Vinyl is a beautiful way to decorate custom tees.
Whether you want to revamp your wardrobe, make a gift, or maybe run a t-shirt business, you must have a good vinyl cutter to help you create products you can be proud of.
After reading tons of vinyl cutting machine reviews, I’ve condensed down eight of the best vinyl cutters to help you take your vinyl crafts to the next level.
What’s the Best Vinyl Cutting Machine For Me?
Vinyl cutting machines are incredibly versatile and can be invaluable to your graphic making business.
Here are the categories that I’ve compiled to help you find the best vinyl cutting machine for t-shirts.
My top pick is the Silhouette Portrait 3. The flawless design of this product means it’s lightweight and portable.
It can still do everything sturdier models can do. If you don’t have a huge space or aren’t sure you want to invest in a more expensive model, this is for you.
Like all Silhouette Products, it has automatic tool detection to automatically recognize which tool is in your machine, ensuring you get the best cut every time.
It makes an excellent choice for a beginner who doesn’t want to invest a lot immediately. It is versatile enough for you to know that you’ve got your money’s worth being small enough to squeeze into a cupboard.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is my top choice for best vinyl cutting on a budget. It’s high quality and serviceable for different materials. It would suit most hobbyists or businesses out there and at a very reasonable price.
Although you need a strong internet connection to use wireless cutting software, hundreds of built-in designs and features allow you to have your pick.
I think this makes an excellent addition to any craft studio, and their tag line is ‘make every minute count!’
Roland is a brand known for its day-to-day reliability and long-lasting durability on its products.
Roland GS-24 is the best vinyl cutting machine for my editor’s pick. Roland is a big brand known for their day-to-day reliability and long-lasting durability on their products.
It’s incredibly user friendly and has loads of cool features
I love that it’s compatible with Windows and Mac, and also Adobe and Corel Draw.
It can be a nightmare trying to get files and images to sync up with each other, so that’s a bonus in my book.
The software has been designed for ease of use.
Easy software = higher productivity!
It has a much longer media length at nearly 1000”.
It will be able to cut a range of materials and thicker media of up to 1mm. There’s an option for a free-standing model or a desktop version.
Although it’s on the higher end of the budget, if you were to use this for professional design work, you would make your money back in no time.
While some companies offer a meager 90-day warranty, the Roland GS-24 provides a 3-year trouble-free warranty through Roland Care. This fantastic vinyl cutting machine ticks every box for me.
Best for Home Use
A high quality vinyl cutter that comes with a heat press. With this machine you can make your t-shirt production inhouse.
Best for Home Use
USCutter 28″ Vinyl Cutter + 15″ x 15″ Digital Heat Press Machine is my pick for home use. You can bring all of your crafts in-house with the vinyl cutter’s combo deal and the heat press. Save yourself time and money by doing everything yourself from the comfort of your home.
It couldn’t be easier to import your work at home from AI, EPS, and PDF files straight to the VinylMaster Cut.
Send more than one job to the queue, and it’ll sort them by color while you put the kettle on.
Best for Business
The USCutter Titan is my best vinyl cutting machine for business.
There’s a reason they have tens of thousands of customers.
This vinyl-cutting machine is of such high quality.
It comes in different sizes, although the 28” is plenty big for a t-shirt making business.
The machine is renowned for being powerful and inexpensive with lots of features, and I love the catch media basket attached.
The optional stand means you can use it on your desktop or have it on display in a corner. The rollers have a firm grip to prevent mistakes when using.
The inertial rotating blade holder enables more accurate and high-quality production.
It also comes with a cartridge of blue ink for plotter drawing.
The software includes clipart files, which you can access through your PC.
Customers say it’s a fun machine to use and easy to work for small projects.
The lifetime support and infinite web-based resources make this a top pick for me. There’s the option to purchase the combo bundle with the heated press too!
Best Vinyl Cutting Machine For T-shirts
Here comes the full review of all the machines from the lineup…
Cricut Explore Air 2 is a follow up to Cricut Explore Air Wireless. It’s one of the best brands amongst vinyl cutters.
This product comes in different colors (my favorite is mint!). This vinyl cutter will cut over 100 different materials for a t-shirt, including cardstock, vinyl, iron, glitter, and leather.
