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Cricut Maker 3: Everything You Need to Know

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Everything you need to know about the Cricut Maker 3. What does the machine do? What do you need to buy with it? What are Smart Materials?

Whether you’re considering purchasing a Cricut or have several of the older machines, the release of the Cricut Maker 3 should attract your interest. This machine cuts all of the original materials, but also has a lot of new features that make it a great addition to your craft space. I’m going to walk you through the differences between this machine and the older machines, as well as explain some of the new products that work with the Cricut Maker 3.


Many thanks to Cricut for sponsoring this post. As a partner with Cricut, I receive free product and/or monetary compensation for sharing information about their products. As always, I will provide an honest review of products. This post contains affiliate links which may earn me commissions should you click through them and take certain actions. As an affiliate for Cricut, Amazon and other sites, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please DIY carefully. View my full legal disclosures here.

Please read the whole post so you don’t miss any important information!


As confusing as the name might be, the Cricut Maker 3 is actually the 2nd Cricut Maker machine to be released. Cricut released their Cricut Explore 3 and Cricut Maker 3 at the same time with matching names.

The Cricut Maker and the Cricut Maker 3 can do most of the same things with a few exceptions. I wrote a Cricut Maker FAQ for Sewists back in 2018 when I first got the Cricut Maker, and I’ve learned a lot about this machine since then. Both of these machines can cut a variety of materials including: vinyl, fabric, aluminum, some types of wood, paper, acrylic, and more. The Cricut Maker has a rotary type blade that allows it to make intricate cuts which is useful when cutting fabric or engraving metal.

While the Explore machines are amazing and cut many materials, I have crafting FOMO and like to do a little bit of everything. The versatility of the Cricut Maker was important to me.

The new Cricut Maker 3 is just an upgraded version of the original Maker. It’s faster, it can cut Smart Materials without the mat, and it can cut larger sizes. The width of projects increases to 13″* with the Cricut Maker 3 and up to 21 FEET* in length. In the past, you were limited to the 12×24 max mat size. This is HUGE if you want to use the Maker 3 to create a border for a room that you’re decorating or a big adhesive sticker for a school classroom. For the older machines, doing a project like this DIY growth ruler meant using multiple mats and piecing things together.

Here’s an unboxing video to show you some of the materials (which I’ll discuss later in this post too) + what comes in the box.

*Size ends up being slightly smaller because there needs to be a slight border around the cuts.

New Materials that the Cricut Maker 3 Cuts

The new materials that the Cricut Maker 3 cuts are called Smart Materials.

What are Smart Materials? These are a special product that Cricut released that can be cut without a mat. This saves a ton of time and energy, as well as money on mats as they age and lose their stick. While you CAN clean your Cricut mat, it’s better to just reduce how much wear and tear they get. It’s a lot quicker and easier to use Smart Materials.

You Can Buy these Smart Materials on Cricut.com:

One important difference between the traditional Cricut cardstock and the Smart Paper is that the Smart Paper has an adhesive backing. This allows you to cut out the different shapes, peel off the sticker on the back, and stick them to your card base. 😲

This is a video of the Smart Paper Sticker Cardstock.

DOES ANYONE ELSE HATE PAPER GLUE!?! I spent hours putting together a Father’s Day card with glue and normal cardstock… it was miserable! This will motivate me to make more intricate cards in the future. Check out the two cards that I made with the Cricut Smart Paper.

The Cricut Maker 3, the Cricut Joy, and the Cricut Explore 3, all have a small window that I believe is what can read the Smart Materials and ‘see’ the size. Cricut sells the Smart Materials for the Cricut Joy too so be sure to buy the rolls that are compatible with YOUR machine. The Cricut Maker 3 rolls are wider.

I’m hoping that Cricut releases some other Smart Materials in the future. Here’s a video on the other Smart Materials and the difference between the types of vinyl:

Products You Should Buy for Your Cricut Maker 3

There are a few ‘must have’ products that you should buy for your Cricut Maker 3.

  1. Mats: Keep your mats (or buy new ones). You’ll still want to save smaller scraps of the Smart Materials and you’ll use the mats for older materials too.
  2. Engraving Tip & Strong Grip Mat: Personally, I love the engraving tip and think this is one of the most fun materials to work with. I highly recommend picking this up, along with some of the Cricut Aluminum sheets. You need the Strong Grip mat to place your blanks on.
  3. Rotary Blade & Fabric Grip Mat: This is a MUST have if you want to make small detailed fabric projects. This machine would be great for making busy books for kids. I could never make those tiny cuts on felt with scissors, but this machine could do ALL the work… you’d only need to sew or glue the pieces on.
  4. Roll Holder: I love that I can cut up to 21′ of vinyl. Do I want to deal with that huge roll though? No. That’s where the roll holder comes in. It helps hold the roll steady and you can go work on another project while the machine cuts that 21′ of vinyl. This just saves you time. I was wondering if the roll holder would be worth the price tag, but after seeing it the answer is YES! The roll holder custom fits onto your Cricut Maker 3 (or Explore 3) and includes a cutting bar so you can cut off the finished portion of your roll.
  5. Scoring Tip: This is for scoring paper which is important if you want to make cards. This creates the fold marks. With the new Smart Paper, you’ll probably want to pick this up because card making is now FUN and easy.

Honestly, I am an adventurous crafter and love to learn new things. I usually dabble in a little bit of everything that Cricut offers with their machines. As such, I have a bucket of blanks and quite a variety of materials and tools for my machines. I’m happy that the old blades and mats fit in the new Cricut machines so I don’t need to upgrade my entire craft room. If you’re new to Cricut, they sell big Cricut Maker 3 bundles with a variety of products to try… worth it if you’re a dabbler too!

How to Setup Your Cricut Maker 3

I put together this video to show you how to setup your new Cricut Maker 3. I love how Cricut makes this simple so the process isn’t overwhelming for new Cricut owners. This video will walk through the setup and how to do the demo project. I made a small sticker to attach to my machine.

Do I NEED to Upgrade?

Do you need to upgrade? No, of course not. The original Cricut Maker will continue to work. Cricut still is supporting the older machines. But this is similar to upgrading your cell phone– you upgrade for better features, not because you can’t make phone calls with it anymore. You get a faster machine that works with more materials. The new upgrades expand what you can do with the machine and the machine saves you time.

This is a great time to upgrade and donate your older machine to a school or a nonprofit that might be able to use it.

You can buy the Cricut Maker 3 with just the machine (plus the intro project), but if you’re new to Cricut then I recommend getting one of the big bundles. These have a variety of materials for you to start out with so you can try different projects and get an idea of what you’d like to do with this machine.

Leave me a comment if you have any more questions and I will try to answer!

Please share and pin this post! If you make this project, share it in our Stuff Mama Makes Facebook Group. We have regular giveaways for gift cards to craft stores. You can also tag me on Instagram @doityourselfdanielle; I love seeing everything you make!

Photo of the Cricut Maker 3, the roll holder with black permanent vinyl in it, and a few boxes of SmartVinyl. Text says: "What is the Cricut Maker 3"

Google Web Story: Introducing the Cricut Maker 3

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