Vinyl Cutting Machine Guide
Your #1 Trusted Source for the Best Vinyl Cutting Machine on the Market
Whether you’re a scrapbooker or crafter, chances are, you have the need for a vinyl cutting machine. Perhaps you already have one but it’s not really suiting your needs. Maybe this is your first foray into vinyl cutting and you need some step-by-step guidance. In any case, we are here to help you located the best vinyl cutting machine for you.
First off, what is a vinyl cutting machine? A programmable machine designed for trimming vinyl and other materials, a vinyl cutter can create virtually any shape, letter or symbol you want for application just about anywhere. Thus, it’s a versatile piece of equipment that any hobbyist wants in their craft room.
Vinyl cutters aren’t large, so they don’t take up a lot of space. Plus, they’re portable so you can take them anywhere. About the same size as a compact printer, vinyl cutters are controlled by computers, and operate via a sharp blade that does all the heavy duty work. They need to be super sharp in order to cut out multiple sheets of adhesive vinyl material. The best vinyl cutting machine has to be strong yet lightweight, powerful yet user friendly.
Choosing the Best Vinyl Cutting Machine
Naturally, you want to know: what’s the best vinyl cutting machine for me? The answer is very subjective and will depend on a variety of factors, such as:
- Desired speed and force
- Ease of use
- Cutting capability
One factor you may want to keep in mind when choosing a product is how helpful customer service is. You want to be able to get in touch with someone at the company should you have a question or concern about the product and need help troubleshooting. Above all, doing adequate research on the best vinyl cutting machine is of paramount importance, as the wrong decision can lead to frustration and failure.
The quality of the unit should be time tested and trusted. Read reviews, ask your family and friends which ones they use, and take your time making your decision using all the information available. That’s where this guide comes in!
Top 7 Vinyl Cutting Machines
Here, you’ll find a listing of the top seven vinyl cutting machines, a summary of features, pros and cons of each, and an explanation of why we chose each one for this list. Happy shopping!
#7 – USCutter MH-871
The USCutter MH-871 34inch Vinyl Cutter Value Kit is a great value for the money because it comes with so many items within the kit. The software alone is valued at $500, plus you get all the material, tape, vinyl and blades you need to ensure a successful vinyl cutting project. This is an entry-level machine, which means it’s great for beginners but more advanced users may want to upgrade at a later date for a more robust model.
- 4″ MH Cutter w/VinylMaster Cut – Design and Cut Software
- Three fully adjustable pinch-rollers for using a flexible range of materials
- Ball-bearing dual roller media roller system
- Roland compatible blade holder provides access to the most economical blades on the market
- Comes with vinyl rolls, transfer tapes, magnetic blanks, knife and squeegee
- Works with VinylMaster Cut and other software such as Flexi and SignBlaser.
The USCutter offers one of the best values on the market simply due to the large amount of items that are included with the purchase. You get:
- 34″ USCutter MH Series Vinyl Cutter Plotter with Stand
- VinylMaster Cut – Design & Cut Software
- 5 rolls Greenstar vinyl, each 24″ x 5 ft. in Black, White, Real Red, Green, Canary Yellow
- 2 sheets 12″ x 24″ magnetic blanks
- 1 TransferRite Ultra Clear 1310G Application Transfer Tape – 6″ x 10yd
- 1 TransferRite Ultra 592U Paper Application Tape, High Tack – 6″ x 10yd
- 3 Vinyl Cutting Blades
- 1 Hobby Knife
- 1 Squeegee
- Included Accessories: USB Cable, Power Cable, Blade Holder, Pen Holder, 3x 45° Blade
- Included Software: VinylMaster Cut
Pros and Cons
✅ Ability to cut a variety of materials: Standard Vinyl, Heat Transfer Vinyl, Paper, Craft Paper, Card Stock, Paint Mask
✅ Ability to cut approximately 32″ wide by 10′ long with the included software.
✅ Lifetime phone support
✅ Works with included software as well as other major software.
❌ Cutter does not contour cut, which is the process of first printing an image, then cutting around the printed area with a vinyl cutter.
❌ Does not cut Tint, Laminate, Sand Blast Resist, Low-Intensity Reflective, High-Intensity Reflective, Un-backed or unlinered media without using a carrier sheet
❌ Does not work with Mac computers
While the price may seem like a shock at first, it becomes apparent once reading through the included items that this is indeed a steal for what you get. Keep in mind, it’s best for beginners. As you get more advanced in your crafting abilities, you will want to upgrade so you get a more well-rounded suite of services as well as a greater range of material and size options.
