Whether you’re a hobbyist doing some DIY homecraft or a professional looking to set up a production line, finding the best vinyl cutter for you is vital for bringing your projects to life. There are many different cutting machines available, so you need to compare at least a few options to find the right one for you.
There’s a number of things you should consider when doing this – compatible materials, cutting speed, cutting depth, advanced features, usability, software and so on. Of course, you also need to find a vinyl cutting machine that’s within your budget, as they can vary a lot in terms of price.
Luckily, we’re here to help. We’ve reviewed a variety of machines to bring you the very best vinyl cutters for 2021. We’ve selected the best cutters for different applications and price ranges, so you should be able to easily pick out one that suits you.
|Name||Price||Best place to buy|
|Cricut Joy||$149||Amazon here|
|Vevor Vinyl Cutter||$330||Amazon here|
|Cricut Explore Air 2||$199||Amazon here|
|Silhouette Cameo 4||$299||Amazon here|
|CO-Z 34″ Vinyl Cutter||$420||Amazon here|
|Cricut Maker Machine||$349||Amazon here|
|PixMax Vinyl Cutter Plotter||$555|
Before we answer the question of what is the best vinyl cutting machine, however, let’s have a recap on what exactly they are, how vinyl cutters work and what they’re used for.
What is a Vinyl Cutter?
Vinyl cutters are computer-controlled machines used to cut sheets of vinyl. If you’re not familiar, vinyl is short for Polyvinyl Chloride, a self-adhesive plastic that’s the third-most widely produced plastic polymer.
There are two forms of vinyl – rigid and flexible. Vinyl cutting machines are used to cut the flexible variety, which has a wide variety of uses among hobbyists and small businesses. These include making things like signs, decals, banners, advertisements, fabric design and home decor. Rigid vinyl is commonly used in piping and the making of doors and windows.
Most vinyl cutters look similar to printers and are roughly the same size. Some come with stands that you can use to cut at different heights.
Vinyl cutting machines are controlled by computer software, of which there are many to choose from, depending on your machine’s compatibility. Designs are made using the software, which then sends instructions to the cutter so that it cuts in the required shape.
The cutting knife moves side to side and turns according to the software instructions, as the vinyl is moved beneath it. The material is then ‘weeded’, which is where excess parts of vinyl are removed.
These days, many of the best vinyl cutters are also capable of cutting a range of other materials, both soft and hard.
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Cricut Joy – Best Vinyl Cutter Under $300
- Price: $149 — Available on Amazon here
It’s pretty hard to come across a “cheap” vinyl cutter, but the Cricut Joy is a great little machine that’s one of the most affordable on the market.
Weighing just 1.75 kg, this is an easily portable machine that is a great way for beginners to get started with vinyl cutting. It’s capable of cutting over 50 materials, so as well as vinyl you can cut iron-on, cardstock, paper and more.
This is a very easy vinyl cutting machine to use, allowing you to cut super-long cuts without needing a cutting mat. You can cut individual shapes up to 4 ft long, or make repeated cuts up to 20 ft long.
With the Cricut companion app, you can choose from a wide range of projects that take less than 15 minutes to complete, such as decals for bottles and mugs.
This vinyl cutter is really popular on Amazon, with a 4.7 rating out of 5 from over 1,000 reviews. Users have praised its ease of the use, the range of designs on the companion app, and the compact design.
Vevor Vinyl Cutter – Best Vinyl Cutter for T-Shirts
- Price: $330 — Available on Amazon here
The Vevor Vinyl Cutter is an impressive machine that offers high accuracy as well as great customizability.
It features an illuminated LCD screen and a large control panel, which allows you to easily adjust the cutting force and speed. This makes for more precise, controlled cutting for a wide variety of projects. The force can be adjusted from 10g to 500g, and the speed can be adjusted from 10mm/s to 800m/s.
This machine also has a precise blade with a diameter of 2mm. The blade is Roland-compatible and is structured with a closed blades holder to reduce slippage. It has a D-type motherboard and 128K to 2M high speed memory.
The cutter is available with COMPIM and USB interfaces for even more precise control. It’s equipped with a standard USB 2.0 interface, and you can flexibly switch between USB and virtual serial ports.
This vinyl cutting machine also boasts strong stability, with three double-spring pinch wheels, an aluminum knurling stick, and high precision pressing wheels that ensure that paper feed doesn’t deviate by a long distance. It comes with a sturdy, heavy-duty floor stand so you can cut as suits you.
The Vevor Vinyl Cutter is suitable for a wide range of applications. For example, its high precision, easy control functions and great stability make it ideal for making designs for t-shirts and other clothing items. It’s also great for sign making, handcrafts and advertisements.
Cricut Explore Air 2 – Best Vinyl Machine for Hobbyists
- Price: $199 — Available on Amazon here
The Cricut Explore Air 2 first hit the market in 2015 and has since become a hugely popular vinyl cutter.
Part of its popularity is its versatility, with the machine being able to cut over 100 different types of materials. As well as premium, htv and iron-on vinyl, you can also cut cardstock, faux leather, adhesive foils, specialist paper, poster board and much more.
One of the highlights of this vinyl machine is the Fast Mode which offers up to 2x increased cutting speed. There’s also the Precision Mode, which cuts slower but offers incredible accuracy.
It even allows you to use Circuit Pens for handwritten projects. On top of that, there are over 370 fonts to choose from, and you can create your own custom font for free.
The Explore Air 2’s versatility and precision makes it ideal for a wide variety of projects. From custom stickers and decorations to home-made gifts and custom apparel, the possibilities are endless. The vinyl cutter is suitable for both hobbyists and professional vinyl cutters.
Another bonus of purchasing this vinyl cutting machine is that there is a very active community surrounding it. This means you can engage with other crafters to share tips, seek inspiration and more.
