Aug 24, 2023

The best vinyl cutter machines in June 2023

Discover the best vinyl cutter machines for making stickers, banners, cards, T-shirts and more.

When choosing from the best vinyl cutter machines available today, there's so much choice it can be bewildering. These new digital craft machines can do more than simply cut materials, then can score, engrave and be used with heat press machines to create shirts, stickers and even wallpaper.

Some vinyl cutting machines come with added functions like debossing, scoring, foil transfer, or perforation, and most can be paired with a laptop or smartphone to work with software so you can cut out sophisticated designs without having special skills. One of the newer machines in my list, the xTools M1, even features a laser cutter alongside a traditional blade cutter for extra accuracy and improved speed.

Below you'll find the best vinyl cutter machines available today. Meanwhile, if it's specifically Cricut you're looking for, you should first read our guides to the best Cricut machines but also take a look at our guide to the best Silhouette machines as these are emerging as good alternatives. You might also find our roundup of the best sewing machines useful too, as these make excellent companions to most larger vinyl cutting machines. If you're feeling adventurous then take a look at my guide to the best laser cutters, too.

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Our expert review:

If you need a vinyl cutter that can also cut a range of other materials, the Cricut Maker 3 is the Rolls Royce option. Able to cut anything from vinyl to basswood, it also works with Cricut's Smart Materials, and you won't need a cutting mat to use them. This means you can work continuously for up to 12 feet. That's long enough to make a banner or poster of real scale, and a lot more than the original Maker's 24 inches.

It's more expensive than the original Cricut Maker, but it's also twice as fast. While we don't recommend this one for people who aren't ready to make a seriously commitment to vinyl cutting, it's brilliant for large projects and works on over 300 materials. For more information, see our Cricut Maker 3 review, and for a comparison between Cricut models, our article Cricut Maker vs Cricut Maker 3.

Our expert review:

While the best vinyl cutters on this list make use of a blade the xTool M1 differs by using a blade and laser cutter. Housed in the same module the M1 can cut, score and engrave using either blade or laser, or both in one project, and the handy app controls everything.

xTool offers a library of pre-designed projects to get up and running with, but once you've mastered the basics it's easy to create designs in the app, which is similar to Cricut Design Space, or import files created in other software, such as CorelDRAW.

The M1 is around the size of a large printer, or two Cricut Makers sat side-by-side and will fit on most average-sized craft tables. A lid keeps any dust inside and you can connect an air filter, which is recommended. A 'riser' can be added to double the height of the work area and a rotary engraver enables you to engrave pens and even glass vases, in my xTool M1 review I found this is an essential addition.

So, the M1 can do pretty much everything a Cricut can do, but with the added option of faster cutting and engraving with the laser. A downside is everything must be placed inside the 15 x 12 inches work area, so it lacks Cricut's Smart Material lengths or the Glowforge Pro's passthrough; this expensive laser cutter features a more powerful CO2 laser module but is also twice the size. (Read my Glowforge Pro review for more.)

On the upside xTools M1 offers the best of both worlds; it can speed up you cutting, offer incredible accuracy, and can engrave and cut thicker woods and plastics without the need for new attachments. If you're looking for a unique alternative to Cricut, the xTools M1 is the craft machine for you.

Our expert review:

The Brother ScanNCut DX range is a revolutionary vinyl cutting machine that can do everything a Cricut Maker 3 can do, but without the need for a PC or tablet or a scanner. This is a self-contained craft cutting machine with a larger cutting area (11.7-inches) and 3mm Auto Blade that can cut most materials out-of-the-box.

Just like the Cricut Maker 3 you can cut fabrics, cards, metals and woods with the Brother ScanNCut DX as well as attach a pen for drawing out designs. In our review of the Brother ScanNCut DX2200D review, a Disney-branded model with extras, we found this vinyl cutter comes into its own when creating fabric designs as it will add seam measurements to your designs automatically – it means you can scan in a pattern, seams are added, and then you can feed material in and it cuts everything to fit… all on one go. If you're a sewer or quilter the Brother ScanNCut DX is essential.

There's an LCD touchscreen on the Brother ScanNCut DX that enables you to use a pre-programmed design or even create designs right there without a PC, but there is an app to use on PC or tablet too and designs can be sent to the Brother ScanNCut to adjust.

As it hosts so much tech the Brother ScanNCut DX is more costly than the Cricut Maker 3, and if you're happy to use a PC and external scanner then you may want to opt for our No.1 machine. But if you want to get crafting out-of-the-box with less extra costs, the Brother ScanNCut DX.

