Cutting and crafting with Cricut’s Joy Xtra

May 21, 2024
2 mins read
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Cricut Joy Xtra

PAT PILCHER details how the latest super-versatile Cricut crafting machine has got his imagination running wild.

$549

 

If you’ve been following my scribbles, you’ll probably know that I’m a bit of a fan of the Cricut Maker 3 (see my review here) with which I regularly craft custom T-shirts, hoodies, mugs and all sorts of creatively cool stuff where only my imagination is the limit.

Not content with the Maker 3, the folks at Cricut have been beavering away to create a new Cricut machine and a bunch of even craftier tricks to unleash your creativity. The new machine is called the Cricut Joy Xtra, and the new tricks – well, they’re just brilliant!

Cricut machines might resemble an inkjet printer, but instead of a print head, they pack a precisely controlled blade that can cut incredibly detailed shapes into paper, wood, foil and a huge range of other clever materials. For example, clothing-friendly iron-on vinyl transfers can sparkle, glow, or even change colour depending on your body temperature. Install an engraving head, and you can even unleash your creativity on metals.

The newest trick that the folks at Cricut showcased is called Print Then Cut. Using newly launched inkjet-friendly vinyl, which you can print a multi-coloured design onto, the Cricut machine will cut around it, allowing it to be ironed onto clothes and other goodies. The net result is a super slick and professional-looking design. Alternatively, you can print with adhesive material, and the Cricut will cut out custom stickers. Needless to say, the whole stickering thing is incredibly addictive, not to mention a tonne of fun.

The Print Then Cut feature uses built-in sensors on the cutting head of the Cricut machine, which align using registration marks added to the printed design so that the printed image can be precisely cut around. For Print Then Cut to work, your Cricut machine must have an optical sensor. It’s supported by the original Cricut Maker, Maker 3, and Explore 3. It’s also supported in Cricut’s newest machine, the Joy Xtra, which packs all the capabilities of the larger Cricut Maker 3 into a smaller form, similarly sized as its older sibling, the Cricut Joy. It will cut, print and draw with pens, consuming far less computer desk real estate.

The Cricut Joy Xtra can cut – it’ll play nice with over 50 different Cricut consumables, as well as paper, cardstock, and balsa. It comes with a standard cutting blade, but you can also add a foil transfer tool, woodcutting blades or Cricut pens. Even though it is significantly smaller than the Maker 3, the Joy Xtra can take A4-sized consumables.

Getting set up was a complete doddle. It connected to my PC/phone via Bluetooth with no fuss. The Xtra is also easier to load and use as it automatically detects when you place a consumable in it thanks to a sensor that detects when a mat has been placed in it. Cleverly, the Cricut Design Space app will give you a detailed list of all the consumables that will work with the Xtra. It automatically adjusts the settings for whichever material you select, using the right pressure to cut.

Like the larger Maker 3, the Xtra also needs some room left behind it, as the consumables feed in and out of the back as the cutting process happens. This isn’t a huge issue, but buyers will want to factor this in when placing the machine on a desk.

If you’ve been coveting the Cricut Maker 3 but don’t have the space, the Xtra will be just what the doctor ordered. It’s dead easy to set up, and its compatibility with Print And Cut and a huge range of other Cricut consumables makes it a joy to use.

https://cricut.com/en-au/cricut-joy-xtra

 

 

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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