As a crafter, die cutting machines are incredibly helpful and useful. They enable you to cut all sorts of material into any shape your heart desires. Whether you want shapes of the different countries you’ve visited to stick in your scrapbook or iron on patches to create unique new clothing.
Instead of having to cut out the same shape over and over again, your die cutting machine can do it for you with little to no effort from you. This means you can get on with prepping the rest of your project and cut your crafting time in half.
There are two types of die cutting machines – manual and digital models. Manual machines work by using a lot of pressure to push a shape into your material and cut it out of it like a cookie cutter. This is extremely easy and these tend to be cheaper than digital machines.
However, this means you’ll have to buy different dies (cookie cutters) for each shape you want to use, which can become expensive and you may find your craft room overtaken by all different shaped and sized dies.
With digital die cutting machines, you connect your machine to your computer so you can program in shapes that you want to be cut out. This means there are endless possibilities that you can cut out of your material and therefore will be much less expensive in the long run.
However, these machines have a much steeper learning curve and can only cut one piece of material at one time, so if you’re cutting out multiple images whether they are identical or not then it may take longer than a manual machine.
In this list we’re going to be looking at our top manual and digital die cutting machines to ensure you find your new favorite piece of crafting equipment.
In a hurry? This is our winner!
Let’s cut your reading time in half and get you on your way to purchasing your new best crafting friend – the Cricut Maker.
This is our favorite die cutting machine because:
- Crafters will spend hours exploring all the innovative ways they can evolve their projects with this machine.
- The list of materials it can cut is huge.
- You can choose from five fun colors to match your craft room perfectly.
- Is made by a household name amongst crafters so you know you’ll be getting a professional quality product.
Best Die Cutting Machine – Comparison Table
Best Die Cutting Machine – Reviews
Cricut is a well known and trusted brand within the crafting community thanks to its high quality products and aesthetically pleasing designs and the Cricut Maker is no exception. I mean come on! Have you seen the beautiful colors this digital die cutting machine comes in?
You can use this powerful machine with over 300 different materials, all the way from simple sheets of cardstock to leather and glitter paper. Cricut uses it’s own free design program called Design Space, compatible with Mac and Windows, as well as both an iOS and Andriod App.
You can create your own unique designs with Design Space. Or, if you’re not feeling putting all that effort in one day, you can choose one of their ready made templates. These are customizable or you can leave them as is, depending on your project. You can find both free and for purchase designs by tons of independent designers.
The Bluetooth technology keeps your machine connected to your smartphone, tablet, or computer without any wires getting in the way. There’s also a number of additional tools you can purchase and use with this machine, such as pens and scoring tools to amp up your project execution.
Included with your machine are both a rotary and a knife blade to ensure clean and crisp cuts no matter what material you’re working on, two cutting mats to keep your material in proper position while cutting, a fine point pen to draw out designs for different projects and multiple free ready to make projects.
Thanks to the software enabling you to upload your designs and the versatility of how many materials you can use with it, the Cricut Maker is an excellent die cutting machine compatible with almost any crafting project that your heart desires. To get the complete low down on the Cricut Maker, check out my in depth review of this top of the line digital cutting machine.
- Addicting for craft lovers.
- Can cut over 300 different materials
- Has multiple accessories to let you create almost anything
- You’ll receive lots of helpful add ons to aid you in other projects
- Comes in a lovely range of colors
- Not all the reviewers loved how the software works
- Higher price point
The Big Shot Plus is a must have for anyone who is looking for an affordably priced die cutting machine. The opening is 9 inches wide so it will fit standard 8.5″ x 11″ paper plus you can use a range of different materials and can cut out reasonably sized shapes.
The best part of a manual cutting machine is that you can layer your materials and cut multiple different shapes out at once. Bear in mind that this works best for thinner material such as paper, tissue, and cardstock.
However, this machine is not limited to thin materials and can even be used on a select few woods and cork, as well as leather and felt. Using a manual machine is easy enough for even beginners and children to use it, with adequate safety precautions taken of course.
