Confused about which vinyl cutting machine to buy?
You’re not alone in this…
Many other folks out there are struggling to choose the best vinyl cutter that meets all their needs and expectations.
This is chiefly because countless manufacturers are introducing their own versions of vinyl cutters into the market— all bearing the ‘BEST’ cutter label.
Thus, trying to pick a cutter without any prior knowledge about these machines will only end you up drowning in a sea of models varying in all ways.
BUT…don’t give up yet. We’ve got your back!
In the following post, we’ll take you through an expert A-Z vinyl cutter buying guide that teaches you how to buy the perfect vinyl cutter for your business or home use.
Let’s get into more details…
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How To Buy a Vinyl Cutter As a Beginner?
As a beginner, your journey to finding the perfect vinyl cutting machine should focus on a device with proven performance in addition to long-term durability.
Of course, other TOP factors will aid you in your research and help ensure that you don’t fall for the many junkies out there in the name of vinyl cutters.
These factors include:
Purpose of vinyl cutter
We can group the vinyl cutters into two main categories— personal and commercial models.
What do you plan to use your new vinyl cutter for?
If you plan to handle complex designs and signs in large numbers, then you should look for a commercial model such a machine is well suited for printing, welding, scanning, etc.
Besides, it lets you work on a variety of other materials, apart from vinyl.
For a hobbyist or at-home use, you’ll need a personalized machine. This model usually comes in a portable size, quieter and excellently handles the smaller jobs
The fact they’re also affordable and easy to use makes them ideal for beginners.
You’ll also note that vinyl cutting machines come with different cutting depths.
The manufacturers state that this depends on the machine blade as well as pressure it can apply. The maximum cutting depth for most models is around 2mm.
We recommend you to go for a machine with the maximum cutting depth. This will ensure you’ll have an easy time cutting thick leather and papers.
Driver motor: Servo or stepper?
Different models also operate on different motors, with the two main options being the servo and mechanical motor.
The digital servo has shown to work smoothly and provide more precise movements of cutting head and drive motor (improving the overall machine accuracy).
Because the mechanical stepper is driven by physical gears, it tends to be noisy during operation. It also shows limited accuracy when used to cut small images
While the type of the motor might be more of a personal preference, we recommend you to go for the servo motor where possible.
This is something most beginners tend to ignore when shopping for a vinyl cutter.
However, this is an important consideration given that you’ll be able to have your design on all the materials you wish.
Check what type of materials the machine you wish to buy can cut, apart from vinyl. Look for one that claims to cut a plethora of materials.
But don’t just believe that…check the previous user reviews on whether it cuts through most of the materials it claims.
The more materials a machine can cut smoothly, the better a choice it is for you.
Ease of use
Make sure the machine you plan to invest in comes with a less complex operation mechanism and is easy to use.
Check how easy it is to do simple tasks like replacing the cartridges with pens for printing, loading papers into the machine, etc.
It’s also advisable to confirm that the machine you want to buy works with the most common types of papers such as vinyl, magnet paper, leather, and adhesive paper.
Some machines even come with integrated software that makes your work much easier. They present you with a library of free designs that you can use for quick projects or as a beginner.
Other factors that contribute to the ease of use of a cutting machine include automatic settings, wireless capability, etc.
During your search for the ideal machine, you’ll also note that vinyl cutter packages differ from one manufacturer to the other.
For some, they’ll just include the cutting machine and a user manual in the box.
For others, they’ll add extra tools and accessories into the box other than the machine. Examples of these tools include vinyl trimmer, spatula, hook, pickup tool, etc. Others even come with sketching pens, vinyl sheets, adhesive papers, etc.
In our honest opinion, buying a model that comes with such extra tools will save you the cash you might spend to buy them separately.
Vinyl cutting machines often malfunction. This is a fact that most experienced users will agree on.
As such, getting a model that comes with a user warranty is also an important consideration.
Other than assuring you the quality of the machine, a warranty acts as your safety net. This means you’ll know what to do in case your machine stops working, like asking for a replacement or even having the owner experts solve the issue.
