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Cricut Mug Press review

Create professional mug designs with the new Cricut Mug Press, but is it worth the money?

Cricut Mug Press on a table, surrounded by mugs
(Image: © Cricut)

Our Verdict

The new Cricut Mug Press is a tech-smart crafting machine that does one thing – enables you to design and print professional-quality mugs – but does it better than you could imagine. The Cricut Mug Press itself is easy to use, but you will need some knowledge of Cricut's design software and workflow to get up and running. You can't use the Cricut Mug Press as a standalone machine, it only works with the Cricut cutting machines and Cricut Design Space. Be aware of this before you buy one.

For

  • Incredible quality
  • Good setup process
  • Consistently good results

Against

  • You need a Cricut Maker

The Cricut Mug Press is one of the craft brand's newest machines, and it opens up a fun world of art and design possibilities for both hobbyists and professionals. While Cricut has made a name for itself in the design space for offering pro-level cutting machines that can do almost any project, the Cricut Mug Press enables you to do one thing: design mugs.

If you want to design and create professional-quality mugs in all manner of colours, prints and finishes then Mug Press is the machine for you. This may look clean and simple, and indeed it is very easy to use with a bit of know-how, but behind the soft curves and smooth design is a high-tech gadget.

Cricut Mug Press specs

Size: 23.6 x 33.4 x 20.8cm
Suitable age: 18+
Body material: Plastic
Compatible with: Cricut Infusible Ink Transfer Sheets, Pens, or Markers & compatible mug blanks (sold separately)
Required: A Cricut machine (Joy, Maker, Explore), Design Space

The Cricut Mug Press uses Cricut Infusible Ink materials that are attached to mugs of varying sizes. Drop one into the Cricut Mug Press, pull the lever and wait. It's that simple. Inside, behind the scenes, the Cricut Mug Press measures the temperature of the room and the temperature of the mug, and minutes later your design is 'baked'.

To create this review we designed and made a number of mugs, and used it with a Cricut Maker and Cricut Design Space. We have experience with both the Cricut Maker and its design app, which is invaluable for using Cricut Mug Press.

We rate the Cricut Mug Press but don't forget there's more Cricut has to offer, and you will need a cutting machine to make this work. Check out our guide to the best Cricut machines, and see the latest Cricut accessories to see what can be used with the Mug Press.

Cricut Mug Press: how it works

Setting up and using a Cricut Mug Press

You'll need to understand Cricut's app and machines to use the Cricut Mug Press (Image credit: Future)

The Cricut Mug Press does a lot of the work for you. After you place a mug in its 'oven' it will take the temperature of the room and the mug, and adjust its heat automatically. All the complexities of heating the inks and ceramic is done for you – no fiddling.

There are no baffling menus or manual pressure sensitivity settings. You just drop the mug in and go. This approach leaves you free to concentrate on what matters – your designs. This is where the complexity does feature, as alongside the Cricut Mug Press you will need Cricut's ecology of machines and app (sold separately) – thankfully this does work with Cricut's cheapest cutting machine, the Joy.

Setup is as easy as plugging the Mug Press into a laptop, tablet, PC or Mac using the USB-C cable – this comes with the Cricut Mug Press – and registering the machine. (We have the best laptops for Cricut listed in our guide.) It will download any new firmware and setup automatically. Linking the Mug Press to Cricut Design Space - the manufacturer's free creative app - is essential.

Though the Mug Press itself is easy to use, the work of creating a mug's design and getting your idea to work is front-loaded into Design Space. Don't be misguided into thinking Mug Press is a closed system that will do the work for you. This is a functional machine created to enable your design process, and there's some fiddling to do in order to get a pattern that works.

Drop the mug into the Cricut Mug Press, pull the lever and wait for the magic to happen

A tutorial in Design Space takes you through the step-by-step process of creating your first design, though it can be overlooked if you're new to the app. You then need to connect to a Cricut cutting machine – Maker, Joy or Explore – and cut the pattern using a Cricut Infusible Ink Transfer Sheet.

Pick your design from the now-cut sheet and stick this around the mug (Cricut suggests you use heat resistant tape but you don't need to). Drop the mug into the Cricut Mug Press, pull the lever and wait for the magic to happen.

Understanding this process is important because the Cricut Mug Press can't be used in isolation. You will need a Cricut cutting machine to get your designs onto the mugs, and you will need some knowledge of design apps. Though Design Space is easy and accessible and comes with pre-made blueprints for beginners.

