When you go online and look for vinyl cutting machines, you’ll soon discover the overwhelming popularity of the Cricut brand. The company has been at the forefront of the personal die cutting machine industry for many years now. The brand has assiduously maintained its position and reputation quite well despite all newcomers. They’ve been good through all these years, and they remain the standard by which all other cutting machine brands are measured.
Can you use a Cricut to cut vinyl?
The answer is most definitely yes. In fact, this is its most common function.
There are many good reasons why you may want to pick solely among the Cricut models when you wish to buy a vinyl cutting machine. One good reason is that Cricut models tend to have budget-friendly prices. They’re so affordable that you’re more likely to just buy one to simply test it out. This is great for newbies and hobbyists who are just starting out making decals and custom designs for shirts.
Cricut models are also designed for simple and easy use, which again benefits beginners. There aren’t any complicated procedures. In fact, the features found in various Cricut models can make things so simple. It also helps that with the Cricut popularity you won’t have any trouble finding YouTube videos that show how to use the Cricut for your projects.
The popularity of Cricut also helps ensure that you’ll have a wide range of options when it comes to accessories and materials. You’ll most materials available for vinyl cutters are compatible with Cricut machines, simply because these things are ubiquitous.
Finally, they do have a wide range of models to choose from, so you may pick among lots of models that may suit your needs. To help you even further, we’ve already identified a few models that you should consider if you’re focusing on vinyl lettering.
Factors to Consider when Focusing on Vinyl Lettering
Vinyl lettering is just one of the many ways you can use the vinyl you cut, but it’s an extremely useful way to be sure. After all, you need letters and numbers to spell out the names of brands and the slogans they use. You can also use this method to produce witty statements on shirts and cups.
Accuracy and Cutting Precision
However, just because you’re working with ‘only’ letters doesn’t mean that you can work with a sub-standard machine. Letters can be tricky little designs themselves, especially with some fonts. You need proper accuracy so that you can make cuts that allow you to remove the spaces inside the holes of the letters. You should also be able to make cuts that can show off the serifs and other details of the fonts you pick.
It’s also helpful if your machine can deal with various types of vinyl materials for lettering. There are actually many types to choose from, such as high-performance vinyl for exposed areas, special materials such as fluorescent and “glow in the dark”, vinyl that looks like metal, and vinyl that features special effects like mosaic, mirror, and holographic effects.
Finally, you may want to find out what kinds of special fonts are available in the software you use. Many of these cutting machines come with software that let you choose designs from their library of images. You may find that you can also pick among available fonts as well.
So which Cricut machine is best for vinyl lettering?
Here are 3 fine Cricut models well-suited for such a task. We also list 2 vinyl brands are considered the best vinyl for Cricut. Just like for cutting machines, the best place to buy vinyl for Cricut is to buy online.
1. Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine
First off, you’ll notice that this machine isn’t just limited to vinyl. It can cut card stock and faux leather too. But even if you specialize in just cutting vinyl this versatility works for you, because you can be very sure that it can deal with any kind of vinyl media you can use on it. You can work on standard vinyl, special vinyl colors, and iron-on types of vinyl too. Since it’s very strong, you can be sure that such materials will pose no special difficulty for your machine.
Like just about any Cricut cutting machine, this one is very easy to use. Part of that is because you’re given free access to the Design Space program for Cricut cutting machines. This program is very user-friendly, so it shouldn’t be too complicated to learn. What’s more, you can even download an app (compatible with Android and iOS) that can use the Explore Air 2, so you don’t even need a desktop PC.
Don’t worry about cables either, though you can use them if you want. What sets this machine apart from many others is that it’s also embedded with Bluetooth, so you can sync with it wirelessly.
The machine itself is easy to use because you don’t have to manually discover the right blade depth and speed settings for your material. This has the super convenient Smart Set dial, so all you need to do is to set this dial to the kind of material you’re using. It will then use the proper speed and blade depth automatically.
- It’s very versatile, and you can certainly use any type or brand of vinyl with this cutting machine.
- It comes with the Design Space software.
- This lets you choose from up to 370 fonts, and that’s not even counting the fonts you already have on your computer.
- It’s extremely easy to set the appropriate parameters for your vinyl materials. It will cut at the right depth and pressure every time.
- The machine doesn’t take up much space, and you can just put it on a desk somewhere. It doesn’t even have to be near your PC anyway since it has Bluetooth.
- Since it’s so popular, you can go online and find lots of Explore Air hobbyist groups with members sharing tips and tricks.
- You can use it to write or put in score marks.
- For vinyl (as well as for iron-on vinyl and card stock), there’s a special Fast mode that can cut and write 2x faster.
