Marilyn knows how to present the dullest topic in an interesting and easy-to-read way. When she’s not teaching English Literature at a local school or writing for our site, Marylin loves to knit and bake for her two grandchildren.
Julie owns a shop specializing in sewing equipment and accessories. No wonder she knows everything when it comes to technical specifications of practically anything we review. In her free time, Julie loves quilting and scrapbooking.
Last updated: January 06, 2021
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Not all vinyl cutting machines are created equal, which is why it’s so hard to find one that meets your needs. Don’t despair, however, as we’re here to help you find the one that will inspire you for the most creative craft projects possible.
We’ve put together a list of the six best vinyl cutting machines under 300 dollars. These are machines that will inspire you to design and create keepsakes, articles of clothing, homemade gifts, and so much more. All the vinyl cutting machines that we found give you plenty of options. Not only do they cut vinyl, but they also cut other materials such as paper and even fabric. For each machine, we’ll let you know what operating system they work with, what their dimensions are, and what other useful features they come with. Our Editor’s Choice for the best vinyl cutting machine under 300 dollars is the Cricut Explore Air 2. It has a large material width and includes all the necessary tools to help you get started. Read on to learn more about this vinyl cutting machine and the others on our list. We know there will be a machine just perfect for you.
Cricut is leading the charge of innovative vinyl cutting machine and has a lot of models to offer. The Cricut Explore Air 2 is our Editor’s Choice because it is a reliable, easy-to-use machine that is capable of literally any design you have in mind.
Compatible with both Mac and Windows, you can hook up any computer and let your imagination soar. With this device, you can cut not only vinyl but cardstock, faux leather, specialty paper, and more. You can create custom stickers, home décor, clothing, and unique gifts. Basically, whatever you can imagine, you can create.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 has a maximum width of 12 inches which is fairly standard for home vinyl cutting machines. The width is perfect for projects and you won’t have to worry about running out of space.
Your purchase of the Cricut Explore Air 2 comes with a lot of accessories. These include a cutting mat, a fine point pen, and a fine point blade. Furthermore, you also get a two-week free trial to Cricut Access. This amazing subscription gives you access to over 30,000 images. The two-week trial is really nice as it will allow you to investigate the subscription and determine if it worth it for your needs.
Overall, this is an almost flawless machine. The biggest downside is that is has a lot to offer. Be prepared after your purchase of the Cricut Explore Air 2 to spend a lot of time at the beginning figuring everything out. However, if you’re excited about your new purchase, this will be a lot of fun.
At first glance you might think the Cricut Joy Machine shouldn’t be taken seriously. It’s just too cute. However, this is a great purchase for those that want to have a bit of fun at home.
The Cricut Joy Machine is a lot smaller than the average vinyl cutting machine. While the average material width is 12 inches, this had a width of just 5.5 inches. That means the images you can design will be a lot smaller in nature. However, you can still create clothing logos, buttons, and many other projects.
Those that purchase the Cricut Joy Machine do so either because they are beginners wanting to experiment with vinyl cutting or because they have other, larger machines, and want a smaller companion piece.
Whatever your reason for purchasing the Cricut Joy Machine, you’ll be very satisfied with what you receive. That’s because in addition to the machine itself, you also get a fine point blade, a fine point pen, a mat, and a free trial to Cricut Access. With Cricut Access, you are exposed to a database of thousands of images.
You can connect the Cricut Joy Machine to both Apple and Windows devices. You can actually even connect it to your Smartphone as its Bluetooth is very reliable. This makes it a very convenient machine.
By far this is an excellent purchase. The only problem is with its size. This is a small machine and if you know you want to make larger images, then its best to purchase a larger one in the beginning, rather than spending extra money later on.
New to the world of vinyl cutting? Then you will want to try the Silhouette America Portrait 2. This amazing bundle gives you everything you need to start crafting your vinyl creations. Included in your purchase is the cutting machine, a cutting mad, tools such as a hook and a scraper, vinyl sheets, and a Help CD. Also included is a one-month subscription to the Silhouette Design Store.
It can be really overwhelming to decide what you need when you’re starting out. Thankfully, the Silhouette America Portrait 2 has you covered.
The Silhouette America Portrait 2 is a nice, compact vinyl cutter. However, it only has a material width of 8 inches. This is a bit smaller than average. It is great for home designs, or playing around, but it is not really meant if you’re trying to scale up a business.
One nice feature of the Silhouette America Portrait 2 is that it is compatible with both Windows and Apple products. This greatly expands the number of people that will consider the product.