All you have to do is put your chosen material between the two cutting pads, feed it through the machine with the crank handle and voila! Your material has been cut and is now ready to be used in the next step of your project.
The Big Shot Plus is compatible with almost all of the Sizzix dies, with the exception of the Bigz Pro dies, meaning you can choose endless shapes to use with your manual machine. What makes this machine even more versatile is it can be used with dies from other manufacturers provided they fit the 9″ opening.
Sizzix makes high quality manual die cutting machines like Big Shot which is smaller and the Big Shot Pro which is larger. Remember that most manual machines do not come with any dies unless you buy a bundle, so you’ll have to purchase one separately before you can use it.
- Very easy to use and doesn’t require any technological support
- Great for beginners
- Much more affordable than digital machines
- Lever isn’t made of high quality materials which mean that it can break down quite quickly and cause you to have to apply more pressure when cutting
- Doesn’t come with any dies so it cannot be used if just bought on its own
- Cost of dies can add up plus they take up physical space in your craftroom
By far the most impressive feature of the Silhouette Cameo 4 is the built-in material holder. Simply unfold the holder, position your material within it, and feed the end through until the machine takes it. Then watch this machine cut out your shapes seamlessly without you having to feed multiple pieces of material through.
The caveat to this amazing feature is it only works with materials on a roll like vinyl or heat transfer. So it’s perfect if you plan on making a ton of t-shirts or decals but not as useful for flat materials like paper or ones that need a cutting mat like fabric.
The Cameo 4 has a dual tool holder so you can do two things at once like using a sketch pen and a cutting blade to create some beautiful projects. The sketch pens can also be used to draw out your design on paper before committing to cutting it so you don’t ruin any material. This lets you make those necessary last minute tweaks to get your design just perfect.
There are four blades that are compatible with this model, including a rotary blade, a kraft blade and a punch tool. These are all sold separately and can take your crafting level even higher. For beginners though, the included AutoBlade will work well for most projects. You can also use blades from the Cameo 3 with an adapter.
The Cameo uses the Silhouette Studio design software which needs a computer (Mac or PC). It has a bit of a higher learning curve than Cricut Design Space but once you get to know its a very powerful design software.
The Silhouette Cameo 4 is an excellent and powerful digital die cutting machine. You can learn more about this high end machine in my detailed review. If you want to see my full comparison of the Cricut Maker vs the Silhouette Cameo 4 check out my article.
My favorite place to buy Silhouette machines is from Swing Design. They include a 40% Off Coupon for all Cameo 4 blades along with lots of other goodies like 200 extra designs, the Cameo 4 Instructional Class plus have amazing customer service.
- Material roll holder makes cutting multiple shapes much easier
- Extremely fast cutting mechanism
- Powerful cutting force
- Not the best customer service
- Has a bit of a learning curve.
It’s the little things in life that bring us the most satisfaction, such as the foldable sides of the Spellbinders Platinum die cutting machine. The sides fold away to save space and prevent dust and dirt from getting clogged up in the machine. When you’re ready to use the machine again, simply press a button and both sides fold back down simultaneously.
The steel core of this manual die cutting machine is extremely durable and well made. The handle is made of high quality materials which make it very easy to turn and therefore your material is cut in less time.
This machine’s biggest selling point is its versatility. You can use over 40 different materials with the Platinum machine, including paper, crafting metal, leather and chipboard as well as many more.
You can also use most dies with this machine, meaning you’re not limited to Spellbinder’s limited selection. This also means you can save money and use any dies that you may already own with this model.
The wide entrance measures slightly larger than a letter sized or A4 piece of paper meaning you don’t have to cut your material abnormally small to be able to fit it in this manual machine. Another noteworthy fact is that you can fit up to eight layers of material into the Platinum machine at once, cutting your work time in half.
Spellbinder really stepped it up with the Platinum. In the past, I’ve been less than impressed with their cutting machines like the Grand Calibur. To get the full details of this well built manual cutting machine read my full review.
