Cricut Explore Air 2 Vs. Cricut Maker 3 [Comparison]

  •  Cricut is a brand that creates quality cutting machines for home crafters and small business owners. Due to its superior quality, versatile features, and excellent results, Cricut is among the best contenders in the business. Cricut Maker, Cricut Explore, Cricut Joy, Cricut EasyPress, and Cricut Mug Press models are part of its product family. But as so many models are available in the market, people often get confused about deciding between multiple products offering similar features to serve similar purposes.

    In this blog, we will make a side-by-side comparison between Maker 3 and Cricut Explore Air 2.

    Explore Air 2 Vs. Maker 3: Overview

    Cricut Explore Air 2 falls somewhere between Maker 3 and Cricut Joy, as it is smaller than Maker 3 but bigger than Cricut Joy. The model is not as powerful as Maker 3, but you can still create various projects using softer materials such as paper, vinyl, iron-on, cardstock, fabric, and poster board, to name a few. Note that it’s still two times faster than its previous model. The cutting force has also been increased, so you can work with thicker material. It’s a great choice for beginners who are just dabbling in crafting.

    Maker 3 is an all-in-one product for low, medium, and large-scale projects. With this, you can create any crafting projects, including clothing, greeting cards, air prints, wall art, wedding decor, home decor, favors, custom vinyl stickers or decals, and more. Maker 3 is more expensive than its predecessor but two times faster than the previous model.

    Explore Air 2 Vs. Maker 3: Design, Specs, And Features

    The Explore Air 2 comes in different colors. A dual-carriage system is also added to draw and cut simultaneously within the same cutting session. The machine can be connected wirelessly through Wi-Fi to a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Maker 3 can make matless cuts when working with smart materials.

    Size & Weight

    Neither of these machines is portable, so you won’t be able to carry them around, nor will you frequently change their position in your home or office. The Explore Air 2 is only slightly larger than the Maker 3, but the former is surprisingly lighter. Both machines fit right on a standard-sized desk next to a computer.

    Cutting Size & Force

    Cricut Maker boasts a cutting force of 8.8 1lbs (4kg), which surpasses Explore Air 2’s 0.88 lbs (400 g) with flying colors. It means you won’t have any problem cutting harder material with a thickness of up to 0.09 in (2.4 mm). In contrast, Explore Air 2 can’t cut thicker materials than 0.07 (2mm).

    If you plan to cut thicker materials, we recommend you go for Maker 3, which is more reliable and handles pressure better. You can also use the Maker 3 to cut 12 feet long and 13 inches-wide materials. You can easily create bigger projects, such as long banners and large posters. All these features make Maker 3 a more versatile option.


    You won’t notice any significant difference in speed between these two models. Both models have received many upgrades and are two times faster than their predecessors. Another similarity between these models is that they have a Dual-Carriage System. This means both machines can cut and draw within the same cutting session. But on the downside, The maker 3 doesn’t come with a cartridge slot, so you must purchase an adapter separately.

    Compatibility With Different Materials

    Maker 3 can process over 300 types of materials, whereas Explore Air 2 can handle over 100 materials, which is still impressive. Both machines support the Print & Cut feature, but Explore Air 2 can only work with white color, whereas Maker 3 can easily work with various colors. Both machines are up to the task of crafting with mat, but only Maker 3 can perform matless cuts using smart materials such as smart vinyl, smart iron-on, and smart paper sticker cardstock.

    Tool System & Calibration

    Explore Air 2 features a Smart Set Dial that only supports six tools: Fine-Point Blade, Bonded-Fabric Blade, Deep-Point Blade, Foil Transfer Kit, Pens or Markers, and Scoring Stylus. These tools work with both machines. Compared to the Maker 3, the automatic calibration settings are better in Explore Air 2.

    You don’t have any problem with scrapbooking, quilting, leatherworking, engraving, debossing, sewing, and other craft-making activities. The Maker 3 features the Adaptive Tool System, compatible with thirteen tools and blades. These tools are Knife Blades, Fine-point Blades, Rotary Blade, Wavy Blade, Deep-Point Blade, Bonded-Fabric Blade, Foil Transfer Tool, Debossing Tip, Engraving Tip Scoring Wheels, Perforation Tools, Pens or Markers, and Washable Fabric Pen.

    You can count on Maker 3’s QuickSwap Housing System to change the housing tool, but it doesn’t have automatic calibration settings. So, you must manually adjust the calibration settings whenever you want to use a different material or tool.


    Maker 3 costs $429.99, while Cricut Explore Air 2 asking price is $249.99, but during the sale, you can also get it for $199.9. The price difference is understandable, as Maker 3 offers more features than Explore Air 2. Cricut Explore 2 is an older model a few steps from Maker 3. But both machines don’t require much maintenance, so you go for either if you are concerned about maintenance costs. If you are a business owner, then it’s safer to get Maker 3.


    What are the Maker 3 pros and cons?

    You must know its pros and cons if you are dead set on purchasing Maker 3.


    • Adaptive Tool System
    • QuickSwap Housing System
    • Supports Print & Cut mode
    • Fast Mode
    • Dual Carriage System
    • Cordless Mode and Design Space app


    • Heavier than Explore Air 2
    • It doesn’t have automatic calibration settings.
    • You need to purchase a third-party graphic editing application like Photoshop to create original projects from the ground.

    What are the Cricut Explore 2 pros and cons?

    It’s cheaper than Maker 3, but it also has its pros and cons.


    • Performs self-calibration
    • Crafting jobs are quicker, and waste is minimized
    • Dual Carriage System
    • Fast Mode
    • Design Space


    • Smaller cutting force than Maker 3
    • Rotary Blade and Knife Blade don’t work.
    • The Print & Cut feature only works on white.

    What is the difference between the Smart Dial and Adaptive Tool System?

    Explore Air 2 uses Smart Set Dial, works with 6 tools, and automatically calibrates the settings based on your selected materials and tools. Maker 3 features the Adaptive Tool System. This feature allows the machine to easily swap between 13 tools without changing the housing.