Another great feature of the Silhouette America Portrait 2 is that it is incredibly easy to use. There’s almost nothing to worry about when setting it up and all of its functions are simply and obvious. This makes it a great product for everyone. If you’re an adult and want a new hobby, or if you’re a teenager who needs a new creative outlet, the Silhouette America Portrait 2 should be top of your list.
As you can see from the picture, the Brother CM350 has a rather impressive LCD display screen. Some vinyl cutting machines are fairly complex to use. Others have screens that are hard to navigate. With the Brother CM350, you get ease of use thanks to its large, easy to navigate screen. It is an impressive 4.85-inch screen.
The Brother CM350 is a great vinyl cutting machine if you’re ready to take the leap to a more serious device. It has a nice, versatile, 12-inch material width, so you can create a lot of amazing designs.
One of the best features of the Brother CM350 is its built-in scanner. You can take your design and scan right onto the cutting machine. Other machines make you scan to a computer and involve a lot more steps.
Once you have scanned your design, you can use the LCD touchscreen to edit your design right there. There is also a Welding option that allows you to merge designs and combine different fonts and pictures. This is peak sophistication.
If you want to use your computer, the Brother CM350 works both wirelessly and plugged-in, giving you plenty of options. The only downside is that it is only compatible with Windows. If you have a Mac setup, this is unfortunately not the machine for you.
There is a lot that the Brother CM350 can do. If it’s starting to feel overwhelming, simply take a look at the included manual which will walk you through all the neat features.
With the right vinyl cutting machine, you can make a profitable home business. VEVOR Vinyl Cutter will serve all your creative needs thanks to its very large material width of 28.3 inches. This is double the standard that most vinyl cutting machines offer.
The VEVOR Vinyl Cutter is a large machine. It actually has its own stand, whereas the other machines on our list all sit on a desk. You will need space, so make sure you have a designated area for it first.
One of the nicest features of the VEVOR Vinyl Cutter is that it has an LCD screen to make it easy to navigate all your designs. There is also an emergency start and stop button, just in case.
Your purchase of the VEVOR Vinyl Cutter comes with everything you need to get started. This includes cords, a USB stick, and all the screws for assembly. It does take a few minutes to setup, but it is thankfully straightforward.
There are two pinch-rollers in the VEVOR Vinyl Cutter, giving you more options, and they can be adjusted to suit your materials. You can adjust both the cutting speed and the cutter pressure, again giving you plenty of ways to customize your process.
Unfortunately, the VEVOR Vinyl Cutter is only compatible with Windows devices. This can be a real deal breaker as so many people are embracing the use of Apple products. However, if you already use a Windows device for your designs, then this is a great vinyl cutting option to consider.
There are some people that dream of designing their own crafting rooms. The know the color of the walls, the cute pictures on display, and the overall color-theme that will inspire them to be their most creative. Those people need a vinyl cutting machine like the Silhouette America Cameo 4.
In addition to its incredible features, it also gives you the choice between five color themes. You can choose, between black, white, and pink. You can also choose a blue pattern or a pink pattern on the sides. Color choice may not be at the top of your list, but it just might make or break your final decision.
The Silhouette America Cameo 4 has plenty of other features to entice you. It comes with a built-in roll feeder and a built-in cross cutter. You can really create the most unique designs with these tools.
One of the biggest improvements with the Silhouette America Cameo 4 is the extra cutting force. You can now cut thicker materials thank you ever could. This again leads to more diversity and more creative options.
The Silhouette America Cameo 4 has a nice 12-inch material width so you can cut plenty of cool designs. It is compatible with both Windows and Mac devices, meaning you don’t have to change anything with your home office.
Perhaps the biggest thing to consider with the Silhouette America Cameo 4 is that while there are a lot of cool tools that are paired with this machine, not many are included with your purchase. You should budget accordingly.
What we liked:
Compatible with Windows and Mac
Increased cutting force
5 color combinations to choose from
What could be better:
Doesn’t include a lot of extra accessories
Things to Сonsider
Vinyl cutting machines are a great way to get creative. You can cut many different materials with them, design your own images, or use any of the stock images available. Whether you just want a new hobby or to start a small business, there are many reasons to purchase a vinyl cutting machine. To help you find the best one, we’ve put together this buying guide that will walk you through all the information you need to know.
