Are you looking for the best cutting machine for your craft business? We’ve got you covered.
Buying the best vinyl cutting machine is one of the most important investments you’ll make when establishing your business. No matter how good your ideas are, if your machine can’t execute them to a professional standard, you’re not going to get anywhere.
Of course, it’s not just a case of simply buying the ‘best’ cutter — you’ll need to find the one that’s best for your particular circumstances and business.
There’s lots to consider — but that’s where we come in.
We’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to what you need to be looking for and the best cutting machines on the market right now for craft businesses.
Here’s a sneak peek of our favorite business cutters:
Let’s get straight into it…
- 1 What Type of Cutting Machine Do I Need for a Craft Business?
- 2 Features of the Best Craft Cutters for Business
- 3 Things to Consider Before Buying
- 4 Best Cutting Machines for Craft Businesses
What Type of Cutting Machine Do I Need for a Craft Business?
If you’ve had even a brief look at our guide to the best vinyl cutting machines, you’ll know that there are a lot of craft cutters on the market.
But the truth is that most of these will not be well suited to running a craft business.
We’ll be running through the features of the best craft cutters for business shortly, but essentially you’ll be looking at the top tier of personal machines and even commercial style cutters if you’re taking your business seriously.
Manual cutting machines with a hand crank (we’re looking at you Sizzix Big Shot and Cricut Cuttlebug) are unlikely to be able to compete against their sleeker electronic counterparts. This isn’t because they’re bad machines by any stretch — just that they’re not in the same league when it comes to accuracy and efficiency.
Personal vs Commercial Cutters
Generally speaking, the cutting machines that are going to be best suited to running a craft business are going to be commercial level cutting machines.
These machines embody what most of us are looking for in a craft cutter:
- Highly accurate
- Efficient and quick working
But they do have some less positive features in comparison to most personal machines to consider before you buy:
- More expensive
- Often much bigger
- Not as user-friendly with a steeper learning curve
- Sometimes require expert maintenance
Personal craft cutters, on the other hand, are generally much more user friendly but better suited to hobbyist projects as they can lack in accuracy and efficiency — let alone cutting size.
But there is a new generation of cutting machines that are bridging the gap and blurring the lines between personal and commercial machines that seem to embody the best of both worlds.
You’ll find a few of these on our list below — brands moving in this direction include Cricut, Silhouette and KnK.
Features of the Best Craft Cutters for Business
When you’re launching a brand new craft business, your priority should be providing your customers with the best possible variation of your products.
And what’s going to get you there?
The best cutting machine.
Exactly what makes the ‘best’ cutter will vary from person to person and business to business, but there are some features that will be common across every crafter’s wish list.
Let’s take a look…
We’ve already touched on the fact that you’re going to need an electronic cutter rather than a manual one if you’re running a craft business.
Manual die cutters like the Big Shot certainly have a lot going for them, but the truth is that they can’t consistently deliver on quality like an electronic machine can.
There’s much less room to go wrong with an electronic machine — not to mention your arm won’t get sore after using that hand crank all day!
Manual cutters aren’t made for efficiency and accuracy, especially when you’re churning designs out in high numbers.
There may be a few people who still use their manual cutter when running their business, but we guarantee that they’re an exception to the rule.
It’s always worth spending a little more money to get an electronic machine.
Hand-in-hand with having an electronic machine is the need for accuracy.
We all like our cuts to look flawless and exactly what we’ve designed in the software, so it’s important to choose a cutter that prioritizes accuracy.
Particularly if you intend on cutting complex designs.
Every cutting machine will shout about how accurately it cuts so it’s important to read impartial reviews from other crafters to get the real low-down on this.
Commercial cutters are particularly well known for their accuracy thanks to in-built calibration devices like registration tracking systems and sophisticated communication signals between the cutter and your software.
We’re seeing more of this with personal machines as well nowadays so you don’t need to spend a fortune to guarantee accuracy.
Also worth considering is the quality of the blades used in the machines as this can play a huge part in how accurately the cutter performs. Cricut, for instance, use premium German carbide blades that always ensures a smooth and accurate cutting experience.
Just remember to replace your blades frequently to avoid them becoming dull and choppy!
As your craft business picks up pace, you’ll become increasingly concerned with the efficiency of your machine.
You want something that isn’t only accurate but can keep up with the speed of your orders too. This will be particularly important come the holiday season when orders start piling up!
We’ve seen companies like Silhouette and Cricut invest a lot in their latest machines so they can cut at double and even triple the pace of their previous cutters.
Of course, the fastest machines are generally commercial cutters which are sometimes specially designed to work on multiple cuts at once or just at lightening speed.