Our expert review:

The Siser Juliet Digital Cutting Machine is the latest digital craft machine to launch, and comes from a trusted brand known for its sublimation printer inks and heat press machines. This machine's specs make it a great alternative to Cricut Maker 3.

One of its key design features is the built-in camera for precise cutting and control over your projects. This is complimented by the neat LCD display, which means toy can control this vinyl cutter's pressure and accuracy directly. The Siser Juliet also features adjustable pinch rollers, which means it's possible to adjust the speed and pressure of the cut and experiment more.

As with Cricut, Silhouette and Brother the Siser Juliet uses its own bespoke design app, called Leonardo. This is an easy to use app and is fully usable with other design software such as Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW.

The Siser Juliet is an excellent addition to the digital craft machine market and is on par technically with Cricut, Brother and Silhouette. It may have a more restricted number of add-ons, but out-of-the-box the Siser Juliet impresses.

With a 3-millimetre clearance, the Silhouette Cameo 4 works on all sorts of material, from vinyl to leather. It's perfectly suited to working on t-shirts because of its generous cutting width, ideal for larger logos and images. In many ways there's not much to separate the Cameo 4 from its rival the Cricut Maker 3, except the out of the box the Cricut can cut 300 materials and the Cameo 4 100.

Don't let that figure fool you however, as they can both cut the main materials you'll need, it's when you get into the variants of foils and metals that Maker 3 comes out on top – though you will likely need to buy extra blades to achieve this. The big difference is in blade pressure and power, the Cameo 4 pips the Maker 3 here, which means technically Silhouette's machine is more handy out-of-the-box. But, again there's nuance… Maker 3 uses a fast motion to overcome a lack of power, which can create cleaner cuts.

You can control the Cameo 4 using Bluetooth or a USB connection, but there are on-board controls too, which will let you master the basics without having to unlock your phone. The built-in cross cutter will keep vinyl edges neat, ready for your next project.

Whether you opt for the Cameo 4 over the Maker 3 will likely come down to price and which deal is best at the time you buy, and also consider the broader ecosystem of add-ons – Cricut has some excellent heat press machines as well as new accessories and materials. It's really the reason why Cricut remains No.1.

Our expert review:

Need to work with smart materials? Then the Cricut Explore 3 – the recently released successor to the Cricut Explore Air 2 (see below) – is probably the best vinyl cutting machine for you.

Cricut's Smart Materials allow you to cut projects without the need for a cutting mat. This means you can make cuts up to 12 ft (3.6 m) long in one go. The Cricut Explore 3 cuts very fast, can cut 100 different materials, and yet it's quite affordable. It comes pre-installed with a premium fine-point blade, blade housing and an accessory adapter in the machine. You also get a quick start guide, USB cable, a power cord and a sample of Smart Vinyl for a test cut. For more information, read our full Cricut Explore 3 review.

Note, though, that this is a mid-range model, and not as powerful or feature-rich as the Cricut Maker 3, number 6 on our list. So if you need more professional features, such as being able to cut 300 types of material, then you may find this premium-priced vinyl cutter suits your needs more closely.

Our expert review:

The original Cricut Maker is another great mid-range option, as it comes with a powerful rotary blade that cuts through far more than vinyl. It's capable of cutting through thicker projects up to 2.4mm, too, and the 30cm wide cutting slot is suitable for even larger tasks.

Straight out of the box there are 50 projects ready to go. These work with Cricut Design Space, which has a capable free version, as well as an optional subscription that could massively expand the fonts and designs on offer.

This is larger than the Explore 3 but is an older model, meaning it's slightly less powerful than the Maker 3, can't fit a roll holder and won't use Smart Materials. Because of this, and its age, you can get some excellent discounts on this aged model but it's still a powerful vinyl cutting machine that can compete. A Maker 3 or Explore 3 will future-proof your crafting, but for price and performance the original Maker is excellent value.

Our expert review:

The Cricut Joy is specially designed for vinyl cutting. While it's got a narrower cutting width, it can work on Smart Materials for as long as 20 feet, making it suitable for banners or repetitive tasks without too much supervision. You won't even need a cutting mat when working with Cricut's own materials, meaning it can go on and on. It's neat and compact, and looks pretty cute, too.

Because it's controlled entirely from your phone or laptop, the Cricut Joy vinyl cutting machine isn't a good choice for those who would prefer to push physical buttons. But this is a big advantage of the Joy over some of its larger vinyl cutting machines – it can be run from a mobile, tablet or even one of the best Chromebooks for Cricut. This is a smart portable craft cutting machine to take to a friend's house for an afternoon of fun.

