Best Cricut Alternatives – 5 Worthy Picks For Everyday Cutting

If you do any research on the subject of crafting & cutting machines, you’ll probably just end up typing the word Cricut into your browser and checking to see what’s in your price range. And there’s nothing wrong with that – as a matter of fact, they pretty much make some of the best machines on the market.

But they’re not THE best – that’s a matter of preference after all. So to ease the pain of you digging through articles and forums, we made a little list of the best Cricut alternatives that you can find. Brands will obviously be mentioned, but we’ll try to go ahead and give you specific models as well!

See more: Best Cricut Machines You Can Buy!

What Are Die Cut Machines?

Die cut machines are very clever devices that use coding to cut materials such as leather, vinyl, wood, fabrics, etc. into specific detailed shapes using very sharp small blades. In essence they create small (depending on the machine) shapes out of these materials, that can then be used in a few different ways.

Digital die cutting machines can also draw or emboss onto fabric, which is why they’re very popular in smaller printer sized shapes for people who like to do some DIY projects in the comfort of their own home. 

Speaking of size, there are a couple of variations in that category. Well, two really – you have your industrial die cutting machines and the smaller ones that we already mentioned. But no matter what kind you choose, it will probably have the ability to mass produce whatever you might need it to produce, at least in one way or the other.

As mentioned, their main function is to create shapes out of certain types of materials, and they can do that over and over again with complete accuracy as they don’t rely on you actually cutting them. All they rely on is the code that you instruct them with – that’s the beauty of the digital part! 

What To Look For In A Die Cutting Machine

Now that we have the basic explanations out of the way and we all understand what the cutting machine actually is – what exactly should you look for in one? There are a lot of brands and models out there, but a couple of factors make the difference when looking for a new machine. 

Even though you will probably develop some preferences along the way, in our experience there are 3 main factors you should take a look at that will make your life a whole lot easier – size, versatility, and connectivity. 

Let us explain:

  1. Size

This one might seem obvious, but it is not just the size of the actual machine that we’re looking at – it’s how much material can it cut at once. Sure, the size of the actual machine will obviously be a good sign of how much work it can do, but there are older models that are pretty big in measures but actually can’t handle a lot of material at once.

  1. Versatility

The next important factor is to check how many types of materials the machine is actually able to cut. Industrial machines, for instance, usually have the ability to cut up a myriad of materials, which is understandable. But with the advancements in technology in the last couple of decades, you’d be surprised at how much a little home die cut machine can do!

  1. Connectivity

While your die cut machine doesn’t have to be smart and have the ability to connect to, let’s say, your phone – it sure is a handy addition. See, with older machines you had to have a screen on board and a cable connection to your computer. Sometimes they even came with some not-so-good operating system of their own that you would be stuck with.

Well, a good bluetooth connection takes care of all that! Why should you have cables all around your room or office when you can just connect your smartphone to the device and start cutting. These days you probably have a better screen on your phone than the machine has on it, so why not take advantage of it? 

What Do People Like Cricut So Much?

So what is it about the Cricut brand that appeals to so many people? After all, you really can’t go a minute without mentioning their name when talking about die cutting. It’s almost a synonym for the process at this point! Are they really THAT good, or is it just a popularity thing?

Well, to be perfectly honest, it’s just a pretty darn good brand! Not to say that other manufacturers don’t make and sell good products, far from it actually. But the Cricut brand just kept up with trends, implemented the right technologies at the right times, and they work hard to give you good value for the money.

All of these things, when put together, add up to an excellent reputation – which is why you keep hearing about them over and over again. And let’s get something straight – to the brands, a good reputation is almost as important as the other factors discussed earlier. 

But, a good word around town isn’t the most important thing to you, the consumer! While we do love the brand, there are other ones that should be mentioned in the conversation. The Silhouette brand, along with the brand Brother, might be among the ones that pop in your mind, and for good reason. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

For now, we’ve covered the most important things that you might need to know before buying yourself a die cutting machine; now, let’s see how to find lines that don’t have the Cricut written on them! 