Small and elegant, the machine could almost be mistaken for a printer.
It will sit perfectly on a desk, weighing around 9.5kg. It includes one tool holder to keep spare blades and pens at the ready.
This unit cuts twice as fast as its older model Cricut Explore Air Wireless, and it comes with its own software called Design Space, which is easy to install and can be set up in minutes.
Like the Cricut Explore Air Wireless, the software gives you a library of pre-designed images to use, but you can use your designs and drawings directly.
You can send designs one by one from your phone or tablet straight to your device – this makes it a contender for the best vinyl cutting machine for t-shirts.
- Speed – fast mode will cut an 11.5” x 11.5” star in 11.3 seconds.
- Maximum cutting size – 24” x 12”
- Downward force – I was unable to find the exact downforce pressure. However, reviews say it’s easy to increase the pressure manually.
- Compatible with Windows and Mac.
- Multiple functions. Two carriages will score and draw on materials.
- Excellent customer service – they offer free phone customer support numbers for different parts of the world.
- You have to pay an additional monthly fee to continue to use the software after installation.
- Internet connection is required to use the software on the machine. It can be restrictive to do any preparatory design work if out of internet range.
The Silhouette Portrait 3 is a lightweight and portable wireless cutting machine and the latest model from Silhouette.
If you don’t have a huge crafting space to cut vinyl or create on the go – this could be the best option for you.
Send your work to the Silhouette Portrait 3 in seconds via Bluetooth or through a USB port. You get one month of free digital downloads of the Silhouette Studio software that is PixScan compatible.
It gives you a vast amount of free designs that you can customize.
Using a process called kiss cut, you’ll be able to cut without a mat with the Silhouette Portrait 3. When the cut doesn’t go through the backing, it only cuts through the first layer of material.
The one carriage auto blade can double up with sketch pens with the interchangeable adaptors that can be purchased separately.
With tons of videos online to get you started and multiple settings for cuts, this could be a great investment as a vinyl cutting machine for t-shirts.
- Speed: 1.2 in/s
- Maximum cutting size: 8” x 12”
- Downward force: 210g
- Great value for money.
- Great for iron on vinyl for t-shirts.
- Can be tucked away in a drawer.
- Noisy when in use.
- Mat can be very sticky and affect the cut.
The best Silhouette Cutter in terms of speed and power. The Silhouette Cameo 4 also comes with other great features such as a built-in crosscutter, built-in roll feeder, and Bluetooth.
The Silhouette Cameo 4 could be the best vinyl cutter machine for t-shirts, as with one specialty blade, you can cut design work with a force of up to 5000g.
The significant difference between the Silhouette Cameo 3 Bluetooth and the Silhouette Cameo 4 would be the sheer power, strength, and Bluetooth range.
Built-in Roll Feeder
The built-in roll feeder on the Silhouette Cameo 4 allows you to cut one design piece at a time directly from the vinyl roll.
The touch display on the Silhouette Cameo 4is back-illuminated, making it easier to give it instructions.
When you purchase the Silhouette Cameo 4, you get 100 free shapes in the design library and a free one-month subscription to the Silhouette studio software – pretty nifty for a design and cut machine.
Similar to the Silhouette Cameo 3 Bluetooth, a Silhouette studio software upgrade is available to export creations to standard file formats that can be used with other programs and devices.
- Speed – 1.2 in/s
- Maximum cutting size – 12” x 10 inches wide.
- Downward force – up to 5000g
- Works well with Mac.
- Software updates are suitable for businesses and provide flexible features.
- Speciality blades in one of the tool carriages allow more force.
- Loud when in use.
- Have to make an account online with the software to begin use.
Best for Business
The Titan 28-inch Vinyl Cutter comes from USCutter, which has over 7 years of industry experience.
This vinyl cutting machine comes with a stand and a catch basket to protect creases in your cut vinyl design work.
It features lasers to match up with the registration marks, helping guide the cutters for accurate output.
There is a USB connection port to directly plug the machine into your phone or computer and transfer your work.
The one LCD display lets you adjust the speed and pressure along with other set-up items.
Although it comes with VinylMaster Cut Plus software, you can use Sure Cuts-a-lot Pro as an add on option.
