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Cricut Explore 3 And Cricut Maker 3

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The New Cricut Line Has Exciting New Features

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The New Cricut Explore 3 and Maker 3

Cricut announced in May, the two newest machines to their line, the Cricut 3 and the Maker 3. Several new options make these machines options that many crafters will want to consider as upgrades for their electronic cutting.

The Machines will look a little different than the previous models. The shape of the machines is not all that different. On Explore 3, they went from a glossy finish to a matte finish. That will help keep fingerprints off the machine so it stays cleaner.

Each machine will only have one color available when they are released on June 10th. The Cricut Explore 3 will be mint green and the Maker 3 will be powder blue. It is expected that more colors will be added later on.

Cricut Maker 3

The Maker 3 (they did skip a Maker 2 version) added a lot more color instead of it being mostly white.

The speed of this model is 2 x as fast as previous models. It is also 10 times faster than other models.

There are a few enhancements to the machine’s design that experienced Cricut users will notice and appreciate! Not only is the pen cup just a smidge deeper, but the “Go” button (previously with the flashing Cricut symbol) has been replaced with a more commonly understood “play” button design.

Cricut Maker 3 will first measure and then cut your project with a single click of the button!

It is, of course, compatible with Smart Materials. The machine eliminates using mats with these materials. It also allows you to cut materials up to 144" in a single cut.

Size Of Smart Material Cuts Available

  • Smart Vinyl...11.7″ wide by up to 144″ long
  • Smart Iron On ...11.7″ x 48″ long
  • Smart Paper......11.7″ x 11.2″

Many of the features from older models of the Maker have been included in this version.

  • It cuts over 300 different materials
  • It is compatible with existing pens and markers.
  • It is compatible with the complete selection of 13 tools
  • For projects where you need a mat, you can still use the same mats as before.


More Features For The Explore 3 And Maker 3

There are a few new features that will appeal to a lot of crafters.

The first feature is speed. The actual speed of both machines is 8 ( that means that they cut 8 inches per second) Both the Cricut Explore 3 and the Maker 3 will cut two times faster than other machines. This will make your projects move faster and with the same accuracy that you have been used to from Cricut projects. This will be very huge on bigger projects where speed becomes important !

The Cricut Explore now has a slot on the lid to hold a phone or a tablet. Lots of folks use their phones and tablets for Design Space ( the Cricut program for their machines), so this holder makes it more convenient.

The Cricut Explore 3 now has a new configuration that omits the smart dial on previous machines. Now you can choose the materials you are cutting and customise your favorites on the Design Space cutting page.


The Smart Dial Feature Now Gone

The smart dial has been replaced with a material option in Design Space program

The smart dial has been replaced with a material option in Design Space program

Differences Between The Cricut Explore 3 And The Maker 3

There are some subtle differences between the Cricut Explore 2 and the Maker 3. Mostly these differences are in the tools available and the way the cutting force is applied.

The Cricut Explore 3 cuts by dragging the blade across the material. The maker moves the blade by positioning and turning the blade as needed to make the cut.

The difference being that the Maker can cut with ten times the force allowing it to cut more materials than the Explore. This allows the Maker to cut things like crepe paper to basswood. Up to 300 different materials.

The Maker has tools that the Explore does not have. Right now the Maker has a rotary tool, a knife tool, an engraving tool, a deboss tool, a scoring wheel ( no new additional tools have been added. But it is expected that new tools will be available in the future.

So just as it has always been, you can cut more materials with the Maker.

You have to decide your needs and which cutting machine will be right for you.


Comparing The Cricut Line

Which Cricut is right for you? Compare and decide which machine fills your needs

Which Cricut is right for you? Compare and decide which machine fills your needs

New Features In Print Then Cut

The Print Then Cut feature allows you to print an image from the Cricut Design Space on your printer, The image has special guides that then cut the image exactly to size on your Cricut cutting machine. The images have be only able to be printed on white paper.

New to the Cricut Print Then Cut is the newer configuration that allows you to print on colored paper too. The ungraded sensors give you more features.

This is available on both the Explore 3 as well as Maker 3.

Smart Materials

A whole family of smart materials that are cutting without a mat are now available.

A whole family of smart materials that are cutting without a mat are now available.

No Mats Needed With New Smart Vinyl Products

One of the biggest new features is that you can finally go matless with the new Smart Materials. Similar to the Cricut Joy, you now have the option to go matless with the Cricut Smart materials.

