There are three models of the Cricut machine, popular personal die cutters made by the Provo Craft company. With three good options, it can be difficult to decide which one to buy. Should you start small and buy the original Personal Electronic Cutter? Or is the Expression model worth the extra investment? How does the Create, the hybrid model currently being exclusively sold by Michael’s Craft Store, stand up against the other two machines?
In a number of ways, all three die cut machines are the same:
All three models are cartridge-based.
You can only produce cutouts based upon the cartridges you own. Each cartridge comes with a keyboard overlay, which is used in selecting specific cuts. The cartridges are not machine-specific – they can be used in any of the three models.
Basic operation of all three machines is the same.
If you own the Personal Electronic Cutter, you will have no problem operating the Cricut Expression or Create (and vice-versa). Why? Well, the basic operation of all three die cutters is the same.
Here’s a quick rundown of the process. After plugging in the selected cartridge and corresponding keyboard overlay and turning on the machine, you are ready to start making die cuts. Materials, such as paper or cardstock, are placed on a special cutting mat, which is then loaded into the machine with the press of a button. With another press of the button, the selected design is chosen. All that’s left is to select “Cut”. The machine does the rest of the work.
All three Cricut machine models use the same accessories.
It was already mentioned that the cartridges are not machine-specific, but this is also the case with most of the other accessories. It does not matter which model you own – the replacement blades, inks, different tools, such as the Cricut spatula, and Design Studio software, can be used with any model. The one exception is the cutting mats. The machines accept different sizes of the mats, and you must get one that is compatible with your specific machine.
Now that you know how the Cricut machines are similar, you are probably wondering how they are different. They vary in several ways:
The size of die cuts produced by each machine are different.
The Personal Electronic Cutter has the capability of making cutouts ranging from 1 inch to 5-1/2 inches in size, in half inch increments. The Create can produce die cuts ranging from 1/4 inch to 11-1/2 inches in size, in quarter inch increments. The Expression gives users the most versatility, producing cutouts from 1/4 inch to 23-1/2 inches in size, in quarter inch increments.
They weight and size of the machines vary.
The Personal Electronic Cutter and Create are both small, portable machines. These models are good for crafters who like to take their projects on the road, and create scrapbook layouts and other projects in group settings. They are also suited for those who do not have a specific area in their home set aside for crafting, because these die cutters are easy to pack up and put away in between uses. The Expression, on the other hand, is much heavier and larger. If you have a crafting room or corner, and do not have the concerns of moving it frequently, it’s a good choice.
The three Cricut machine models have different modes and functions.
There are several different modes and functions. For example, the fit to page mode will automatically adjust the size of the die cut based upon the size of the material loaded in the machine. The center point function allows you to align the cutting blade over the center of the material, so that the cut is made around it. The Expression machine has the most versatility as far as the availability of modes and functions. Next in line is the Create, and third place goes to the Personal Electronic Cutter. More information can be found regarding these modes and functions in the machine handbooks, which are available in PDF format on Cricut.com.
The price is different for each model.
The Personal Electronic Cutter is the most inexpensive Cricut cutter, with a suggested retail price of $299.99. The Create is $100.00 more, at $399.99, and the Expression is $499.99. Please note that all three machines can be purchased at significant savings. Many retailers run special sales or have a lower everyday price than the suggested retail price. It’s a good idea to shop around when buying your first Cricut machine.