Print and cut machines are used in a variety of industries and serve a variety of purposes. With the pandemic restrictions slowly starting to ease across the world, businesses are starting to ramp back up and get ready to trade again!
The pandemic had a big impact on small businesses – forcing thousands to close their doors for good. With trade beginning to pick up, it’s understandable that you want to keep a tight hold of your money while also getting the equipment you need to start earning.
This begs the question – what are the cheapest print and cut machines available on the market that provide excellent value for money?
For those looking to do it as a bit of fun, the best combination would be the HP ENVY Photo 7855 pair with the CriCut Explore Air 2. This is the very cheapest print and cut machine combo and a great starting point for any budding print and cut maestros.
Depending on your needs, you can upgrade to the CriCut Maker (cutter) for a more powerful blade and/or the Canon Pixma TS6320 (printer) for higher quality and thicker material output.
But don’t just take our word for it – we’ve scoured the web looking for the most promising, cheapest print and cut machine combination on the market to show how they compare to each other. But before that – let’s talk a little more about print and cut machines.
What Are Print & Cut Machines?
In today’s day and age, you can get such a machine that does both the printing and cutting of materials all in one go. An example of this is the Roland DG BN20 – this machine is considered the best machine on the market at the moment – however, this comes at a huge cost upwards of $7,000 exclusive of materials. Don’t worry, it’s possible to get the same output without breaking the bank by sourcing two machines; printers and cutters.
You’re probably very familiar with what a printer is – it’s something that is connected to a computer (either via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or a wired connection) that projects a digital image onto a piece of material (usually paper) for use in the physical world.
However, you need to be careful not to just go out and buy any old printer as you need to remember that you’re not going to be using this to simply print recipes. You need something that can print designs that will eventually be used to heat transfer vinyl onto apparel (as an example).
The majority of printers can’t print materials much thicker than photo paper and so when you’re looking at buying the cheapest print and cut machine on combo, you need to know what you’re looking for.
If you hadn’t gathered already, these cutters are used in conjunction with a printer. This is currently the only way you can complete print and cut projects without needing to sell an organ for an all-in-one machine!
Cutters usually come with their own design software that you load into a computer. This allows your computer to communicate with the cutter and let it know exactly what shapes/designs it should be cutting out.
Some cutters do actually come with felt tip pen attachments which means you can print out a design and cut it at the same time – however, this will only be helpful for very basic projects i.e. one colour outline and no fill. To get the more intricate designs, you need the printer to print the designs out, ready to load into the cutter and the cutter does its job from there.
What Is A Print & Cut Machine Combo Used For?
In short, there are tons of projects that require a printer and cutter combination to complete. Potential projects could include wrapping a vehicle, preparing designs on transfer paper, ready to be heat pressed onto clothing, creating signage – the list goes on.
Many people tend to enjoy tasking themselves with print and cut projects as a hobby. It allows their creative mind to run wild whilst using the cutter’s bespoke design software and having a crisp, clean output on the other side.
These types of projects can include:
- Creating custom labels/stickers that they can stick to their belongings; and
- Creating fun designs that they can wear and show off to their friends & family.
This doesn’t have to be anything too serious but you can use print and cut machines to earn yourself a little extra money too!
Although they do need a little bit of upfront money to get started (i.e. buying the machines and the materials), you can start making products you think will be in demand and advertising them online!
One great example of this is the Love Island bottles – remember these:
These personalized bottles BOOMED during Love Island and are a nice easy project for the likes of a printer and a cutter.
Note – make sure that whatever you intend to make has not been trademarked as you don’t want any problems coming your way!
A Full-time Business
Finally, you can always start a full-blown business! This requires a little more time and effort as you’ll need to consider more complicated things like setting up a business, filing tax returns, and all that other fun stuff.
Additionally, you’ll find that you’ll need a set of machines that can handle a high load of orders relatively quickly and so you’ll likely need to move away from a two-machine setup and move onto something a bit more advanced i.e. an all-in-one print & cut machine.
We’re now going to take a look at our favourite, cheap printers and cutters. This will be split out into 2 sections – the printers, and the cutters. So without further ado, let’s take a look at our findings:
- Color Touchscreen;
- Separate tray for photo printing (meaning it supports printing up to 200gsm);
- Print directly from SD card or USB;
- Supports multiple material sizes (4×5 inch, 4×6 inch, 5×7 inch, 8×10 inch, No. 10 envelopes);
- Uses a 4 ink cartridge system; and
- Costs $120
Our Thoughts On The HP ENVY Photo 7855
The printer looks to provide everything you need from an inkjet printer and given the capabilities, this machine appears to be priced very cheaply.
