The Cricut Explore Air 2 is the most popular machine in the Cricut brand of cutting machines, according to their website. It’s a popular choice for crafters, with the capability to create unique greeting cards, party decorations, custom t-shirts, home decor, and so much more. This machine can cut over 100 different materials, such as cardstock, adhesive vinyl, iron-on, glitter paper, window cling material, faux leather, and others. It can even cut some fabrics; perfect for anyone who enjoys sewing and quilting.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is impressive right out of the box. It comes in a variety of attractive colors, in case you want the machine to complement your craft room decor. It’s a fairly large machine, measuring 24″ wide by 9.5″ tall, with a depth of 9.5″. It weighs approximately 12 pounds. Because this is a large, somewhat heavy machine, you’ll want to set it up on a strong stable surface.
Short Verdict of this machine…
Get it instead of the Cricut 3. The Cricut Air 2, especially the bundle, is the way to go
What Does the Cricut Explore Air 2 Come With?
When you purchase an Explore Air 2, you’ll get the following:
- The Explore Air 2 machine
- Premium Fine-Point Blade + Housing to hold the blade
- A fine-point black Cricut pen
- 12” X 12” LightGrip Cricut Machine Mat (this is suitable for most cutting projects)
- USB cable and power adapter
- Cricut Welcome Book and start-up instructions
- Materials for a small practice project
- One Year Limited Warranty information
- Free trial membership to Cricut Access
The included Welcome Book outlines the basic features of the machine and what it can do. It also has a useful quick reference guide with easy-to-follow instructions and illustrations.
Of course, to start crafting with your machine you’ll need to purchase more materials, and maybe a few basic accessories. Instead of trying to decide what supplies you need to buy separately, Cricut sells this machine in a couple of different bundled packages that include a variety of materials and tools. These bundle packages are a great value, and you’ll have what you need to start creating right away.
Cricut Explore Air 2 Features
The Explore Air 2 is a versatile machine, with wide capabilities. Here are the Explore Air 2’s basic features:
The most prominent feature of the Explore Air 2 might simply be how versatile it is! This machine can cut over 100 types of materials. It can also draw, write, score, and add foil accents to paper crafts. The Explore Air 2 comes with the Premium Fine-Point Blade, made of German carbide steel, which is good for most card stock, vinyl, and iron-on materials. This long-lasting blade provides potentially dozens of precision cuts. You can purchase replacements when the original blade gets dull, and they’re easy to replace in the blade housing.
Additionally, you can purchase specialty blades, such as the Deep Point Blade for cutting faux leather, cardboard, and craft foam, or the Bonded-Fabric Blade to cut fabric pieces. Another accessory that adds to this machine’s versatility is the foiling tool. With this tool and foil sheets, you can add eye-catching metallic accents to your crafts.
Easy To Use Smart Set Dial
In order to set the blade to the proper pressure for different materials, all you have to do is turn a dial. It’s that easy! The Smart Set Dial on the Explore Air 2 has settings for the most commonly used materials, as well as a “custom” setting. When you load your materials into the machine, just adjust the dial for whatever material you are cutting.
The custom setting on the dial is used in conjunction with Cricut Design Space software to create your own material descriptions and settings. The custom setting is especially useful if you’re using non-Cricut brand materials that might work best with different cutting settings than the standardized Cricut material settings.
2X Fast Mode For Cutting
The Explore Air 2 has a “fast mode” option that works beautifully with thinner materials such as cardstock, paper, and vinyl. It cuts twice as fast as the previous Cricut machine models. This can be a huge time saver, as large projects can take quite a bit of time to cut. It’s also handy if you’re making multiples of one project. Setting the machine to use the fast mode feature is as easy as clicking on a button when you’re setting up your project for cutting in Design Space software.
Fast Mode doesn’t work as well for very intricate cuts. In that case, you’ll get better results by cutting at the normal speed, even if it does take a little bit longer. Another thing to keep in mind when using Fast Mode is that the machine does sound louder when this feature is used. It’s not an unreasonable noise level, but it’s good to keep in mind if you need a quieter work environment.
Double Tool Clamps
Another useful time-saving feature is the double tool clamps. With two clamps, you can load a Cricut pen in one clamp, and your cutting blade in the other clamp, and the machine will perform the cutting and draw/write functions without interruption. There is no need for you to pause and switch out the tools in the middle of your project.
The double tool clamps can also be used to hold the scoring stylus (sold separately). This is great if you’re making cards or decorations that need to be folded and assembled. The machine will cut your project, and score along any fold lines in one process.
A small, but useful feature is a compartment on top of the machine to hold your tools. Cricut sells a variety of tools to assist with your Cricut craft projects. The tool storage compartment easily holds tweezers, a Cricut weeding tool, extra pens, small scissors, and more.