Customers have remarked how easy and fun the software is to use with their work, with opportunities to design, draw, and edit images.
The easy programming helps to eliminate the waste of precious materials in your vinyl cutting business for t-shirts.
- Speed – 39 in/s
- Maximum cutting size – 24 inches wide x 28”
- Downward force – 600g
- High-quality pinch and grip rollers to hold smaller bits of vinyl together.
- Excellent software compatible with mac and windows. Easy to use.
- Comes with three packs of blades included
- No training manual, but excellent online instructions. (USCutter have their own YouTube channel)
- No dust cover, and only comes with one 60 ° blade.
Best for Home Use
Another high quality vinyl cutter from USCutter that comes with a heat press. With this machine you can make your t-shirt production inhouse.
The USCutter 28 inch wide is similar to the Titan 28-inch Vinyl Cutter and could be the best vinyl cutter on the market.
This bundle comes with a 15” by 15” digital heat press machine.
You can 100% bring your t-shirt making apparel in-house with the heat transfer machine.
The combo buy means you can do your cutting work and pressing if you’re using heat press transfer vinyl all from the comfort of your home.
The superior ball-bearing dual roller system makes feeding material seamless.
The improved LCD backlight on the control panel makes the adjustable digital force and the speed easier to navigate.
That all-important emergency stop button saves on precious and expensive wastage from the heat transfer vinyl.
The heated press comes with one package of 10 sheets of 10” x 12”, which fits perfectly into the vinyl cutter.
After using the roller media roller system, weeding is a breeze.
The sticky base provides easy weeding of fine details and firm placement of graphics for t-shirts during the press. Could this be the best vinyl cutter?
The features of the software VinylMaster Cut can be used even on a low-quality jpeg and bitmap image.
For the production of t-shirts that require multiple layers of color, the VinylCut Master software has an innovative spooling function.
- Speed – 39” per second
- Maximum cutting size – 24 inches wide x 28”, plus 15 x 15” heat press machine
- Downward force – 600g
- Comes with a one year warranty.
- Three free blades included.
- Auto blade memory force.
- Only compatible with Windows.
- Instructions and features can be confusing.
It functions as a vinyl plotter and cutter. The basic set-up makes it a seller, with people saying it’s easy to use right out of the box.
The UScutter MH 34in wide vinyl cutter is slightly different from the previous model but just as good.
It has more than one use; by functioning as a vinyl plotter and cutter, you can draw on the vinyl and cut.
Being a much larger model, it’s not the one for the hobbyists with limited space.
Included are three fully adjustable pinch rollers to hold your vinyl still. You can adjust the speed and pressure too.
The VinylMaster Cut software is simple to install, although it can take time to adjust the settings for your perfect usage.
There’s an option for a UScutter MH 34in bundle, which includes five Greenstar vinyl material rolls with it, amongst other accessories.
The basic set-up makes it a seller, with people saying it’s no hassle to use right out of the box. There’s an option to use other software to change the designs outside of the built-in software’s capabilities.
- Maximum cutting size – 30.76 inches wide x 96”
- Downward force – 350g
- Speed – 39 in/s
- Good to use if you’re not tech-savvy.
- Lots of online resources for help.
- UScutter MH 34in bundle is an alternative.
- Pinch rollers can leave track marks on the vinyl.
- No alignment marks, so it can be tricky to get straight lines.
- Only compatible with Windows
Easy-to-use and comes with SIGNMASTER software, which allows you to cut professional customized designs. With this machine, you can import your own fonts, artworks and make custom shapes.
The VEVOR Vinyl Cutter Machine with LCD Display is on the bulkier side of vinyl cutters, but the large hardware makes it a sturdier machine. The caster wheels allow for convenient movement around your space.
Although it doesn’t come with Bluetooth, it hosts a USB port you can plug directly into your electronic device.
It comes with many accessories such as knives and a USB pen drive with videos and the software SignMaster on it for you to download. The LCD screen has buttons where you can adjust the speed and force for more precision and control.
There are heaps of videos online that tell you how to use the SignMaster cut program software, which can be upgraded.
While the design and cut software that comes with the machine may be a little outdated, you can download the newer version from the SignMaster website.
