The Best Vinyl Cutting Machine On The Market For Every Crafter

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vinyl cutting machines

Finding the best vinyl cutting machine on the market is a difficult task, especially if you're a beginner. How do you know what to look for? How big do you need it to be?

There are a lot of different brands and models out there now, many of them geared toward commercial endeavors, but a growing number of vinyl cutters are meant for home use. If you've walked into a craft store recently, you've undoubtedly seen them.

So how do you choose the best vinyl cutting machine for you? Well, there are a few things you need to know first. Once you've determined these key elements, choosing the best vinyl cutting machine will be much easier.

What Are Vinyl Cutting Machines?

Vinyl cutting machines, as the name suggests, cut vinyl. But what does that mean for you?

You've seen the results of vinyl cutting machines your entire life, even though you might not have known it. Any business that advertises with a sign, most silkscreen shirts, and almost all decals for cars and electronic devices are made using vinyl cutters.

Up until recently, vinyl cutting machines were bulky and really were only convenient for professional companies that had a large space to house them. However, in recent years, vinyl cutting machines have been adapted to suit hobbyists and home crafters. These vinyl cutters are much smaller and are more convenient for residential spaces.

A vinyl cutter is simply a machine that, similar to a printer, receives a signal from a computer to create an image. The only difference is that instead of a pen, a vinyl cutter uses a blade. Many are die cutting machines that can slice through a variety of materials.

The process of using a vinyl cutting machine, however, is a bit more labor-intensive than that of using a printer since you have to remove the unwanted material after cutting.

What To Look For In The Best Vinyl Cutting Machine

So now you know what a vinyl cutter is, how do you find the best vinyl cutting machine for you?

First, you need to know what level of competency you're at. If you've never used one of these machines before, you're going to have different needs than someone who has owned a sign-making business for the last decade. Next, you're going to need to know what size and type of product you want to make.

Beginners

Brother ScanN Cut vinyl cutter

Image: CC BY-SA 4.0, by O gerlach via Wikimedia Commons

Beginning vinyl cutting enthusiasts should first decide how they're going to use the machine. If you're looking for a fun, new craft to enjoy, the best vinyl cutting machine for you is a very simple machine that will cut the materials you want, such as paper and fabric.

No matter what, though, you're going to want to get a machine that comes with its own software. Otherwise, you'll have to learn the more difficult software programs, which might not be the best use of your time and energy if the machine is just meant for fun.

Hobbyists

If you're a crafting hobbyist who wants to make some extra side money selling your wares, then you can opt for a more advanced machine. Likely, the best vinyl cutting machine for you will cut more materials than the very basic machines will.

Professionals

Perhaps you're a professional who has a business that utilizes vinyl cutters. Or maybe you are planning to start such a business. The best vinyl cutting machine for you will be much larger and more powerful than the home-use, desktop versions of the beginner or hobbyist.

Some of these commercial machines don't come with design software. This is because these cutters have been manufactured with professional designers in mind, and usually these designers already have a program with which they are proficient.


How We Reviewed

The best vinyl cutting machine will depend on its usage. We, therefore, found reviews from both hobbyists and professional users of these machines and aggregated them.

Since the type of machine that is best for each type of user will vary, we separated the cutters into those that are best for home use and those that are best for professionals.


The Best Vinyl Cutting Machine for Home Crafting

When deciding on the best vinyl cutting machine for home use, one major consideration is the size. Unless you have a dedicated craft room, you likely don't have a huge amount of empty space to put this machine in. These machines are fairly small, which also will limit their print size.

Another consideration is ease of use. The software and the machine must be easy enough to learn that they become useful for the intended audience. The five machines below have satisfied these requirements and are listed in no particular order.

Cricut Explore Air 2

Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine Bundle Iron On Vinyl Pack Tools Pen...
  • MACHINE BUNDLE: Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine bundle with tool kit and vinyl in assorted colors. Air 2 die-cutting...
  • USER-FRIENDLY: Machine has built-in Bluetooth for wireless cutting, writing, and scoring. Smart Set dial adjusts to...
  • ACCESSORIES: Tool Kit contains Spatula, Weeder, Scraper, Scissors, and Tweezers. 9x12 inch sheets (8) Cricut Vinyl...

