Our Cricut Maker 3 review proves what no one who owns a Cricut Maker thought was possible, Cricut has made its craft cutting machine even better. The Cricut Maker 3 is the latest in the lineup of smart cutting machines from American crafting company Cricut. It can cut over 300 different materials, including Cricut Smart Materials, which the previous Maker didn’t support.
You may be wondering what the big deal is with smart materials, and we will cover that in this article, but just be warned, once you use Smart Materials, you may never want to go back. In this review, we will be looking at all the different aspects of the Cricut Maker 3, so you can decide whether this is the right Cricut machine for you. To help, we've have our Cricut Maker vs Cricut Maker 3 guide too.
Like the original Cricut Maker, the Cricut Maker 3 can do more than just cut and supports 13 different tools, all of which need to be bought separately aside from the fine-point blade that ships with the machine. Cricut also has a whole host of accessories that can work well alongside the machine, including the best Cricut pens, which will make drawing a breeze, the Cricut EasyPress, for when you work with heat-transfer vinyl, and the Cricut MugPress, which can turn your design into bespoke mugs, which are ideal for gifts or selling.
The Cricut Maker 3 is faster and more powerful than its predecessor but does that mean it’s worth the higher price tag? This review will look at the design, cost, and all the features that come with this machine to help you make an informed decision. But if you’re still not sure, then head over to our best Cricut machines buying guide to check out what other machines are on offer.
Cricut Maker 3 review: what you get in the box
If you’re planning on buying just the Cricut Maker 3 without an attached bundle, then you will just get the basics, and you may want to purchase some extra items that will give you more options when using the machine.
In the box you’ll find the machine, a fine-point blade and blade housing that is already pre-installed, an accessory adapter, USB cable, power adaptor (both UK and US cable), a quick start guide, and a sample of materials for a test cut.
Design Space, which is also needed to operate the machine, is free and can be downloaded to iOS, Android, Windows and Mac devices. This is the app that templates your projects to fit the size of Cricut Maker 3. You can also use Design Space with software such as CorelDraw, we have guide to the best software for Cricut.
You don’t get a mat when you purchase just the basic Cricut Maker 3, which we think is an essential item for using your Cricut, especially if you’re planning to cut paper and card or use any of the other tools such as embossing or engraving. Clearly Cricut expects its Smart Materials (see below) to take off, but if you're using Cricut Maker 3 to cut fabric and cloth, then you'll need a mat.
You can purchase the mats separately, and there’s a choice of a standard grip, light grip and fabric grip mat. You also don’t get any tools such as a weeding tool or scoring pen, which we think are essential items. However, there are plenty of deals to be had with Cricut Maker 3 bundles which come with different tools, blades, mats and materials, so it’s worth shopping around to find the best deals.
Cricut Maker 3 review: setting up and use
Setting up the Cricut Maker 3 is very simple. It connects via BlueTooth or USB, and we find Bluetooth the easiest option unless you have a ton of space to keep your laptop close to your machine when it’s in use. There's a slot above the Maker 3 for a tablet to rest, which is a nice touch. (We have guides to the best laptops for Cricut and the best tablets for Cricut.)
As with other Cricut machines, the Cricut Maker 3 requires Design Space to be able to operate. If you want access to thousands of images, fonts, and ready-to-make projects, you can subscribe to Cricut Access, a subscription costing $7.99 / £7.49 a month. These designs can be used for any purpose, including commercial usage, find out more by reading, 10 reasons why you need Cricut Access.
The Cricut Maker 3 has ten times the cutting force and cuts two times faster than any other Cricut machine. You will still need to tweak the settings to ensure that you apply the proper cutting force and number of cuts depending on your material, but it’s noticeably more powerful than its predecessor.
The faster cut time is also convenient if you’re planning many jobs, for example, if you’re using your machine for business, as it will save a lot of time. And the intricacy of your design won’t be comprised by the faster-cutting speed.
Cricut Maker 3 review: the new feature
Undertaking this Cricut Maker 3 review highlights the excellent feature upgrades that really put this machine on another level. A standout one is how Cricut Maker 3 now works with Cricut Smart Materials, which means you can forgo the cutting mat and cut designs up to 12-feet in length. We detail more about these in our guide to the best Cricut accessories.