The program has features such as using your own fonts, importing custom artwork, and drawing your own shape.
After calibration, you can immediately use the electronic cutting machine – excellent for the best vinyl cutting machine for t-shirts.
- Downward force – 500g
- Speed – 31.5” per second.
- Maximum cutting size – 28 inches wide x 24.8”
- Great for precision design work.
- Additional utensils to play with.
- Lots of videos online telling you how to use the software.
- Instructions can seem complicated.
- Have to update the software, not so user friendly.
A versatile but durable machine. It’s incredibly user friendly and has loads of cool features
Roland is a brand known for its day-to-day reliability and long-lasting durability on its products.
The Roland GS is no exception – it’s one of the best.
You can perch this vinyl cutter on your desktop or use a stand, which has a holder attached for your vinyl roll media.
After the easy setup, this requires minimum maintenance and is very stable.
The high downforce pressure means you can overlap up to 10 times.
Consequently, you only have to measure once, and it’ll cut 10 times – suitable for high production of t-shirts.
Roland DG Cut Studio design software is compatible with Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw through cut studio plug-ins.
You can send one job at a time directly to the software from your own design program.
The cut settings can be altered through the Roland DG Cut Studio design, so you don’t have to touch the device control at all.
You can simply outline the image and create a cut line from a jpeg image you upload.
The program allows wireless trimming of a range of materials and even perforated lines.
- Downward force: 350g
- Maximum cutting size: 22.9 inches wide x 984.3”
- Speed – 20” per second.
- Innovate model for pinpoint accuracy.
- 3 Year-No-Trouble-Warranty.
- Excellent at weeding.
- Cut Studio software is only compatible with a few programs.
- Can be tech issues with the plotter function.
What is a vinyl cutter?
A vinyl cutting machine cuts vinyl and many other materials. It’s similar to a printer, except instead of printing, it will cut vinyl material.
It uses a computer-controlled blade and cuts any shape on materials such as logos.
Once the cut has been made, you can separate the vinyl from the sticky back paper and attach it to your t-shirt straight away or using a heat press.
This process is called weeding and can be fiddly with smaller designs. It can be compared to weeding a garden by removing the pieces that aren’t supposed to be there.
Some of the best vinyl cutters reviewed above; feature a dual function.
They work as a plotter and a printer with a ball bearing dual roller.
Instead of only cutting the shapes, they can print or mark over designs to enhance the aesthetic used for your t-shirt.
A vinyl plotter cartridge looks more like a pen, but a vinyl cutter cartridge looks more like a knife.
Advantage of Dual Function
Dual function vinyl machines can be useful if you want to save yourself money on different colored vinyl materials.
For modest jobs, a vinyl cutting device could be more suitable for your needs.
However, if you’re looking for something for precise design work with high stylized custom results and lots of features, then it could be worth looking into a vinyl cutter with more than one function.
Why do I need a vinyl cutting machine?
There are so many reasons why it’s worth investing in a DIY machine.
Control the process
If you want to use your vinyl cutter for arts and crafts at home or a start-up t-shirt printing business, it’s good to invest in yourself and stop out-sourcing vinyl printing.
If you’ve already got a profitable business in the t-shirt printing industry, it will help you control the production process.
Do you want to save time? Do it yourself!
You can now send your design work from any device straight to your wireless cutting machine for wire-free control.
Cut on demand!
You will be able to cut vinyl material as soon as someone orders with you, or whenever you have a flush of creativity.
If someone orders from you at 3 am and you feel like it, use your vinyl cutter and have hand-made t-shirts within the hour, ready to be shipped in the morning.
Owning a vinyl cutter means you can add a personal touch to t-shirts. You can create unique placements that might be difficult to explain to an outside organization.
You can execute unique finishes depending on customer needs – maybe glitter vinyl for children’s t-shirts or vinyl with a foil finish.
I saw a blackboard vinyl, which can be written on – Wowza!
You can combine more than one vinyl material to get an authentic and personalized finish with your very own machine for tees.
Lower production costs.
Although it may take a while to get to grips with your machine and understand the features and programs that come with it, in the long term, you will probably save a chunk of money – cha-ching!