Cricut is one of the best-known manufacturers of vinyl cutters designed for home use. There are good reasons for this.

For one thing, the Cricut machines are definitely powerful enough for most projects the average crafter will do at home. It can cut a wide variety of materials, including the most common materials used in crafts at home.

For another, the proprietary software is very straightforward and easy to learn and use. This makes this machine great for a beginning crafter.

However, the very simplicity of the software means that the user will eventually outgrow it. Unfortunately, you might have to pay a subscription for the added features of more developed software.

Additionally, there is no way of using a third party cutting tool. You're limited to the ones that Cricut makes itself.

This means that you can't use a cheaper or better alternative. This probably won't matter much to someone who is only just starting out or someone who plans to use the machine only infrequently.

If, however, you want something with a little more oomph, you can upgrade to Cricut's other model, the Cricut Maker. With it, you'll have more options for blades and pens, as well as a greater variety of materials you can cut.

Pros

  • Easy to learn and use
  • Small enough to fit conveniently in a home
  • Cuts a variety of materials

Cons

  • Limitations of software
  • No third-party blades

Silhouette Cameo 4

Silhouette White Cameo 4 Starter Bundle with 38 Oracal Vinyl Sheets,...
  • Brand New Silhouette Cameo 4 with Bluetooth, Lifetime Support from Swing Design and Manufacture's 1 year Warranty....
  • 38 Sheets of Premium Oracal Vinyl - 12" x 12", 12 Sheets of Oracal Transfer Tape - 12" x 12", 6 Sheets of High...
  • 4 Tool Adapters - Allows for use of Cameo 3, 2, & 1 Tools, Hook Tool, Scraper Tool, Ratchet Adjustment Tool, Dual...

The Silhouette Cameo 4 is the newest version of this line released by Silhouette and is another great option for the weekend hobbyist.

It can cut materials up to 2 millimeters thick, 12 inches wide, and 10 feet long, making this machine incredibly versatile. Like the Cricut machines, it has wireless connectivity, so you can print from your computer, tablet, or even your phone.

This updated model of the Cameo also offers a stronger cutting force than previous models, which makes it easier to cut thicker materials and gives the machine more usability for those who want to start a side business with their crafts. It even has an auto blade, which senses the thickness of the material you're using and adapts its cutting pressure accordingly.

Probably the nicest feature of this machine is actually its community of customers. The crafters who purchase Silhouette machines have developed a very inclusive online community where beginners can go for help.

Unfortunately, the proprietary software it runs on is difficult to learn, which makes it a less useful machine for beginners unless you don't mind spending some time learning it.

Pros

  • More options with software than the Cricut
  • Online community to help

Cons

  • Software has a steep learning curve
  • Does not cut as much variety of materials as the Cricut

Brother ScanNCut line

Brother CM350E ScanNCut2 with ScanNCut Online Activation Card
  • Stand alone use, create right out of the box, gives you the option not to use your PC or mobile device
  • 4. 85 inch Large, Bright, Touch Screen display; Non glare design
  • 300 DPI built in scanner that will let you Turn your scanned images into unique one of a kind cut designs and...

Brother is a brand that has been around for many years but is new to the cutting machine market. It might not be quite as well-known as some other home-use machines. However, it definitely is a machine worth considering.

The really nice thing about Brother's machine is that it is the only cutter that includes a scanner. You can scan an image and turn it easily into a design for the machine to cut.

Additionally, this machine is incredibly popular among quilters because it is so proficient at cutting fabrics. This makes sense, given Brother's history with sewing machines. Brother has capitalized on its brand recognition and created what is probably the best vinyl cutting machine for anyone who sews.

However, the machine is not limited to fabrics. It can cut a variety of materials up to 1.5 millimeters thick, and it has a cutting surface of 12 inches by 24 inches.

The major downfall of this machine is the lack of a second carriage, meaning the machine cannot print and cut at the same time.

