Do you want to open a print shop business or make decals as a pastime? Then you definitely need the best Cricut machine for vinyl decals. This type of machine not only prints the desired decals on vinyl substrates, but it can also cut out intricate patterns and designs.
While Cricut is a famous name in the industry, other brands also propose valid alternatives and similar machines. Finding the best value for money, thus, can be challenging.
To get the best machine for your needs, you should consider the size of the decals or stickers you’d like to make and whether you want to draw your own or upload ready-to-use designs. With this in mind, check out our selection of machines below to find the right one.
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1. Cricut Explore Air 2
- Brand: Cricut
- Model: 2004419
- Weight: 16.12 pounds
- Dimensions: 24 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches
- Color: Black
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is perhaps the best Cricut machine for vinyl decals for professional and hobbyists alike. It brings unrivaled value for money and impresses with a variety of features developed specifically to help you draw or cut intricate designs and patterns.
While the Cricut Design Space software is not free of charge, you can download and use it at a reasonable price. Not only you can use the software to create new projects, but the machine comes with a wealth of built-in designs and even gives you the possibility to upload new ones.
A nice feature is the Bluetooth connectivity that allows you to make quick uploads from a mobile device or Bluetooth-enabled PC.
Cutting is also made easy by the sharp blade included in the package. Not only the Explore Air 2 can cut vinyl in the blink of an eye. It can also handle a variety of other materials, including paper, cardboard, and various fabrics.
Made to withstand the test of time and the needs of hobbyists and professionals alike, this is a great machine for vinyl decals at a price that won’t break the bank.
2. Cricut Maker Machine
- Brand: Cricut
- Model: 2005466
- Weight: 25.1 pounds
- Dimensions: 10.4 x 10.2 x 25.8 inches
- Color: Rose
There is hardly any other machine for vinyl decals better than the Cricut Maker. This is la crème de la crème from Cricut, a powerful tool that finds its place in professional shops. Nevertheless, it’s easy enough to use by newbies, and it comes in a bundle that makes it a perfect choice for the vinyl decal enthusiasts.
The machine itself impresses with outstanding material compatibility and unmatched cutting power. It can also draw patterns and comes with built-in designs and the Cricut Design Studio as standard, or you could upload your own patterns and designs.
Machine apart, what makes this bundle special is the variety of accessories developed specifically for making vinyl decals.
You’ll get a tool kit and an assorted range of vinyl sheets, as well as instruction booklets and tips for DIY vinyl projects, including heat transfer designs and multiple project ideas. It might cost you more than our top pick, but considering the accessories, it’s undoubtedly worth every dime.
3. Brother CM350E ScanNCut2
- CREATE RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX: The CM350E electronic cutting machine gives you the...
- SCAN DRAWINGS: The 300dpi built in scanner allows you to scan your drawing to convert...
- STUNNING DIY PROJECTS: Craft with 631 built-in designs, including 100 quilt designs...
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- Brand: Brother
- Model: CM350E
- Weight: 14.3 pounds
- Dimensions: 23.5 x 11.1 x 11 inches
- Color: Grey
ScanNCut 2 by Brother might not come from Cricut, but it’s an excellent machine for vinyl decals. It works in a way similar to the Cricut machines but packs a wealth of additional features. The one we like best is the Scan-n-Cut feature that lets you scan the material and place the design on top of it before cutting.
Thanks to this feature, you can leave the guesswork out of the game and minimize material waste.
Ready to use straight out of the box, it also lets you turn your scanned images directly into unique decals or cut designs. Furthermore, if you’re not that creative, you can also make good use of the 361 built-in designs, including quilt designs and letter fonts.
Either in your workshop or at home, you’ll also have free access to the CanvasWorkspace, easy-to-use cloud-based software designed to help you build projects and where you can access free logos, clip arts, or watch instruction videos.
An online activation card also makes it possible to transfer vinyl decal designs from your mobile devices. Perfect for a variety of purposes, this machine is a great choice for most print shops.
4. Silhouette Cameo 4
- Bonus content on Amazon only: digital copy of the silhouette Handbook and 10...
- The Cameo unique dual carriage allows for tool Type detection. The machine's...
- The Cameo 4 stands apart from previous models with the new dual motor system, which...
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- Brand: Silhouette
- Model: SILH-CAMEO-4-PNK-4T
- Weight: 13.23 pounds
- Dimensions: 9.4 x 3.9 x 3.1 inches
- Color: Pink
Compact yet mighty, the Silhouette Cameo 4 is an excellent machine for vinyl decals for those with little available space. It’s small enough to fit on a desk, yet you can still use it for cutting longer jobs thanks to the convenient built-in roll feeder.
In other words, you can use it to make small decals for t-shirts or mugs, as well as larger ones for cars or signs.
A built-in cross cutter also makes it easy to cut your vinyl roll quickly and easily, while the Silhouette Studio software gives you countless ways to create new designs and customize your cutting projects. Furthermore, we also like Silhouette Connect that gives you the possibility to use Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw to cut directly from these programs so you won’t have to bother about uploading the designs to the Silhouette software.
Another highlight is the tool type detection that allows the machine’s smart system to detect what tools you are using and adjust the cutting settings automatically.
Perfect for all your projects, the machine also comes with built-in designs as well as over 100,000 downloadable designs in the Silhouette Design Store. No doubt, a great choice for beginners as well as small vinyl decal shops.
Types of Craft Vinyl
The first step towards creating beautiful decals is choosing the right type of vinyl. Essentially, there are two kinds you can pick for.
It is used for making vinyl stickers, but also decals designed to be applied to all kinds of smooth, hard surfaces. These include water transfer decals for cups, plates, cars, or other surfaces.
Heat transfer vinyl
This type of vinyl is designed for decals intended to be transferred on fabrics. As its name suggests, it must be used with a heat press. Unlike adhesive vinyl that has a paper backing, HTV consists of a plastic carrier sheet that covers the top of the vinyl for easier transfer.
Which Type of Vinyl to Use?
Besides the two types of vinyl mentioned above, if you need adhesive decals, you should also consider where you want to place it. Adhesive vinyl can be placed both indoors and outdoors, with the latter being designed for permanent application.
While there is no precise rule, outdoor vinyl usually has a glossy finish and is perfect for car decals, applications on cups and mugs, plates, and other items that might go into a dishwasher. It is also perfect for outdoor signs or permanent indoor signs. It can be removed if needed, but it will usually damage the paint on your wall.
Indoor vinyl is designed to be removed easily, and it is usually used for making stickers, such as birthday stickers, glass or wall stickers for holidays, etc. You can also use this type of vinyl for making stencils, removable wall decals, and indoor signs.
How to Make a Vinyl Decal
There are two ways to make vinyl decals, depending on what type of vinyl you’re using.
How to make adhesive vinyl decals
- Using a design software – either your own or the Cricut software – create the design of your decal and upload it to the Cricut machine.
- Mount the right cutting tool, load the vinyl, then center the design onto the material with the help of the software.
- Press the start button and let the machine cut out the decal.
- Apply the decal to any smooth, hard surface, including walls, mugs, ceramic plates, wood, etc.
How to make HTV decals
If you want to make decals to decorate various fabrics, follow the steps above to create the design. Instead of a cutting tool, use transferable ink pens to draw the decal design on HTV vinyl.
Once the drawing is complete, place the vinyl sheet on the item you want to decorate – you can use it on bags, tees, towels, and other types of fabrics or heat resistant materials. Use an iron or heat press to transfer the design from the vinyl sheet onto the fabric.
That’s it! You now know how to make decals, so all you have to do is choose the best Cricut machine for vinyl decals and indulge in creative projects.