A concern for lots of crafters is that they don’t know about a vinyl-cutting machine, and it can be scary to invest.
You can be reassured that it’s never been easier to learn about vinyl cutting.
There are infinite resources out there online, and you can find volumes of vinyl machine communities on social media that share their projects and advice.
What is a cutting mat, and do I need it?
One of the best ways to ensure you’re getting maximum use from your vinyl machine is using a mat.
A cutting mat is a lined mat or piece of plastic that has a sticky side. They’re used to attach one layer of vinyl to the sticky side to hold it in place before feeding it through the machine.
Useful, but not essential for vinyl cutters; however, if you want the best results with minimal waste, I advise using one.
Is a cutting mat necessary?
Many home crafters prefer to cut without a mat if your cutting’s vinyl material is too long to fit.
It’s important to note that the machine settings might have to be adjusted in the mat selection to ‘none.’
Only a handful of materials like vinyl can be cut without a cutting mat, so this won’t apply to every substrate.
You’ll have to adjust the rollers to make sure the grip rollers fit the vinyl’s width before you start to cut.
Choosing a vinyl-cutting machine can be daunting, and there are lots of things to be considered.
I’ve tried to cover some of the most important articles that may affect your decision.
The first thing is deciding what you will use the cutting machine for and how frequently you’ll use it.
Most devices will cut vinyl for tees well and precisely. Many vinyl cutting machines come with dual features.
If you want to use the vinyl-cutting machine for a range of materials, you might need to consider a device with a higher cutting force if the material used will be thicker.
How big do you want your designs to be? If you make small designs such as t-shirt emblems, a smaller model around 24 inches wide could work. If you’re looking to cover the front of an XXXL t-shirt, it would be better to look into larger machines with features of a cutting width of 34 inches wide.
Look for exact specifications when researching as it could state ‘cut up to 28 inches wide’, although it may only reach a cutting width of 27.5 inches wide due to the motor cartridge allowance.
You need to be conscious of the space you’ll use your vinyl-cutting machine in. If you only have a small desktop area, a lighter and slimmer model could suit you.
If you’re using the device in a larger capacity, a free-standing vinyl cutting machine could be one of the best choices for you.
Vinyl cutting machines vary from $200 – $2000+, so it’s essential to work out how much you want to spend initially and look to make back your costs through the profit of sales of t-shirts.
Ensure to check the warranty, as spare parts can be expensive if the machine breaks.
Some products come in bundle packs, including vinyl rolls, heat press machines, cutting mats, and other accessories.
Your desired output should determine the speed of the machine. If you’re looking to create finer weeding projects, a slower in/s machine could provide you with a safety margin of error.
If you’re hoping for speedy output, then you’ll want to invest in a fast vinyl-cutter that can enhance production.
Are you happy to use a USB port?
They’re usually a reliable and convenient way to connect your electronic device to vinyl-cutting machines. An increasingly popular technology with these types of machines is to use Bluetooth.
- Pros – no cables, quick transfer.
- Cons – we’ve all been there trying to connect to Bluetooth for a time, either sending a picture or connecting to a speaker!
You want to make sure the software is compatible with your device.
It would be disappointing to purchase a product and realize you cannot use it with your laptop or tablet choice. There are so many different types of programs available in the market.
Some of the programs for even the best vinyl cutting machines will only work online despite being plugged in with a USB, so it’s essential to consider if an online or offline package will suit you.
Many of us like to use a set dial on our equipment, and others want to use a touch screen. With some program, you can change the cut settings through your electronic device, meaning you don’t have to worry about tampering with one tiny LCD screen.
Do I need to be an expert in design to use a vinyl-cutting machine?
There are operating systems available with hundreds, if not thousands of ready-made designs for you to play around to help you create the best vinyl for your tees.
Some software is compatible with other design programs, so if you’re feeling brave, you can upload your ideas from these platforms.
Other machines allow you to draw directly onto vinyl material before feeding it through. You can use your cutting mat for drawing stability. Trial and error, right?
How do I know what setting to use for my material?
It will depend on the type of material you are using. In the settings, there should be an option to ‘browse materials.’
This will all be evident in the user setup training guide that will either be provided as a hard copy or available online.
