You can be sure that you’re getting something special when you buy a KNK computerized cutting machine.
These unique craft cutters are the ultimate in powerful and precise cutting, and are almost unrivalled at their reasonable price points.
Yes, they have a learning curve, and we’re not sure that they’re a good fit for beginners, but if you’re serious about cutting, we think you’re going to like what they have on offer.
We’ve got a run down of their three most popular machines right now: the KNK Zing Air, KNK Force, and the KNK Maxx Air.
We’ll let you know how they compare and which is best for you.
This table should give you some idea of what each computerized cutting machine brings to the table:
|KNK Zing Air||KNK Force||KNK Maxx Air
|Max Cutting Width||14"||15"||24"|
|Coolest Feature||Voice controlled||Camera alignment for Print & Cut||Speed range of 1-800 mm/second|
|Comes with Software?||SCAL4||KNK C3 (Cutter Command Center)||SCAL4|
Before you decide to purchase a computerized cutting machine, it’s a good idea to do a little research into the company you’re buying it from.
Klic-N-Kut are a small US-based company that focus on creating high quality machines in this small crafting niche.
While at face value their cutters seem to be reasonably expensive, it will become clear that KNK’s machines offer incredible value for money, thanks to their durability, longevity and no need to buy expensive add-ons like cartridges.
Cricut, we’re looking at you.
Their three machines right now are the Zing Air, Force and the Maxx Air. KNK market the Zing Air as an entry level cutter and the other two as part of their professional series.
We would recommend these machines for serious hobbyists and perhaps small businesses too. There is a learning curve to using them — even the Zing Air — which could put off a beginner. Their potential for creativity and diversity will excite a more experienced user, however.
Aside from high quality machines, one of the ways that KNK stand out is in their customer service.
As well as offering a live chat function on their website, they also offer phone and email support. We also find their user manuals and FAQ sections helpful and intuitive.
There’s also a great KNK community online where you’ll find a bevy of committed cutting lovers. Check out these resources for starters:
KNK Zing Air
The KNK Zing Air is one of our favorite craft cutters thanks to its incredible power and precision.
It’s a step up from desktop cutters from Cricut and Silhouette, which is reflected in its size and price, but it undoubtedly justifies this with its excellent cutting specs and creative potential.
KNK market it as their ‘entry level cutter’, but we’d say there’s a pretty steep learning curve here if you have no experience at all. For instance, there are no automatic blade settings — are you confident enough to calibrate these settings on your own?
It takes some practice to get used to but it’s definitely a great way to throw yourself in at the deep end of the craft cutting world!
Anyway, here’s what you need to know about this high tech computerized cutting machine…
- 14″ maximum cutting width
- Comes with 2 blades for standard and deep cuts
- Enabled with voice control
- An incredible 750 grams of cutting force (around triple that of the Silhouette Cameo 3!)
- Bluetooth enabled for wireless cutting (although this is only recommended for PC users right now 🙁 )
- Can cut, draw, emboss, engrave, pierce and score
- Comes with Sure Cuts A Lot 4 for free
- Incredible precision and power from a relatively small machine
- You can control settings with your voice using ZingSpeak
- Print and Cut with laser alignment
- You can attach your own pens to the machine and don’t have to use their branded materials
- No cartridges necessary
- A wide range of speed settings to experiment with
- Three rollers keep 12″ wide x unlimited length and 4″ wide x under 12″ length vinyl in place without a cutting mat
Here’s the Zing Air in action:
It’s not all roses, however.
As we mentioned, there is a significant learning curve with the KNK Zing Air — particularly if you’re a beginner. Here’s what you need to consider before you buy.
- There are no automatic blade depth settings — you will need to manually set these yourself before using different materials
- You need to manually feed the cutting mat into the machine
- Bluetooth connection is currently only supported on PC
- There’s no pause button
- You’ll need to buy the additional embossing and engraving tools to explore these functions
This computerized cutting machine really does live up to its name: with 4,000 grams of cutting pressure, it’s certainly got the Force!
We are still waiting to properly review the KNK Force, but we do have a few preliminary thoughts after playing with it a little, plus we’ve rounded up some of the user comments from around the web.
The machine was launched at the end of 2015 and was actually funded by a KickStarter campaign, which is really cool.
While some may balk at the $629 price tag, it’s worth remembering that the KNK Force is part of the company’s professional series. Plus, with its incredible cutting potential, we actually think it’s a steal of a deal.
Here’s everything you need to know about it…
- 15″ maximum cutting width
- Around 4,000 grams of cutting force (around 5 times as powerful as the Zing Air! Which is already pretty powerful!)
- Dual cutting heads with a true Z axis — ultimate precision with a minutely controlled motor blade
- Camera alignment for greater precision during Print & Cut
- The controller software is built into the machine
- You can control it from any operating system and can design in any app that can create SVG files
- WiFi and ethernet connectivity
- Strength, power, precision — almost unheard of at this price point
- It makes everything easy and convenient. You can cut from any SVG file and can control the machine from any operating system with a web browser
- If you buy an additional rotary tool, you’ll be able to cut much thicker materials than any other price comparable machine (even wood!)