Like other Cricut vinyl cutters, the Explore Air 2 uses the intuitive and user-friendly Design Space software. This is web-based software and comes with cloud-based storage, so you’ll need a strong internet connection for optimum use.
The only downside we found to this vinyl machine is that it isn’t great for cutting sandblast resist.
Silhouette Cameo 4 – Best Vinyl Cutter for Small Business
- Price: $299 — Available on Amazon here
Silhouette’s Cameo 4 is a really impressive machine that’s undoubtedly one of the finest vinyl cutters on the market.
This is a 12-inch wide desktop vinyl cutter that allows you to cut vinyl as well as cardstock, fabric and other materials. It features four different cutting blades.
The Rotary Blade provides an alternative cutting method by having the blade roll across your material without stabiliser backing. The Kraft Blade is designed to cut specialty craft materials like burlap and leather with a 3mm depth.
There’s also the AutoBlade, which can cut without having to be manually adjusted, and finally the Punch Tool, which can create weeding points for your vinyl and heat transfer projects.
Another highly of the Cameo 4 is the built in roll feeder, offering a convenient way to hold rolled material as it’s fed into the machine. The roll feeder has a maximum roll diameter of 4.5 inches and a max material core size of three inches.
In addition, the machine also has a built-in cross cutter. This is a rotary style cutter that’s extremely durable and precise.
Like other Silhouette machines, the Cameo 4 also boasts the company’s powerful Silhouette Studio software. This is an incredibly robust software which is packed with advanced features yet is still very intuitive and easy to use.
There’s also the impressive Tool Type Detection technology that recognizes the tool you’re using and causes the software to automatically adjust cut settings.
We’ve selected the Cameo 4 as the best vinyl cutter for small businesses as we think it’s the perfect match between quality and value for money. It’s ideal for setting up a production line thanks to its versatility, precision, advanced features and powerful companion software.
CO-Z 34 Inch Vinyl Cutter – Best 34″ Vinyl Cutting Machine
- Price: $420 — Available on Amazon here
CO-Z is another well known maker of vinyl cutters and this is one of their best machines.
This is a premium cutting and plotting machine that allows you to bring your designs to life on vinyl and other materials. It offers standard, Roland and 2mm blades that are capable of cutting up to 78cm across on materials, with a maximum feed width of 87cm.
The CO-Z 34 Inch Vinyl Cutter is a user-friendly machine, largely thanks to the LCD display and control panel. The control panel has built-in guides to help you understand how to use the cutter, while the dual CPU control works with both DMPL and HP-GL programs.
This cutter also features a high-performance stepper motor that operates two adjustable double-spring rollers with speed and accuracy. It processes vinyl and other materials at 31.5 inches per second, which is seriously impressive.
Thanks to the aluminum casing, this is also a very strong, reliable and corrosion-resistant vinyl cutting machine.
Finally, the CO-Z 34 Inch Vinyl Cutter comes with the SignMaster vinyl software included. This is a great software that offers +/-0.01mm accuracy and is compatible with most versions of Windows. You can connect your computer to the vinyl cutting machine via a USB or 9-pin serial cable.
Cricut Maker Machine – Overall Best Vinyl Cutting Machine
- Price: $329 — Available on Amazon here
Cricut is one of the leading brands when it comes to Vinyl cutters, and their latest machine, the Maker, is another brilliant cutter.
This is a professional grade machine that can cut over 300 materials – three times as many as the Explore Air 2.
It therefore offers an unrivalled level of versatility, able to cut delicate fabric and paper as well as tough materials like leather and matboard.
The Rotary Blade is one of the best on the market and is capable of cutting virtually any fabric without backing material and while maintaining precision. The knife cutting blade works like an X-ACTO knife to cut hard materials such as balsa wood.
Among the highlights of this machine is its two-tool capacity, enabling you to switch between tools without stopping for improved efficiency. For example, you can quickly switch between scoring, engraving and embossing without pausing, providing an overall smoother experience.
In addition to the cutter itself, the Cricut Maker kit comes with a premium fine point blade with housing, a fine point pen, and two 12” x 12” cutting mats.
As with the Explore Air 2, the Cricut Maker uses the Design Space software. This comes with a huge library of design ideas and sewing patterns that you can use for inspiration. These include 50 free ready-to-make projects, so this vinyl cutter is very beginner-friendly while also being ideal for professionals.
PixMax Vinyl Cutter Plotter – Best Commercial Vinyl Cutter
- Price: $555
This may be one of the pricier vinyl cutters on the market, but it’s a very high quality machine that certainly justifies the price.
With a cutting speed of up to 800mm/s and a maximum force of 500g, the PixMax Vinyl Cutter Plotter packs plenty of power. This means you can cut a wide range of materials with varying thickness quickly and easily.
The standout feature is undoubtedly the optical eye for laser guided cutting, ensuring exceptional precision.
There are three high quality Roland blades that smoothly guide the material through the cutter head, providing excellent control. There’s also an integrated rule guide for accurate measurements.
You can adjust the depth of the cutting blades and you can even cut designs smaller than 10mm. On the other hand, the cutter has a large 28 inch surface, so you can cut material that’s larger than A1 size.
This is also a very reliable and durable machine, thanks to the lightweight aluminum frame. The frame is mounted on caster wheels and comes with a protective cover.
In addition to the cutter itself, the kit comes with two rolls of vinyl, a weeding knife, application tape and a squeegee, so you have everything you need to get started straight away. This machine is ideal for making wall decorations, car decals, van signs and more.
In terms of software, this vinyl cutting machine comes with a 12 month trial of SignCut Pro, a web-based software for Windows. It’s compatible with several other software, including FlexiStarter, Corel Draw and AutoCAD.
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