Cricut Smart Materials were first introduced for the Cricut Joy and enable you to load materials and go, producing long and continuous cuts. The Cricut Smart Materials include sticker card stock, iron-on vinyl, infusible inks and regular vinyl. We didn’t think this would make as much of an impression as it has, but using Smart Materials makes the whole cutting process much easier and quicker.
As well as Smart Materials the Cricut Maker 3 follows in the footsteps of the original Maker and can cut more than 300 materials such as card, paper, and vinyl and thicker items up to 2.4mm, including balsa wood, leather and chipboard.
Cricut Maker 3 review: design
If you’re looking for a small, portable machine, the Cricut Maker 3 isn’t for you. This is a hefty piece of kit. It weighs 22 lbs and measures 16 x 18 x 58 cm, so it’s a machine that needs a dedicated space.
Cricut has stuck with the soft rounded edges and brushed aluminium lid for the Cricut Maker 3 that fans loved about the Cricut Maker. The lid is magnetised to keep your machine in place when it’s not in use. When you lift the lid, the machine will fold outwards, revealing the feeder with a built-in accessory compartment. We have to say the accessory compartment doesn’t seem as roomy as the previous model, but this could be to do with the angle at which it extends.
When the lid is open, you’ll also find the clamps where your tools will go. There are two slots, and slot B has the fine-point blade pre-installed. This is a really good feature as it means you can draw or score alongside cutting without having to stop and switch out your tool halfway through the job. The clamps are easy to use, they just open and close on a hinge system, and you do need to apply some pressure, but they do move easily.
To the top left of the lid, there is a pen and accessory holder, this can be accessed even when the lid is extended and it's great for keeping spare blades, pens and tools. There is also a slot at the top of the machine to hold your tablet or mobile phone, this is the kind of thinking missing from even the best Cricut alternatives, such as the Silhouette Cameo.
The majority of the machine is operated via the Design Space software, but on the top of the machine, you will find a couple of buttons that include power, load / unload, start and pause. Again, unlike its rivals, Cricut has made a unique design choice – here to simplify the machine and place emphasis on the app's functions.
The back of the machine is really the only design feature that has changed from the original Maker. Because it uses smart materials, it can now cut material up to 12-foot in length, so the back of the machine has a wider real slot that can push the already cut material through. But if you’re not interested in using smart materials, this machine can still be used with a 12 x 12 mat.
Cricut Maker 3 review: price
Cricut Maker 3 is the most expensive model in the whole of Cricut's craft machine line up. But you are getting a lot of machine for your money. The cost of a Cricut Maker 3 is $399 / £399.
This is just for the machine, so if you want extras such as the mat or materials then check out some of the best Cricut Maker 3 bundle deals. If you’re looking for a machine that isn’t quite as expensive as the Cricut Maker 3 but still has more features than the older models in the Cricut line up, then it’s worth taking a look at the Cricut Explore 3, which starts at $299 / £279. We’ve put together a guide to the best Cricut Explore 3 deals so you can get the very best price.
But if you really want a cutting machine and the Cricut’s are out of your budget we have put together a feature that compares Cricut's best machine to its closest rival, in Cricut vs Silhouette.
It is just worth noting that the machine is only the start of the costs associated with an at-home smart cutting machine. You have to factor in the price of any accessories you may want like the EasyPress as well as materials like cards, vinyl and pens. This is part of the strength of Cricut Maker 3, its broad connectivity to heat press machines and a library of accessories ensures it will be in use for a long time.
Cricut Maker 3 review: should you buy one?
Hands down Cricut Maker 3 is the best smart cutting machine on the market. It’s fast, powerful and incredibly versatile in terms of what tools it can support and what materials it can handle. You can cut designs for any project on a Cricut Maker 3.
If you already own a Circuit Maker, you may not want to make the extra investment based on the biggest difference between the two machines being the compatibility with Smart Materials. But we would still recommend the jump. Using Smart Materials makes the whole process so much easier, especially if you’re cutting a lot of projects at one time. The faster cutting time and cutting power is also another huge plus point and if you’re using your Cricut for business, then it’s a no brainer.
Design-wise, you’d be hard pushed to determine what the differences are between Cricut Maker and Cricut Maker 3 as they are practically identical to look at. They also both take 13 tools, both cut 300 types of material and both have commercial-grade performance capabilities.
If you’re buying a Cricut Maker for the first time and have the budget, then opt for the Cricut Maker 3. If you're looking to upgrade from a Cricut Maker, unless Smart Materials are on your wish-list, we'd suggest waiting for a good deal.