Pros

  • Cuts fabric evenly
  • Large cutting surface
  • Scanner

Cons

  • Only has one carriage
  • Cannot cut very thick materials

US Cutter MH Series

MH Series USCutter 34-inch Vinyl Cutter Plotter with Stand and...
  • TRUSTED PERFORMANCE. Number 1 selling vinyl cutter in the country for 10 years. 34 inches feed width. 30 inches cut...
  • START A HOME-BASED BUSINESS. Make graphics for your community, or bring your signage production needs in-house....
  • VERSATILE AND DURABLE. 3 fully adjustable pinch-rollers. Adjustable speed and pressure. Superior ball-bearing dual...

US Cutter has been making vinyl cutting machines forever. They have a ton of experience producing vinyl cutting machines for commercial use. Chances are that if you've been in the business for a while, you've heard of them.

If you're somewhat new to commercial vinyl cutting, then this model is perfect for you. It comes in a variety of sizes, from 14 inches to 53 inches wide. It can also cut up to eight feet long.

As far as a commercial cutter goes, this model is easy to use, which makes it a great option for a dedicated hobbyist or someone just starting an at-home vinyl design business.

The downside to this choice is its lack of memory, which can lead to complications during large or detailed prints. It is also incompatible with Macs.

Pros

  • Powerful machine
  • Multiple sizes and widths
  • Can cut up to eight feet long

Cons

  • Incompatible with Macs
  • Limited backup memory

Graphtec CE-50 Lite

Graphtec CE-50 Lite 20 Inch Desktop Vinyl Cutter with $700 in Software...
  • Graphtec CE 50 Lite Craft Cutter - 20 Inch High Quality Industrial Grade Vinyl Cutting Machine with 3 Licences to...
  • 11.5 Inch x 16.5 Cutting Mat, Vinyl Trimmer, Premium Blade
  • Roll Feeder, User Manual, $100 to So Fontsy Design Store. So Fontsy offers Thousands of COMMERCIAL AND PERSONAL USE...

Graphtec is a sister company of Silhouette, which is one of the best-known makers of home-use vinyl cutting machines. Though the company makes mostly professional level vinyl cutters, it introduced this beginner-friendly model fairly recently.

Since this model employs a servo motor, it runs silently, making it much more convenient and attractive than models that run on stepper motors.

This machine is a heavy-duty model. It has a 20-inch cutting width and can cut up to nine feet of vinyl at a time. It's also compatible with both Mac and PC and offers free software for each.

The only real drawback to this model is that many customers have reported difficulty in learning how to operate the software. Since the same company owns both Graphtec and Silhouette, their respective software systems are programmed on the same platform. However, even prior Silhouette users seem to find the transition difficult.

Once you understand the program, however, this machine can achieve a much higher level of intricacy.

Pros

  • Can cut thicker materials
  • Compatible with both Mac and PC
    Capable of intricate cuts
  • Servo motor makes it run silently and smoothly

Cons

  • The software has a steep learning curve

The Best Vinyl Cutting Machine For Home Business Use

If you're looking to start a decal or t-shirt making business from home, then you probably want a machine with a bit more power than the above models. These machines are more of an investment and take up more space than the smaller, hobby machines. However, they more than make up for it in terms of what you can accomplish.

STM Robotics 48-inch vinyl cutter

Vinyl Cutter 48 in LCD Screen Automatic Contour Cutting for Stickers...
  • STM Robotics Design software Pro Automatic Offset Calibration Automatic adjustment of contours Automatic Contour...

In terms of small business cutting machines, this cutter is a "workhorse" according to its users. An incredibly reliable machine with a cutting width up to 48 inches, the STM Robotics cutter is a great vinyl cutting machine for any newly founded home business.

This cutter utilizes a powerful stepper motor, and it provides up to 500 grams of force, which allows it to cut through a wide variety of materials. And its metal structure provides stability and durability for years to come.

This machine comes with its own proprietary software, but unfortunately, that software requires Windows. So Mac users won't be able to use this machine.

Pros

  • Relatively inexpensive for a professional-grade machine
  • 500 grams of force can cut through many materials
  • Intuitive and user-friendly software

Cons

  • Not compatible with Mac

US Cutter Titan 28 inch Vinyl Cutter

USCutter 28-inch Titan 2 Vinyl Cutter/Plotter with Stand, Basket and...
  • QUIET, FAST, PRECISE SERVO MOTOR. 750g max downforce pressure. 37 in/sec cutting speed.
  • QUALITY ENGINEERING. Aluminum metal frame and internal components. High quality pinch rollers and grit rollers for...
  • PROTECT YOUR CUT JOBS with free included media catch basket. Free included stand.

