Cricut Expression 2 Review, Features And Specifications

Cutting machines are some of the most important tools for anyone into crafts can pick up.

Far greater than their names, these machines can cut out specific shapes and from a variety of different materials to best match your unique project. Some of the best cutting machines also come with the ability to connect to your computer—giving you the ability to update firmware and add in custom projects for production.

Cricut’s Expression 2 is one of their older cutting machines in a long line of versatile products. While the company as a whole has seemed to move on to other devices, hobbyists remain fans of the Expression 2 for its workhorse-like power and efficiency. The machine is also highly popular for customization options and a lower cost of operation.

Today, we’ll be looking at what the Cricut Expression 2 can do you for and your projects. We’ll also be comparing the Expression 2 to other products within the Cricut brand, other cutting machines, and seeing if this old-but-powerful cutting machine is right for you.

Features and Specifications

Specification

The Cricut Expression 2, like other cutting machines, utilizes a cutting blade and several preloaded templates that are accessible via the built-in screen. This screen enables the Expression 2 to operate entirely independently—so there’s no need to keep a computer connected to the device to start cutting.

This screen is where you can access a host of features, including access to printable templates, adjustments to blade pressure and height, rotation and alteration of templates, and more. This touchscreen is an upgrade from the predecessor to the Expression 2, the Expression 1—which was more reliant on a physical keyboard and smaller screen.

The Expression 2 utilizes specific cartridges to print, mark, and cut paper. These cartridges will need to be purchased from Cricut itself, but help to unlock the full potential of the device. For many, the cartridge functionality is not a hindrance but rather a selling point for this type of machine—but more on cartridges and functionality a little bit later on.

One of the best features that comes built into the Expression 2, as well as other cutters by Cricut, is the ability to access the Cricut Craft Room design software.

This program enables the end user to skip over having to download designs and create custom designs and patterns to print and cut. All you’ll need to do is create your patterns on the computer, use the USB cable to transfer them to the Expression 2, and print them out.

It’s important to note that—while the Expression 2 is more than capable of printing unique designs—it won’t cut them out itself. Hobbyists will be left to bust out their favorite pair of scissors and finish the job for the machine, which can eat up a considerable amount of time for some.

After purchasing the device, you also have the option of utilizing the included CD-ROM and paying an extra fee to access Design Space—which allows users to access crowd-created and predesigned projects, download one of several thousand images, as well as utilize Make It Now projects, which require little more than a download and pressing “Go.”

This functionality is available to all cutters in the Cricut family, which is one of the many reasons why you’ll find hobbyists loyal to the Cricut brand across several years and products.

Pricing and Warranty Information

Stating a direct price for the Expression 2 is difficult since the company chose to stop producing this product many years back. Anyone with a brand new, in the box Expression 2 usually requests exorbitant premiums for such an offer.

Cricut Expression 2 Electric Cutting Machine Without Starter Tool Kit...
  • 12 in x 24 in cutting capability
  • Compatible with all cricut cartridges – including cricut imagine cartridges. (cricut imagine cartridges will just cut...
  • Larger, faster, full-color lcd touch-screen display with stylus. no keypad overlay required

However, while finding a good deal might be harder without a starting price, this means that the Expression 2 is a prime resale and secondhand product. Online retailers like Amazon often has used Expression 2’s for sale that are several orders cheaper than an in-the-box, new model.

Please note that the Expression 2 requires a few cartridges and blades to get started, so when purchasing this cutter from others, make sure that you’ll have all the necessary starter tools to plug in the machine, load up the paper, and start cutting. Also be sure that necessary hardware like the USB cable comes with your product to prevent an unnecessary headache.

The secondhand market is wide open, so there are many places to find exactly what you’re looking for. Just note that, while the Expression 2 is a workhorse, you won’t be finding one with a warranty anytime soon.

According to the Cricut website, Cricut products are only covered by their 1-year warranty if they are purchased new from an authorized dealer. The ubiquitous nature of the Expression 2 means that there any many sources you can pull out to do your troubleshooting, so while there are a few workarounds, please note that this purchase comes at your own risk.

The Expression 2 is also one of the most powerful and versatile products Cricut has ever put out. So if you’re concerned about a lack of warranty or just want a product that’s still supported by the company, other cutters like the Cricut Explore Air offer similar functionality at the expense of computer independence.

Note that much of the expense of a complex cutter like a Cricut product comes in their cartridge model of sales. If you’re hoping to utilize specific fonts or cut out unique shapes, you’ll often need to pick up a costly cartridge to get the job done or use the Design Space website. 

In either case, it’s another expense for a Cricut product that can surprise many new hobbyists.

Public Perception

Public perception of on the Expression 2 has been mostly positive--with adherents to this product often choosing it over the Mint 2 and similar new developments from Cricut. In fact, the Expression 2’s lasting popularity has made it quite the popular choice on the secondhand market, long after the company stopped producing the product.

Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint
  • [CREATE MORE] The Cricut Explore Air 2 is your personal DIY cutting machine. It will flawlessly cut over 100+ different...
  • [ENDLESS PROJECT POSSIBILITIES] The Cricut Explore Air 2 makes it so easy to create a wide arrange of DIY projects. Make...
  • [INCLUDED WITH MACHINE] Each machine includes a Cricut Premium Fine Point Blade and Housing, a Cricut 12 inch x12 inch...

The independence from computers is also important for many users who either want to use their cutter away from home or take it to a school or work site. This also makes the Expression 2 great for use in the classroom for arts and crafts day.

Hobbyists are quick to note the learning curve on the Expression 2, which comes as no surprise to many. High-end cutters like those Cricut designs aren’t focused on those who need to create a birthday card every few months, but rather hobbyists that will appreciate the cartridge model and ability to cut several types of paper.

Public Perception img

The Explore Air and similar Cricut offerings are recommended for those who may be a bit intimidated by the learning curve and onboard touchscreen functionality. 

Otherwise, the few noted issues with the Expression 2 come either from problems with Cricut’s cartridge model or problems with cutters as a whole. For instance, cutters utilize blades and heavy motors for precision accuracy, and the Expression 2 is no different. We don’t recommend attempting projects when others nearby are resting or when loud noises will be bothersome.

Likewise, the cartridge model of performance is something that draws the ire of many. Cricut’s cutter as a closed-system device, meaning that it won’t be compatible with many other models and makers of cutters. This limitation is intended both to make the transfer of project files from computer to cutter easier, but also eliminate third-party applications and cartridges.

Ultimately, the Expression 2 comes highly recommended by Cricut enthusiasts and the serious hobbyist.

For reference, consider the following pros and cons of using an Expression 2 as opposed to other cutters or Cricut projects:

Pros & Cons

pro cons img

The Expression 2’s biggest draw is the ability to use the product without the need to pull out the USB cable and set up a computer. This feature is not available on many of the budget cutters from Cricut or other manufacturers and makes portability far easier.

Access to Design Space is not free or included with the purchase of an Expression 2, but its versatility with new projects and crowd-created designs makes it a considerable upgrade you may want to consider purchasing. This is also one of the few ways you can create some basic shapes to be printed out onto the cutting surface and manually sliced out.

Finally, the Cricut isn’t afraid to take on larger projects and handle up to 12x24 pieces of paper. It can also cut through card-stock, vinyl, felts, fabrics, and foams. These features combined make the Expression 2 one of the most powerful Cricut cutters and hobbyist devices ever put to market.

Ironically, access to Design Space is both a positive and a negative feature. Without spending the extra fees to gain access to Design Space, there is no realistic way for hobbyists to print out custom shapes. In fact, the Cricut Expression 2 will flat-out refuse to cut any shape that wasn’t downloaded or provided by Cricut. Custom shapes will need to be cut out regardless.

The Expression 2 is also a discontinued product, which holds it back from being a top recommendation when cutters often need troubleshooting and maintenance. The secondhand market is great with pricing, but less so with repairs.

Finally, running fees can affect just how affordable a used Expression 2 truly is. Cartridges will need to be utilized for cutting, and Design Space for crowd-created designs. The prices on both vary, but over the course of a year, you can easily match the cost of the device with cartages and Design Space alone.

Cricut Expression 1 Electronic Cutting Machine with no cartridges...
  • Works with Cricut Craft Room, no Cricut Cartridges included
  • Six modes and four functions offer greater customization of cuts
  • 12" x 12" Cutting mat included

Pros

  • Versatility with materials
  • Computer-independent
  • Access to Design Space

Cons

  • Discontinued
  • Limited customization
  • Running operation costs (Design Space and Cartridges)

Is the Cricut Expression 2 Right for Me?  

We’ve gone over many great and not-so-great features and design choices on the Expression 2, but would we recommend this product wholesale?

The answer is a bit complex.

Generally, cutters are only helpful for those who need to print and cut a number of designs throughout the year. Cost and maintenance mean that you’ll probably need to use the product more than seasonally if you’re hoping to get considerable value for your investment.

Likewise, remember that the Expression 2 was and remains one of the top models of cutters—using a touchscreen to access everything from loaded designs to printing functionality. You can set a project’s shape, size, orientation, and all sorts of minor details that serious hobbyists can thrive on.

That sort of functionality comes with a considerable learning curve, which is another thing to consider. This learning curve will also come without much manufacturer help as well; as the product is discontinued.

Cricut Expression 2 right not

Generally, we recommend the Cricut Expression 2 for people who may already be familiar with either cutting machines or the Cricut brand. The Expression 2’s considerable value in the secondhand market makes it one of the most effective cutting workhorses you can pick up for your dollar.

Beginner hobbyists might be better served by the Explore Air and power users by the Cricut Maker, but the Expression 2 was and remains one of the best machines for paper, card-stock, and vinyl.

As always, be sure to vet out your distributor and make sure that you’re getting everything you need in the box to get started on your next project. Hook up your machine to power, connect your favorite cartridge, and get started on your next project.

Provided you work within its functionality, there’s no reason why the Cricut Expression 2 would ever cause a problem for you next and greatest creations. 

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