Now, they don’t just make one single model in the Cricut factories – they have a myriad of machines over there! So we’re not going to focus on alternatives for one single die cut machine model but rather on the brands that exist other than Cricut and the models that you might want to look at from them!

We’re about to dive into the deep end and explain a few things. To start things off, we have the brand Brother International, and its model is the ScanNCut SDX85S (not the catchiest name in the world but the machine more than makes up for it).

Brother International

Brother International is a brand that’s been around for about a century now. They are most famous for sewing and crafting machines, and we want to focus on the latter part of their business. But let’s face it, making high-quality sewing machines for all those years doesn’t hurt – it brings a good amount of confidence to the table!

Brother ScanNCut SDX85S

Photo Courtesy: Kristi

The SDX85S is actually a part of their ScanNCut series. It’s the less expensive version of some of the other models, though it still brings a lot of features, the most important of which is the built-in scanner, which isn’t something that you’ll find on every single die cut machine out there. 

Specs And Features

The SDX85S packs quite a punch with it, and the company aimed to make a product that will cover all your die cutting needs without the need to go out and buy additional devices. And while that’s not always a great thing (that can often turn into a “jack of all trades master of none” type of situation), the SDX85S does a good enough job in a lot of fields while it does a great one with the main things you need it to do.

It comes with a 3.47 inch LCD touchscreen display, an auto blade, and last but not least its main feature – the built-in scanner. Essentially, with this scanner you’re meant to scan your drawings so that the machine can turn them into cut files, which can then be directly printed as stickers. The advantage of this is for one the convenience, but you can also precisely place your designs without the need to count the blocks.

The auto blade is there to continue the convenience trend, as it relieves you from the duties of selecting and telling the machine which material it’s working with. The automatic material sensor technology can figure out the type of material, and its thickness. Speaking of thickness, it can cut materials that are up to 3mm thick, which means that it can work with vinyl, most fabrics, balsa wood, chipboard, foam, felt, etc. 

Short Review

So the SDX85S seems like the almost perfect (or even perfect), machine for a home crafting studio. It’s convenient, it’s small and lightweight (in comparison to all of the features it offers), and it’s extremely well built, like most Brother products. So does it fulfill all of the promises? 

Well, it kind of does! Once you connect the device to your WiFi, you’ll be able to control it from your computer, tablet, phone, or any other smart electronic device with a WiFi connection. If you choose to not do so, you’ll still have its system to use, along with its 3.5 inch touch screen and built-in scanner.

There is some getting used to using the machine on its own, and the system can be a bit awkward to use when you first start it up, but that’s all just a matter of habit.  Personally, we would tell you to keep a computer or smartphone in the same room, as that’s the best way to take advantage of all of that promised convenience.

For the price, it’s one amazing product, no doubt about it!

Brother ScanNCut SDX125E

Photo Courtesy: KedaCrafts

The ScanNCut series is pretty much the attempt of the brand to offer a model for multiple sizes and uses. The SDX85S might not be the smallest machine in the world, but it is pretty darn compact considering everything that it offers.

So what does this model offer? Well, pretty much all of the things you expect, but in a bigger format. Which means that you can cut bigger designs, you can cut them more times, etc. You get the picture! 

Specs And Features

The SDX125E is the next step in the process, as it offers everything that the smaller model does and then some! You get the LCD touchscreen just like in the smaller model, but this time it’s 5 inches in diagonal. The auto blade is still there, and it does as good of a job as on the smaller SDX85S. 

What they both have in common, and what gives this series an advantage over other brands, is the built-in scanner. Which means that you can just can in any of your designs, whether they’re made in a professional design program or you drew them up by hand on a piece of paper.

