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I love it when new tech comes out for my business, to make things go more smoothly. So I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do a Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Cricut Explore 3 | Side By Side Comparison.

But I have to know before I invest if the new Cricut Explore machine is worth the investment. So let’s find out that the Cricut Explore Air 2 vs. the Cricut Explore 3 will win out!

And, let’s be clear, of all the machines I have to help me in my crafting business, the Cricut Explore Air 2 has been along for the ride with me, busting out some fantastic cuts that make my projects so much more epic. So, the idea of improving on that with a new generation, that’s a priority!

But I’m not jumping in feet-first, I’m gathering all the information I can to make a good choice. Before I replace my machine I have to figure out if the benefit is real. So, grab a seat and dig into the data with me.

explore air 2 vs explore 3

Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Cricut Explore 3 Comparison

But, let’s be clear, I am open to an upgrade. If you can believe it, I love a quick and easy craft – and Cricut has been a critical partner in making my craft both easy and quick. So, making a change that’s a good investment, I’ll do it.

It’s more than just that, though, it’s also about ease of use of the machine itself. Using a cutting machine pretty regularly means that I have to deal with the actual technology/mechanical side of crafting quite often, so if the upgrades can make this an easier part of the process – I’m in.

So, for both the actual end project and the ease of use for the Explore Air 2 vs. Cricut Explore 3, let’s compare, because I can’t wait to find out if my crafting is about to get better!

top of cricut machine showing buttons buttons

Cricut Explore Air 2 vs. Cricut Explore 3

Besides crafting, data is one of my favorite things – especially tables.

So, I pulled together a simple comparison table to bring all the information together in one spot, asking the questions to start the conversation. Once we get through the table, showing the most basic differences, I’ll dig a little deeper into the detail below, so keep scrolling.

Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Cricut Explore 3 Side by Side ComparisonCricut Explore Air 2Cricut Explore 3
Size24″x9 1/2″x9 1/2″24″x9 1/2″x9 1/2″
Cutting SpeedStandard Speed2x Faster Than Explore Air 2
Score?Yes (see attachment)Yes
Compatible MediaVinyl, Heat transfer material, Cardstock, Photo paper, Corrugated paper, Glitter paper, Bonded Fabric, and more (100+)Vinyl, Heat transfer material, Cardstock, Photo paper, Corrugated paper, Glitter paper, Bonded Fabric, and more (100+)
Mattless Cutting?NoYes, with Smart Materials (over 6″ in length)
Cut Size12″x2′With Mat: 12″x2′
With Smart Materials: 12″x 12′
Fabric CuttingYes, bondedYes, bonded
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price

Now, let’s really dig into what these two Cricut cutting machines can really do for us, finally.

side by side cricut explore air 2 and cricut explore 3 tool holder

So, Which of the 2 Cutting Machines Use SVGs?

After all, both machines use the same file types: SVGs, PNGs, JPGs, DXFs, etc. There is no difference in the file types that can be uploaded for the two, for instance. So, if you have an SVG you want to cut, either machine can be used.

Furthermore, if you need project ideas or a free SVG to start your crafting engine, you can check out my library here.

Also, if you are inclined, you can make your own designs in Cricut Design Space, with all sorts of tools that they keep adding to all the time, and you can still upload your SVG files too!

cricut smart machine with blue vinyl

What are the Materials That the Cricut Explore 3 can Cut?

Similarly, both machines can cut the same materials. In short, they can cut a wide variety of different things. I have listed a few:

  • Paper
  • Vinyl
  • Iron-on Vinyl
  • Card Stock
  • Fabric, bonded
  • Posterboard
  • Sticker Paper
  • Craft Foam

In total, the Cricut Explore Air 2 and Explore 3 can cut over 100 different materials, just highlighting above the few materials that are generally the most popular ones I’ve used on my own machine frequently.

Before I invest, let's find out the Cricut Explore Air 2 vs. the Cricut Explore 3 will win out! Check out my comparison table for the skinny! #cricutmade #cricutexploreair2 #cricutexplore3

What Are All Of The Blades That the Cricut Explore 3 Can Use?

Firstly, both machines can use the same 6 tools. Therefore, they are interchangeable between the two machine models and, frequently, interchangeable with the Cricut Maker and Maker 3, as well.

  • Deep Point | For more intricate cuts when working with thicker materials, including as magnet, chipboard, stamp material, thick cardstock, stiffened felt, foam sheets, cardboard, and some fabrics.
  • Bonded Fabric | For use when making more intricate cuts on bonded fabrics or fabrics with an iron-on backing. 
  • Foil Transfer Tool | For use with Foil Transfer Sheets to add a foil effect to projects on a variety of materials. There are 3 sizes of foil transfer tools.
  • Scoring Stylus | For creating scored fold lines for cards and envelopes, boxes, 3D projects, and more.