The convenience alone was well worth the price, especially seeing as how you get everything from the blade and blade holder to the pen holder and power cable included, which means no piecemeal involved. This kit makes an excellent choice for those just starting out in vinyl cutting. You have everything you need at your fingertips!
#6 – Cricut Explore Air Wireless
Cricut Explore Air Wireless Cutting Machine
- Embedded Bluetooth for wireless cutting
- Dual carriage for cutting and writing or cutting and scoring in one step
- Upload your own images for free (.svg, .jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, .dxf) Cut over 60 materials from vellum to leather
- Smart Set dial for easy material settings, Free Cricut Design Space online software and iPad app
- Cut Smart precision cutting,Works with all Cricut cartridges
We really like the Cricut family of vinyl cutting machines for their ease of use and fast cutting speeds. The Cricut Explore Air Wireless Cutting Machine is no exception. With embedded Bluetooth for wireless cutting and dual carriage that allows for cutting, writing and scoring in one step, this machine is versatile and handy. It’s also a great value and a solid machine for the price.
- Embedded Bluetooth for wireless cutting
- Dual carriage for cutting, writing and scoring in one step
- Upload your own images for free (.svg, .jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, .dxf)
- Smart Set dial for easy material settings, Free Cricut Design Space online software and iPad app
- Cut Smart precision cutting
- Works with all Cricut cartridges
- Integrated storage compartments
- Cuts more than 60 materials
- Smart Set dial for easy material settings
- Free Cricut Design Space online software and iPad app
Pros and Cons
✅ All Cricut cartridges are compatible with the Cricut Explore Air
✅ Internal Bluetooth already preinstalled
✅ The Design Space program that is used with the Explore machine, can upload images that are saved in .jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, .svg, and .dxf file formats
✅ Cuts more than 60 materials from vellum to leather
✅ No complicated material settings thanks to the Smart Set dial
✅ Create custom settings for different materials
✅ Cut Smart technology allows you to cut a variety of shapes with precision in sizes ranging from ¼ to 11½ inch wide x 23½ inches tall
✅ No unnecessary cords
❌ Only works with Cricut’s online Design Space software
❌ Print-Then-Cut feature is limited to 5.5×8″
❌ Print-Then-Cut has a maximum image resolution of 72dpi
❌ Lack of control over where the paper cut is made
As crafters, we like this model for basic performance. However, professionals like graphic designers will want something more robust and in-depth with more capabilities. In addition, unlike other brands, Cricut is the only one that doesn’t allow you to use third-party software with the machine. That being said, the Cricut Explore Air is a versatile machine that’s easy to use and cuts all sorts of materials precisely. Ideal for scrapbooking as well as making party invitations, decorations and favors, it’s a good value with a wide range of basic capabilities.
#5 – Cricut Maker
Cricut Maker, Champagne
- Cricut Maker gives you the freedom to make everything from paper crafts, iron-ons, and vinyl decals to sewing projects, leather crafts, and balsa models
- Expandable suite of tools. With its powerful blades, pens, and scoring tool, Cricut Maker grows with you as you learn each new craft
- New Rotary Blade. With its gliding, rolling action, this blade cuts through virtually any fabric quickly and accurately - without backing material
- New Knife Blade (sold separately; coming in 2018). This extra-deep blade slices through heavier materials like 2.4mm (3/32") balsa wood and matboard with ease
- Simplifies sewing and quilting projects. Choose from hundreds of digital sewing patterns, and Cricut Maker cuts and marks all the pieces - you just sew them together
Next up is the the Cricut Maker (notice a trend here with the Cricut?). With the Cricut flagship, you can cut, write and score 100 materials featuring up to two times faster cutting and writing. You enjoy access to an expandable suite of tools and advanced rotary and knife blades, which widens the freedom you have to make pretty much any DIY project. From fabric to paper to leather, the amount of materials this model cuts is staggering. You get professional-level cutting performance with easy accessibility at a price that reflects its powerful capabilities.