The focus is still on convenience, as the combination of the scanner, touchscreen, auto blade, Bluetooth/WiFi connection, and frIendly UI, gives you a machine that really wants you to not have to use anything else but it. So does it work? Let’s find out:

Short Review

So is the SDX125S just a bigger version of the SDX85S? Well, yes, but that’s far from a bad thing to be in this case. Because all the things that we said about the smaller model, apply to this one. The scanner is still a great addition that not a lot of die cut machines can brag with, especially at the price point. 

Both machines share the same UI, which is a good and a bad thing at the same time. While the touchscreen and the touch sensitive pen that comes with it seem like a match made in heaven, the reality is that you won’t exactly be drawing up your design on the 5 inch LCD any time soon. 

Still, it’s a worthy opponent to a lot of its rivals, and it’s not just the machine that is well made in the box. You get the pen that we mentioned (along with a pen holder), a spatula, and accessory pouch, a pattern collection with about 76 additional patterns, and an overall guide to get you started. 

So at the end of the day the only thing really wrong with the machine is that it tries to do too much, just like its smaller brother does. But, just like in that case, it still manages to be an impressive piece of crafting equipment that you should aposutelly consider for your crafting studio!

Silhouette

Next up we have what I consider to be my personal favorite Cricut alternative – the Silhouette brand! Obviously we do recommend the other machines on the list – but just like everybody else, we can have a favorite! 

Silhouette machines haven’t been around as long as the Brothers, but they sure created a cult following in the amount of time they’ve been here. And they did so with pretty much the same technique that Cricuts did, and that’s good quality control and great craftsmanship. 

What also helps is that Silhouette hasn’t been afraid to keep up with the times and implemented plenty of newer technologies to their systems.

Silhouette Portrait 3

Photo Courtesy: Chrisleg

If you get an older model, you’ll lack some of the current features, but even the models they had over a decade ago were well made and worked flawlessly. Still, we don’t want just to say go out and buy whatever they’re selling! 

We’re going to focus on the Portrait Series for the moment. To be more precise, we’re starting with a compact little machine – the Portrait 3.

Specs And Features

While the Brother SDX85S mentioned earlier had all the bells and whistles that could fit into its frame, the Silhouette Portrait 3 takes a different, more minimalistic route. Well, maybe not minimalist, since that would be a hand-cranked machine. To put it simply, this is a small machine, 18x8x9 inches to be exact. 

Because the machine itself is small, you can only cut smaller pieces in it. And as long as you know what you’re getting into, you’ll be fine since the Portrait series doesn’t slack behind other brands or other models from Silhouette – far from it, actually.

Portrait 3 comes with an auto blade, which uses the same technology we just mentioned a moment ago to scan and figure out what kind of materials you’re feeding it. The convenience parts don’t end there, though; Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities mean that you can pretty much sit on a chair in your room, and it will work as long as you have a smartphone to connect to it.

The connectivity is also aided by Silhouette’s apps, which are compatible with Macs and PCs. It can also cut up a decent amount of materials: cardstock, heat transfer materials, paper, vellum, adhesive vinyl, magnet paper, etc. 

Short Review

So what do all of these features add up to? Is the final result a good machine, and more importantly, is it worth your money? We think it absolutely is, as long as you know what you’re getting. What we mean by that is that you really need to be sure what size materials you’re going to be cutting. 

The machine is 8 inches wide after all, meaning that you need to expect to cut under that width. The Portrait 3 operates pretty much as well as any other Silhouette product. The devices are consistently well made, and there are plenty of material options that you can work with. You’d think that there would be some trouble with more rigid materials, well, you’d think that when you see the device online or when you spot the measurements.

But that’s pretty darn far from the truth. This little machine is solidly made, studied and can cut any of the preferred materials with ease. If you add that to the equation that already states that the Portrait 3 is small and portable, you just might end up with the perfect little worker for your crafting needs!

Silhouette Cameo 4

Photo Courtesy: Sticka Emporium

We started off with the portrait series, but those devices might be a bit small for some. If you’re looking for something a bit more heavy duty, but you still want to keep it in your home office – then the Cameo series is just what you’re looking for. 