Our expert review:

Most crafters will want something that's not too cheap and nasty, but also won't want to pay top dollar for a premium cutting machine. In which case, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is the perfect middle ground. This is an older model of the newly release Explore 3 (above) and as such you'll likely find some good deals.

Aside from vinyl it can cut over 100 materials, from cardstock and iron-on for t-shirts to glitter paper, bonded fabric, and even cork board. You also benefit from a fast mode that can power through simple tasks in double its regular speed, which is fantastic for those finishing touches.

You can control the Cricut Explore Air 2 using Bluetooth, and upload your own fonts and photos for free. There's also compatibility with Cricut software on both Android and iOS. And while it's pretty large, the in-built tool storage makes it surprisingly neat. The real downside here is this older model doesn't support Cricut's new Smart Materials, meaning in the long run it could have limited use, unless you use it for general craft cutting.

Our expert review:

Short on space? The first is the Silhouette Portrait 3, a lower-cost, portable machine. It has an in-built roll feeder and weighs about the same as the Cricut Joy, despite being a lot more equipped for different materials.

Silhouette is often pitted as a Cricut alternative, and this is an excellent example. It works with both Bluetooth and USB connection, so you'll always have the guarantee of a backup if your connection fails. Another smart feature is the auto-detection of different cutting tools, depending on what material you're working with.

Our expert review:

Want a cheap vinyl cutting machine? The Gemini GEM-M-GLO is our top pick, as it's a fraction of the price of most vinyl cutting machines.

As well as cutting vinyl, it can also be used as one of the best embossing machines. That's because it uses manual dies to allow you to get more hands-on with your designs. Sure, you won't be able to work with custom software to make your own designs, but for those who would prefer not to use a computer for their designs, it's a brilliant option.

You can pair the GEM-M-GLO with endless dies to never run out of options. It's controlled electronically, and applies even pressure as you apply die cuts to vinyl, cardstock, and layered fabric.

The best vinyl cutter machines used to be predominantly die-cut models, with manual cutters that were only as good as the dies you buy. These days, models from Cricut and Silhouette mean you can have endless fun printing different vinyl stickers for use on cards, labelling, making banners, and even on clothing.

Cricuts are certainly the most popular, but the Cricut vs Silhouette debate is still pretty active. Silhouette machines are often just as capable, and a lot cheaper than Cricut, but they lack the sturdy design with generous in-built storage.

When choosing, think about the size of the projects you'll be working on. While cutting width is a big factor, machines that don't need a mat will mean you're not limited on the length of your project. Cricut models that use the brand's Smart Materials can go for as long as 12 feet, and that includes the nifty Cricut Joy.

While some vinyl cutting machines are hefty and not ideal for moving away from your crafting space, others can be transported to any place you may want to use them, and they're also a lot more storage-friendly. In our view, the best portable vinyl cutting machine is the Cricut Joy. It's neat and compact, and although that means a narrow cutting width, it can work on Smart Materials for as long as 20 feet, making it suitable for banners.

Generally both machines are evenly matched, but I would say the Silhouette Cameo 4 has more pressure in its blade mechanism than the Cricut Maker 3 so it can brute force cuts, while the Maker 3 uses a series of cuts to achieve the same result. Cricut has a broader range of accessories and blades, which means if you invest then Maker 3 can cut more. Read my guide, Cricut vs Silhouette for a deep dive into the two brands and vinyl cutting machines.

For electrical vinyl cutting machines like those in my list, then generally yes. These craft cutting machines have apps that run on Mac and Windows and Android versions that can run on mobiles, tablets and Chromebooks. The alternative is the Brother ScanNCut range that features an onboard CPU and touchscreen, so technically you don't need a computer with these machines.

I love the Brother ScanNCut because its a complete system with a built-in scanner and CPU, and it's a powerful craft cutting machine that can do almost everything with few hidden costs. It also plots and adds seam allowances into designs, so is perfect for sewers. Cricut is great too but I find you need to spend on extras to achieve more – but Maker 3 is very easy to use and can be used with Cricut's excellent heat press machines, the EasyPress 3 and Mug Press.

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Daily design news, reviews, how-tos and more, as picked by the editors.

Ian Dean is Editor, Art & Design at Creativebloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut and SFX. Ian launched Xbox magazine X360 and edited PlayStation World. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his experiences to bring the latest news on AI, digital art and video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Procreate, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5. He's also a keen Cricut user and laser cutter fan, and is currently crafting on Glowforge and xTools M1.

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