Craft

Cricut Air and Cricut Maker

img

Cuts a wide variety of materials into any pattern or shape you want

Paper is one of the most underrated of the maker materials — whether decorative (cards) or structural (cardboard). It’s cheap, easy to work with and fun. But most of the digital making world (such as 3D printers, laser cutters, CNCs) is focused on harder stuff such as plastic, wood, metal and electronics. Paper and fabric seem to be where “crafting” and “making” diverge.

What I love about the Cricut series of computer-controlled cutters is that it bridges these two worlds. It’s a proper digital making tool that cuts paper, fabrics and vinyl. It’s controlled by a web interface or mobile app. It uses SVG files, or it can trace bitmap images. It also allows you to create your own images with shapes and text from an included library. It can cut thin materials, score folding lines and draw with pens.

My daughters and I use our Cricut Air ($183) nearly every weekend to make everything from American Girl accessories to cards and vinyl stickers for her friends.

image

But for anything much thicker than cardstock and light fabric, the Cricut Air runs out of steam — the cutting blade use a “drag” motion that tends to bunch foamcore and can’t get through wood at all.

That’s why I’m excited about the new Cricut Maker ($400), which adds a rotary cutting head and an heavy-duty X-Acto-style blade to cut balsa wood, thicker fabrics and even leather. It’s the sort of thing you’d normally use a laser cutter for, but the Cricut Maker can do the same for a fraction of the price and size, with no fumes. Time for an upgrade!

-- Chris Anderson 08/4/17