Regardless of how simple or advanced a vinyl cutter you’re looking for, it must fall within your budget.
As with all the other products out there, these machines tend to vary in terms of price. The models that come with a higher cost tend to have a higher quality.
But don’t let that discourage you. It’s still possible to find a good quality cutter that matches your personal needs and interests at a friendlier cost.
You just need to be smart in your research.
Our 10 Best Vinyl Cutter Picks:
1. USCutter Vinyl Cutter MH 34in BUNDLE
Our reviews start with the USCutter Vinyl Cutter MH 34in BUNDLE. This machine is regarded as one of the most versatile vinyl cutters ever made. It comes with vinyl cutter PNC1000 drivers which enable it to work with VinylMaster Cut as well as all the other popular software, such as Cuts Alot, SignBlaser, Flexi, SignCut Productivity Pro.
Not only that, but this cutter also features two fully adjustable pinch-rollers that allow you to cut a wide range of materials.
The extremely easy to use machine is great for hobbyists as well as small businesses looking for the best value plotter available. It can easily handle all your simple projects. And it doesn’t require you to have any prior experience before operating it.
With a maximum of approx. 31-inch cutting width and 8 feet maximum cutting width, you can rest assured that it’ll handle nearly all your jobs.
Additional useful items included in this package include transfer tapes, vinyl rolls, magnetic blanks, squeegee, knife, and chart for an easy start. Above all, it presents you with a lifetime phone support, so you’ll always know what to do when your machine malfunctions.
2. Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine
We recommend anyone looking for a personal vinyl cutter to buy this Cricut Explore Air 2 Machine. This machine comes specially designed to help you handle all your personal projects with the ultimate speed and precision.
Probably the coolest part about this machine is the fact that it allows you to upload your own designs for free. Alternatively, you can choose from multiple (up to 3000 pre-made) projects if you don’t have your own images. Still, you can come up with your own designs and upload them via computer or smartphone.
Something else that makes this machine a favorite for all hobbyists is that it allows you to create your projects on over 100 different materials—ranging from the thinnest vellum to the thickest leather materials.
Because this machine comes with a double tool holder, you’ll enjoy up to 2x faster cutting and writing speed compared to the other models.
For all your DIY design projects, this is the perfect machine for you.
3. Silhouette Curio Cutting Tool (SILHOUETTE-CURIO)
For those working on a tight budget, Silhouette Curio Cutting Tool might be an excellent option for you. As one of the latest releases from Silhouette, this model presents you with new features and functions, including the ability to support up to 3 embossing styles, namely Score & Emboss, Print & Emboss, and Path Emboss.
With this Curio, you’ll enjoy cutting materials of different thicknesses hassle-freely. This is because it comes with a new deep-cut blade which cuts materials as thick as 2mm. Also, this machine boasts of a 5mm clearance that enhances neat and smooth feeding and cutting of materials f different thicknesses.
Amazingly, this machine comes integrated with the powerful & reputable Silhouette Studio software as well as Silhouette Design Store. This opens you to a whole new world of endless possibilities ideas that you can use to come up with truly stunning artworks.
If you’re a beginner looking for an affordable vinyl cutter with most of top-end features and functions, be sure to order this Silhouette Curio Cutting Tool today.
4. Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2 Home & Hobby Cutting Machine
Brother CM350 ScanNCut 2 Home & Hobby Cutting Machine also competes for the top position with other high-quality vinyl cutters on the market today.
The number one thing that drew out attention to this model is built-in 300 DPI scanner, which allows you to easily create your own cut files. In other words, you can scan just anything- including cherished family photos, handmade drawings, home décor, etc., and use them to come up with custom-cut shapes and outlines that fit your specific project.
We also loved the fact this machine comes designed as a stand-alone model. But it also gives you the option of connecting it wirelessly to your PC.
Other great features in this Brother machine include a super-large LCD touchscreen display, 600plus built-in designs, and ability to design SVG data files.