- You can cut up to eight layers of material in one go
- Works with a wide range of materials
- Lots of die cuts are compatible with this model so you can use ones from other brands
- Some users experienced bad customer service
- Dies must be purchased separately from the machine.
From paper and vinyl to fabric and balsa wood, Brother’s ScanNCut SDX125E Cutting Machine is incredibly versatile and can be used by crafters of all skill levels. Brother is another well known brand amongst crafters and is regularly praised for their professional quality and easy to use products, and their digital die cutting machine is no exception.
This machine actually features a built-in scanner which will convert your hand drawn design into a cut file and cut it out of your material for you. This is an extremely handy feature because sometimes the best designs are spontaneous sketches you make whilst on the phone or out at a diner on the back of a napkin. It is also a rarity among cutting machines being one of the only ones with this feature.
Some crafters don’t get along with digital drawing platforms and much prefer to create with their hands, which is where this scanning feature comes in. However, if you didn’t feel like creating your own design and wanted to use a template, there are over 680 built in designs to choose from.
You can also add your own digital designs by programming them in using a USB or Bluetooth connection to your computer, making this a very impressive machine that can cater to all crafters.
This machine can cut material up to three millimeters in thickness meaning it’s excellent to use with almost any material you desire. Along with the machine you’ll also receive a black pen and pen holder, an auto blade and holder, one piece of card to practice with, a 12 inch tack mat, a spatula and an accessory pouch.
- You can scan in your designs as well as program them in digitally, which caters to everyone
- Cuts material fast and quietly
- Touchscreen technology is a nice touch and makes it easier to use than fiddly buttons
- The instruction manual isn’t the most informative
- There are a limited number of compatible add ons which make it hard to find certain tools for all crafting projects
Best Die Cutting Machines – Buyers Guide
Manual vs. Digital Die Cutters
Ah, the age old question of which model to go for. Manual machines are more affordable and often easier to use as all you need to do is sandwich your material between the pads and turn a handle. On the other hand, digital machines need to be connected to a computer or device so that you can send the design to it.
This can be harder for people to grasp and understand, resulting in lower quality results. That being said, once you’ve got the hang of using your digital machine, they’re much faster to use and you don’t have to repeatedly turn a handle.
Which type you choose will come down to your personal needs. If you’re looking for a die cutting machine for occasional use and don’t want to spend a lot of money, a manual model may be perfect for you.
Alternatively, if you need a machine to make hundreds of the same shapes for cards or gifts such as wedding favors, you may want to invest in a digital model as they’re faster and you can create the exact design you want.
It’s worth noting that you’ll have to buy multiple different dies for manual machines if you’re wanting to cut out more than one shape, which can cost more in the long run as digital machines can have countless designs programmed in.
You should decide what you want to primarily do with your machine before choosing a model to purchase, as some work better than others on particular materials. If you’re looking to cut lots of leather and cork shapes, a manual machine may not be the best choice as it’ll be harder to turn the lever over and over again.
Digital machines can often cut more shapes quicker using a larger variety of materials, however, there are also some great quality manual machines on the market that can achieve basically the same results as well, so make sure you research these beforehand.
Many die cutting machines come with special features that can be beneficial to the crafter, however it’s unlikely that you’ll find a machine that includes every one of these impressive features. This is why you should choose which will be most beneficial to you and which ones you can stand to be without.
Some of these features include: pen holders to sketch designs, scanners to program hand drawn images into your machine, and some machines will even emboss materials as well as cut them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a new Cricut coming out in 2020?
Yes, Cricut released the Cricut Joy in the spring. This is a compact and portable machine designed to aid the larger machines from Cricut, such as the widely popular Cricut Maker or the Explore Air 2. This machine is a compact die cutting machine that is soon to become your new favorite DIY tool and can be used alongside any of your die cutting machines perfectly. Two die cutters are better than one!
What’s the best cutting machine for teachers?
I have a full article dedicated to covering this topic! Check it out to see which is the best machine for the classroom.
What other tools do I need for a cutting machine?