Best Vinyl Cutting Machine Reviews of 2020
USCutter Vinyl Cutter MH
Best vinyl cutter for startups
High cutting capacity and smooth software integration can guarantee the success of all your projects.
1 USCutter MH Review
The USCutter Vinyl Cutter MH is a sweet treat for every creative startup. Powered by a stepper motor and boasting 34-inch cutting capacity, this is a workhorse developed to assist with your apparel design, signs and stickers, and even vehicle signage enterprise.
It even comes complete with all you need to start cutting vinyl right out of the box, assuming that you’ll be quick at figuring out how to assemble the machine, of course.
The cutting software included also does an excellent job in creating vectors and outlines for the cutter. The MH may not be exceptional in cutting intricate or small decals, but it’s very easy to use once you get familiar with it and it is truly dependable for bigger jobs. However, keep in mind that it’s not compatible with Mac, you’ll need a Windows PC for it.
Cricut Explore Air 2 Mint
Best Cricut vinyl cutting machine
A stylish, compact, and highly-performing machine designed to create award-winning DIY decals.
2 Cricut Explore Air 2 Review
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is a delicious vinyl cutter that comes in four enhancing colors, all able to add a fresh touch to your desk. But don’t be fooled by its cute lollipop look. This machine is a beast designed to devour over 100 materials from vinyl to faux leather and cardstock.
It can handle whatever design you’re throwing at it. Not only it comes with all you need to get started, but the included set of 30 Cricut pens is perfect if you’re old-school and prefer hand-drawn designs rather than PC graphics.
And that’s not all. You’ll even enjoy the freedom to design from any PC, iOS and Android device thanks to its free-access Design Space software. When you’re done, just use the embedded Bluetooth technology for no-frills wireless cutting.
Brother CM350 Electronic Cutting Machine
Best vinyl cutter with built-in scanner
An innovative vinyl cutting machine developed to scan and cut your handmade designs.
3 Brother CM350 Review
Oh, brother! You’ll need nerves of steel and a whole bunch of patience to get familiar with this bad boy, but once you do, the Brother CM350 will deliver unexpected satisfaction. This vinyl cutter will give you all the artistic freedom you’ve been craving for.
It will let you turn all your handmade designs or cherished photos into custom-cut shapes or outlines thanks to its built-in scanner.
If you’re not that creative, just pick one of the over 600 built-in designs and use the on-screen editing functions to customize them as you like. Wireless connectivity and compatibility with all Windows computers running on Vista or above make it an excellent choice for most hobbyist users.
Silhouette Portrait 2
Best vinyl cutting machine for beginners
A sleek and cheap vinyl cutter designed to offer great cuts for your small artistic projects.
4 Silhouette Portrait 2 Review
Getting nice decals without spending a fortune? It’s all possible thanks to the Silhouette Portrait 2. Perhaps the best for beginners, this vinyl cutting machine is the easiest to use among our picks. Although it could be seen as too basic by the more versed users, it’s still surprisingly versatile.
It can only cut a max of 8×12 inches, but it can handle a variety of materials including vinyl, cardstock, wood paper, and even magnet paper. Whether you want to cut decals, handcrafted postcards, or event invitations, this cutie will undoubtedly serve you well.
Certainly, it’s unrealistic to think you’ll get professional precision, but this machine is so user-friendly and powerful that you’ll find it easy to overlook a slight misalignment.
Types of vinyl cutting machines
Whether you want to start up a small signage business or just personalize your items with custom-made decals, you need a vinyl cutting machine. What type of cutting machine depends on your purpose though, and you can essentially pick from the following two types.
- Desktop vinyl cutters: As their name suggests, are small cutters designed to sit on a desk. They have more or less the size of a home-use printer and address hobbyists and small business owners. The main advantage of these machines is their low level of noise; they are also easier to use than the freestanding cutters, and typically more versatile too because the best vinyl cutting machines in this range can cut through a variety of materials.
- Freestanding vinyl cutters: Are much bigger in size than the desktop and are designed for commercial use. Their capacities vary from semi-professional to professional, but regardless of what you choose, they will always have a higher cutting precision than the desktop models. However, they can usually cut only vinyl and paper, are noisy, and more complicated to use.