- Comes with powerful blades, pens, and scoring tools
- New Rotary Blade featuring gliding, rolling action to cut through any fabric quickly and accurately without the use of backing material
- Choose from hundreds of digital sewing patterns, and Cricut Maker cuts and marks all the pieces
- Docking slot holds your tablet or smartphone and allows you to charge your device using the included USB port
- Upload and use your own images and fonts for free
- Ability to make everything from paper crafts, iron-ons, and vinyl decals to sewing projects, leather crafts, and balsa models
- Simplifies sewing and quilting projects
- Bluetooth wireless technology
- Rotary Blade and Drive Housing
- Premium Fine Point Blade and Housing
- Fine Point Pen
- Two 12” x 12” cutting mats
- USB cable and power adapter
- Design apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
- 50 free ready-to-make projects
- Enough materials for your first project
Pros and Cons
✅ Adaptive Tool System for cutting hundreds of more materials
✅ Rotary Blade for fabrics
✅ Knife Blade for thicker materials
✅ Access to hundreds of digital sewing patterns
✅ Double tool holder
✅ Simple design apps allow you to lay out your project on your mobile device or computer easily
❌ Cutting area is only 12″ x 24″
❌ Design Space software is limiting, as it is web-based
❌ The knife blade isn’t included and must be ordered separately
With enough materials included for your first project, this best vinyl cutting machine is a good choice for beginners or more advanced users. At 23 pounds, it’s not the lightest on the market but it is certainly sturdy and well equipped to handle all your vinyl cutting needs. Ideal especially for quilters and seamstresses looking to simplify their projects, the Cricut Maker comes with hundreds of digital sewing patterns. It cuts and marks all the pieces so you just have to sew them together.
Offering clean precision cuts no matter the material, we recommend this one if you are a sewing enthusiast, but any crafter will enjoy it as well.
#4 – Silhouette America Portrait 2
Silhouette America Portrait 2 Vinyl Cutting Machine
- NEW silhouette cameo mini 2 (portrait 2) electronic cutting machine with 1 year Warranty
- Cuts over 100 materials including: cardstock, fabric, heat transfer material, transparencies, paper, vellum, adhesive vinyl and magnet paper
- Does everything a cameo 3 can do in a compact format. Free silhouette Studio for Mac and pc
- Includes auto blade, 8 inch cutting mat, Bluetooth, one month subscription to silhouette store equal to $25 in downloads
- 2mm clearance means you can cut thicker materials and utilize the silhouette Deep cut blade
We love The Silhouette America Portrait 2 because it is so compact and streamlined. It takes up minimal space, it’s easy and straightforward to use, and it only weighs six pounds. It, too, can cut more than 100 materials, which is a feat in itself due to its small size. This model does all the Cameo 3 model can do yet in a smaller size, which makes it ideal for portability and storage. At about $127, the price can’t be beaten.
- Comes with a one-year warranty
- Cuts more than 100 materials, such as cardstock, fabric, heat transfer material, vellum, transparencies, paper, magnet paper and adhesive vinyl
- Comes with auto blade, eight-inch cutting mat
- Bluetooth enabled
- 2mm clearance to cut thicker materials with the silhouette deep cut blade
- Dual voltage compatible
- Comes with USB and power cord
- Compatible with Silhouette Studio, free to download from Silhouette’s website
Pros and Cons
✅ Comes with a one-month subscription to Silhouette Store equal to $25 in downloads
✅ Is PixScan compatible
✅ Can register and cut printed materials
✅ Easy to set up and install
✅ Compatible with both PC and Macs
❌ Blades show signs of wear more quickly than others
❌ Not good for lengthy projects; best for small and simple designs
❌ Some users have reported issues with calibration and alignment, resulting in an inconsistency of cuts
❌ Those who want to work with materials that come in larger sizes, such as scrapbookers, may prefer a cutting width of 12 inches
This electronic cutting machine is ideal for light personal use. You can easily transport it between craft rooms, it doesn’t take up much space on your desk, and it’s lightweight. Simply plug it into your pc or Mac with a USB cable to cut material up to eight inches wide and 10 feet long. This machine is designed for hobbyist cutters for precision and accuracy rather than for commercial grade cutters.
Generally, set up is more user-friendly than other brands, like Cricut, for example. In fact, we found it to be a great “startup and cut” option, taking just 10 minutes from getting it out of the box. Featuring solid accurate cuts with minimal fuss, this is the best vinyl cutting machine for affordability.
#3 – Brother CM350
Brother CM350 Electronic Cutting Machine, Scanncut2, 4.85” LCD Touch Screen, Wireless Network Ready, 300 DPI Scanner, 631 Built-in Designs
- 300 DPI BUILT-IN SCANNER: The ScanNCut2 machine allows you to turn your scanned images into unique cut designs and patterns
- LARGE COLOR TOUCHSCREEN: The Brother ScanNCut2 CM350 includes a 4.85" LCD touchscreen that allows users to easily select functions
- WIRELESS NETWORK READY: The CM350 permits multiple connectivity options, including PC connectivity and standalone or wireless network connectivity
- LARGE SCANNING AND CUTTING AREA: Use the included 12" x 12" cutting mat or upgrade to a larger mat to create and cut a wide variety of designs
- ON-SCREEN EDITING: The Brother CM350 allows users to edit designs easily on the LCD touchscreen. Compatible operating systems: Microsoft Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8/Windows 8.1, Windows 10
The Brother Electronic Cutting Machine CM350 ScanNCut2 features a 4.85” LCD touch screen and 300 DPI built-in scanner that’s wireless network ready. With more than 600 built-in designs, this is touted as the only cutting machine with built-in scanning. At about 10 pounds, this middle of the road cutting machine features state of the art technology called ScanNCut2. It’s a standalone cutting machine that allows you to make one-of-a-kind creations, backed by the flexibility of connecting wirelessly or directly to a PC. You can also scan images directly to the system.
