Cricut Maker 3 or Explore 3

Hey friend! Have you been thinking about buying either the Cricut Maker 3 or the Explore 3? If you have but can’t seem to decide between the two well I am here to help you decide by comparing these two amazing machines.

Disclosure: I am part of the Cricut Blogger Program and I receive products/compensation in exchange for craft ideas. But all opinions are 100% my own. Some of the links used here are affiliates. Read my full disclosure HERE.Cricut Maker 3 or Explore 3

Which machine is right for you the Cricut Maker 3 or Explore 3?

Let’s start by thinking about the type of craft projects that you will be doing. If you think you will only be cutting vinyl, cardstock, and writing labels than the Cricut Explore 3 may be the right choice for you. But if you think you will be doing more craft projects that involve wood, leather, quilts, sewing crafts, and engraving on metal than the Cricut Maker 3 is the machine for you. But let’s look into both of these machines a little more and answer some common questions that consumers have while trying to make a decision about which machine to purchase. Before I answer those consumer questions we will look at the two machines and what they can and can not do.

Differences between the machines?

Materials that they can cut:

Both machines can cut adhesive vinyl, iron-on, infusible ink sheets, paper, cardstock, writable labels, poster board, and more. The Cricut Explore 3 can cut 100+ materials but the Cricut Maker can cut 300+ materials including balsa wood and chipboard. With the Cricut Maker 3 you can buy a rotary blade that allows you cut through cotton, fleece, denim, and more. That is perfect if you also enjoy sewing. Or you can purchase the scoring wheel which helps give crisp folds in 3D projects.

The picture below features chipboard that I then painted and used as game pieces of this Easter theme tic-tac-toe. These were used to put in my sons Easter basket. I wanted to create a fun theme around their favorite activity gaming and my Cricut Maker helped me create just that.

Their speed:

The Cricut Explore 3 is two times faster than its previous model meaning you can create more projects in less time. Now, the Cricut Maker 3 is also two times faster than its previous model but the Maker 3 also has a 10x cutting force.What Cricut tools can I use with them?

Both machines come with a premium fine point blade that cuts many materials like cardstock, vinyl, and more. They are also both compatible with other tools (sold separately) like the foil transfer tool, deep point blade, scoring stylus, and bonded fabric blade. Cricut makes it easy for you to know if the tools are compatible with your machine because they put it right on their packaging. It will tell you if it is compatible with both the Explore 3 and Maker 3 or if it is only for the Maker 3. As you can see the Explore 3 can do quite a bit but the fact that the Maker 3 has more tools that are only compatible with it thanks to their adaptive tool system does make it better in my opinion. Cricut Maker 3 has 13 tools (sold separately) that are compatible with it to cut, write, or embellish. The tools allow it to either engrave, deboss, or perforate.

Both machines are also compatible with Cricut pens and markers.What software will I use?

Both machines use the Cricut Design Space software. They are also both bluetooth compatible or you can use a USB if you choose. And the operating system compatibility for both is: iOS®, Mac®, Windows®, Android™3

Common Consumer Questions

1. Am I buying capabilities that I won’t use?

If you buy the Cricut Maker 3 there is a chance that you are buying a machine that has capabilities that you will not use right away. This is especially true if you are a beginner crafter. But the great thing is that when you are ready to take on those craft projects that include materials and capabilities that the Cricut Maker 3 can work with you will be ready to create them because you chose a machine that can handle them.

2. Will I grow beyond the capabilities of this machine?

If you buy the Cricut Explore 3 then this is something that can happen. It can happen because if you decide to that you want to start doing engraving or quilting the Explore 3 can not help you with that. Obviously we can see that the Explore 3 can do many things but the fact is that with more craft projects that you want to explore there is a chance that you won’t be able to able to do all of them with this machine.

3. Which specific one will work best for me?

In my opinion if you are an avid crafter and work with a big variety of materials than the Maker 3 is definitely the machine that you should choose. To be honest I think that if your budget allows for the Maker 3 just go with that one. Because at the end of the day it is better to get a machine that can do so many things and work with so many different types of material just in case one of your new craft hobbies requires its capability.

4. Have I truly landed on the right choice for machine?

You need to sit yourself down at your craft desk and really think about the type of craft projects you will do. You really need to be honest with yourself because if you know that you for sure will not be doing projects that involve engraving, quilting, or perforating than you can feel comfortable to choose the Explore 3. But if those projects or other projects like working with leather are things that you know you will eventually end up doing and again if the budget allows then the Maker 3 is a must. I am the type of crafter that does not want to feel limited to what I can do or work with which is why my personal choice would be the Maker 3.

Last year a couple of days before Mother’s Day I was at Michael’s and I saw a guy with his two daughters trying to decide on which machine to buy his wife. I asked if they needed help because they look confused and a little overwhelmed. They told me that she had been wanting a Cricut machine for quite some time and that she wanted to dive into all kinds of projects. I gave them a quick run down of the Explore 3 and Maker 3 and his daughters told him to just go ahead and buy the Maker 3 because it would give her the opportunity to create many more things with it. I could not agree more with that. I did make it known to them that the tools must all be purchased separate and he mentioned that his wife wanted to also use it to open up her own small business and that when she started to get income from that it can be used to invest in those additional tools to help her grow her business. And that brings me to my next point. 

Personal use or small business tool:

Another thing to consider when researching which machine to buy is if it is for personal use or do you also intend on using it to open a small business or add on to your existing small business. If the answer is use it for a small business than the Maker 3 is the machine you should buy. You can use your machine to engrave on metal bracelets allowing you to offer personalization to your customers. You can engrave on acrylic keychains, engrave small dog tags, make leather bracelets or leather bookmarks. You can offer some unique invitations or tickets of sorts where you can use the perforation tool to allow them to tear a piece of it off or you can add debossing details to the invitations. You can create party favors or game pieces with the chipboard. There are just so many possibilities with the Maker 3 to start or grow a small business.

For a more full comparison of the two machines you can visit If you still haven’t been able to make up your mind there is even a little quiz at the bottom of that page that you can take so it can better help you make the right decision. Trust me I understand, when making a purchase of this size you want to make sure you think it through. I just hope that I was able to help you make the right choice for you in terms of what machine to purchase. If you decided on one already let me know in the comments which one you chose I am curious to know. And don’t forget to check out my Cricut posts for inspiration and help with how to use the machine or software.

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