A lot of the smart materials come in 12 feet rolls and they go as high as 75 feet.

The width of the smart materials is up to 117 inches. ( two inches wider than previous materials)

What Smart Materials Are Available?

Smart Vinyl

The Smart Vinyl comes in removable versions as well as permanent vinyl. They also come in specialty finishes like matte, shimmer, and metallic. Smart vinyl now comes in different lengths to accommodate your needs. The lengths go from 3 feet all the way up to 75 feet!

Additionally, standard rolls now measure 13″ x 3′ (instead of 2′!) and come in rolls as long as 75′ Adding vinyl decals to walls, backsplashes, or other projects just got so much easier with these long rolls and big cuts!

The Smart Vinyl has a stiffer backing. That is why you might have a bit of a challenge peeling back the transfer tape. Not a problem with smaller projects, but could take a little more time with the larger one. However, having said that, being able to do bigger projects without multiple mats, is better than a minor issue with transfer tape. All you need to do is cut off some of the transfer tape periodically to make it easier!

Smart Iron-On

This vinyl, also known as heat transfer vinyl (HTV), comes in many colors, glitter, and holographic.

Standard rolls of iron-on measure 13″ x 3′ and come in rolls as long as 9′. Making t-shirts for an entire team or whipping up some large custom pillows design just became a lot more feasible!

Transfer Tape

Transfer tape now comes in varied length as well

Long Cuts

These materials work with the newest feature called Long Cuts.

Long cuts work with Cricut’s Smart Materials, as they are wide enough to fit perfectly between the guides and be kept straight and aligned while cutting without a mat. In essence, Smart Materials have a built-in “mat” which means you don’t have to use a separate mat to cut them.

So, you just press the smart materials against the rollers and press, "load". The machine will load the materials in a bit. The upgraded sensors will make sure the material is properly aligned and will make sure you have enough material for your cut. Just press the "Go" button and it will start to cut the project.

The material will move in and out as it cuts. Depending on how long the cut is, you will have material coming out the back of the machine. It will curl up as it hits the floor. Do, you will need to make sure that you have enough room on the back of the machine.

You may want to put something behind the machine to catch the materials as they drop. That way the vinyl will stay clean.




The new Crisut Roller Holder is an innovative accessary to the Cricut Explore Maker 3 and the Cricut Explore 3

The new Crisut Roller Holder is an innovative accessary to the Cricut Explore Maker 3 and the Cricut Explore 3

Cricut Roll Holder-The Newest Accessory


The Cricut Roll Holder is an optional accessory for the Cricut Explore 3 and Maker 3. It slides onto the tray and holds vinyl rolls and vinyl iron on up to 75 feet.

It hooks right into the front of either of these machines. It holds a roll of vinyl on your machine.

Not only does it hold a single roll of vinyl or iron on, but it also has a trimmer that allows you to cut the vinyl once your project is complete.

Currently, it is only available in icy blue. It is expected that more colors will be available in the future.

Both machines have sensors built in the machine that measures the length of your cut. These sensors make sure that you have enough material to finish your projects before starting the cut!

How To Attach The Roll Holder

To attach the roll holder, you simply slide the guides on the roll holder into the guides on the Cricut Explore 3 or Maker 3. Then slide it forward. If you wiggle the roll holder from side to side, you will be able to tell instantly if you have it positioned on the guides or not.

Then just slide the roll holder forward as far as you can. There will be no click or other indication that it is in place. It will just sit positioned over the machine’s lower tray.

When cutting a project longer than 23.5″ on either the Cricut Maker 3 or Cricut Explore 3, you will need to select “Matless Cutting” from the cut options in Design Space and use Smart Materials for your project. While you don’t have to use the roll holder, it definitely helps keep control of your vinyl.

How To Load Smart Vinyl On The Roll Holder

To load Smart Vinyl into the Cricut Roll Holder, place the roll with the wrong side facing up on the right side of the roll holder. Make sure the trimmer (the blue sliding button) is all the way to the left. Then take the leading edge of the vinyl and feed it under the top part of the roll holder.

