Updated: Jan 24
It's hard, of course, to give a quick and easy answer, so here's my thoughts.
First ask yourself what you want to make with your machine. Both machines have amazing cutting capabilities but lots of their differences come down to what materials they can cut.
The Explore Air 2 machine can cut anything from paper all the way up to felt, So it's perfect if you are a paper crafter, or want to do vinyl or Iron on projects! It is also possible to cut some fabric, if the fabric is backed with an interfacing or bonding to strengthen it.
The Maker has way more capabilities when it comes to materials, this really is a beast of a machine and has now been updated, adding the Maker 3 into the mix. It can cut anything from Paper, card, iron on vinyl, vinyl to anything with a 2mm thickness, so wood, balsa wood and chipboard are all materials you're able to cut.
The machine also has an adaptive tool system, this means we can change the blade to suit the material we're cutting which means we can add the rotary blade to cut any fabric. By fabric, I mean anything from silk to denim, fake fur to cotton -The possibilities are endless and none of these fabrics need to be backed like they do with the explore machine- you just place them onto the mat.
We also have the capability to add in the knife tool to cut the thicker materials. This machine has way more force and strength to cut these materials with, this is partly because it is much heavier than the explore air 2, giving it weight to up the cutting force.
Because of this adaptive tool system any new tools bought out by Cricut will fit the Maker, you will not have to buy a new machine, which means that the maker is effectively future proof, Where as they explore machine is as it comes.
Another difference between these machines is the material dial found on the explore machine this no longer exists on the maker machine as we now select all materials on the design space online system.
The Maker machine also has a USB port on the side, which means you can charge your phone or iPad to work from, whilst you are crafting! It also has an iPad holder on the top of the machine making this machine into a full craft room workstation!
The other difference of course is price, The Maker machine is roughly £100 more than the Explore Air 2, Which does make it are considered purchase. However when you take into the account of the future proof of the adaptive tool system and the amount of materials you going to be able to cut in the long run, this extra money will be worth it as you'll probably not going to be upgrading this machine for a long time!
Both the Maker and the Explore Air 2 have similar cutting speeds. Both have the ability to cut faster, If you need. But you will find that the Maker with its strength and weight will ultimately be the faster machine.
Both machines have Bluetooth connectivity which means that you can cut wirelessly without cables taking over your craft room. However both machines to come with a USB cable should you want to use it.
It really does come down to what you want to cut and what you want to use the machine for, I personally love my Maker, because of the extra possibilities it gives me to craft with.
Let me know if you have any questions I haven't answered here! I'd be happy to help!
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