It’s essentially a home and hobby cutting machine and does not need cartridges, dyes, or monthly subscriptions. To make the process simple to use, there are many multiple built-in features – not the least of which is the ability to scan virtually anything: handmade drawings, family photos, home decor designs, custom-cut shapes, outlines, etc.
- Built-in 300 DPI scanner
- 4.85” LCD touchscreen display (30% larger than before)
- More than 600 designs, including 100 quilt patterns and seven lettering fonts
- Ability to read SVG data files
- Connect wirelessly to transfer cut data to and from the ScanNCut2 machine via ScanNCutCanvas
- 25-year limited warranty with free technical phone support
- Includes 12” x 12” cutting mat
- Stand-alone machine
Pros and Cons
✅ Color touchscreen display, 30 percent larger than previous versions
✅ Ability to background scan, weld, rotate and resize designs without the use of a computer or cartridges
✅ Wireless network ready
✅ Create your own cut files
✅ Built-in designs and fonts
✅ No fees or subscriptions
✅ Can use existing art files you already own
✅ Free cloud-based web application for editing and designing cut data
✅ German carbide blade
✅ Transfer files directly to the machine from ScanNCutCanvas and vice versa
✅ Tablet friendly
✅ USB compatible
❌ ScanNCut Online activation card required not included
❌ Limited to materials up to two millimeters thick
❌ Software is basic
❌ Limited to vinyl cutting
For use with a wide range of materials, from fabrics to handmade papers, the Brother Electronic Cutting Machine CM350 is a wise choice. We like it for its precision cutting capabilities, lightweight handling, and portability. While in the upper range in terms of price, it’s a solid offering that will give you exactly what you pay for and more. With so many built-in designs and fonts, plus the addition of the color touchscreen display, this is a good machine for the beginner to advanced users.
#2 – Silhouette CAMEO 3
Silhouette SILHOUETTE-CAMEO-3-4T Cameo 3 Wireless Cutting Machine-AutoBlade-Dual Carriage-Studio Software, White
- Cuts a variety of material including vinyl, paper, cardstock, fabric, and other materials up to 12 inches wide and 10 feet long.
- Use the powerful Silhouette Studio design software to create your projects. Features Bluetooth technology for wireless cutting or plugs into your home computer.
- Features a dual-carriage for multi-tool use and a higher 2 mm clearance to cut thicker materials. Is compatible with Print & Cut and PixScan technology.
- Is the only Silhouette compatible with the self-adjusting AutoBlade.
- Includes Silhouette CAMEO cutting machine, Silhouette Studio software, power cable and USB cable, 12-Inch Cutting Mat, AutoBlade cutting blade
The Silhouette Cameo Wireless Cutting Machine also made our list but came in at a higher number than its sister, America Portrait 2. That’s because this one has one of the largest cutting spaces and is the only Silhouette compatible with the self-adjusting AutoBlade. This produces quick and clean vinyl lettering. You can create virtually anything through the use of your computer, smartphone or tablet. The range of materials is quite lengthy, including vinyl, paper, cardstock, fabric, and more, with the capability to cut 12 inches wide and 10 feet long. We like this freedom of measurement because it gives you more options than some of the smaller models on the market.
- Comes with Silhouette Studio design software
- Bluetooth® technology for wireless cutting or computer plug-in
- Dual-carriage for multi-tool use
- Higher 2 mm clearance to cut thicker materials
- Compatible with Print & Cut and PixScan technology.
- Only Silhouette compatible with the self-adjusting AutoBlade.