How long is my blade going to last?
Several factors will affect the longevity of a blade for a vinyl-cutting machine. Blades are designed for durability depending on the manufacturer but roughly 500m+. It could be less if you’re using a thicker material.
It depends on the projects’ size how often you use the electronic cutting machine, vinyl material, and the type of blade you choose.
Why do I need to use a cutting mat?
The cutting mat protects the cutter from the rotary blade and helps to stabilize your vinyl.
Though not essential to larger vinyl cutting projects, using a mat for leftover vinyl ensures that the vinyl is safely loaded and won’t move during the process.
Attach the vinyl to the cutting mat lines, which will align with the operating system lines.
Common mistakes to avoid
It doesn’t matter if you are new to vinyl cutting or if you’re the best vinyl cutter in the world. Mistakes happen.
When you make the same mistakes repeatedly, it can be frustrating and could be causing expensive wastage or damage to your electronic cutting machine.
Avoiding the manual
It’s crucial to invest the time and read over the user manual with the electronic cutting machine.
Instruction manuals can seem tedious, but I cannot express how imperative it is to get maximum use from your cutting machine.
Not doing test cuts
Make a habit of test cutting on a smaller piece of vinyl to avoid waste. This is the most common mistake made, even by professionals. Every time you use your machine, do a test cut first to prevent unwanted results.
Not stabilizing the machine before cutting
You need to stabilize your material from the start by ensuring it is secure to your cutting mat.
Cutting without a mat can cause tears to the vinyl, or worst case, it will get stuck inside the machine – what a mess! This can also happen if your mat is old and the stickiness to it has decreased.
Not understanding blade offset
The blade offset is the distance from the tip of the blade to the center.
It’s the measurement of the blade’s effective cutting width. If your blade offset is too low, then your corners will be rounded.
If your blade offset is too high, the corners will bulge outwards.
If the blade offset is at 0, your shape will also be attached to the waste.
There is a blade offset setting to send instructions to the blade to further complete the cut.
Not cleaning the machine
This is important to take note of, especially if you’re not using the cutting mat.
Smaller pieces of vinyl that have been cut can sit in the machine.
- Lift the pinch rollers when you have finished using your vinyl machine.
- This will help to prevent indentations on future design work.
- Wipe off any dust that accumulates, as dust can attach itself to other materials that you cut. One of the best ways to get rid of lint and dust is to use a can of compressed air to send any dust or dirt flying away.
- You can also use this in the USB port if you’re having problems connecting from your PC or electronic device.
- You should clean the vinyl cutting machine daily if you’re using it daily.
- Inspect the grit rollers for dirt and debris with a nylon brush.
- Remove any excess vinyl or large debris, clean the adjustable pinch rollers with a dry cloth. Even a mild cleaning solution can dry out the rubber prematurely.
If a pinch roller becomes dry or damaged, it’s time to replace it. Be careful when cleaning the rotary blade!
Not taking time to investigate a failed product
A problem that’s identified is more straightforward to solve than a repeating pattern that is not.
When a wrong cut is made, don’t assume you know what might have caused it.
It may have been the program, but it could be due to other reasons.
Tearing of vinyl occurs when there is more blade exposed than required or more cutting force than necessary.
If the design isn’t cut, the opposite could have happened.
The blade could be chipped or isn’t exposed enough, or hasn’t been enough cutting force.
Only a partial cut could be too fast, or the force was lower than required.
This is quite a comprehensive list of the best machines that will cut vinyl for your home and business projects.
There is a lot to bear in mind when choosing the right model for your work, and you may feel swamped with information in the beginning.
My overall top pick is the Silhouette Portrait 3.
I love the kiss cut feature and its straightforward navigability. And if you’re limited in space, it’s small enough to hide away in a drawer.
Cricut Explore Air II is great for making crafts on a budget. With hundreds of built-in designs for you to use and play around with, I think you get your money’s worth.
Roland GS-24 is the Editor’s Pick.
The fact that it’s compatible with all PC formats makes it a winner for me.
Technology can be hard enough to figure out, but customers love the easy software!
I hope this has given you some advice and top pointers for the way.
Only settle for a machine that is the best for you. Happy crafting!