While we’re going to be focusing on the Cameo 4 model in particular we’d advise all of our readers to check out the complete Cameo series. Every iteration has something to offer, and there are differences between the generation of the machines, mainly in the user interface, the speed at which the machines can cut larger volumes of materials, and of course connectivity and other technologies that advance as the years go by and newer generations get released by the company. 

Specs And Features 

Silhouette Cameo 4 is a pretty large machine when compared to even the biggest Portrait models released by the brand. They claim that it is able to cut from 12 inches up to 60 feet long rolls of media (which is a big promise).

But it’s not just about how much the machine can cut, Silhouette also gives you a pretty impressive starter kit with the device. Depending on where you buy it and what’s offered in the package, you can get the following:

  • 38 sheets of Oracal 651 premium vinyl;
  • Twelve 12 x 12 inch sheets of premium transfer vinyl for fabrics;
  • Assorted pack of 24 sketch pens;
  • 12 x 12 inch cutting mat;
  • 4 Tool adapters that allow users to take advantage of the tools sold with previous models (Cameo 1, 2, and 3);
  • Guides for the machine, with the addition for some vinyl cutting, heat transfer guides;

You can obviously try to spare your wallet and save a few bucks by buying the smaller package containing just the machine and everything that you need to work with it, but the fact that you can get all of these things in the box is a great advantage, especially for beginners. 

Other than the big package, the Came 4 offers Bluetooth connectivity, a built-in roll feeder, LED  touch panel, and the ability to apply 5 kg of down-force, which means that you’ll be able to work with some thicker materials, especially when compared to other devices in the price range.

Short Review

The Cameo 4 is a pretty great machine all around. It offers a lot of additional equipment and Silhouette really tries to give you a hdn if you one to set up a die cutting station all at once without any experience beforehand.

That’s a tall order if we ever saw one, but admittedly they do kind of pull it off. There are drawbacks to this approach, one of them is actually the fact that having all of these things without actually knowing what to do with them may seem a bit jarring at first. They try to help us all out by giving us a couple of guides (which do help, don’t get us wrong), but the system all takes getting used to, and if you have experience with other brands and their UIs, this can all be a bit annoying to transition to.

Our last point isn’t silhouettes fault, far from it – they really try to ease the customer into their ecosystem, so that is admirable to say the least. All in all,it’s a great all-around machine that can be a perfect start for beginners looking to set up their first crafting studio, while being a great upgrade for experienced workers looking to upgrade their older machines.

Crafters Companion

Last but not least (by any means), we have Crafters Companion. This brand is the youngest of the bunch, especially when compared to the almost century long existence of the Brother International brand. But, just like Brother has the experience they gathered throughout all those years, Crafters Companion has the advantage of being focused on nothing but crafting!

They offer pretty much all one might need to open up a home, or even professional, studio. We’ll obviously be focusing on die cutting machines, just like with the other brands. So let’s start with the first model, the Crafters Companion Gemini!

Crafters Companion Gemini

Photo Courtesy: Delmarsoy

There are a couple of models that you can focus on when it comes to die cutting machines made by Crafters Companion brand, but somewhere in the middle of that pack is the Gemini – a die cutting and embossing machine that offers a lot of punching power for its asking price. 

It’s a 6×9½ inch platform that offers edge to edge cutting with pause, resume, and reverse functions. But what else can it do when compared to the competition, well, let’s find out!

Specs And Features

Now, this section is a bit of a tricky one to present when it comes to the Gemini model. See, while the spec sheet on something like a Silhouette or a Brother machine runs long and impressive, the Gemini seems like a simple machine with a minimalist design that will just try its best to get the job done.

In the box you get the Gemini, a clear cutting platform, a metal cutting platform, a magnetic and plastic shims, a rubber embossing mat, a user guide, and of course – the power cable. But there are  a couple of additions.

