My Cricut Maker 3 review contains what I think you need to know about the machine before buying it! This article was sponsored by Cricut and contains affiliate links.
My review of the powerhouse Cricut Maker 3
Today’s article is an exciting one for me—it’s a Cricut Maker 3 review, and it’s the last Cricut machine I’ve been waiting to get my hands on! I have review guides for all of the other Cricut machines, as well as a Which Cricut Should I Buy comparison guide.
Today it’s all about the Maker 3, though. I did a post about unboxing and setting up my Maker 3 a few weeks ago—Unbox a Cricut Machine With Me—that you can check out. I know that this is a big investment, so I want to help you better understand the Maker 3’s capabilities and what kind of crafter it might be the best fit for. So let’s jump in.
Cricut Maker 3 pros and cons
Not into reading? Here is a quick list of high-level pros and cons I think are important to know about the Cricut Maker 3. Enjoy!
- Versatility: Can cut 300+ materials, including popular ones like vinyl, iron-on, and paper, as well as other materials like chipboard, wood, fabric, and more.
- Compatibility: Works with a wide range of blades and tips, expanding crafting capabilities through the use of the knife blade, rotary blade, debossing and engraving tips, and more.
- Smart Materials: Streamlines the cutting process by eliminating the need for using adhesive mats; allows for much longer cuts.
- Growth Potential: A machine you can grow with; as needs evolve, invest in additional specialty blades, tools, and materials to expand capabilities.
- Project Diversity: Ideal for making the widest variety of projects, ranging from making custom shirts to crafting dimensional projects.
- Higher Price Tag: Comes with a higher price tag compared to some other Cricut machines; may not be worth it if you are not going to leverage the Maker-only capabilities and materials.
- Size: The Maker 3 weighs 15.4 pounds. This is slightly heavier than the Maker 3 and over double the weight of the Joy Xtra, so it might not be the most portable option.
- Additional Costs: To fully leverage the machine’s expanded capabilities, you will need to invest in additional blades and tools over time.
- Not Essential for Basic Projects: For those primarily interested in basic projects like vinyl decals, smaller iron-on designs, or simple cards, the advanced capabilities of the Maker 3 may be unnecessary.
- Cricut Maker 3 pros and cons
- What materials can I cut with it?
- What sets the Maker 3 apart?
- How big can the Maker 3 cut?
- What kinds of projects is the Maker 3 best for?
- Testing the Cricut Maker 3 to make projects
- Wrapping up…
What materials can I cut with it?
The Maker 3 is what I consider to be Cricut’s top-of-the-line desktop cutting machine. Branded as the “ultimate smart cutting machine,” the Maker 3 works with over 300 materials, including popular materials like adhesive vinyl, iron-on, and paper. But its specialty blades also give you expanded flexibility to cut things that some other machines cannot, like leather, thicker chipboard, kraft board, craft form, felt, and more.
In a nutshell, it has more compatible materials and tools than other Cricut machines. While the Venture machine can field impressively sized projects, it doesn’t really fit into the desktop category. So if you’re looking to invest in a machine that has a wide range of capabilities while still being relatively compact, the Cricut Maker 3 is worth looking into.
What sets the Maker 3 apart?
But the Maker 3 has a higher price tag than some of the other Cricut machines. You might be wondering if you’ll use it enough for that price tag to be worth it. I think it’s better to reframe your thinking around both what you want to make now and what you might want to make in the future.
That’s because the Maker 3 is a machine you can truly grow with. When you first purchase that machine, you probably won’t invest in all of the specialty blades and tips available. But as you learn more about the machine and its capabilities, you can invest in additional tools as appropriate.
For example, Cricut’s knife blade is compatible only with the Maker 3—not the Explore or Joy machines. You can use this nifty little attachment to precision-cut thin softwood (like basswood) and chipboard that’s up to 3/32 of an inch thick (or 2.4mm).
The Maker is also compatible with many blades and useful tips: double and single scoring wheel tips, a rotary blade for precision fabric cutting, debossing and engraving tips, and blades for perforation and wavy cuts.
How big can the Maker 3 cut?
Much like the Explore 3, the Joy, and the Joy Xtra, the Maker 3 is compatible with Smart Materials. Smart Materials are made by Cricut and do not require the use of an adhesive cutting mat. I love working with Smart Materials because it streamlines the process and is one less thing I have to worry about storing or replacing.
Using Smart Materials also gives you the benefit of longer cuts. Since you don’t have a mat holding you back, you can cut a single image up to 4 ft or repeated shapes up to 12 ft. This expands your options, allowing you to make longer cuts or cut smaller images in bulk.