What materials can you cut with a vinyl cutter
An important aspect to think about before buying is the type of media you want to cut. Since you’re looking after a vinyl cutter, it’s quite clear you need a machine able to deliver precise cuts on this material. But if you want to throw in some versatility, know that most machines can also handle other media, including:
If you want to cut some intricate patterns on fabric, for example, to then create something unique with your sewing machine, or if you want to cut anything else than vinyl as a matter of fact, then you should check the maximum cutting depth.
Vinyl cutter cutting depth
Vinyl cutting machines usually have a cutting depth between 0.8mm and 2mm. The former is usually ideal for vinyl or paper, so knowing the cutting depth is not so important if you only want to cut through these materials. For thicker materials though, don’t forget to check compatibility before buying.
Another detail that will help you choose between a desktop and freestanding vinyl cutter is the cutting width. It can vary from as little as 6 inches on entry-level models to as much as 64 inches on the biggest commercial units.
- If you plan to use the cutter for DIY projects or custom t-shirt business, a desktop machine able to handle graphics up to 24 inches wide is usually ideal.
- However, if you’re just launching a signage business, we recommend going for a bigger machine with a cutting width of at least 34 inches so that you can enhance your flexibility and ability to scale the designs.
Stepper vs. servo motor
The type of motor powering the machine can also dictate which materials you can or cannot cut. Vinyl cutters have either stepper or servo motors.
- Stepper motors: Are driven by mechanical gear that moves the motor in small increments (steps). The main advantage of these motors is their low manufacturing cost, which helps maintain the overall price of a stepper vinyl cutter as low as possible. They also have a good performance on large designs, that’s why they often equip semi-professional or commercial vinyl cutting machines. Their biggest downside is the noise; stepper cutters also tend to lose precision on small graphics.
- Servo motors: Are driven by digital encoders which translate the commands of the software into binary code. This is the type of code used by computers, and its main advantage is the transmission of high precision and movement smoothness on designs of all sizes. Due to the lack of mechanical gears, they are also quieter than the stepper. It is clear that they are a much better choice than the stepper type if you aim for utmost precision, but these motors are expensive. Because they are more precise though, a servo cutter is a better choice for crafts and other creative projects that employ the cut of materials other than vinyl.
Vinyl cutter computer & software compatibility
Computer and software compatibility is important if you want to tell the machine how to cut your decals. An essential thing to remember when it comes to these machines is that they are most likely incompatible with Apple software and products.
In fact, it is a piece of cake to find a vinyl cutter compatible with whatever version of Windows you have, but only a handful of models work on Mac. The reason why it’s hard to find a vinyl plotter compatible with your mighty Macintosh operating system is the additional costs cutter brands usually have to sustain if they want to make their systems work properly on Apple hardware.
Therefore, if you’re a fan of the famous device developer, know that your vinyl cutting machine choice is quite limited.
The software is the puzzle piece you can’t do without because it actually tells the vinyl cutting machine what to do. Most plotters come with their own software, which can be more or less intuitive to use or suitable for your project.
Luckily though, most vinyl cutters are also compatible with the most popular graphic design software including Photoshop, Corel Draw, AutoCAD and Adobe Illustrator, to name just a few.
Additional features you might like
The best vinyl cutter is the one that fits your needs like a glove. That’s why you might also want to consider the following features.
- Wireless connectivity: If you want the freedom to design on your tablet in one room and send the design to the vinyl cutter in another room, get a vinyl cutting machine with wireless connectivity. It will communicate via Bluetooth with your devices so that you won’t have to get out of bed if you don’t want to.
- Automatic settings: This is a nice feature on those fancy vinyl cutters that can handle more materials, allowing the plotter to adjust themselves automatically to the material you’re cutting.
- Accessories: Some vinyl cutting machines come either alone or with a set of instructions. The best come with a host of accessories that range from vinyl trimmers and pickup tools to sketching pens and even vinyl sheets.
- Vinyl cutter scanner: If you want to transform handmade art, photos, or any images that come on paper into lovely decals, a scanner is essential. And some of the best vinyl cutting machines feature built-in scanners that help you get from graphic to decal quickly and easily.
Best Vinyl Cutting Machine for the Money
Cricut Explore Air 2 MintBest Cricut vinyl cutting machine
A stylish, compact, and highly-performing machine designed to create award-winning DIY decals.