5. USCutter 28-inch Vinyl Cutter Value Sign Making Bundle
USCutter 28-inch Vinyl Cutter Value Sign Making Bundle is doubtlessly the best value cutter that any beginner can find on the market today. Like the 34” model from USCutter we reviewed above, it also comes as a complete bundle (with knife, squeegee, tape rolls, vinyl rolls, magnetic blanks) to give you an easy start.
Another feature it shares with the previous model involves the 2 fully adjustable pinch rollers that facilitate easy and precise cutting of a wide range of materials.
Its compatibility with the Roland blade holder also makes it a popular choice for many folks. This feature means that you can use it with the most economic blades available on the market today.
Above all, the machine comes with an advanced ball-bearing roller system. This unique system helps you save time by letting you place the materials you wish to cut on the rollers for smooth and quiet cutting.
6. Silhouette Cameo 3 Machine Bundle Vinyl Starter Bundle
Silhouette Cameo 3 Machine presents you with a list of exclusive features at an affordable cost, making it another top option for you.
You can easily plug this machine to your Mac or PC using a simple USB cable for easy, convenient USB storage of your work. What’s more, it gives you the option of using the built-in Bluetooth to connect your machine to your Windows or Mac computer.
Similar to the other Silhouette models, this machine cuts a broad range of machines with a width of up to 12 inches and a length of up to 10 feet long.
Interestingly, you can easily replace the cameo with a sketching pen and have fun sketching your designs as opposed to just cutting it.
Probably the best part about this machine is the many additional items it comes with, without increasing its cost. These items include a complete Silhouette toolkit, 5 Oracal 651 vinyl sheets, 3 sheets Oracal transfer paper, and even a 12" Cameo PixScan mat!
7. Silhouette SILHOUETTE-CAMEO-3-4T Wireless Cutting Machine
Silhouette SILHOUETTE-CAMEO-3-4T Wireless Cutting Machine is the ONLY model from Silhouette that presents you with the self-adjusting autoblade. This means you’ll never have to adjust your cutting blade again as the machine will do it for you. In addition to this, it features the deep-cut blade that can smoothly cut materials of different thicknesses.
It also comes with the dual carriage feature, meaning it can perform up to 2 different functions simultaneously. Needless to explain, this will make your cutting job easier and faster.
Something else that puts this machine on the map is its mat-less cutting capability. That is, it can cut materials without necessarily using the cutting mat. And that allows you to cut materials as long as 10 feet, something most cutters on the market cannot do!
Like the previously discussed model, this Silhouette SILHOUETTE-CAMEO-3-4T also comes with built-in Bluetooth function which facilitates wireless cutting capability.
Like all the other models from the safe manufacturer, this fantastic vinyl cutter also presents you with the powerful Silhouette Studio design software, multiple (up to 100) pre-made digital designs, and it’s 100% compatible with Pixscan and Print and Cut technology.
8. USCutter 28-inch Vinyl Cutter Plotter with Stand
Another USCutter machine shows up on the 8th spot of our top-rated vinyl cutting machines. Unlike its cousins, this 28-inch Vinyl Cutter Plotter comes with the NEW Sure Cuts a Lot Professional—an easy to use Design and Cut software— for smooth, precise cutting experience.
It is also a straightforward to use machine that we recommend to all beginners as well as professionals. Like the other USCutters, it comes with two fully adjustable pinch rollers that enable you to cut a wide range of materials without any issues.
The machine also offers you up to 3 connectivity options to pock from— namely serial, USB, and parallel.
It also comes equipped with Roland compatible blade holder, which gives you the chance to use the most economical blades on the market and save some cash.
Thanks to the dual roller media roller system, you don’t have to put your roller through the material you wish to cut. Instead, you place it on top of this unique roller system. Clearly, this is a pretty flexible feature that will save you a lot of time.
Don’t forget that this machine also comes with a pen adapter that allows you to use it for plotting as well, and not just cutting, making it even more fun to use!