Your cutter can not only cut vinyl
While vinyl cutting machines do have the word vinyl in them, they actually can cut many more materials. This includes cardstock, fancy paper, cardboard, and even fabric. While it used to be that paper would blunt the blades, new technology prevents this.
While there are many materials that vinyl cutting machines can work with, there are still some that should be avoided. Mylar can be cut by some machines if they are strong enough, but most basic machines are not able to cut through this. Other thicker materials, such as leather and acrylic should also be avoided.
It may seem like common sense, but it bears mentioning that vinyl cutting machines are not meant for food. Not only will food damage the entire machine, but they are not food-grade and therefore not safe. So, even if you’re tempted to make a culinary masterpiece, we suggest finding an alternate tool to do so with.
Features to consider when choosing a vinyl cutter
Within the realm of vinyl cutting machines under 300 dollars, there are many different types. To help you narrow down your search, we’ve put together a list of features that you will want to consider.
Maximum material width
One of the most important features to consider when looking at a vinyl cutting machine is the maximum material width. This refers to how wide a piece of material can be to be able to fit through the machine.
12 inches is the standard width. It allows you to use a variety of materials and create a whole host of designs. However, there are many machines that have a smaller and larger capacity.
The VEVOR Vinyl Cutter has the largest maximum material width at 28.3 inches. Indeed, this is almost an industrial-style vinyl cutter. You would most likely purchase it is you had a small business and needed to create large-scale designs.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have products that are much smaller in capacity. The Silhouette America Portrait 2 had a maximum material width of 8 inches while the Cricut Joy Machine is the smallest on our list at just 5.5 inches. These smaller vinyl cutting machines are great if you are a home-enthusiast and just want to play around with a new hobby. As well, if you have your own small business, a small-scale machine can be paired with your larger, main machine, to help with smaller designs.
Maximum cutting width
The maximum cutting width is similar to the maximum material width. Basically, once you fit your material into your cutter, this width tells you how much of the material can be cut. It’s normally quite close to the original width. So, if for example your maximum material width is 12 inches, your maximum cutting width will be about 11.5 inches.
Vinyl cutting machines can cut much more than vinyl. However, alternative materials can be thinner or thicker than vinyl. In order to know if your machine can cut different materials, you need to know the cutting power. This is basically how much strength the blades have to cut through thick material.
Let’s start with vinyl. On average, it needs a cutting power of 170 grams. All vinyl cutting machines can achieve at least this. Thinner material, such as paper, only needs 156 grams of cutting power.
If you want thicker material, this is where you need to pay attention. Leather needs a cutting power of between 250 and 350 grams. Cardstock requires a cutting power of around 300 grams, while poster board requires 330 grams.
As a general rule, smaller vinyl cutting machines will have less cutting power in them while larger machines, such as the VEVOR Vinyl Cutter will have a lot more versatility to it.
Operational systems compatibility
There are two most widespread PC operational systems: Windows and Mac. With vinyl cutting machines, all seems to be compatible with Windows, but not all are compatible with Mac. For instance, both the VEVOR Vinyl Cutter and the Brother CM350 are only compatible with Windows operating systems.
Some models state that they are also compatible with. This basically means your vinyl cutting machine can be synced with your smartphone. While using your smartphone may not give you as many options as a computer, the convenience is a nice feature.
Unfortunately, your entry into the world of vinyl cutting machines is not complete with just the purchase of a machine. You will need some accessories to get started. Hopefully, you find a product that has these included. However, not all do. Look to see if the machine you want has these accessories; if not, you will need to purchase them.
A cutting mat is essential but luckily it should be included in the purchase of any vinyl cutting machine. A mat is a barrier between the machine’s knife and your work surface or machine. The blade is very sharp and if you don’t have a barrier, the surface underneath your machine will become scratched. Furthermore, it can dull the blade, which will mean having to replace it.
Another essential accessory is a fine point blade. If you are creating a new image, you might not have the dimensions right, and a blade will be needed to manually cut out corners. It is also a necessary tool if you want to freestyle and add any extra embellishments after the vinyl has been cut.
While not absolutely necessary, having a cutting tool kit is recommended. A kit usually included scissors, tweezers, a scraper, and a trimmer.
Vinyl cutting machines can be a bit expensive. Before you purchase one, think about the accessories you will need and be sure to factor the cost of these into your budget.
With the exception of the VEVOR Vinyl Cutter, which has its own stand, the remaining five products on our list are all small enough to fit on a desk. For the most part, vinyl cutting machines are small enough to fit in any home office or crafting area and are also portable so you can move them around with convenience.
