Cricut Explore Air 2 Review

The Cricut Explore Air 2 has become one of the most popular die cut machines, and for good reason. Cricut’s philosophy of making cutting fun and easy to use can be seen in the Cricut Explore Air 2. Unlike other more complicated machines, users have been able to open the box and start cutting within minutes. Let’s see what’s inside with the Cricut Explore Air 2 review!

Cricut Explore Air 2 Review

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Cricut Explore Air 2 Review

The Cricut Explore Air 2 is one of the most user-friendly machines on the market. It’s great for beginners but also has everything a more advanced user would need in a die cut machine. It has 350 grams of cutting force, which is more than the Silhouette Cameo.

You can expect to cut a lot with this machine including vinyl, cardstock, glitter paper, and leather to name a few – but don’t to be cutting heavier material like basswood. Save heavy cutting for the Cricut Maker machine.

Design and Features

Before we go into more detail about the Cricut Explore machine, here’s a quick list of features:

  • Cut, draw, and score
  • 350 grams of cutting force
  • Cuts over 100 different materials with 12″ x 12″ or 12″ x 24″ cutting mat
  • Dual tool holders to cut and draw in one step
  • Long lasting German carbide blade
  • Smart Set Dial to easily configure blade to material
  • Print then Cut feature
  • Bluetooth capability to cut wirelessly
  • Online Design Space software

What Can the Cricut Explore Air 2 Cut?

The Cricut Explore Air 2 can cut over 100 materials using up to 350 grams of force. Here is a list of some of the most popular items it can cut:

  • Paper
  • Vinyl
  • Iron-on
  • Cardstock
  • Fabric such as wool, felt, silk, genuine leather, bonded denim, and burlap
  • Craft Foam
  • Wrapping Paper
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Wax Paper
  • Magnetic Sheet
  • Aluminum – 0.14mm

For thicker materials, the Cricut Explore comes with a multi-cut feature to cut designs multiple times.

And for certain materials, you’ll want to be sure you are using the right blade. For example, some thicker materials will require the Deep Point Blade.

Double Tool Capacity

Cricut Explore Air Double Tool Holder

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Pretty standard nowadays with electronic cutting machines is having the ability to use two tools at once. Cricut was one of the first companies to come out with such a feature.

With the double tool holder, you can now cut and write or cut and score in a single step. You won’t have to pause the project to swap out tools like you previously would. It’s a nifty feature, but if you know you won’t be using two tools at once, you can check out the Cricut Explore One. The Cricut Explore One has one blade holder and is cheaper than the Cricut Explore Air 2.

The Cricut Explore Air 2 comes with the housings pre-installed in the clamps. Remembering which tool goes in which holder is easy:

  • Clamp A – For Accessories
  • Clamp B – For Blade

The Cricut Maker comes with additional tools such as the Knife Blade, Rotary Blade, and Scoring Wheels. These tools are exclusive to the Cricut Maker and are not compatible with the Cricut Explore machines.

Smart Set Dial

Cricut Explore Air Smart Set Dial

The Smart Set Dial is a large dial on the side of the machine that makes cutting so much easier. All you have to do is turn the dial to the material you want to cut, and the Cricut Explore takes care of all the settings for you. No more guesswork!

The most common settings are shown on the machine, but if you wanted additional settings, select ‘Custom’ and select the material you want to cut in the software. You can ever enter in your own settings and save them to be reused later.

Print then Cut

Cricut Explore Air Print then Cut

The Print and Cut feature is another feature that comes standard with all electronic cutting machines. What this feature allows you to do is print your favorite designs off your home printer and cut them out using your Cricut machine.

Now, keep in mind the Cricut Explore is not a printer itself, so it won’t be able to print on paper as a regular printer would.

Cartridge Support

Cricut Explore Air Cartridges

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Does the Cricut Explore require cartridges? Nope! Cartridges are now becoming a thing of the past, and that’s a good thing.

However, if you do still have cartridges, you can still use them in the Cricut Explore Air 2. The only thing is, you’ll need to link your physical cartridges to the online Design Space software. Unlike some of the older Cricut machines, you won’t be able to use your Explore machine without internet unless you have the iOS app.

Built-In Storage Space

Cricut Explore Air Blade Storage

The Cricut Explore actually has a surprising amount of storage space. The most obvious is the storage cup on the side of the machine. This storage cup is perfect for storing tools that you use most often and easy storage when the machine is in use.

