If you haven’t heard of the Cricut Explore Air 2, or you don’t know what a cutting machine is, then I’m glad you have found this review. With over 140 customer reviews on Amazon and a current rating of 4 and a half stars overall, this machine is obviously impressive.
Skip to an option in the contents below or continue to read our full review.
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.
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!
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 pensyourself. 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 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 This Cutter 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 Oneat a very affordable price.
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 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 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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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 Explore Air 2, you might like to get some vinylwhile 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
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
Magnetic business cards
Vibrant, colorful labels for kitchen storage
Vinyl splashback for the kitchen
Draw your own coloring pages
Table place settings
Vinyl to decorate drawers
Wood veneer earrings
Temporary tattoo paper
Thank you fridge magnets
Project Ideas For Use With A Heat Press
Heat presses are our first love here at howtoheatpress.com, so here are some options for use with those wonderful machines.
Cut vinyl designs and press on:
Hats and caps
Mugs and cups
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 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!