Buying Guide 2018-01-11T11:12:23+00:00

Our Vinyl Cutter Buying Guide below will help you decide which vinyl cutting machine is best for you!  We know how overwhelming it can be with all the cutting machine choices on the market these days.  Our expertise in this niche, along with our questions for you will help you narrow down the choices and make your selection!  Then you can have a look at our Vinyl Cutter Reviews page for all the detailed reviews for your particular level and cutting machine needs.

Types of Vinyl Cutter Machines

One of the first things to know about vinyl cutting machines, is whether you are needing a hobby machine, industrial machine, or something in between. There are craft cutting machines at all ends of the spectrum – some for beginners, those well experienced, and those with small businesses.  Some of these machines are so versatile that they can be used for almost any purpose.  We will discuss user friendly machines, and also machines that have a bit more of a learning curve with them.

Some craft cutting machines are hand operated manually, and therefore generally less expensive. Many are electronic cutting machines.  Some of the electronic machines have default settings and some allow for more user control, and have adjustable cut settings for force and depth. Some of the electronic machines have a dual carriage with multiple heads for simultaneously doing print and cut or draw and cut. Some vinyl machines have the option to be computer controlled or just controlled via an LCD screen, or of course manually.

Top 10 Best Vinyl Machines  – Comparison Table 2018

BRAND &
MODEL

IMAGE

MAX CUTTING
DIMENSIONS
(Width x Length)

WIRELESS

MAX
CUTTING
FORCE

RATING

COST

CHECK
PRICING

Cricut Cuttlebug

6" x 8"

N/A

Die Cuts

$

Check
Price

Cricut Explore Air 2

12" x 24"

YES

Unpublished

$$$

Check
Price

Silhouette Cameo 3

12" x 10'

YES

210 g

$$$

Check
Price

KNK Maxx Air 15"

15" x Unlimited

YES

1500 g

$$$$

Check
Price

Janome Artistic Edge 15"

15" x Unlimited

YES

750 g

$$$

Check
Price

Brother ScanNCut 2

12" x 24"

YES

Unpublished

$$$

Check
Price

Silhouette Portrait

8" x 10"

NO

210 gf

$$

Check
Price

Cricut Maker

12" x 24"

YES

Unpublished

$$$

Check
Price

Silhouette Curio

8.5" x 12"

NO

210 gf

$$

Check
Price

KNK Zing Orbit 15" or 24"

15" x Unlimited
24" x Unlimited

YES

1000 g

$$$$$

Check
Price

Vinyl Cutter Buying Guide

Questions to answer to find out which Vinyl Cutting Machine is best for YOU!

We have some questions below for you to think about – this will narrow down the type of cutting machine you are looking to purchase.  Once you decide on a Personal or commercial level cutting machine, then you can take a deeper dive into the other machine specifications such as cutting force, media cutting ability, maximum cutting width, number of roller feed wheels, and price.

  • Are you wanting a personal craft cutting machine for hobbyists or a more advanced commercial cutting machine for a business?

  • What projects will you be using your vinyl cutter for?  Stickers, scrapbooking, cards, vinyl transfers on t-shirts, car wraps, wall decals?

  • What is your craft cutting machine budget?

  • What is your technology skill level?  Does a beginner cutting machine suit you best, or one for a user with more experience in the craft cutting arena?

  • Do you want to design your own images, download images from the web, upload your company logo, or use cartridges or die cut shapes? What vinyl cutting software are you familiar with?

  • Do you prefer a machine that works via wireless, a USB port, or a manually operated machine?

Now that you’ve narrowed down your choices to deciding on a beginner crafting machine, commercial cutting machine, or something in between, let’s take a further look into other features of importance on these vinyl cutting machines. We will cover which machine is the best vinyl machine for beginners and home use, which is the best for t-shirt transfers, and which is the best for small business and commercial use.

What’s your Budget?

