Cricut Explore Air 2 Review: Cutting Machine For Heat Transfer Vinyl

The Cricut Explore Air 2 is one of the best craft cutting machines out there. It looks good, it cuts good, it draws good and etches good. What more could you want? With well over 500 customer reviews on the various Amazon listings and very high star ratings overall, this machine is obviously impressive. We’ve got all the information you need to decide if it’s right for you in this review, so please read on. Ask any further questions in the comment section at the bottom!


Cricut Explore Air 2 Review: Cutting Machine For Heat Transfer Vinyl



What Is A Cutting Machine?


While this machine looks a lot like a printer, instead of holding ink it holds either a blade, a pen or a scoring stylus. It can cut, write or score designs sent from your device (computer, phone or tablet), into or onto a variety of different materials.


Cricut Explore Air 2: Cutting Machine For Heat Transfer Vinyl

Cricut Explore Air 2: Cutting Machine For Heat Transfer Vinyl

Cricut Explore Air 2: Cutting Machine For Heat Transfer Vinyl

Cricut Explore Air 2: Cutting Machine For Heat Transfer Vinyl

Cricut Explore Air 2: Cutting Machine For Heat Transfer Vinyl

Cricut Explore Air 2 Review: cutting machine for heat transfer vinyl

The sample card project the machine comes with.




You can cut heat transfer vinyl, sticker paper or cardstock and many more items. There are literally over 100 different materials that you can cut with this machine. This particular Cricut machine even cuts into canvas, leather and chipboard!


See the materials list at Cricut’s website for more information, and for the particular settings and requirements for cutting each material.




The Explore Air can hold a pen and write in hundred of fonts. This feature is especially great for writing in cards. The result is something that looks hand crafted and personal, but professional and precise.


It comes with one black sample pen, and you must purchase further Cricut pens yourself. You can use non-Cricut pens so long as they fit into the adapter. They need to be the same size.




The Scoring feature is for creating perfect lines in your project. It’s perfect for scoring the fold in cards, craft boxes, envelopes and similar items.


In order to use this feature, you must insert the scoring stylus. The housing which holds the cutting blade also contains another position in which you place the pen for writing, or the scoring stylus for scoring. You can therefore have the blade and pen or scoring stylus ready for use at the same time.


The scoring stylus is not included with the machine. You must purchase this separately.  


Does The Cricut Explore Air 2 Print?


It does not print! I’ve seen some confusion about this, so it’s important to state it. You will need a separate ink printer to work alongside the cutter if you plan to print and then cut out stickers, or cut out an inkjet design to press onto a t-shirt.



Who Is The Cricut Explore Air 2 For?


This machine is best for use at home by someone who simply loves crafts or designing t-shirts. It is also suitable for a small home business. It could be valuable for someone starting out in a small business.


If you are not sure of your business concept, or whether you’re going to stick with it – a t-shirt business, for example – then this is a good product to buy. You don’t have to spend too much money to verify your idea. If you’re having doubts, best to invest the minimal amount to test things first.


If you are in a situation where you know you’ll be using the cutter a lot, and you are selling a reasonable amount of products, you should probably go for a commercial model.


There are so many price points with cutting machines.  They range in price from the hundreds of dollars to the many thousands of dollars. For example, you can get the Cricut Explore One at a very affordable price.


Then there is the machine we’re focusing on here at a little more – check the price of the Cricut Explore Air 2 here.


You will need to read up on the pros and cons of each to determine which best suits your requirements. We will continue to provide you all the information you need on such machines, and more blog posts will be going up each week.


The Cricut Explore Air 2 & Heat Press Machines


As the main thrust of our website is heat press machines, allow me to relate this machine to them.


Cutting machines are necessary to cut out the designs or text to be pressed onto the garment or other substrate; whether it be from HTV (heat transfer vinyl), or an image printed from the inkjet printer.


If you are not ready to purchase a cutter at this time but you have a heat press already, as an alternative you can order designs from a third party – even your own designs! Stahl’s, for example, offers this service.


This cutter will produce perfect HTV transfers for use with the likes of  the Power Press heat press, USCutter heat press machines, or even with your home iron. Iron on vinyl transfers are a great first project you can do with your Air 2 if you do not have a heat press yet. 



This machine cuts, writes, and scores, but what other features does it have?


Number one, it is a bluetooth enabled cutting machine. This is a great feature, meaning you don’t need to think about connecting it to your computer or worrying about cords – a top frustration in my life! It is great to not have to situate it right next to your computer. It can have its own position elsewhere in the room, off your desk.


Before getting too excited though, check your computer has bluetooth capability. 99% of modern computers do have this feature, so it’s more than likely yours will, but double check anyway.


If your computer does not have bluetooth abilities, but you really want this machine, you can always get a plug in bluetooth adapter. This will allow you to use the bluetooth feature.


And finally, failing that, this machine does come with a USB cord for you to connect to your computer physically. Now you have no excuse not to get this baby!


Smart Set® Dial


A fancy name for a fancy dial. Each type of material you cut has a different set of requirements. The blade needs to be set just right for each job. The Smart Set® Dial allows you to choose your material easily.


There is a setting for:


  • Paper
  • Vinyl
  • Iron On
  • Light Cardstock
  • Cardstock
  • Bonded Fabric
  • Poster Board


There is also a custom setting for those lesser used materials. If you choose the custom setting, the customization takes place inside Design Space. It is a very simple process. See the following video for proof.





