used with the cutter. We also tested out the particular software included in the package.
In addition to tests, we also hired eight experts that have years of experience in vinyl cutting. Their expertise helped us to learn more about cutters. They also helped us to design different tests for the products. Sometimes experts have some insights about the products that are not noticed during the inspections.
In addition to tests and experts, we also value user reviews. There is no substitution of hands-on experience. We contact those users that have used or are using a particular model for a few months. It gives us more ideas on the performance of the cutting machine throughout a month or even year.
After considering the test results, expert view, and user review, our team scored each model based on a parameter such as ease of use, versatility, and quality. After calculating the overall score, we sorted out the six top vinyl cutting machines. Here is the scorecard:
Vinyl Cutting Machines Tests
|Product||Quality||Versatility||Ease of Use||Overall||Check Price|
|Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint||98.2||97.9||97.6||97.9||Check Price|
|Silhouette Cameo 3 4T Wireless||97.6||97.4||97.9||97.63||Check Price|
|Silhouette Cameo||96.6||98.4||97.2||97.4||Check Price|
|Brother CM350||96.8||97.3||97.1||97.06||Check Price|
|Cricut Expression||97.8||96.1||96.8||96.9||Check Price|
|USCutter MH 34in Bundle||95.8||95.8||97.8||96.46||Check Price|
After a lot of testing and reviewing, we have provided you the best possible machines for all types of users. But now it’s on you who has to decide which is the perfect vinyl cutter for you. We have tested a lot of products and have a fair share of buying different products. From that experience, we can tell you which is that the best way to choose any product is to know your needs. There is no point in buying the most expensive machine if it doesn’t fit your needs. Another thing that you have to vary is the budget. Make sure you find the right machine within your budget.