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Trying to decide between a Glowforge and Cricut machine? It can be a hard decision as to what will be the most advantageous for you! This post details the differences and similarities between Glowforge vs Cricut to help you make the best decision!
Glowforge machines and Cricut machines are very popular in the crafting and design world, especially for small businesses. They both have unique features that can help you make amazing designs! However, it can be hard to know which one is best for you. We’ve been using various Cricut machines for years and recently dived into the world of Glowforge, so this post should help you see some of the pros and cons of each machine!
Since about 2016, we have been avid Cricut users – in fact, if you were to walk into our basement, you might think we live in a Cricut store.
I think they are wonderful crafting machines, and they have been a huge part of my crafting life and our Clarks Condensed community.
But recently, we got a Glowforge Pro, and we have been LOVING it. It has taken our creating and crafting to a whole new level, and I am constantly amazed by the things we are making with it (especially because I’m not so great with the whole design thing).
A lot of people have asked what the differences and similarities are between a Cricut machine and a Glowforge 3D laser printer. They do have a lot of similarities – but also some stark differences – so I thought I’d put together a little comparison guide so you can decide for yourself which one (or if both) are right for you!
The truth is, they both have great features, and they can even work hand in hand together. However, it can be a tough decision about which one you want to add into your craft room (or if you feel like you need to upgrade!)
There’s no right answer for everyone, but we hope this post will help you, at the very least, determine what the differences are!
Glowforge and Cricut Comparison Table
Here is a little at-a-glance comparison table between the top Cricut machines currently available and Glowforge. Clearly, this doesn’t give a ton of insight, but we will go into more details afterward! I have also included information on the Silhouette Cameo 4, just for comparison sake.
|Glowforge||Cricut Maker 3||Explore 3||Joy||Silhouette Cameo 4|
|Price||Between $2999 and $5999||$399||$299||$179||$299|
|Size||Extra Large||Medium (easy to carry)||Medium (easy to carry)||Small||Medium (easy to carry)|
|File Types||SVG, PNG, JPG, PDF (and various others)||SVG, PNG, JPG, BMP, GIF||SVG, PNG, JPG, BMP, GIF||SVG, PNG, JPG, BMP, GIF||SVG, PNG, JPG, DXF|
|Functions||Engraves, Cut, Scores||Cut, Score, Writes, Deboss, Engraves||Cuts, Scores and Writes||Cuts and Writes||Cuts, Writes, Scores, Engrave|
|How it works||CO2 laser||Die Cutting||Die Cutting||Die Cutting||Die Cutting|
|Warranty||6 month on basic, 12 month on Pro and Plus||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year|
|BUY NOW||SAVE UP TO $500||BUY NOW||BUY NOW||BUY NOW||BUY NOW|
If you want a more detailed comparison of the Glowforge models (the Glowforge Pro, Glowforge Plus and Glowforge Basic), make sure you check out this post – Glowforge Pro, Plus or Basic: An In-Depth Comparison (2021)
Here are a few posts about the different Cricut machines. I’ll update with overviews of the Explore 3 and Maker 3 soon.
Clearly, if you are on a budget, the Cricut Maker is going to be your best option. The Cricut Maker 3 is $399 and you can get the original Cricut Maker for even less.
The price of the Glowforge is going to set you back a couple thousand dollars – at the minimum. There is definitely more of an initial investment than with the Cricut Maker. However, the machines do have different features, so if there are projects you want to make that require a laser, the Glowforge is your best bet. I definitely think wood is much better with the Glowforge!
I do think that if you are looking for a machine for personal use, a Cricut machine is probably the best place to start. While there are people who use a Glowforge simply for leisure, Cricut cutting machines are ideal for consumer use. The Glowforge Basic is a great entry level laser cutter and many people are able to have very successful businesses with it.