The machine is designed to be compact and quiet, so it’s pretty great for a home studio, plus it’s usually the first choice from those who are used to hand cranking manual machines, and now want to give the electronic ones a shot. But, just like before, don’t let that fool you. The Gemini is a machine that will give you some great results. 

Short Review

So, yes the Gemini is a machine that some buy to take a step up from manual models. And at first glance its minimalist approach may make you keep searching on the market for some other heavy duty machines. But, this is far from a minimalist machine – it’s actually incredibly impressive, especially when it comes to intricate dies that will give other machines a run for their money.

It has the ability to cut pretty much all of the materials that other competitors can cut. You can work with your standards like heavyweight cardstock, vinyl, foil and multiple layers of fabric (well, the last depends on the dies you use).

It has the ability to cut at constant high pressure, and it’s made to use this ability to give you more options with complicated designs. All in all, it’s an incredible little machine that works wonders with the most intricate designs you throw at it. 

Crafters Companion Gemini Pro

Much like the case was with the Brother ScanNCut models, the Gemini comes with a smaller (and less expensive) Gemini, and then the Gemini Pro – a bigger brother to this already great die cutting machine. 

But just like with any model series out there, there’s always the question that we have to ask, is the upgrade worth the money? Well, straight off the bat we have a couple of answers to start you off with!

First of all, if you like the Gemini machine but need to cut bigger designs, the question is a no-brainer. This machine really is just a bigger version with a few additional features that really can’t hurt if you ask us! 

Specs And Features 

So what are the differences between the Gemini and the Gemini Pro. Well, size is the obvious one, but let’s first take a look at what you have in the box with the Pro.

Other than the similarly designed machine, you get two clear cutting plates (both 12×12 inches), a rubber embossing mat (12×12 inches), a magnetic/plastic/metal shim (all of them 12×12 inches), a comprehensive guide, and as always, a power cord. 

Now, those 12×12 inch mats may have given you a clue or two about the size of the machine. And, as you probably guessed, with a 12×12 inch platform you are able to cut and emboss some pretty large designs. It has the option of edge to edge cutting, with the ability to cut materials that are sized up to 12218 inches. The materials in question are leather, chipboard, adhesive foam, and multiple layers of fabric. 

The machine is still pretty compact, even though it’s the bigger, more serious option when compared to the Gemini, so you’re looking at a relatively practical piece of equipment!

Short Review

So to get back to the question in hand – should you spend more money and get the Gemini Pro? Well, that depends – what kind of projects are you planning on doing? If the mats just don’t cut it for you on the smaller model (pun intended), then the Gemini Pro should be the perfect fit!

The machine doesn’t just have bigger dimensions, which is an important factor to point out – because it’s bigger, you can obviously throw some tougher materials at it and it keeps up with the impressive pace.

Let’s not forget that the Gemini is pretty much the leader of cutting intricate designs, which means (and we can confirm) that the Pro version is just as good at it if not even beter. So it’s a well designed and solidly built machine that runs quietly and does intricate big edge to edge designs from pretty much all of the materials that a classic crafting studio would like to cut.

Neither of them offer the scanner or screen that the models from Brother offer, but to be honest, some people buy them because of this. The simple approach still gives you amazing results, and it can even simplify your work process, especially if you’re coming in with the experience of manual die cut machines! 

Conclusion

So to tie things up at the end, Cricut machines might be the most popular choice for a lot of people – but there still are worthy opponents on the market, and you don’t have to just look at them!

And let’s just get something straight, we just mentioned a couple of models from each brand, but all 3 of these companies make fine machines that will give you the same level of die cutting that Cricut machines would. If you want to go with the popular choice, you really won’t miss the target by a whole lot. You won’t miss it at all, as a matter of fact. 

Cricut Machines are some of the best in the industry after all! But, they’re not the only ones selling cutting machines, and you need to always do the proper research before investing your money! We tried to give you some choices to make the search a bit easier, that’s all. 

So hopefully you’ll pick the right machine, but at the end of the day, it’s how you use it that matters!