Other storage compartments are under the bottom flap keeps everything organized that you might not use as often, such as other tools and blades. There’s even a magnetic strip to store extra blades and prevent them from moving around.

Cricut Design Space

Cricut Design Space

The Cricut Design Software is a free online software for creating your own designs for the Cricut Explore. The software is web-based and does require an internet connection. If you have a slow or unreliable internet, this could be a problem.

The good news to using online software is that it’s always updated automatically and projects are stored in the cloud.  If you use multiple computers or get a new computer, all your designs and purchases will be available.

Creating and Importing Designs

If you want to create your own designs from scratch, design space is more limited. The software allows you to select and manipulate existing designs, so if you’re looking to create designs from scratch, you’ll be better off creating them in a different program like Adobe/Illustrator and importing them.

Unlike the Silhouette software, importing SVG files is free. Other compatible file types for Design Space are are .svg, .png, .dxf, .gif, .bmp and .jpg.

Cricut Access Subscription

One thing people sometimes get confused about is whether or not you have to pay for Design Space. Design Space is free. However, if you want to purchase designs and fonts, you can. If you plan on purchasing a lot of designs, Cricut offers a monthly subscription plan called Cricut Access.

Cricut Access gives you:

  • Unlimited access to over 400 beautiful fonts
  • Unlimited use of over 50,000 premium Cricut images
  • And a lot of other perks like 10% off Cricut Purchases and Licensed images and fonts.

There are a few payment options that come with slightly different benefits. I won’t go into too much detail here, but Cricut Access can be a great way to save on designs.

The important thing to understand here is, with Cricut Access, you are paying to have access to these designs. Once you cancel your subscription, you will no longer have access to the designs unless you sign back up.

What happens with some people is they use the free trial and once it expires, they no longer have access. This leads some people to mistakingly believe they have to pay for the Design Space software.

The Cricut Explore Air vs Cricut Explore Air 2

The differences between the Cricut Explore Air and Cricut Explore Air 2 is that they are exactly the same, except that the Explore Air 2 can cut twice as fast. The Air 2 is more expensive, but if you are cutting a lot or run a craft business, it could be worth the time savings.

What’s included in the Cricut Explore Air 2

What I like about buying the Cricut Explore Air 2 is that it really does come with everything to get started, including material to create your first project.

• Cricut Explore Air 2 machine
• Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing
• Fine Point Pen (Black)
• LightGrip Mat 12″ x 12″
• Welcome Guide
• USB cable
• Power adapter
• Free trial membership to Cricut Access (for new subscribers)
• 50 free ready-to-make projects
• Materials for a practice project

Overall Cricut Explore Air 2 Review

Cricut Explore Air

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Overall, the Cricut Explore is one of our favorite die cutting machines. It’s more powerful and precise than the Silhouette Cameo. If you are a beginner or don’t want anything too complicated, the Cricut Explore Air will be a great choice. The Smart Set Dial makes it easy to create projects and the Cricut Design Space allows SVGs to be imported for free.

Where can I buy the Cricut Explore Air 2?

The Cricut Explore Air 2 can be bought online from the following:

New to Die Cutting? Get the Ultimate Beginner's Guide

26 Comments

  1. Deepali singhal

    Hello i am a new crafter ..n i am confused between knk zing air and curio or cricut explore please advise.which is easiest to use.thanks

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Deepali, thanks for the question!

      The Cricut Explore is easiest to use. However, the software is more limited. The KNK Zing air is more powerful and comes with more advanced software, but it takes longer to learn. The Curio is versatile, but not as strong and also comes with advanced software that may take longer to learn. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  2. Stanley Gooch

    I was very interested to read your comment that The Cricut Explore also comes with a multi-cut option. I cannot find any instructions on how to use this potentially very useful function.
    Please explain …

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Stanley! The multi-cut option allows you to cut the same area multiple times. This is useful when trying to cut thicker material.

      To use this multi-cut option, you need to click on ‘custom materials’ on the preview screen. From there, you can select multi-cut. See here for further instructions: http://content.cricut.com/b/pdfs/explore-manual2/13esmartsetdial.pdf

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  3. Debi S

    Thank you so much for this information! I am trying to decide what machine to upgrade to from my expression. You have answered many questions I have that I have not found anywhere else.
    One question I still have is: Ok, I can use my cricut cartridges. Will it download everything contained on my cartridge and keep it available in my ‘cloud account’ if that exists, or will I put in the cartridge every time I want to use it (like I do now with the expression)? And if I have purchased a used cartridge that was previously linked will I be able to use it?

