My Honest Review of the Cricut Explore 3 Machine

The Cricut Explore 3 is a great cutting machine, perfect for a variety of crafts. Read my honest review and see if it’s worth it for you!

I have been crafting like crazy with my new Cricut Explore 3! I’ve tested it with multiple materials and made dozens of projects. In this article, I’m going to highlight the important features of this machine, give you some project inspiration, and help you decide if it’s the right Cricut machine for you.

Cricut explore 3 machine with sample project ideas

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cricut. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Is the Cricut Explore 3 worth it?

As far as cutting machines go, the Cricut Explore 3 is a great all-around machine. For me, it’s absolutely worth it because it opens up so many more crafting possibilities, saving me time and ultimately money. I could never go back to not owning a Cricut machine! I love all the things I can make with it and I use my machines weekly (if not daily!).

Whether it’s personally worth it for you depends on the types of crafts you like to do (if you like any of the project ideas below, you’re going to absolutely love the Explore 3!).

I also think you’ll find more value in the machine after taking some time to practice different types of projects with it–you may find new ways to use it once you’re familiar with all its capabilities!

What all can a Cricut Explore 3 do?

The Cricut Explore 3 can:

  • cut 100+ materials
  • write and draw with Cricut pens and markers
  • score: The scoring stylus can be used in the Explore 3 to apply pressure to your material, marking straight lines where you’ll want to fold your material. This is super useful in tons of papercrafting projects.
  • foil with the foil transfer tool
  • Print Then Cut
  • cut up to 12 feet in length with Cricut Smart materials: You can make large vinyl decals, which is perfect for something like a vinyl wall mural. Or just enjoy the benefit of not having to use a cutting mat and cut large quantities at once (and faster, too!).

Can you print and cut with Cricut Explore 3?

Yes! The Cricut Explore 3 can Print Then Cut. It has sensors that tell the machine exactly where to cut on a printed design. Use your home printer in combination with the Explore 3 to make stickers, invitations, party decorations, printable iron-on decals, and more!

What materials can you use with Cricut Explore 3?

loading Cricut Explore 3 with paper on cutting mat

The 100+ materials that you can cut and use with Cricut Explore 3 include:

  • paper and cardstock
  • adhesive vinyl (there’s lots of varieties, but you can think of removable and permanent as the two main subcategories)
  • iron-on vinyl (also called heat transfer vinyl or HTV)
  • Infusible Ink (essentially Cricut’s brand of pre-printed sublimation transfer sheets)
  • writable labels
  • printable sticker paper
  • insert cards and cutaway cards
  • leather and felt
  • bonded fabric (with the bonded-fabric blade)

…and obviously lots more. You can see a complete list of compatible materials here (just click on the Explore 3 dropdown on that page).

What can you make with Cricut Explore 3?

Cricut explore 3 review, Cricut explore 3 machine surrounded by sample project ideas

Your imagination is the limit when it comes to what you can make with the Cricut Explore 3. Here are just a few ideas:

Will I use a Cricut enough for it to be worth it?

To answer this question, consider the types of crafts you enjoy doing or might be interested in. Like I’ve just illustrated, the Cricut Explore 3 is great for a variety of paper and vinyl crafts. If you enjoy anything like what I’ve listed above, I think you’ll find you’ll want to use your machine all the time!

You can also think about how often you currently craft. If something’s preventing you from crafting as much as you’d like, consider whether a Cricut machine’s ability to quickly cut custom shapes and designs would help motivate you or streamline your crafting. (For me, it absolutely did! I could never go back now.)

Next, consider things you’re currently paying for that you could make yourself if you had a Cricut machine. For example, custom gifts, home decor, greeting cards, etc. If you enjoy crafting and are interested in learning how to do those things, a Cricut is a wonderful tool to have. You’ll be saving money in the long run by being able to conveniently make those things at home.

To ensure you’re getting your money’s worth with the Cricut Explore 3, I encourage you to do three things after purchasing it:

  1. Open the box and set it up right away: I know this can feel daunting, but it’s so much easier than you might think (see how easy it is to set up the Cricut Explore 3 here)!
  2. Take some time to learn how to use your machine and make some practice projects. There are lots of free tutorials and courses available to you. From the home page in the Cricut Design Space app, click on Get Started or Cricut Learn. You can also follow tutorials found on websites like mine. See all my step-by-step Cricut project tutorials here. If you have further questions, check out
  3. Designate a space in your home for your machine so that it’s easily accessible. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Whether you have a full-sized craft room, a closet, a crafting cart, or a corner of the kitchen table, make sure you can easily pull out your Cricut machine (and materials to go with) whenever the crafting need or inspiration strikes. The more you use your machine, the more you’ll find additional uses for it.