Smart Paper comes in 13″ by 13″ adhesive sheets and allows you to load a sheet into the machine without a mat, cut, and assemble your project. The super-sticky backing means no need for glue on layered paper projects.
What kinds of projects is the Maker 3 best for?
You’ll likely start out using your Cricut for things like cutting vinyl to make decals and and iron-on material to make custom shirts. I love my Maker 3 for those projects because its speed and ability to work with Smart Materials makes projects quick and easy.
But there is so much more you can do with a Maker 3. Here are just a few examples.
- Use pens and markers to write labels on the SmartLabel Writable Vinyl and cut them out using the fine-point blade.
- Cut dimensional projects in soft wood with the knife blade—home decor, models, and more.
- Grab a sublimation mug and cut a design out of Infusible Ink to create a custom mug.
- Invest in a rotary blade to help streamline marking and cutting pattern pieces when sewing—or to get a perfect cut on quilt squares.
- Engrave certain metals like tags or jewelry with the engraving tip attachment.
- Leverage Smart Materials to cut out large-scale decals or make signs and banners.
- Cut, score, and foil cardstock to make bespoke gift boxes.
- With an InkJet printer, design, print, and cut out full-color, custom stickers.
- Cut and embellish real or faux leather to make earrings, bracelets, and more.
Testing the Cricut Maker 3 to make projects
But what does the Cricut Maker 3 really look like in action? I dove into Design Space, Cricut’s free design software, to find some projects. There are a TON of ready-to-make projects you can choose from to get started, so no worries there.
I wanted to test the knife blade, which I’ve used in the past on my first-generation Maker; the deep-point blade; and the regular fine-point blade. I searched for projects using these blades and some of the materials I had to get some inspiration, then it was off to the races!
Project #1: Making a custom tote bag
For my first project, I used Smart Materials to quickly cut a cute “Maryland” design out of iron-on vinyl. I did this in two layers: the black base later and the red Maryland layer. For the gold glitter heart layer, I used a mat and a small piece of scrap iron-on I had.
I decided to layer the iron-on vinyl not only to create some dimension, but for a practical reason. I got this amazing tote bag for free at a conference I went to, but it said Clemson on it. Nothing against Clemson, I promise! I just have no association or affiliation with them and love being able to use my Cricut machine to personalize things.
So I covered the Clemson graphic up with the black iron-on vinyl, putting my design on top of that. This cut beautifully and very quickly using the Smart Materials. The scrap piece of iron-on I cut using an adhesive mat worked great, too. I used my EasyPress to assemble this project.
Project #2: Cutting chipboard to make a door hanger
For my second test project, I used the knife blade to cut 2mm chipboard. I cut a door hanger out. This took multiple passes but was absolutely faster than when I’d used the knife blade on my first-generation Maker to cut chipboard monstera leaves.
The door hanger popped right off the mat when I was done with it, and I didn’t have any issues with the chipboard moving off the mat while the machine did its thing. Then I popped the fine-point cutting blade back on and cut out a few sayings from permanent adhesive vinyl for the sign.
The longest part of this project was painting and chipboard and letting it dry! The 2mm chipboard cut like a dream with the knife blade. I cut a few just to be sure I could replicate the results, and all of them were fantastic.
Project #3: Making a wood veneer “can sleeve”
The last project used wood veneer—a material I hadn’t ever worked with. I was a little nervous but figured it would be similar to cutting wood with the knife blade. However, the wood veneer is so thin that you can use the deep-point blade to cut it in just a few passes. I was shocked!
I measured an old tin can of olives so that I could make a wood veneer “sleeve” for it and upcycle the can into a pen holder. Then I created a rectangle in Design Space, cut it out of the wood veneer, and glued it on after spray painting the can. Wow—what a quick and easy project to upcycle an old can!
The Cricut Maker 3 stands out as a powerhouse in the world of crafting, offering a remarkable combination of versatility and precision. Its extensive compatibility with 300+ materials, along with a variety of blades and tips, positions it as a top-tier cutting machine.
The Maker 3’s higher price tag is justified by its growth potential and adaptability. While it may have a learning curve, the machine’s ability to handle a wide array of projects—from basic vinyl decals to intricate wood veneer creations—makes it an investment for those with evolving crafting ambitions.
Its advanced features make it a compelling choice for craft enthusiasts and professionals seeking a cutting machine that can handle diverse crafting endeavors. So what do you think? Will you be getting a Maker 3? Do you have experience with the machine? Let me know in the comments!