Compatibility With Cricut Cartridges
Older Cricut machines had data cartridges to store your projects and image files, instead of utilizing the cloud-based Design Space software. If you had one of these older machines, the Explore Air 2 has a cartridge port, so you can link your old cartridges to Design Space.
How Does the Cricut Explore Air Work?
To get started with your Explore Air 2, you’ll need Cricut Design Space, their managing software. Design Space is online software that works anywhere you can get an internet connection. Software updates are done automatically on a regular basis, both to fix any software bugs and introduce fun new design features.
Cricut Design Space is very user-friendly, and not at all difficult to learn. If you have a basic familiarity with any designing or graphic software, you’ll be using Design Space like a pro in no time. Otherwise, new users can go to learn.cricut.com for excellent tutorials on how to use all the features of Design Space. Don’t let the thought of learning new software intimidate you; it is quite intuitive. In addition to the thousands of files already available on Design Space, you can also upload your own SVG (scalable vector graphics) files to make your own one-of-a-kind projects.
The Design Space homepage is where you’ll find files and project ideas for your machine. The “canvas” page is the workspace where you can customize and make your project, or where you can play around with your own designs. Once you have your design just the way you like it on your canvas, you simply click the “make it” button, then follow the on-screen instructions for your machine. Buttons on top of the Explore Air 2 control loading the materials, when to begin cutting, and then unloading the materials when done. The buttons light up when you need to press each one; it couldn’t be much easier!
Design Space connects to your machine via a Bluetooth connection, so there is no need to plug the machine into your computer or mobile device. It is compatible with any Bluetooth-enabled desktop computer or laptop, and there is even a version for use with tablets and cell phones.
Design Space is free for any Cricut user. There are hundreds of free projects and images available, and literally thousands that can be purchased for very low costs. If you don’t want to purchase files individually, there is a subscription service known as Cricut Access. Subscriptions to Cricut Access start as low as $9.99 a month, and you get access to literally thousands of images, projects, and fonts. When you purchase a new Cricut machine, new subscribers can get a free 30-day trial membership to Cricut Access. This is a great way to decide if the paid subscription option is something you’ll make good use of.
How Much Does a Cricut Explore Air 2 Cost?
A Cricut Explore Air 2 has a regular price of $249.99 on the Cricut website. That may seem like a sizeable investment for a hobby, but when you consider all the capabilities this machine has to offer, it is not an unreasonable price. Cricut machines are also available at most major craft supply stores. The Cricut website frequently has these machines on sale, so it’s a good idea to check for good deals.
Cricut also sells the Explore Air 2 in bundles that include a variety of tools and supplies. The “Essentials Bundle” is regularly priced at $383.42, and includes the machine plus various material samples, mats, and tools. The “Everything Bundle” has a regular price of $497.82, and includes an even larger amount of material samples, mats, and various tools/accessories. These bundles are only available on the Cricut website, and they do frequently go on sale. While purchasing a bundle is still a sizeable cost, it’s a better deal than separately buying a machine, tools, and materials to get started.
Cricut Support and Community
Buying a Cricut machine is a sizeable expense, and before you buy one you might be wondering such things as “who can help me if my machine isn’t working properly?”, or “how can I get help with Design Space?”
Fortunately, Cricut has toll-free phone numbers for every region where they sell Cricut products. Although the time on hold can be a little bit long at times, their friendly representatives are very knowledgeable and helpful. They’ll help troubleshoot any technical issues with the machines or walk you through anything you’re trying to accomplish on Design Space. If the hold times on the phone lines are excessively long, there is an option for a representative to call you back.
In addition to the excellent telephone help, the Cricut website has resources for all their products. There is also a Cricut YouTube channel that is filled with videos showcasing everything from how to use their products, to instructions for specific projects. If you are a visual learner, these videos make it easy to see exactly how to use your machine, as well as how to navigate the Design Space software.
For more useful yet social interactions, there are official Cricut Facebook groups where members can exchange ideas, ask questions and share crafting tips, and show off their creations.
Is The Cricut Explore Air 2 Right for You?
While there are other cutting machines on the market that perform similar functions as the Explore Air 2, and at a comparable price, most of them don’t have the versatility and cutting power of this machine.
If you enjoy making cards and decorations for your home, or maybe want to make custom t-shirts for your friends and family, you’ll be thrilled with the Explore Air 2. This is also a good choice for teachers to use to create classroom decorations and fun supplies for their students. Small business owners who sell their art and handmade creations can use the Explore Air 2 to make personalized packaging for their products. The Explore Air 2 is an excellent choice for any creative person. Possibilities are only limited by your imagination!2