9. Cricut Expression Electronic Cutting Machine
If you’re looking for the most suitable vinyl cutting machine for personal use, you can’t go wrong with Cricut Expression Electronic Cutting Machine. The simple electronic machine comes ready to handle all your small daily life projects like signage, classroom décor, scrapbooks, etc.
When it comes to precisely cutting your designs, you can bet on this machine to do it well. It has shown to accurately cut ¼-inch dimension small pictures as well as big designs with 12” by 24” dimensions.
Simplicity is further achieved in this machine in that it doesn’t require any computer to operate. You simply insert the cartridge into the machine, select your preferred image, adjust its size, and start the cutting process.
Like most of the materials in this list, it also cuts a wide range of materials, including the most common ones like vinyl, cardstock, vellum, chipboard, and even thin foils.
Because the complete machine package comes with 2 cartridges, you’ll enjoy instant access to 16 borders, 4 fonts, 24 tags, 100plus layered images, and 16 3D images— all of which facilitates endless design possibilities and creativity.
Remember you’re getting all this (and many more) from a pocket-friendly machine!
10. Silhouette Portrait 2
Lastly, we have the Silhouette Portrait 2, which was recently released as an upgrade of the Silhouette Portrait.
The new cutting machine enjoys wild popularity due to its incredible versatility. It allows you to easily cut a wide range of materials inducing fabric, cardstock, transparencies, heat transfer materials, vellum, paper, magnet paper, and adhesive vinyl.
Unlike the previous model, this cutting machine is Bluetooth and Pixscan compatible. In addition to that, it comes with an autoblade feature, which makes operating the machine much easier.
Other noteworthy features and functions in this vinyl cutter include PC and Mac compatible software and up to 50 exclusive digital designs.
Like most of the products we’ve covered in this list, this machine also comes at an incredibly affordable cost, which is well worth it, keeping in mind the list of improvements it has undergone.
How to Use a Vinyl Cutter Properly?
Now that you’ve finally bought your first vinyl cutter, you’ll definitely want to know how to operate it.
In this part, we’ll discuss a general step by step guide for using a typical vinyl cutting machine:
1. Select the design you wish to work on. Some cutters come with integrated software where you can easily choose a design. If you’re creative, however, you can come up with your design and upload it to the machine.
Likewise, if you want to upload a font, you can choose one from the machine or upload yours.
Once you’ve uploaded your design/font, you can proceed to the next step…
2. Select your design/font border/outline. Ensure you select exactly what you wish to see in your final print.
3. Now load the vinyl sheet and set the cartridge. At this stage, you need to load the vinyl or the material you wish to print your design on.
Set the pressure and depth of the machine based on the properties of the material you’re working on. If you’re lucky to have an automated machine, then it’ll automatically handle these settings.
4. When all is set, it’s time to print your design. Simply start your cutter, sit back and wait while it does its jobs.
5. Finally, the sheet bearing your design will come out of the machine, and you can collect it using a spatula or pickup tool.
NOTE: The operation process slightly differs from machine to machine. For more info on how to operate your specific model, we advise you to consult your user manual.
Frequently Asked Questions About Vinyl Cutter:
1. How do I take care of my vinyl cutting machine?
A vinyl cutting machine doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. You’ll only need to clean its cartridge, depending on the material characteristics as well as the environment you’re using it in.
You might also want to clean the cutting mat regularly.
2. What should I look for when buying a personal vinyl cutter?
An ideal cutter for personal use should be simple, small enough for placing on the desktop, and budget conscious. It should also allow you to easily work on stickers, small decals, cards, scrapbooking, etc.
So, that’s our complete guide on how to choose the perfect vinyl cutter for your design cutting needs.
As you’ve seen from this post, the best cutting machine for you should be a culmination of various factors and considerations. Our buying guide will take you through the key ideas that will help you make a wiser decision on which machine to buy.
All the ten cutting machines we’ve recommended for you in this post have a proven track record of excellent performance, professional results, and long-term durability.
Honestly, these TEN products will get you closer to the kind of machine you’re looking for.