How fast you need your machine to be will depend on how many orders you can imagine taking on at once and how much time you have to spare for the actual cutting process.
If you’re planning to sell a high volume of vinyl decals for instance, you’ll probably want to prioritize a machine that can work super fast. But if your products are more complex, like t-shirts for instance, you’ll be able to spare more time for cutting as you’ll be working on other aspects of the product while your machine cuts.
One way that personal machines often out-perform commercial cutters is in terms of versatility.
By their very nature, commercial cutters are often designed to perform one job. Now, they’ll perform that one job very well, but they can be a little lacking when it comes to using different materials especially.
The best personal cutting machines, on the other hand, have really emphasized versatility especially.
The best on the market can effectively work with hundreds of different materials of different thicknesses and density with no problem at all. They often have multiple different tools and blades available to complete different tasks.
The Cricut Maker is probably one of the best examples of this — it can cut fabric like butter as well as materials like leather and chipboard — not to mention all the usual materials like paper, cardboard and vinyl.
Previously, you would have had to buy three different machines to accomplish what can now be done with just one — a personal cutter, a commercial cutter capable of taking on thick materials and a specialist fabric cutter.
Just how versatile you need your cutting machine will again depend on the needs of your business and what you imagine for the future — will you be happy just making the same sort of creations over and over, or do you require a machine that can grow with your imagination and business interests?
Things to Consider Before Buying
Budget is probably the number one consideration when it comes to buying a cutting machine for your craft machine.
Most of us start our businesses on a shoestring — it’s important to keep cuts reasonably low until you start consistently cutting a profit.
But there’s definitely a balance to be struck — as with most things in life, you get what you pay for with cutting machines.
The cheapest machines — say those under $150 — often just aren’t equipped to perform at a business level. They more than likely suffer in one of those key features — accuracy, speed and versatility.
Commercial cutters, on the other hand, can easily cost around $1,000 which is a huge outlay — especially when you’re first starting out.
Thankfully, there is a middle ground — the cutters that lie somewhere between personal and commercial are generally priced somewhere between $300-$500, which is much easier to swallow.
Remember, a cutting machine is an investment for both you and your craft business. Think carefully about what you can afford to spend and how a slightly more expensive cutter might benefit you.
One of the biggest bugbears for crafters working with cutting machines is the quality of the software that comes with the machine.
Needless to say, there’s a huge difference from program to program, and what you like will likely be different to what I like as it’s such a personal preference.
Presumably, you already have a preference for certain software if you’re thinking about launching a cutting business.
We tend to categorize software programs 3 ways:
- Best for beginners with a gentle learning curve — Silhouette Studio, Cricut Design Space
- Best for the middle ground, easy to get to grips with when you have some experience and a good place to grow your design skills — Sure Cuts A Lot, Make The Cut
- Best for experts, likely requires some training to use effectively but offers the most scope for designers — Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw
There are other software programs, but these 6 are the most prevalent in the craft cutting industry.
Consider carefully what software you are most likely to use in your business before you buy a machine.
There’s not much point buying a commercial cutter with Adobe Illustrator if you’d rather work in Silhouette Studio, for instance.
Remember that programs like Sure Cuts A Lot, Make The Cut, Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw are often compatible (or can be made to be compatible) with lots of different machines although you will likely have to upload designs from there into the proprietary programs.
There are two different things we mean by size:
- The maximum cutting size of the machine
- How much physical space the machine takes up
Number 1 is very important for craft businesses.
Most personal cutting machines are restricted in that their maximum cutting sizes are often on the small sides. Cricut machines, for instance, can only cut designs up to 11.5″ wide and 23.5″ long.
If you generally only make smaller designs this is unlikely to be a problem for you but may be worth considering if you ever plan to sell larger designs.
Commercial cutters are generally your best bet if you’re looking for a large maximum cutting size — for car decals, for example.
Having said that, some personal machines are available in slightly larger sizes — the USCutter, Silhouette Cameo 4, and KnK Zing Orbit for starters.
Number 2 is also worth considering, especially if you plan to conduct your business in a very small space.
If that sounds like your circumstances, you’ll likely want to opt for a smaller desktop cutter with a smaller footprint. If you’ve got more room to play with, then feel free to consider larger freestanding cutters and commercial machines.
Best Cutting Machines for Craft Businesses
Are you considering launching a craft business?
Make sure you check out our comprehensive 130+ page guide ‘How To Launch A Successful Vinyl Cutting Business
It includes everything you need to know to launch your own vinyl cutting business and start making sales today
Find out what really works, and what doesn’t in 2019 — how can you come up with design ideas that your audience will love, and pay you for?
So those are our picks for the best cutting machines for business. Which is your favorite?
For more tips and ideas on making money from crafts, check out our Craft Business section.