  1. Make sure the trimmer (the blue sliding button) is all the way to the left. Then take the leading edge of the vinyl and feed it under the top part of the roll holder.
  2. Push the vinyl all the way forward, toward the machine, and guide it under the material/mat feeders on either side.
  3. Once the material is positioned under the feed guides on either side, click the flashing Load/Unload button to bring the vinyl fully into the machine.
  4. Immediately upon loading Smart Vinyl into your machine, it will automatically pre-measure for your specific project. Make sure you have your machine positioned to accommodate the excess vinyl immediately (even letting the vinyl roll off a table or counter works well!)
  5. As the Smart Vinyl rolls back to the start (to begin your project), you will need to manually help it re-roll back up. The roll holder does not have any gears or guides to help it re-roll material backwards, so simply place your hands (lightly) on the roll as it feeds backwards to help roll the vinyl back up.
  6. When your project is done cutting, use the built-in trimmer to slide across your Smart Vinyl and slice off your project.
  7. With the vinyl cut, you can simply unload your vinyl (again, via the button) and get to work assembling your project!

How To Load Smart Iron-On Vinyl

The process to load Smart Iron-On Vinyl is very similar to loading the Smart Vinyl.

  1. After creating your long project and selecting both “Matless Cutting” and “Mirror” from the cut options, place your roll of Smart Iron-On into the Cricut Roll Holder with the shiny side facing up.
  2. As you feed the iron-on under the top part of the roll holder, the shiny side should be face down.
  3. Slide the Smart Iron-On under the top of the roll holder……and then under the feeds on the machine.
  4. Use the Load/Unload button to “catch” the Smart Iron-On and begin the measuring process.
  5. Once your project is done cutting, use the built-in trimmer to slice the Smart Iron-On at just the right spot……and unload your project using the Load/Unload button.

More Tips About The Smart Roller

  • The roll holder is definitely a “nice to have” accessory when working with really long rolls…but you can absolutely cut Smart Materials (without a mat) without it. Just place the vinyl on your table/counter in front of your machine.
  • If you don’t want or need the roll holder though, the brand new 13" trimmer fully accommodate these newer materials too!








How You Chose To Mat Or Not In Cricut Design Space

The Design Space program makes it easy to use the available options

The Design Space program makes it easy to use the available options

Smart Paper

This is a new paper available that helps you create stickers without mats! It is sticker cardstock perfect for cards, paper crafts, and labels.

Not only does this allow it to feed into the machine and cut perfectly, but it provides the sturdy surface needed for writing, foiling, scoring, and more!

It comes in white, black, brights and pastels.

And since this paper already has adhesive, you can skip the glue step on your next project too


What Is Included With Your Cricut Explore 3 And Maker 3

You will get the following with your Cricut Explore 3 and Maker 3

  • The cutting machine of your choice
  • An envelope containing material for a test cut and information on setup, warranty, and safety
  • The power adapter and power cord
  • USB cable
  • An Accessory Adapter (already in clamp A)
  • A Premium Fine-Point blade and housing (already in clamp B)
  • Bonus materials

About The Bonus Materials

In lieu of pens and mats that were previously included in the boxes before, you will now get Smart Material samples as well as transfer tape.

Cost And Availability

The Explore 3 and the Maker 3 will be available June 10, 2021, at Cricut.com. Amazon, and all others that sell Cricut products online.

On June 27, 2021, will be able to find them, the smart materials, and the accessories at your local retail store that normally sells Cricut items.

  • The Cricut Explore 3 is priced at $299
  • The Cricut Maker3 is priced at $399
  • The Cricut Roll Holder is $49
  • Smart Materials start at $3.99 for a 3-foot roll to $99.99 for a 75 foot roll

So What Is The Bottom Line On The New Cricut Line?

There are a lot of new features on the newest machines in the Cricut line that are certainly interesting. The question is, is it right for you to go ahead and get the newest version?

If you want to upgrade to the Cricut Maker and haven't gone that route yet, this may be the time to go ahead and make that leap. With the new features, and speed you may decide that you need the speed, tools, and matless options that it offers.

If you have an Explore or an Explore Air 2, you may decide that the new features of the Explore 2 are right for you.

You need to consider what you use, needs, and your budget will allow.

  1. Do you need to cut 300 materials and need the tools that Maker 3 will cut?
  2. Are you a personal crafter or do you make professional crafts?
  3. Do you want a second machine or are you satisfied with the one you have?
  4. Do you want to go matless?
  5. We all get excited with new features and options. The question is, what is right for you?

Only you can answer those questions. Happy Crafting!

© 2021 Linda F Correa

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