What are Cricut Cartridges?


Cricut groups sets of images, texts or designs together and calls these a cartridge. Most often these images are of the same theme. For example, the Cricut Type Candy Catridge.


Once upon a time, before download speeds were as good as they are today, cartridges were an easier way to get these sets of images onto your computer quickly and through your machine. Now, however, the emphasis is on digital cartridges.


You are still able to use physical cartridges with the Cricut Explore Air 2. You can still buy them, or you can load up your previously purchased ones. When you have loaded your physical cartridge to your account, it will remain there in digital form. You are able to get rid of the physical cartridge.




This machine is delightfully small. Thankfully, it will not take up a lot of room in your home or craft room.


These figures have been rounded up .1 or .2 of an inch:


  • Its height is 6 inches or 152 centimeters
  • Its width is 7 inches or 178 centimeters
  • And its length is 22.5 inches or 564 centimeters


Software & Device Integration


Most people will use their computer to send designs to the Explore Air 2, but for those wishing to send it via their smartphone, you might like to have a look at the Apple or Android apps, depending on what type of phone you have.


This machine will work with both Windows and Apple computers.


Once you plug the cutter into your computer, you should find the software automatically begins downloading. If this does not happen, here is the page for Windows and here it is for Apple.


Cricut provides a platform called Design Space for you to work with in creating or choosing designs. They offer a lot of incredibly helpful videos to support you as you begin using the machine. Their website is also full of amazing ideas and projects for you to get started on.


Have a look at this page. You will find a wealth of information there if you decide to enrich your life with this machine. Explore the tabs to the right of ‘Getting Started’ and you will find a supply of amazing videos for once you get started.


What Are The Differences Between The Explore One, The Explore Air & The Cricut Explore Air 2?


Common Features Of All Three Machines:


  • All of these machines have precise cutting, writing, and scoring technology
  • They can all can cut over 100 different materials
  • All projects for each machine can be easily designed on any of your devices


Unique Features Of The Explore Air & Explore Air 2:


  • These two machines have bluetooth capability
  • They are both endowed with a double tool holder – this allows for you to continue a project requiring multiple tools without stopping


Unique Features Of The Cricut Explore Air 2:


  • This machine has been updated and can go up to 2 times faster than the other two – it is the best!
  • You have the latest machine, so you have the prestige of this title – it’s the Explore Air 2!


Here is a Youtube video showing the difference in speed between the Explore Air and Explore Air 2:



What Comes With the Cricut Explore Air 2?


Along with the cutting machine, you will get or gain access to:


  • A premium German made carbide blade – German’s make the best
  • A USB cord to connect manually from cutter to computer
  • A power cord
  • An accessory adapter  – for holding the pen
  • An information manual
  • A sample pen
  • Sample cardstock
  • A Cricut 12 x 12 inch standard grip cutting mat  
  • The Cricut Design Space software, as linked to above
  • Access to 100+ images in Design Space
  • Access to 50+ projects in Design space


It does not come with vinyl or other materials for you to begin using, apart from a small amount of sample cardstock. You will need to purchase these yourself. If you decide to purchase the Cricut Explore Air 2, you might like to get some vinyl while you’re at it. Cardstock is another great material to have on hand. Vinyl and cardstock are the best items to find your feet with if this will be your first time using a cutter. Self adhesive vinyl is another fun product you can practice using your machine with – make vinyl labels, pimp your vacuum, your kid’s bike, or even your drone


Would you like more information on pressing vinyl? Please browse our site. Our articles are full of helpful advice. Check out this article on the Power Press Heat Press as an example.


A Few Project Ideas


cricut explore air 2 for cutting heat transfer vinyl


Here are just a few ideas for what you can do with this amazing machine. The only limiting factor is your imagination!


  • Vinyl cell phone covers
  • Business cards
  • Magnetic business cards
  • Stickers
  • Vibrant, colorful labels for kitchen storage
  • Vinyl splashback for the kitchen
  • Draw your own coloring pages
  • Create jewellery
  • Coasters
  • Food labels
  • Party invitations
  • Table place settings
  • Vinyl to decorate drawers
  • Gift tags
  • Masks
  • Wood veneer earrings
  • Chalkboard labels
  • Temporary tattoo paper
  • Leather labels
  • Bunting
  • Thank you fridge magnets


Project Ideas For Use With A Heat Press


Heat presses are our first love here at, so here are some options for use with those wonderful machines.


Cut vinyl designs and press on:


  • T-shirts
  • Hats and caps
  • Cushions
  • Tiles
  • Dog tags
  • Canvas totes
  • Sweatpants
  • Hoodies
  • Mugs and cups
  • Head bands
  • Tank tops
  • Baby onesies
  • And of course, much much more!


For more great ideas and high quality video tutorials, have a look at these how to videos.


Here is an example of how you could use the Cricut Explore Air 2 to make your own personalized t-shirt:



We hope this article helps you to know whether this machine is right for you. Please comment with any further questions and we would be happy to find you the answer. If you’re ready to purchase, don’t hesitate! Head to Amazon now and get your machine on its way!


You can also check out our article on cheap vinyl cutting machines or our review of the Brother CM350 ScanNCut2 to read about other popular cutting machines.


(Please note: This post contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure policy here.)


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