The VEVOR Vinyl Cutter, as we mentioned, is the exception. It has dimensions of 34.6 x 43.3 x 20.4 inches. It also has its own stand to support the large machine. You will need to measure the floor space that you want to place this vinyl cutting machine to know beforehand where it will stay. The good news is that the stand does have wheels so you can move it around for your convenience.
The Cricut Joy Machine is the smallest device on our list. It has dimensions of just 8.4 x 5.4 x 4.2 inches. It’s actually so small that you can easily put it in your purse to transport. While it doesn’t have the same capabilities of larger vinyl cutting machines, it is highly portable and still works really well. It also won’t take up much space in your crafting area and is a nice alternative if you are short on the workspace.
If you want a larger vinyl cutting machine, consider the Cricut Explore Air 2. It has dimensions of 24 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches. While large enough to handle big projects, it is still small enough to fit on a desk or small space. It is also small enough to be tucked away when not in use, thus eliminating extra clutter.
Surprisingly, vinyl cutting machines usually only have a standard one-year warranty. This is rather disappointing as there are a lot of moving parts within a cutting machine. Each apparatus is different, so be sure to check the manufacturer for more specific warranty information.
While all the products on our list are under 300 dollars, and therefore not terribly expensive, it can be a large investment for some. Be sure to check your vinyl cutting machine before its warranty expires so that you can address any issues that may arise.
There are many extra features that vinyl cutting machines can come with. And what’s great is that price isn’t always a determining factor in these.
One of the nicest things, when you’re new to the world of vinyl cutting, is if your machine comes with extra accessories. Most will at least come with a cutting mat, as this is necessary so the blade doesn’t go through your table. Other machines will include a sharp pointed knife, in case you need to finish any edges or make any changes.
If you want a product that offers everything a beginner needs, try the Silhouette America Portrait 2. In addition to the machine itself, you also get a mat, a knife, and even sheets of vinyl to get you started. This is a great bundle and it won’t break the bank.
While all vinyl cutting machines can be connected to a computer, which allows you to program your design, it is nice if you can make changes right on the vinyl cutter itself. The Brother CM350 has a large LCD display screen that gives you plenty of options. It is a touch screen and on it you can actually change the image that you’ve uploaded right before you print it. Furthermore, there is a scanner built-in, so if you wanted to, you could eliminate the need for a computer all together.
Another nice extra feature that some machines offer is free trials to their software programs. While you might have a ton of artistic ability and are itching for your own creations, some might need a bit of inspiration. Programs, like Cricut Access, gives you the ability to go through its catalog of over 30,000 images. Both the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Cricut Joy Machine give you a two-week trial period to Cricut Access. This isn’t a lot of time, but it is enough to see if a full subscription is worth it.
Similarly, the Silhouette America Portrait 2 gives you a one-month trial to Silhouette Design Store, which also offers you plenty of images to choose from.
Creating your own designs is one of the most exciting things to do with a vinyl cutting machine. To make this happen, you will need a computer and proper software. Make sure the software and the computer are compatible with the vinyl cutting machine. Then, you can create your own design which is then communicated to the vinyl cutting machine. As long as your image is within the allotted space, you will be able to cut your own unique designs.
Vinyl cutting machines actually work quite quickly. In fact, it only takes seconds for a machine to cut through vinyl or a similar material. Thinner materials can take less time while thicker materials will take slightly longer. If you have a basic design and want to turn out a lot of them, you can change your machine to a fast setting. Just monitor to make sure all the edges are exact and you’re not compromising the quality of your product.
Yes, you can cut other materials with a vinyl cutting machine. These include paper, cardboard, and fabric. You can also cut tissue paper and reflective paper. There are quite a lot of projects that you can complete with a vinyl cutting machine.
Get your creative juices flowing with the best vinyl cutter machine under 300 dollars. Our Editor’s Choice for this distinction is the Cricut Explore Air 2. It is an impressive machine that can bring all your designs to life. In addition to it being easy to use, it also comes with a hose of accessories.
While all our picks are under 300 dollars, the Cricut Joy Machine is the one to choose if you’re on a budget. Although it is smaller in size, it still works well and is a great supplement to larger vinyl cutting machines.
Finally, for those who are complete beginners, try the Silhouette America Portrait 2. This machine has everything you need to start cutting vinyl and takes a lot of guesswork out of setting things up. The best vinyl cutter under 300 dollars is waiting for you. So go ahead and get crafty!