Choosing a Die Cutting Machine

Choosing a die cutting machine may seem overwhelming. Buying a die cut machine should be well-researched investment so you know it will fit your needs. Before you pick a die cut machine, there should be a few things to consider, such as the type of machine, the cost, the durability, ease of use, software, versatility, and power.

Type of machine – Manual or Digital

The most important thing when considering a die cutting machine is the type of machine. Manual die cutting machines use a hand crank to push material through a slot, where the material is then cut or embossed. These machines are the most affordable and most portable.

Sizzix Big Shot manual die cutting machine

Sizzix Big Shot manual die cutting machine

Digital die cutting machines work similar to a printer to cut materials. These machines use cartridges that plug into the machine or connect to the computer. If you want to create custom designs, then you’ll want to get a digital die cutting machine that connects to the computer. Not all of these machines, however, allow for custom designs, so be sure that the software allows you to do this.

Cricut Explore Air digital die cut machine

Cricut Explore Air digital die cut machine


Die cutting machines can range from manual machines costing $50, to heavy duty machines that cost upwards of $1,000 or more. One should consider their needs when shopping for a machine. If you are a professional artist or business, consider buying a quality machine. It’s worth getting a good machine for a slightly higher price than a cheaper model that may be frustrating to work with.

Other factors to consider are the cost of cartridges, accessories and tools, replacement blades, dies, and cutting mats that may need to be replaced. Professional versions of software or upgrades may also add to the cost of an investment.

Materials and Versatility

Consider the projects you will be creating with a die cutting machine and what kinds of materials you will be using. Heavy duty machines are able to cut a greater variety of materials. If you will be cutting mostly with paper-based materials, it might not make sense to invest in a heavy duty machine. Also, consider the versatility of the machine. Machines will cut materials, but you may want capabilities such as drawing and embossing.

Ease of use – Software and Support

Even if you have a quality die cutting machine, it may be frustrating to use the machine if the software has a high learning curve or you can’t get support. Research the software that comes with the machine and see what kinds of tutorials there are. Also, research the company selling the die cutting machine. Many companies have tutorials, forums, and phone and email support to help you get started in die cutting.

Size and Portability

Size and portability may be a factor. Do you have a small working area? Will you be cutting large materials that require a machine with a larger cutting width? Also, consider the weight of the machine if you will be traveling with the machine. Machines can range from 2lbs to large machines that are 40lbs.

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  1. Luz Lebo

    Thank you for the comparison on the two machines. I have been looking for what is the difference on them awhile. Did not want to make an incorrect decision where my money is concerned. I now know I need the 650W. Thank you again.

  2. Paige Clark

    What’s the difference between an A4 and a V2 machine?

  3. Arthur Jeffs

    I am cutting a 8″ by 11″ rectangle out of canvas material. I have 7 different colors and I am using a 5′ bolt of fabric. I am thinking a manuel die cut machine that will cut multiple layers canvas at a time would work best, so I could fold the 5′ canvas material over and cut multiple pieces at a time.
    Could you give me a recommendation on a machine for this?

    Also I am going to need a custom die made, how do I go about getting this done?

    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Arthur,

      If you are doing a lot of cuts, a manual die cut machine is best, especially for fabrics. Sizzix is a good brand. Their Big Shot Plus machine cuts 8.5″ x 11″, which might fit your needs.

      For custom dies, you can visit the Sizzix Custom Dies page.


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