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Cricut Explore 3 Review

The latest cutting machine to hit the shelves is the brand new Cricut Explore 3.

Building on the success of the Cricut Explore Air 2 a few years ago, the Explore 3 is twice as fast and can cut up to 12 foot in one go — that’s a big upgrade!

It’s just been released. We’re going to take a few days to test it out and we’ll be back ASAP with a our hands-on Cricut Explore 3 review.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at all the features of the Cricut Explore 3 and how it compares to its competitors.

Cricut Explore 3
DIY Creativity At Your Fingertips The Cricut Explore 3 can cut, draw, score, embellish and much more with over 100 different materials. It's twice as fast as the Explore Air 2 and is compatible with Smart Materials for greater efficiency and accuracy without the use of a cutting mat.

Cricut Explore 3 Review

Key Features

cricut explore 3 revieew

The Cricut Explore 3 occupies the perfect middle ground between the elite Cricut Maker 3 and the pocket-rocket Cricut Joy. It’s the machine of choice for hobbyist crafters who want versatility, size and efficiency but without a big price tag.

Key Features
  • Can cut 100+ materials
  • Up to twice as fast as Cricut Explore Air 2 when using Smart Materials
  • Compatible with Smart Materials for matless cutting and cuts up to 12 foot long
  • Compatible with 6 tools for cutting, writing, scoring, foiling and embellishing
  • Comes equipped with the premium Fine-Point Blade

Cricut Explore 3 vs Cricut Explore Air 2

The predecessor of the Explore 3 is the Explore Air 2. It came out quite a few years ago now but is still popular thanks to its versatility, cutting accuracy and reasonable price.

Let’s have a look at how the two compare side by side, and if it’s worth you upgrading to the Explore 3 if you still have the older model.

Cricut Explore 3Cricut Explore Air 2
# of Materials it Can Cut100+ 100+
Compatible with Smart Materials?YesNo
# of Compatible Tools66
Max Cut Length12 foot with Smart Materials 24 inches (with extended cutting mat)
Compatible with Bluetooth?YesYes
Cutting Speed2x as fast as Explore Air 2 with Smart Materials

As you can see, the main way that the Explore 3 differentiates itself from the Explore Air 2 is the fact that it’s compatible with Smart Materials.

What are Smart Materials?
Smart Materials were introduced with the Cricut Joy machine and essentially allow you to cut without a cutting mat. You just need to load and go.

They’re especially effective for long, continuous cuts and do away with a lot of the faff that comes with using traditional materials and cutting mats. Smart Materials are also really easy to weed and apply.

Smart Materials allow the Explore 3 to be faster, more efficient and able to cut significantly longer designs than its predecessor.

If you’ve ever felt restricted by the speed and maximum cut size of the Explore Air 2, then the Explore 3 could be an option worth exploring.

explore 3 review

Cricut Explore 3 vs Cricut Maker 3

One of the competitor comparisons a few people have asked us to make is between the Explore 3 and the Maker 3, which was released at the same time.

Although they look reasonably similar, they’re actually quite different machines and this is reflected in the price tag — the Maker 3 is around $100 more expensive.

Let’s take a look at how they compare side-by-side:

Cricut Explore 3Cricut Maker 3
# of Materials it Can Cut100+300+
Smart Materials Compatible?YesYes
# of Compatible Tools613
Can it Cut Fabric?Only bonded fabricAny fabric with the Rotary Blade
Cutting Force10x the power of Explore 3
Max Cut Length12′ with Smart Materials12′ with Smart Materials

In short, the Maker 3 is a much more versatile and powerful machine than the Explore 3, able to cut more materials, with more tools.

Thanks to its compatibility with the Rotary Blade, it’s also able to cut through virtually any fabric which is partly why it’s so incredibly popular with sewists and any crafters who use a lot of fabric.

But not every crafter needs all that the Maker 3 is offering — indeed, maybe most people will be more than satisfied with the Explore 3. We usually recommend the Maker family of machines for serious hobbyists and people who run craft businesses, whereas the Explore line of cutters is perhaps more suitable for the ‘average’ crafter.

Ultimately it’s up to you — if you can justify the extra price, the Maker 3 is undoubtedly the superior machine. But you may find the Explore 3 suits your needs just perfectly, especially now it’s compatible with Smart Materials.

cricut explore 3 review

Is the Cricut Explore 3 Worth Buying?

Stay tuned for our review to find out exactly what we think of the user experience of the Explore 3, and whether we think it’s worth your hard earned money.

We’re excited to spend the next few days getting to know this brand new cutting machine.

The machine is available to order now via the Cricut store or on Amazon.

Cricut Explore 3
DIY Creativity At Your Fingertips The Cricut Explore 3 can cut, draw, score, embellish and much more with over 100 different materials. It's twice as fast as the Explore Air 2 and is compatible with Smart Materials for greater efficiency and accuracy without the use of a cutting mat.

Still not sure what the best vinyl cutter for your needs is? Be sure to check out our Reviews section for detailed analysis of ALL the top-selling die cutters.

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