So you are looking for a cutting plotter machine? Good, then you've come to the right place.
Welcome to my guide to choosing the right cutting machine for you.
Buying a cutting plotter or die-cutting machine that suits your needs can be a big decision.
And as you probably already know, there are many things to consider and research beforehand, including cost, how easy it is to use, versatility and style.
So let's start with dilemmas.
What we discuss in this comprehensive post:
Manual or automatic cutting machine?
If you're on a budget, manual slicers are the way to go.
The lack of cables also makes them highly portable, and much easier to use than more expensive electronic cutting machines.
A manual cutting machine works by feeding the material into the slot where it is then either cut or embossed (embossing). It really is as simple as that.
A good example of a really good manual embossing and cutting machine is the Sizzix Big Shot. Read my extensive review of this great device here.
If you opt for an electronic cutting machine, you have much more autonomy to create your own unique designs via the integrated software.
Note: Not all electronic cutting machines have this capability, so check first.
An electronic machine works very similar to a printer, where cartridges are used to cut and emboss the designs.
While an electronic cutting machine can be just a little more complicated to use than its manual sibling, that doesn't mean there's no fiddling and everything is done at the touch of a button.
If you are looking for a really good electronic cutting machine, you can have a lot of fun with the Cricut Explore Air 2, one of my favorite electronic cutting machines.
Plotting machines can cost from $50 for a simple hand-held machine, to over $1000 for a top-of-the-line electronic plotting machine.
Prices fluctuate between models, and at some point virtually every model and brand will have an offer of some sort, especially on Amazon.
So keep a price in mind, stick to it, and keep an eye out for the offers.
It's also worth considering how much replacement cartridges, cutting mats, software updates, and other accessories will cost for your machine.
You may have found the deal of the century, but if the cost of buying new stock is high, it's not worth buying it.
Ease of use
When choosing the right cutter, it is important to consider how easy it is to use.
If you're not tech savvy, it might be worth sticking to the manual pendulum machines.
You can also research if there are any manuals or online guides that can show you how to use the machine beforehand. The more advanced the machine, the more difficult it will be to learn how to use it.
However, some of the more technological cutting machines will be able to provide the best custom designs.
If you opt for an advanced machine, it may be worth researching the quality of customer service and support provided by the company in question beforehand, in case you need help, or there may be forums where you can ask questions about the cutting machine?
Ultimately, it's about finding a balance between ease of use and functionality.
For project inspiration, check out my 50 fun cutting plotter project ideas for endless creativity
When choosing the right die cutting machine you will need to know which materials you can cut and emboss.
As you can see from many of our product reviews, most cutting machines are capable of cutting almost any thin material.
However, it is important to research the thickness of the material you intend to use, and then check beforehand if this is possible on your machine.
Also look at the versatility of the machine, can it draw and emboss as well as cut?
Do you want to work with fabric, for example these nice fabric flowers to create, make sure your slicer can handle it.
A good machine to consider for many types of material is the Gemini plotting machine from Crafter's Companion.
Size, weight and portability
When choosing the right plotting machine, you should take into account the size of the device in the storage position, but also the size of the machine when it is unfolded.
This is really important for hobbyists who work in a small space.
Also think about how easy the device is to move? Is it lightweight? Does it have a handle?
With most machines ranging between 2kg and 20kg, the difference could be significant.
Once you have found a cutting machine and want to get the most out of it? Read my 50 genius hacks for Silhouette and Cricut cutting machines