My honest review of the Cricut Explore 3

I’ve had so much fun crafting with my Explore 3. I’ve made a variety of projects with it, experimenting with different materials and types of cuts to give you the most honest review possible.

I love most everything about the Explore 3, but there are a few minor cons you should be aware of as well so you can make the best decision when choosing which Cricut machine to invest in.

Pros of the Cricut Explore 3

Here are some of my favorite things about the Cricut Explore 3:

It’s a great all-around machine that allows you to do almost anything you’d want to be able to do with a Cricut. Obviously the Maker and Venture machines can do a little more, but most crafters won’t need those added capabilities (I do own an original Cricut Maker and Maker 3, but I’d say 95% of the crafts I regularly make could be done with the Explore 3).

You’re not limited by smaller mats like the Cricut Joy and Joy Xtra. Being able to cut up to 11.5 inches wide on a 12×12 or 12×24 inch mat allows you to do larger t-shirt decals and larger projects like flowers and gift boxes.

You can cut without a mat if using Smart materials! You will love how convenient that is.

You have the option to connect to your device via bluetooth or by using the included USB cable. The Joy and Joy Xtra machines can only connect via bluetooth which I think is a small downside to those machines.

In a series of test cuts I did, the Explore 3 was actually the fastest cutting of all my machines (in addition to the Explore 3, I compared my original Maker, Maker 3, and Joy Xtra). I’m sure this varies based on your internet connection/bluetooth connectivity, as well as tiny differences in individual machines, but I think this is definitely a plus for the Explore 3. (Also, when comparing the speed of drawing, the Explore 3 is almost twice as fast as the Joy Xtra!)

The Explore 3 is a gorgeous mint color with a matte finish. Definitely a pro for me!

Cons of the Cricut Explore 3

Here are a few downsides I’ve noticed about the Cricut Explore 3:

The machine by itself does not include cutting mats. Even though the mat-less cutting is a nice feature, you’re not going to use it all the time so I would’ve liked the machine to still include a mat (none of the new Smart machines include them). For that reason, I’d highly encourage you to purchase the machine in a bundle.

You’re limited to only the scoring stylus for scoring. If I have the choice, I prefer the scoring wheel for the Maker series–it just seem to work a little better than the scoring stylus, plus I like having the option of the double scoring wheel for thicker materials.

The Explore 3 seems a little louder than my other machines. When I say loud, I’m referring to the normal humming that all Cricut machines make. After using my Maker 3 almost exclusively and then the Joy Xtra more recently (which is extremely quiet given its much smaller mechanism), I noticed the Explore 3 was a little noisier and also made beeping noises when the tool holders go up and down. I was assured by a Cricut care member that this is normal, and it’s honestly more of an observation than a con.

Is the Cricut Explore 3 a good investment?

If you are serious about and love crafting, I will always say a Cricut machine is a good investment. You may not think you need one (I get it, I used to say that too), but once you have one, you will see just how useful they are and how you could never go back to not having one!

As far as the Cricut Explore 3 machine goes, I think it’s the perfect all-around Cricut machine. It can cut and do so many things and will fit most crafters’ needs.

And if you were debating between the Explore 3 and the Cricut Explore Air 2 (the older model), you can be confident in the Explore 3 knowing you’re getting the newer design with improved performance and speed, as well as being able to cut Smart materials without a mat (if you ever want to create large/long designs like wall murals, this feature is so handy!).

I love that Cricut is always updating their software, adding new features and tons of images to Design Space (especially if you have a Cricut Access subscription), so I never run out of new projects I want to make. Cricut makes it easy to use their products by providing tons of resources and help articles. And their customer service is the best if you ever have questions.

So, yes, investing in a Cricut machine is definitely worth it and I think the Explore 3 is a solid choice for most people!

Cricut Explore 3 machine review

Cricut Explore 3 machine with project ideas, cards, coasters, t-shirts, art, and more

I hope you found this review helpful. If you’re considering purchasing a Cricut Explore 3, I promise you will not regret it! You’re going to love all the new creative possibilities that open up to you. Welcome to the exciting world of Cricut!

Aubree Originals crafts

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Cricut Explore 3 review

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