- Includes: Silhouette CAMEO cutting machine, Silhouette Studio software, power cable and USB cable, 12-Inch Cutting Mat, AutoBlade cutting blade
- One month basic subscription to the Silhouette Design Store
- Vinyl crosscutting
- 100 digital designs
- Blade adjustment tool
Pros and Cons
✅ Can cut thicker materials
✅ Can cut vinyl and heat transfer without a cutting mat
✅ Compatible with Print and Cut and PixScan technology
✅ Blade and Silhouette tools storage compartments
✅ Access to the Silhouette Design Store, where you can choose from 100,000 ready-made designs
✅ One of the largest cutting space
✅ One of the most versatile in terms of how many materials it can cut
✅ Easy-to-use, full-color touchscreen
✅ Additional storage
✅ Cutting clearance is doubled
✅ AutoBlade automatically calibrates settings for materials
❌ Low-pressure blade makes it hard to cut through anything too tough
❌ Cuts well but not designed to pierce, engrave or emboss
❌ Minimal cutting force
❌ Not as heavy duty as other models
Designed for the beginner in mind, more advanced users may want to consider upgrading to a sturdier die-cutting machine in the future. This one is lightweight and portable, getting basic jobs done with ease and precision. And with 100 digital designs that allow you to start creating right out of the box, this is one of the more user-friendly models on the market today. If you don’t like to fuss a lot with directions and troubleshooting, you’ll enjoy the Silhouette CAMEO 3. We also like the fact that is has a print-and-cut functionality for straightforward results every time.
In the end, for users who want to create stunning designs without the need for cartridges, this cartridge-free die cutter comes in at second place for its middle-of-the-pack pricing and clear-cut capabilities. Its large cutting space makes this the ultimate DIY machine.
#1 PICK OF 2018 – Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint
Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint
- The Cricut Explore Air 2 is your personal DIY cutting machine. Make custom vinyl stickers, personalized home decor, unique greeting cards, custom designed apparel, and more
- Upload your own images for free or choose from Cricut's vast library of pre-made designs and projects. Double tool holder for cutting and writing or cutting and scoring in one step
- Design anywhere. Free access to Cricut's simple design software, Design Space. Create and design from your computer, tablet or mobile phone using the Cricut Design App for iOS and Android devices
- Make the perfect cut every time. The Smart Set Dial ensures that your machine cuts at the correct depth and pressure for any type of material
- Cuts 100+ materials. Cricut offers a wide range of materials specifically designed and tested for use with the Cricut machine including basic and specialty Vinyl colors, Iron-on Vinyls, Cardstock, Faux Leather, Adhesive Foils, Specialty Paper, Poster Board and more
Cut and write two times faster with the Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint, your personal DIY cutting machine. With the ability to create and design from your computer, this device allows you to make custom vinyl stickers, personalized home decor, greeting cards and even custom-designed apparel.
We found it easy to craft personalized, professional-looking DIY projects, with the Cricut considered to be one of the fastest cutting machines on the market – cutting more than 100 materials, from paper to vellum to leather. Speed is a big factor for us, which was ultimately what tipped the scales for the Cricut Explore Air to take the #1 slot for best vinyl cutting machine.
- Adjustable cutting and writing speed
- Design Space App for PC, Mac & iOS devices
- Dual carriage for cutting and writing or cutting and scoring in one simple step
- Upload your own images for free or choose from Cricut’s library of pre-made designs and projects
- Design anywhere thanks to the free simple design software called Design Space
- Create and design from your computer, tablet or mobile phone
- The Smart Set Dial ensures that your machine cuts at the correct depth and pressure no matter the material.
- A wide range of materials designed and tested for use with the Cricut machine, including basic and specialty vinyl colors, iron-ons, cardstock, faux leather, foils, poster board, specialty paper, etc.
- German carbide premium blade
Pros and Cons
✅ Easy to use
✅ Design from anywhere
✅ Cuts 100+ materials
✅ Wireless cutting capability via Bluetooth
✅ Highly accurate cutting compared to similarly priced models
✅ Fast precision cutting
✅ Ability to download fonts and create custom artwork
❌ On the noisy side
❌ No Android App available (although this is coming soon)
❌ Can only use the Design Space Software that comes with the machine
The Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint made #1 on our best vinyl cutting machine list due to its versatility, design options, ability to cut so many materials, its speed and its precision. Plus, we think it looks pretty good too. It’s one of the easiest cutting machines to set up and start using right away, thanks to software that comes with easy instructions as well as YouTube videos that describe the process seamlessly.
In addition, you don’t need a large area in which to place this product. A small portion of your table is all that is needed. Easy communication through Bluetooth makes the process hassle free. Well worth your time and money, we recommend the Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint for easy cutting through any crafting material quickly and easily. Plus, you get the trusted name brand of Cricut, which tops the list of any serious crafter’s best vinyl cutting machine choices.
The Final Step
Now that you’re well-informed about the best vinyl cutting machines on the market, you can make an educated decision on the ideal model for you. In conclusion, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced crafter, you’re sure to find the best vinyl cutting machine on this list.