Since you have already narrowed down your intended vinyl cutter machine use from the questions above, hopefully you also have a budget in mind.  Generally speaking, the hobby craft cutters cost anywhere from around $65-$500.  The manual die cut machines are the least expensive since they are not electronic cutting machines, and therefore don’t require any vinyl cutting software. The most expensive hobbyist cutting machines are the most recently released machines with the latest technology and features.  These machines will typically cut more materials, including fabric, and will cut faster and more intricately than the older machines. Check out our favorite personal vinyl cutting machine here, priced under $200.

In contrast, the commercial cutter machines can be a bit more pricey. These machine prices have a wide range of prices, anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars, and they usually have a much larger footprint and cutting width, allowing for more heavy duty usage. Check out our favorite commercial cutting machine here!

Out of the Box Setup

How easy is the out of box setup for you machine? Do you want most of the setup already done for you?  Some of the higher end machines will need you to install the blade in the blade holder and the blade holder into the carriage component. Some will need you to adjust the cutting force settings each time you change materials, so that it cuts the material properly and without a lot of scoring on your release liner. If you plan to switch out blades and pens for different projects, you will want to learn how to best go about this too.  We highly recommend watching the instructional DVD included with your machine or watching YouTube videos to get you started off on the right foot with your new vinyl cutter machine! We find it much easier to watch what you need to do upon setup, than to follow written instructions.

Space Available

How large of an area do you have available for your vinyl cutting machine?  Will it have its own table in your office, or will you need to tuck it away in its case in a closet when you aren’t using it?  Do you have enough room for a free standing machine or do you really only want a desktop plotter? The hobbyist desktop cutter will take up less space than something with a stand.  Several of the desktop vinyl cutters have cases for storage or to take with you on the go to your crafting class.

What Types of Materials will you Need to Cut?

Do you need to cut tissue paper?  Do you need to cut balsa wood or stipple some thin metal? Not all of these machines have the ability to cut all materials, and some cut over 100 materials.  Do you want to use your machine to cut fabric for sewing a pattern or for quilting?  Some of the machines work better for some materials, so be sure to check which machine cuts well on the materials you will be using the most.

How Large will you Need to Cut?

Be sure to have a look at the specs on these machines, as they all have a maximum width limit, and some of those are larger than others. If you’re just creating cards and stickers, you are probably fine to have the 12″ or less width models.  However, if you need to cut large signage for a business, be sure to have a look at the wider models such as a 24″, 34″, or even the 60″ models.

Cutting Precision

What are your requirements for cutting precision? In general, some of the smaller machines will cut very intricate designs with great precision.  Whereas the larger industrial machines can cut large shapes, and very wide, but usually with less precision.  There tends to be somewhat of a tradeoff in this area.  It all depends on what your project is, so know what your needs are, and decide accordingly.

Cutting Speed

Does your business require a super fast cutting speed because of multiple projects needing to be run through your machine in a day?  Or will something with an ok speed suffice for your couple times a week homemade projects? Slower speeds can have greater precision.  Something to keep in mind, you don’t always need the fastest cutting machine to produce great quality projects!

Cutting Noise

These machines can make some noise, especially the commercial grade cutters.  For the most part the personal machines are not overly loud, and most likely you aren’t going to be running your machine all day long, like a business might be.  Think about where you will put your cutting machine and if there is a door to close so the noise doesn’t escape out into the rest of the office.

Purchase just the Cutting Machine or as a Bundle?

Do you want to purchase just a machine or are you a beginner who would benefit from buying the machine and all the needed accessories as a bundle?  Amazon has some terrific bundle deals to choose from, and we highly recommend that if you are a beginner, to purchase your machine as a bundle to save yourself some money and time in figuring out exactly what you need.

Cutting Machine Warranty and Technical Support

Be sure to check on what type of warranty is offered on your chosen machine.  If you click over to Amazon, most of the machine write-ups will give you the manufacturer’s warranty details.  You also want to be sure you can contact someone for help when you are having an issue. Some brands offer excellent support, while others have more limited support.  Something to be aware of when you purchase so you know what you are getting!