Does The New Cricut Machine Come With Blades?

The Cricut Explore Air 2 and Explore 3 both come with one blade:

  • Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing – This will be your generally standard, everyday blade that you’ll use on your general crafts.

Other Items in the Box with Your Cricut Explore Air 2

  • Fine Point Pen, Black
  • LightGrip Machine Mat, 12 in x 12 in (30.5 cm x 30.5 cm)
  • Welcome Book
  • USB cable
  • Power adapter
  • Free trial membership to Cricut Access™ (for new subscribers)
  • 50 ready-to-make projects
  • Materials for a practice project

Other Items in the Box with Your Cricut Explore 3

  • Welcome card
  • USB cable
  • Power adapter
  • Free trial subscription to Cricut Access™ (for new subscribers)
  • 100 ready-to-make projects online
  • Material for a practice cut
cricut explore air 2 with markers in front

Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Cricut Explore 3 Price Comparison

The Cricut Explore Air 2 costs: $199 and you can buy one here.

The Cricut Explore Air 3 will cost: $299 and you can buy one here.

Basically, I feel the price difference reflects the increased speed and ability to cut a longer-sized project in one go. This is the biggest selling point for any technology improvement because you’d never want an “improvement” that slowed down the process! LOL!

Which is Best: Cricut Explore Air 2 vs. Cricut Explore 3?

Above all, I really feel like there’s no “better” in this competition between these two cutting machines. The projects I send to my Explore Air 2 are generally not ones that I need super-speed on, but that’s just how I’ve set up my projects. On the other hand, though, it would be really nice to have the option for speedier project completion – maybe giving me time to get some other projects done.

So, if that’s worth it to you, then that’s definitely a worthy consideration – and definitely, a good reason to choose Explore 3.

To clarify, if you’re not worried about the speed or the option to make a longer cut length, you might just be happier with the lower cost of the Explore Air 2 for your craft room.

So, this one is not a clear-cut decision for me. What about you? Additionally, let me know in the comments.

And if you found this comparison post helpful, but aren’t quite ready to grab your new cutting machine, be sure to pin it to your favorite crafts board on Pinterest so you can find it again when you’re ready!

cricut explore 3 closed

Explore Air 2 vs. Cricut Explore 3 | Side By Side Comparison

So, what do we have to look forward to in the Explore 3

  • fast mode
  • materials on a mat and off the cutting mat
  • roll holder
  • rolls of smart vinyl

A couple of things I am hoping for later are a knife blade, rotary blade, and the other blades that the maker has. But, I suppose then it would be a Cricut Maker 3.

In conclusion, these smart cutting machines are amazing. Certainly, I am loving the smart paper sticker cardstock that I used with my Cricut Joy.

The new machine gets rid of the cartridge slot smart set dial, and you still don’t have the adaptive tool system. However, you can still cut balsa wood and other different types of materials with your fine point blade or even the deep cut blade.

The Cricut Explore Air 3 is a great machine if you want to make an intricate cut and the biggest difference between the 2 is listed above.

The Final Verdict

As for that, it will be up to you. However, this guide and the 1s below will help you make an informed decision on the best machine for you. If you don’t have the need for cutting thick materials or different blades then this New Cricut Explore Air is the way to go. If you want to be able to utilize the additional blades then you should check out the New Cricut Maker 3.

Either is a good option if you are starting out and are a first-time user of Cricut and its machines. But deciding which is going to be the better machine for you will be up to you.

Hopefully, this article has been helpful in giving you a closer look into the machines and you put all of the information here to good use when deciding on your machine.

I would start with making a list of the things you want to do with it. And come back to see if the machine you are interested in cuts the various materials you are interested in cutting.

I am hoping this is also available for the new smart machines. Lastly, I am hoping this side by side by side comparison of Cricut Explore Air 3 and Cricut explore 3 was helpful. If you have any questions comment below.

The best Cricut Machine is going to be the 1 that fits your own needs. The new Cricut Machines have very minor differences. The main difference between these 2 machines is that the Explore 3 can cut Cricut smart materials and it works with the new roll holder.

The good news is both of these Cricut Explore Machines work with design space and both make precise cuts. So if you want to make large projects, larger than the older models I would opt for the Air 3. If that doesn’t make any difference and you want to keep a little bit of money in your pocket then the best choice is the Air 2.

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One Comment

  1. Great comparisons.. I have a explore 2 and I am very satisfied…I think cricut will continue to improve on there machines so we will keep having a debate which is better..for now I am sticking with explore air 2..thanks for your comparing..keep crafting..fattz flavour

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