What is a cricut?

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You may have heard people mention they are using a “cricket” machine, which is actually how people pronounce the company. So what is it for and what market is it aimed at and how do I use it? I will explain all this in this blog post.

Business Promotional products

The two simplest processes used in adding a logo to a product is by vinyl heat seal and by thermal transfer.

A roll of vinyl is loaded into the cutter with the vinyl facing upwards. The design is loaded and flipped upside down and then the outline is fed to the cutting machine which cuts around each shape in the design. The operator cuts out the design from the vinyl roll and sits down and uses a weeding tool to remove the parts that don’t belong to the design. The garment is loaded into a heat press and an initial press heats the garment so the vinyl will adhere better to the design before the vinyl is placed with the backing sheet facing up and then the press is closed for the required time to fuse the vinyl into the fabric.

Thermal transfer is often used for more complex designs where a lot of colours are required or the design is to be printed on a mug. The operator prints the design in reverse on the printer, then the design is placed on the garment like with vinyl, and is pressed onto the garment.

Cricut - Bringing promotional products to crafters

Cricut realised that there was a market for crafters to cut out their designs precisely and quicker than using scissors and the more you can do yourself, the quicker you can get crafting.

Cricut started selling their machines back in 2003, but back then the machines were overly complicated and relied on designs on cartridges or on the machine itself. As the company progressed they started making more and more machines that connected to a computer, so the design of the machines were simplified. Now they sell 3 cutter machines, as well as a mini heat press and a mug press.

Cricut Joy

The Cricut Joy is the smallest cutter machine they sell, with a maximum material width of 5.5″ and a maximum print length of 4ft but designs can be repeated up to 5 times (20ft) and the cutter only works on Bluetooth, so is aimed at the mobile app market. The Joy can cut out over 50 materials and be used to hold pens and markers and is supplied with 3 tools and a single blade as well as a foil transfer tool. The cost is £180.

Cricut Explore 3

This is their mid range machine which can cut out over 100 materials, and features a wider capacity allowing for material up to 13 inches wide and designs of up to 12ft long, which can be repeated 6 times, to a maximum of 75ft. The explore comes with 6 tools and both a fine and deep pointed blade, along with a foil transfer and bonded transfer tool and can be connected either with Bluetooth or USB for £280.

Cricut Maker 3

The Maker 3 is the top of the range cutter machine with 10x the pressure of the Explore when the adaptive tool is used. It supports the same width as the Explore 3 and repeat levels. It does work with over 300 materials and comes with 13 tools including fine, deep, rotary, knife, wavy and perforation blades as well as foil transfer tool, bonded fabric transfer tool, engraving tool and debossing tool for £400.

Roll accessory

If you wish to use a roll of material, you can buy the optional Roll Holder which mounts to the front of either the Explore 3 or the Maker 3 and includes a trimmer blade to cut off surplus materials. This costs £50.

Heat presses

Cricut also sell heat presses under the brand Easy Press, which are basically dry irons that you can set the temperature the press will be heated to and a timer that tells you how long to press for.

EasyPress Mini

The EasyPress Mini is their smallest and cheapest heat press at £54.99 and you set everything up on your phone and send the temperature and time to the press over Bluetooth. There are 3 temperatures to choose from and the unit sits in a heat resistant silicone holder until you wish to use it. It is ideal for smaller items like teddy bears, baby’s shoes etc.

EasyPress 2

The EasyPress 2 is available in two sizes (9″ square and 12″ x 10″) and there is a visible display to see what the temperature is set to and the duration of the timer, although you can also set this with a smartphone. The 9″ model retails for £180 and the rectangle for £214.

Cricut Mug Press

The Cricut Mug Press heats and presses the design onto mugs that support “infusible inks”. You load your mug with the design you wish to put on your mug with the white side out and press on the raised white handle to apply pressure on the mug and the Mug Press heats the mug to 200°C (400°F) to bond the design to the mug. There is a series of white dots that flash when the process is complete, so you can lift the handle and remove the mug and leave to cool down before removing the infusible ink sheet.

The Cricut Mug Press must only be used with the mugs from Cricut because they have to be exactly the same size, you can press 300ml, 340ml and 425ml mugs with this press.

The press costs £180.

You can use sublimation ink transfer paper and they do sell heat resistant tape to hold transfers to the mug. The advantage of sublimation transfer paper is that you don’t have to weed out the bits you don’t want.

Infusible inks

Infusible inks are a Cricut branded transfer material that you load into your printer. You then print your design onto it, then load into the Cricut machine to cut your design out and then weed the parts you don’t want off it. You can then use the EasyPress to press the design onto infusible ink compatible flat materials or wrap around a mug and use the Mug Press to press the design onto a mug.

Infusible Inks can be layered to create an overlapping design.

Summary

The Cricut cutting machines are amazing for crafty people but you can buy a bigger heat press that does all that and more, such as the UK Press 8 in 1 press from Amazon that can do t-shirts, caps, plates, mouse mats and 5 different sized mugs for the same price as the mug press.

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