The Glowforge is huge – there’s no way you are going to throw it in a cute carrying case and bring it with you when you travel or over to a friend’s house for a craft night. The Glowforge is huge and heavy, and it is really just going to stay put wherever you put it. You will need a large, sturdy table to use it with, and if you have small quarters, it might be harder to find a place that’s not in the middle of everything. It is the shape of a large-format printer, and while it is sleek looking, it’s not the most beautiful machine (though I do think it looks a lot nicer than most printers)
Cricut machines come in various sizes, but they are all portable. They are easier to find a space for, store in a cupboard, or take with you to a craft night or even while traveling. It’s definitely more of an easily accessible machine. They are aesthetically pleasing.
The Glowforge laser cutter has a larger workable area of the bed.
Laser versus Blades
This is where you might see the biggest difference when it comes to the machines – how they work.
Cricut machines use blades in order to cut, write, and score on materials. The Cricut Maker has additional tools that allow it to deboss, engrave, and do various other tasks.
Glowforge machines are powerful laser cutters that use a laser for engraving, cutting, and scoring. Obviously, these are two very different processes. They have tons of different blades – such as the rotary blade and knife blade – and they are always developing new tools that can be used with it.
With Cricut, you have to switch out the blade or tool depending on what you want to do with it, which also means you need to keep track of those. They aren’t all included with a purchase of your Cricut machine, and, depending on what Cricut you get, not all of the tools will be compatible.
Both machines have engraving capabilities, but for a more fool proof cut and engrave, I definitely lean more toward the Glowforge.
I think they both can be very precise – but I feel like the Glowforge has a more consistent professional finish with less work on your part.
With a Cricut machine, there’s more places, I feel, that things can go downhill – if you don’t have your material pressed down perfectly, if you weed out the wrong thing, or if your mat/material has some issue during the process. These are obviously more user-error than anything, but as I’ve used my Glowforge, I feel like my final results look better more consistently.
I’ve been extremely impressed with the amount of detail that can be accomplished with the Glowforge. I’m always more nervous to do anything super intricate with my Cricut – though it certainly can be done.
When it comes to wood projects, the Glowforge wins, hands down! I’ve been able to successfully cut with my Cricut, but the results are so much more professional than with the Cricut.
I actually think the Glowforge is the most user-friendly of the two machines, which might come as a surprise because it’s SO big – and sometimes that makes things seem more difficult to use. However, I feel like it’s easier to make projects with the Glowforge and to get started with it. I felt a little more overwhelmed before I used it, but the ease of use was quite simple once we got the machine set up.
With my Cricut, in the beginning, I felt like there were so many moving parts and things to check off when I was having to deal with before actually making a design, and then I’d have to put it altogether afterward. With the Glowforge – at least with the projects I’ve made – there isn’t as much after work. I mean, you have to remove the masking and sometimes paint or glue or stain. But I’ve found my projects seem more ready-to-go.
Both have their own design programs that you must use to make your projects. Of course, you can use any number of design software programs (such as Inkscape or Adobe Illustrator) to make your actual designs, but in order to make the projects, you have to use the Glowforge App or Cricut Design Space to execute the design.
The Glowforge Web App is pretty simple to use. I don’t ever use it for design, though. They do have a number of free projects, but the majority you either have to pay for or you can gain access to with their monthly subscription. If you want to use their images for designs, you’ll have to use subscribe to their premium program. It’s easy to upload your projects and size them how you want. I love that it uses cameras to help you make sure your project is printing to the right place. I haven’t had any issues with it being down ever. You do need to be connected to the Internet in order to make your designs with your Glowforge.
Design Space is free to use and has a fair amount of free projects, designs, images, and fonts. Their premium subscription – Cricut Design Space – is affordable and nice for people who aren’t comfortable creating their own designs or uploading them to Design Space. The biggest gripe I hear from people is how glitchy Design Space is. I personally don’t have that many issues, but it’s probably the number one complaint I get in my Facebook group. They have a desktop version that was released within the last few years, which is nice if you want to design offline. You don’t need an Internet connection in order to cut – just either Bluetooth or a direct connection to your laptop.