This line of vinyl cutters by US Cutter is a step up from the MH Series and offers a good mid-range machine for a home business. At 28 inches wide, it still fits conveniently in a home office but offers more options than 12 or 15 inch machines.

The Titan cutter has an impressive downforce of 510 grams for cutting thicker materials and can cut up to 240 inches long.

The machine itself is compatible with both Macs and PCs; however, the software that comes with it is only compatible with PCs. The machine can operate with third-party software, but that might be an extra expense.

Pros

  • A convenient size for a home or workshop
  • Can cut up to 240 inches
    Higher downforce than many other models
  • Compatible with both Mac and PC

Cons

  • Software is only compatible with PC

Vevor 28-inch vinyl cutter

Vevor's 28-inch vinyl cutting machine is another great machine for anyone just starting an at-home cutting business. With an impressive downforce of 750 g, it can handle a variety of materials and sizes.

Its small size, like that of the Titan, allows it to fit comfortably in the home, and it an cut up to 118 inches long, making it ideal for most home-based products.

Unfortunately, this vinyl cutter is not compatible with Mac products, so while this is a great machine for PC-users, it won't work for everyone.

Pros

  • Can cut up to 118 inches
  • Convenient size
  • Impressive downforce

Cons

  • Not compatible with Mac

Graphtec professional line

The Graphtec Plus CE6000-120 48 Inch Professional Vinyl Cutter is justifiably one of the best-known machines in the commercial market. This is one of the higher-end machines. However, the machine is absolutely worth the investment.

The Graphtec vinyl cutter comes in three different sizes, so if you don't have a lot of space, you can opt for the smaller 15-inch version. Each size can cut up to 196 inches in length at any one time and has a downforce of 600 grams.

This machine is also compatible with both PC and Mac machines and comes with software for each. The Graphtec Plus is ideal for anyone who has an in-home sign-making or t-shirt business and plans to make products regularly.

Pros

  • Size options
  • Can cut up to 196 inches
  • Compatible with both Mac and PC
    Offers free software for both Mac and PC
  • High speed of output
  • High downforce makes it able to cut thicker material

Cons

  • More expensive than many other models

GCC 52-inch cutter

GCC Professional Expert II Vinyl Cutter 52 Inch Wide Creative Bundle...
  • The Expert II 52 Inch wide cutter is great for Crafters as well as commercial users.
  • This machine is faster than a Cricut Air or Silhouette Cameo, cutting up to 400 mm a Second with up to 350 grams of...
  • Includes: Expert II 52 Inch Stand, Cutting Blade, Cutting Blade Holder, Vinyl Trimmer, Roll Feeder Attachment for...

The GCC Professional Expert II is another high-end machine for home-business use. Like the Graphtec, it cuts faster than a Silhouette or Cricut, making it particularly useful if you plan to make a lot of products.

This machine is compatible with both PCs and Macs, making it more versatile than some other cutters that are only compatible with one or the other. It's also compatible with Adobe Illustrator, so if you already have an Adobe subscription, you don't need to purchase any new software.

The GCC machine can cut up to three meters in length, which is slightly shorter than the Graphtec; however, the width outshines the Graphtec model.

Pros

  • Compatible with both Mac and PC
  • Compatible with Adobe Illustrator
  • Cuts up to three meters
  • Wide cutting ability
  • Fast output

Cons

  • Does not cut as long as Graphtec
  • 350 grams of downforce is relatively low for a commercial machine

Get Crafty!

Now that you have all the information on the best vinyl cutting machine on the market for you, it's time to make the final decision. The options for cutters are as varied as the companies that manufacture them and the customers who buy them, which can make the process a tad daunting.

However, once you ascertain your priorities in a machine, it becomes a lot easier.

You can't go wrong with any of the above models, but, as with anything, your individual needs and tastes will determine which is the best vinyl cutting machine for you.

Did you find this guide helpful? Let us know your thoughts on these vinyl cutting machines!

Featured Image: Public Domain, by Pete via Flickr.com


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