- Not everyone has a nice thing to say about the quality of the customer support. That can also help explain why there are lots of support groups online!
- You should check the fine print regarding your access to the software. There may be some time limits.
2. Cricut Expression Electronic Cutting Machine
This is another simple machine from Cricut, and it helps that you have access to the huge Cricut image library. Your purchase gives you online access to the Cricut Craft Room design software, where you can input your own system fonts and then you can edit the letters to create the final product. The program also allows you to buy specific images you can then use for your design.
However, this also allows you to buy special cartridges so that you can actually use this without a PC. These cartridges come with their own sets of images, so you can just pick one and then cut it out. Some of these cartridges also have special fonts as well.
The machine can deal with other materials aside from vinyl, and these include chipboard and cardstock. You can also work with sizes as little as ¼ of an inch, so that says a lot about its precision.
There’s an Expression 2 available right now but stick to this original version. The original Cricut Expression cuts better than its supposedly upgraded version, the Expression 2.
- You have lots of options regarding how you can have a design to cut. You can use your own images and letters, buy specific images through the software, or even buy special cartridges with preloaded images and fonts.
- It’s a very compact machine, and it’s about the same size as a regular home-use printer.
- It offers terrific precision, so your cut letters will be distinct and readable.
With this, you can cut a large variety of materials. If you want to concentrate on vinyls, you can be sure you’ll have no trouble making your cuts.
There’s a feature here that allows you to cut multiples of the same images and messages, so you can make the same cuts consistently.
- It can be annoying buying cartridges when you don’t need to use all the images and fonts.
- While you can design your own fonts with the software, you have to buy the right cartridges to use the fonts you want to cut.
3. Cricut Mini Cutting Machine
If you do have a computer (and just about everyone has these days), then you can use the Mini Cutting Machine as your go-to cutter. With the software that comes with this, you already have access to 4 full fonts, plus 50 phrases, 150 layered images and projects. You also get access to more than 500 free digital images.
You can also just go online and use the Cricut Craft Room design software. This is an online program where you can pick fonts and images from the Cricut library. The software also enables you to enhance these fonts and images. So you can customize the size and edit the images so they’re flipped or slanted.
The cutting machine itself can deal with various types of materials as well. Aside from vinyl, you can cut chipboard, vellum, cardstock, and fabric. You can cut designs as little as ¼ of an inch.
- The machine is versatile enough to handle different types of materials.
- The software is easy to use.
- The machine is quite compact.
- Again you’re reliant on the Cricut image library for the images and fonts you can use. You can’t import your own designs.
- The software requires an Internet connection.
It does seem apparent that for beginners, the Expression and Mini Cutting Machine can do a lot of good for your crafts projects. But the clear winner here is the Explore Air, as it can cut custom fonts and images without having to buy special cartridges.
Looking for the best vinyl for Cricut? We recommend these 2!
1. Oracal 651 Vinyl Rolls
If you’re in need of vinyl material to use for your Explore Air, then you can try this Oracal vinyl for Cricut. Each order is 10 rolls, and you have 10 colors to choose from. This actually means that you can have each roll in a distinct color. Each roll measures 12 feet and they’re 12 inches wide, so you get a lot of material to work with.
One reason why this is a popular choice is that it “weeds” very easily. After the cutting process, your job requires you to remove the unwanted portions from the design. But this material makes that a much easier process than with other types of vinyl.
The other reason why it’s a great option is that this is designed to last for a very long time. It’s the same quality as car decals, so it can last 6 years or so. To prevent the colors from fading outdoors, you may just want to apply some laminate.
2. SISER EasyWeed Heat Transfer Vinyl
This is what you should get when you’re looking for iron-on vinyl. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the number of color options you have here, as so far there are 47 colors available. These include fluorescent colors, as well as “glow in the dark”. Other unconventional options include “Texas Orange” and “Hibiscus”.
This works with the Cricut, and it says so on the labeling. In fact, if you switch to another cutting machine this may still work. It’s compatible with many other models, such as the Silhouette Cameo and Portrait.
This is also easy to use for your garments. The Easy Weed feature is certainly convenient, and then you can just use this with your heat press at 302 degrees F for about 10 to 15 seconds. Afterwards, it’ll stick there even after repeated washings.
So are you ready to print your funny jokes on your shirts and mugs?
Use the right Cricut machine and the right vinyl, and you’re good to go!
Let us know what you think!
Got a preferred Cricut machine for vinyl lettering?
Or a favorite vinyl for your Cricut?
Tell us about it in the comments! We look forward to hearing from you 🙂