Cricut Mug Press: build and design

The Cricut Mug Press heat plate can get hot, so use a heat mat (Image credit: Future)
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The Cricut Mug Press looks fantastic. This is a simple, curvy and elegant machine that fits neatly into the broader brand identity of Cricut's other gadgets, such as the Joy or Maker 3. Like those cutters, the Cricut Mug Press feels good to the touch, is weighty and solid. There's a real sense Cricut has gone the extra length to build something that looks good but will last.

There's one button and one lever, and that's it. Operating the Mug Press is as easy as pressing the on switch, waiting for the lights to fill, signalling it's nice and toasty, and then add a mug and pull the lever to squeeze the cup in place. 

The Cricut Mug Press isn't small, but not too big either. It resembles a neat filter coffee machine in size, and the clean design enables much of the bulk to be hidden. It's a smartly crafted and considered machine that will happily sit on a kitchen surface, crafting table or workshop.

While the plate inside the Cricut Mug Press gets very hot, as you'd expect, the machine itself remains cool. Cricut suggests you sit the Mug Press on a heat proof mat, just in case. The mugs themselves can come out hot. As you would expect this isn't a machine to let children loose on. Despite the stylish looks, this is a professional level tool, not a toy.

Cricut Mug Press: price

Cricut Mug Press infusion ink sheet material on a table

Cricut's own materials can be expensive but the results are always excellent (Image credit: Future)

The Cricut Mug Press isn't cheap. At $199 / £179.99 it's an expensive add-on to your Cricut collection. In comparison to traditional manual mug press machines the Cricut Mug Press is around $100 / £80 more costly. Yet, Cricut's entry is easier to use, offers consistent results, and looks nice sitting in your home.

The price is worthwhile considering the uniformity of the designs and quality of the finished mugs; it is good value for money. Where you may have more of an issue is with the price of materials. The Cricut Mug Press works best with its own-brand infusible ink transfer sheets, pens and markers (sold separately) so you're locked into Cricut for making your designs.

The mugs themselves are standard shapes and sizes. Cricut sells it's own mugs but you can buy similar for less, but make sure you get high quality ones to the recommended standard – for compatible 'sublimation' blank mugs make sure they're poly-coated, 11 - 16 oz (350 - 470 ml) straight wall only; 82-86 mm diameter mugs +/- 1 mm (3.2-3.4 in). The size matters as Cricut's Design Space templates are set for this aspect ratio.

It's not so bad relying on Cricut materials, however, as you're guaranteed good quality products and results every time, which means little waste as you experiment with new design ideas. If you're looking to make high quality mugs for gifts or to sell at craft markets, you won't be disappointed with a Cricut Mug Press. 

Cricut Mug Press: should I buy one?

A Cricut Mug Press designer mug sat on a table with a Mug Press machine

The end results are always fantastic, which means you can experiment with confidence (Image credit: Future)

We got up and running with the Cricut Mug Press in minutes, it really is an easy machine to use. There were some teething problems, for instance everything is connected via the Cricut Design Space app – even the setup instructions. There's little information inside the box, it's all in the app. This means newcomers could overlook some steps. It's almost too simple.

Overall the Cricut Mug Press is fun to use and looks lovely sitting on your kitchen table waiting for mugs to be designed. We had some issues with being locked into Cricut's materials ecosystem, but the quality is exceptional and consistent, which is all you can ask for.

If you want to venture out of Cricut's materials you can. The Cricut Mug Press uses standard sized mugs, just ensure you follow the sizing and heat resistant specs before placing anything inside the machine. 

Ultimately we'd highly recommend the Cricut Mug Press to anyone who already has a Cricut machine and is used to the Design Space app. If you're new to Cricut and are already considering a cutting machine, then seek out a bundle deal that includes the Cricut Mug Press. Handily, we have a price-tracker for the best Cricut deal bundles. You won't find a mug press machine as consistent and open to creative designs as the combination of a Maker/Joy and Cricut Mug Press.

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The Verdict
8

out of 10

Cricut Mug Press

The new Cricut Mug Press is a tech-smart crafting machine that does one thing – enables you to design and print professional-quality mugs – but does it better than you could imagine. The Cricut Mug Press itself is easy to use, but you will need some knowledge of Cricut's design software and workflow to get up and running. You can't use the Cricut Mug Press as a standalone machine, it only works with the Cricut cutting machines and Cricut Design Space. Be aware of this before you buy one.

Ian Dean is Digital Arts & Design Editor at Creative Bloq, 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, SFX, and assisted on The Idler. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his love to bring the latest news on NFTs, video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Corel Painter, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5.