If you're a crafter, then it's quite likely that you spend a lot of time cutting intricate designs out of materials like paper, cloth or poster board. While it certainly adds to the artistic merit of the project if you do everything by hand, the fact is that not everyone has the necessary manual dexterity – or simply the talent. Well, before too long, such people will be able to make use of the Cricut Explore electronic cutting machine.
Like other similar devices, this one pulls through a user-supplied flat sheet of material – much like a printer does – and cuts designs out of it. Along with its carbide-bladed cutting head, however, the Explore also has a marker head. Users can place a pen or marker of their choice in that head, then instruct it to draw or write on the material at the same time that it's being cut. That head can also be set up with a different tool, to score the material.
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Another thing that reportedly makes the Explore special is the fact that users don't have to guess or experiment in order to set the cutting depth for different materials. Instead, the machine has a depth-adjustment dial that can simply be switched between different presets, calibrated for materials such as paper, vinyl, iron-on, cardstock, or fabric. For materials not listed on the dial, users can still set the depth manually.
Designs can be created from scratch by the user on their PC or Mac and transferred to the Explore electronically, although there's also an online image library that contains over 50,000 images. Each one costs 99 cents, although hardcore crafters can save money by purchasing a monthly or yearly subscription. Additionally, images and/or fonts can be downloaded from the internet for use in the device.
The Cricut Explore should be available on Amazon and in stores as of March 15th, priced at US$299. It can be seen in use in the video below.