You really need a desktop or laptop computer when you are using your Glowforge. However, Cricut has a smart phone and table app that makes it so you can design and cut just about anywhere!
You can cut a filed variety of image files with both machines:
Glowforge File Types:
Glowforge is also compatible with file types from different design programs as well.
Cricut File Types:
There are so many different projects you can make with both machines. You can get lots of ideas from Etsy and in their design programs. Here are a few resources to help you get a better idea of what you can make/create:
Cricut machines are great for vinyl decals, customized apparel, paper projects, etc. Glowforge machines are great for thicker materials, wood signs, door signs, and acrylic earrings. Both machines are capable of making so many amazing projects. Both can assist you in making beautiful home decor!
Both of these machines can be used to sell products and run a business successfully. I actually see a lot of people use these machines together to execute their designs. Some projects can be done interchangeably, but I think they have unique features that they are particularly good at.
I feel like Glowforge is best for thicker materials and more precise designs – and for projects that involve engraving and deep cuts. The Cricut is best for vinyl projects (such as customized apparel) and paper projects. Both of them can work pretty well with leather, though I think Glowforge is better for customizing and cutting it out.
With the Glowforge – especially if you use the Pass Through feature with the Glowforge Pro – there are so many great opportunities of what you can do with.
I feel like Glowforge is best for larger scale cuts and engraving, especially if you don’t want to have to sit by the machine and watch it. Obviously, you don’t have to do this with a Cricut machine, but I personally find that I trust the Glowforge a little more!
Both machines can cut a wide variety of materials. Both companies have their own custom-created materials that they have presets for in their design program. With Glowforge, they have Proofgrade materials. These come with masking on them and have been extensively tested with Glowforge machines. They have a QR code that can be scanned to make sure your settings are perfect. You can definitely use other materials, but you are more on your own when it comes to troubleshooting the settings.
The Glowforge is meant for thicker, hardier materials like wood, acrylic, glass, leather, etc. That’s where it truly shines.
With Cricut and Silhouette machines, they are going to be better with thinner materials like vinyl, cardstock, and paper. I have successfully cut balsa wood and basswood, but I always feel like it’s kind of tricky.
Cricut also has its own line of compatible materials. Some of them are great, others…not so much. But if you use them, the settings are set in Design Space for more foolproof cuts. They have a lot of other preset materials in Design Space that AREN’T Cricut-created, however, you often do need to adjust these to find a sweet spot for the specific material you are using.
Cricut also as their new smart materials which can be used with the Maker 3, Explore 3, and Cricut Joy. This makes it easier to always use the right amount of material.
Cricut and Silhouette machines are definitely much quieter than the Glowforge. I honestly am not bothered by the sound of the Glowforge, but it is quite a bit louder! If you live in an apartment complex or close by to someone else, this is something I would take into account. I’ve seen in some Glowforge groups about people who have had neighbors complain about how loud their machine is.
Both machines can be safely used pretty easily, but there are more safety precautions that you need to take when using the Glowforge – specifically when it comes to venting. I’m never worried about toxic fumes with my Cricut machine, and the main safety concern I have is accidentally cutting myself with one of the sharper blades (which has never happened).
With that said, I actually feel more comfortable having my kids help me with the Glowforge than with the Cricut, because I feel like it’s easier for them to use and there is less that can go wrong.
Both of these machines have the potential to cost a lot of money beyond the cost of the machine, though obviously you are going to be set behind from the start a bit more with the Glowforge.
The Glowforge has an included four-inch exhaust duct hose to filter odors and toxins out of your home through a window. However, if you don’t have an easily accessible window, you will need the Glowforge Air filter or another hack (lots of people like to use inline exhaust fans). The Air Filter is $1000!
When it comes to comparing the Glowforge and Cricut machines, there are a lot of factors to consider. One isn’t inherently better than another – a lot of it comes down to what you want to make with it! I hope that this comparison has helped you decide what is best for you!
If you are getting a Glowforge, don’t forget you can save $500 on the Pro and $250 on the Plus when you go through our referral link.
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