Papercrafting with your Mac
Maximum size 12x12-inches Requires Mac OS X 10.6 or later; 1.83GHz or faster; Firefox 17, Google Chrome 20 or Safari 5.1 or later; Adobe Flash; broadband
This might look like a printer, but it’s actually quite different: it cuts designs out of paper, vinyl, fabric, iron-on material and more. It works by feeding the material back and forth while a blade mounted on a shaft moves left and right. It might sound old-fashioned – like a plotter – but it’s actually highly precise and able to cut out very detailed shapes.
Setup takes minutes. It connects using USB, and its software actually runs in a web browser (though you have to install a plug-in). Despite this, it’s powerful and quite easy to use. You can buy designs from Cricut (or subscribe to access the entire library at once), plug in existing Cricut cartridges, or upload your own images. It likes vector images (in SVG format), but can also vectorise bitmap images. The process can require a bit of design savvy, but you can’t really blame the Explore for that.
Beside the blade (there’s an optional ‘deep cut’ blade for dealing with tougher materials), a holder for pens is included so you can draw designs at the same time. There’s also a £37 Bluetooth adapter coming that will let you print wirelessly from both Mac and iPad.
We could dock a star for it not being wireless out of the box, for the software being web-based, or for being £250. But most will be happy with USB. The web-based software could be an issue if your internet connection drops, but we think it’s a reasonable decision by Cricut, and the price doesn’t strike us as extortionate. Christopher Phin
A luxury, of course (unless you run or start a business that uses it), but it performs its function admirably.
Cuts a wide range of materials
Easy to set up and use
The creative possibilities are almost endless with the Explore Machine – t-shirts, custom vinyl decals, greeting cards…