Find out the similarities and differences in the Cricut Maker 3 and Cricut Explore 3 to help you decide which machine to buy to take your organizing skills to the next level. Written in partnership with Cricut.
I have been using Cricut machines to label and organize my home for the last four years. I love the versatility and ease of creating beautiful custom labels myself whenever I need them. With the recent launch of the new Cricut Explore 3 and Maker 3 machines, you might be considering buying one for yourself or maybe upgrading an older machine. Today I’m walking you through all the similarities and differences so you can choose the Cricut machine that best suits your needs.
Cricut Maker 3 vs. Explore 3 Size Difference
The Cricut Explore 3 and Maker 3 machines are almost the same size and weight. They take up the same surface area and can cut the same sizes of materials. Both machines fit on a rolling cart like my Mobile Craft Cart, and they both require the same height between shelves to open freely.
Cricut Maker 3 vs Explore 3 Color Comparison
Unlike previous models of Explore and Maker, the Explore 3 and Maker 3 both only come in one color option. The Explore 3 comes in a mint green color and has a matte finish. The Maker 3 comes in a light blue color with a silver top lid, and this machine comes in a glossy finish. At this time, you can only get these machines in those specific colors.
Cricut Maker 3 vs Explore 3 Speed Comparison
Both machines performed at the same speed during my tests, and neither seemed to be faster or more efficient than the other. The new machines cut twice as fast as the older machines, and you can definitely tell a difference. The Cricut Maker 3 and Explore 3 cut about 8 inches per second when using Smart Materials, so you can make more home organization labels in less time.
Cricut Maker 3 vs Explore 3 Cutting Tool Options
Here’s where the real comparisons start to kick in. The Cricut Explore 3 is compatible with 6 different cutting tools, while the Cricut Maker 3 can use 13 different tools. The Maker 3 allows you to cut thicker and more heavy-duty materials, along with more intricate patterns and outline options.
Cricut Maker 3 vs Explore 3 Matless Cuts
Both machines have the ability to cut vinyl and paper without a mat, which is a first for Cricut full-size machines. They took the same functionality as the Cricut Joy and applied it to both the Maker 3 and Explore 3, so they can cut matless. You do have to use Cricut Smart Materials in order for the matless capability to work, but if you want to cut regular materials, you can continue to use a mat for those.
Cricut Maker 3 vs Explore 3 Material Options
The Maker 3 and Explore 3 can both cut vinyl and paper to create any style of home organizing label you want, but if you’re looking for something a little fancier and outside the box, they do cut other materials, too. The Explore 3 can cut over 100 materials in the paper, vinyl, and fabric categories. The Maker 3 can cut over 300 materials! That includes things like balsa wood, thin metal, thin acrylic glass, and leather. It can also engrave metal, acrylic, and wood, which makes for some really cool labels.
Cricut Maker 3 vs Explore 3 Unique Features
On the Explore 3, the buttons are all exposed on top, meaning the lid does not cover them. The Maker 3 lid conceals the buttons to make the machine look a little sleeker and less cluttered. Not a big deal, but definitely a difference in design.
To open the Explore 3, you push a button on the left side of the machine and both the lid and front door opens. To open the Maker 3, you pull up on the indention of the top lid, and it will open the front and top doors automatically from there.
The Explore 3 has slightly smaller and more shallow storage cups on top of the machine than the Maker 3 does. And the front door hidden storage compartment on the Maker 3 has three sections versus the Explore 3’s two sections.
The Maker 3 does have a USB charging port on the side to charge your phone or tablet, but the Explore 3 does not. This is helpful if you’re using the mobile version of Design Space or shooting timelapse videos of your machine in action.
Cricut Maker 3 vs Explore 3 Pricing
The Cricut Explore 3 retails for $319.99, and goes on sale on Cricut’s website frequently for under $300. The Maker 3 retails for $429.99 and often goes on sale for under $390. Plus, if you’re a Cricut Access subscriber, you get a big automatic discount on machines! Is the $100+ price difference worth it to buy the Maker 3 over the Explore 3? It depends on your needs.
If you’re only planning on making vinyl and paper labels to organize your home, along with a few fun crafts throughout the year, an Explore 3 is perfect for you. But if you’re looking for more versatility, want to experiment with other materials, or plan on upping your crafting hobby, a Maker 3 is a really great investment.
Not Sure What Accessories & Materials To Buy?
Getting a new Cricut machine is really fun and exciting, but it can also be overwhelming when you scroll through the huge library of materials and tools on Cricut’s website. Here’s a simplified shopping list to get you started making labels in no time…
Cricut Starter Shopping List For Home Organization
- Cricut Explore 3 or Maker 3 Machine
- Vinyl Roll Holder (optional but great for making lots of labels at once)
- Smart Vinyl in white and black, 21ft each
- Transfer Tape, 12ft
- Smart Paper Sticker Cardstock in white
- Everyday Pen Set
- Essential Tool Set
Opening & Setting Up Your New Cricut Machine
Once you’ve finished your shopping and all your new Cricut happy mail has made it into the house, you can get started setting up your machine and making your first set of home organization labels. This post walks you through exactly how to open the box, get acquainted with the machine, and set up Cricut Design Space.
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