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Debi! I am glad to hear that we are able to help! When you link a cartridge, it will be made available in your cloud account. You do not need to use the cartridge every time. Cartridges can only be linked to one account, so if you bought a used cartridge that was already linked, you will not be able to link it again.

      Here’s some more information from Cricut about linking cartridges: http://us.cricut.com/home/learn/machines/cartridge-linking

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
  4. Ae Severino

    Hi! Im torn between Cricut Explore and Silhouette Cameo. So I cannot work with Cricut without internet? I mean I cannot use it without the internet? Because unlike Silhouette Cameo, no internet required when using it. HELP! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      That’s correct, the Cricut Explore requires internet, while the Silhouette Cameo doesn’t.

      Reply
  5. Mark

    I am wanting to get a machine that will simply cut vinyl letters to be used on school projects/posters and 4-H posters/exhibits. Also need it for printing vinyl letters on feed troughs that will be used outside. I don’t see us doing any scrap booking or home decor type applications. Any suggestions for a machine that will do these two simple tasks.

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Mark, The Cricut Explore will do just fine. It doesn’t sound like you need to spend more money on anything more powerful.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Thanks

        Reply
  6. Connie Cockerel

    If I have linked my actual cartridges to Craft Room can I link them to Design Studio also?

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Connie, the linked cartridges will automatically be available. There is no need to relink them. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  7. Jennifer Burnett

    I have had a cricut Expressions FOREVER! I am looking to expand my sewing and crafting. I would like to be able to cut vinyl to iron on t-shirts, decals, etc. I want to do monograms and shapes etc. I was sold on a cameo until I saw the explore and explore air.
    What do I do???

    Reply
  8. Joe

    I am looking for something to cut vinyl letters for monograms on drinkware, etc. And iron ons. Also just sports decals if possible. What’s the best for me?

    Reply
  9. Joe

    I’m looking for something that I can just cut vinyl numbers/letters and iron on vinyl, and decals (sports). What’s the best for me?

    Reply
    1. Personal Die Cutting (Post author)

      Hi Joe, I always recommend the Explore machines, but almost all machines will be able to cut vinyl just fine. Good luck!

      Reply
  10. Rayna

    Hi. I’m a new at this never owned any of the cricut machines. I’m wanting to invest in one, I have children and I love doing projects, I’m wanting to do decals, cuts for iron on shirts, invitations, thank you cards, monograms, just everything, because I’m a stay at home mom and have time on my hands. So iv read on the expression 2 and now the cricut explorer. Need help to pick. And Internet is not a problem.

    Reply
  11. Maggie

    I am a newbie. Haven’t even taken my Cricut Explore Air out of the box because I am waiting until I have a free day to play with it. However, I have a question that I can’t seem to find the answer to. Does it use a lot of memory on your computer, laptop or iPad? My laptop is old and I am thinking of getting a new one and will probably use it for most Cricut projects and want to be sure to get one with plenty of memory. Hope you can give me some advise. Thanks!!!

    Reply
  12. Vero

    HI I am trying to cut vinyl oracal 651 on my cricut exolorer but it messes up my vinyl and it doesn’t matter what setting I have it on

    Reply
  13. Seth

    I’m torn between the new Cameo 3 or the Cricut Explore Air… I also am very new to this and have never owned either before. However, I would use it for cutting actual stencils and not as much vinyl or thin materials. Not really sure which to choose and would love to see if anyone could help?

    Reply
  14. Henry Bojorquez

    Hi, I design and make leather guitar straps and canvas bags. You say it cuts leather how thick can it cut? I use 4oz. Vegetable tan leather.
    Henry

    Reply
  15. Mallory

    Hi I was wondering about the variety of fonts offered on the circut software and if you are able to use outside softwares such as Microsoft office to create letters and then cut them out with the circut

    Reply
  16. Christy

    Any suggestions on custom settings for cutting small letters on vinyl?

    Reply
  17. Jaser

    Will the Circuit Explore cut a stencil of a heart with a smaller heart inside of it with bridges holding the smaller heart (island) in place? I don’t know what this is called, sorry. I am thinking about buying a Cricut to make stencils to decorate cookies and cakes, but I need stencils with bridges and islands for it to work for me.

    Reply
  18. Isabelle

    Can this machine be cutted on chiffon fabric?

    Reply

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