- The dual heads can hold a variety of blades, tools and pens so you can do two functions at the same time
- Wireless cutting is hassle free
Here’s the KNK Force going to town on the emboss function:
And here are the few issues you should be aware of before you buy the KNK Force.
- It produces dust when you’re engraving or embossing particularly thick objects, such as acrylic and wood
- The optional rotary tool is pretty expensive ($159 at full price)
- No plugin release yet for it to work directly with Make The Cut software (there are workarounds, however)
- Print & Cut is not yet fully automated
KNK MAXX AIR
The Maxx Air is KNK’s flagship professional series computerized cutting machine.
It may not have the high tech bells and whistles of the KNK Force, but it’s still a very popular and well regarded craft cutter — particularly with small businesses.
This bad boy is BIG. It’s about 20 lbs and cuts up to a maximum width of 24″. It definitely ain’t your momma’s craft cutter. With a hefty yet reasonable price tag, this machine is for people serious about cutting.
Aside from its size, we love its versatility — it can cut a huge number of materials, and it cuts them well. Whatever material you’re working with — whether that’s sheet metal or paper — it can handle it.
Here’s everything you need to know about the KNK Maxx Air.
- Cuts a maximum width of 24″
- 1,500 grams of cutting force
- Bluetooth enabled for wireless cutting up to 30 feet away (for PC only 🙁 )
- Top speed of 800 mm per second
- Speed range of between 1-800 mm per second
- 4 adjustable pinch rollers
- Comes with Sure Cuts A Lot 4 for free!
- Very powerful and precise cutting
- Versatile in terms of the number of materials it can work with
- Quiet operation given high speed and power
- Very sturdy and durable — seemingly made almost totally of metal components
- Print & Cut with laser alignment
- Comes with sturdy, bolt-on support tables
If you’re looking for a little desktop cutter that’s comparable to the Cameo or Explore Air, the Maxx Air is probably not for you. Here’s what you should consider before you decide to buy.
- Weighs around 25 lbs and doesn’t have a handle — it’s not particularly portable
- Expensive at $1,199
- Bluetooth connection is currently only for PCs
KNK Force vs KNK Maxx Air
If you’re looking for a professional level cutter and can’t decide whether to buy the KNK Force or KNK Maxx Air, then fear not — we’ve got you covered.
It should be said that both computerized cutting machines are of exceptional quality. Which one is best for you will depend upon your specific circumstances.
Let’s take a look.
You should buy the KNK Force if…
- You want to cut very thick materials
- You only need a 15″ max cutting width
- You value almost absolute precision
- You want to control it from any operating system
- You value the multifunctionality of the dual heads
- You want something reasonably portable
- You’re a Mac user
- You have less than $1,000 to spend
You should buy the KNK Maxx Air if…
- You need to cut up to 24″ wide
- You want to use Make The Cut software
- You don’t care about portability
- You use a PC
- You want something fast working that you can adjust the speed on
- You want the sturdiest machine available
- You want something that works quietly
- You have over $1,000 to spend
There’s a handy little trio of programs that people use for their KNK software: KNK Studio, Make The Cut, and Sure Cuts A Lot.
Let’s take a quick look at each of them.
As the name suggests, KNK Studio is KNK’s own software.
Unlike many machine specific software, KNK Studio is actually pretty great: lots of functionality and the ability to design more or less whatever you want.
One of our favorite things about this software is the fact that you can choose automatic and power weeding — ideal for those of us low on time.
It’s also great for working with colors and is easy to do manual tracing with.
While many users value KNK Studio for these features, there’s no doubt that some functions are easier to get working in Make The Cut and Sure Cuts A Lot. No wonder so many people use some combination of the three programs instead of just one alone!
Make The Cut
Make The Cut software is a particularly popular program to use with the KNK cutting machines because it is simply a dream to use for the Print & Cut function.
The automatic movements in the software find the registration marks and ensure that everything is perfectly aligned with your scans.
It’s also superior to KNK Studio in that you can import and export a wide variety of file formats to play with before sending to the computerized cutting machine. You can easily use images with Inkscape and Illustrator.
While we really like the way you can customize KNK Studio’s interface to suit your way of working, it’s hard to deny that Make The Cut is easier to use with a gentle learning curve.
Annoyingly, Make The Cut does not yet work with the KNK Force, but it does with the Zing Air and Maxx Air.
Sure Cuts A Lot 4
Sure Cuts A Lot (SCAL) comes free with the KNK Zing Air and KNK Maxx Air, and can be purchased for use with the KNK Force too.
SCAL is one of the most popular software programs for craft cutting ever, which we attribute to how easy it is to use and the scope for designing basically whatever you want in the application. It also offers Print & Cut (although we still think Make The Cut is the best software for this).
It can import a variety of file formats and also works with thousands of free TrueType fonts (including any you already have installed).
There are also over 200 included shapes to inspire you when you first get started, as well as a number of automatic styles to choose from.
The drawing tools are intuitive and fun to use while auto-tracing is just as good as with Make The Cut and KNK Studio.
And that’s our round-up of the KNK cutters!
Which is your pick for the best computerized cutting machine?