This looks to be a great printer to get you started, supporting a multitude of material sizes and weights up to 200gsm.
Based on user feedback, the quality of printing on photo paper is left lacking so this may not be suitable for someone looking to print super high-quality imagery as part of their designs.
- Uses a 5 ink cartridge system;
- Prints material up to 252gsm (glossy photo paper);
- Has OLED 1.44 inch display;
- Supports multiple material sizes (3.5×3.5 inch, 4×6 inch, 7x10inch, etc.);
- Supports Bluetooth & Wi-Fi printing; and
- Costs $330
Our Thoughts On The Canon Pixma TS6320
Another one of our favourite inkjet printers. The TS6320 boasts a 5 ink cartridge system allowing for very high-quality images to be produced. In addition to this, it has the power to print on up to 252gsm material.
Although it is almost triple the price of the HP Envy, it will produce a much higher quality finish and allow you to print on a wider range of materials. Given this, we feel that $330 is very cheap for a printer that provides this much value.
- Doesn’t use ink cartridges – uses refillable ink bottles instead (keeping costs low);
- Can print in 5760 x 1440 optimised DPI;
- Prints in 4 colours; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black;
- Printing dimensions of 14.8 x 22.8 x 10 inches;
- 1.44-inch colour display;
- Costs $220
Our Thoughts On The Epson EcoTank ET-2720
This printer seems to take the very low-budget-friendly element of the HP Envy and the super high-quality printing of Canon Pixma and put them together into one great printer. If you’re looking to pursue cut and print projects that require a high level of printing resolution, this may just be the printer for you.
The main downside is that it cannot take anything much thicker than a piece of paper – it doesn’t even print on cardstock. This will massively narrow down the sorts of print and cut projects that you could potentially complete.
1. Cricut Maker
- Extremely lightweight – can fit on a small desk;
- Bluetooth wireless connection to a computer – no untidy cords;
- Comes with design software;
- A very large variety of accessories and add-ons available; and
- Budget-friendly at $380.
Our Thoughts On The Cricut Maker
The Cricut Maker seems to be a great choice for someone looking for a cheap cutter that provides a reliable and consistent output.
With no wires, and a small compact design, the Cricut Maker is ideal for a hobbyist or someone just getting started in the print and cut industry.
Projects that can be completed on the Cricut Maker include:
- Heat transfer vinyl projects;
- Contour cutting; and
This is a very affordable machine so is a great option even for a business that may be tight on money.
- Similar to the Cricut Maker – the Cricut Explore Air 2 also comes with a free design app;
- Comes with a variety of cutting, writing and foiling tools;
- Very lightweight & compact – will fit on a small desk;
- Has a lot of different accessories that can be bought to supplement the machine; and
- Costs $180.
Our Thoughts On The Cricut Explore Air 2
Judging by the specifications of the Cricut Explore Air 2 and the Cricut Maker, they are very similar and look to mostly provide the same sort of capability – however, the Cricut Maker is over 2x the price of the Explore Air 2.
The main differences between the Maker and the Explore Air 2 are:
- The Maker has 10x the cutting force of the Explore Air 2;
- The Maker comes with 13 tools for cutting, writing, scoring and embellishing; and
- The Maker is advertised to cut through over 300 different materials -v- 100 for the Explore Air 2.
Based on the above, this explains the reason for such a large pricing discrepancy.
If we were to make a judgement on whom should buy the Maker and whom should buy the Explore Air 2 – we would recommend the Maker in most cases.
This is because it gives you the option to try a multitude of cutting projects without having to purchase a different machine. However, this is only true for those looking to do this as a very small side business or a hobby – you’d need something a little bigger and more robust if you’re seriously considering starting a full-blown business.
Of course, if you don’t have $400 spare, the Explore Air 2 is always a great starting point as you still get a feel for how these types of machines work.
- Comes in 3 sizes – 12inch, 15inch, 24inch;
- Very lightweight – weighs in at 4kg;
- Comes with its own design software (Silhouette studio);
- Connects to the computer via Bluetooth; and
- Costs range between $280 (12inch) up to $500 (24inch).
Our Thoughts On The Silhouette Cameo Pro
At first glance, this is very similar to the Cricut machines – however, the main distinction is the cutting power. The Cricut Maker can cut materials up to a thickness of 2.4mm whereas the Cameo Pro can cut up to a thickness of 3mm.
If you’re finding it difficult to decide which is better; the Cameo Pro or the Maker – here’s a few questions I’d courage you to ask yourself:
- What is the thickness of the material I want to cut? If more than 2.4mm, then I’d go with the Cameo Pro.
- What is the width of the materials I want to cut? The Maker can cut up to 13inches in width whereas the smallest Cameo Pro is 12 inches.
At the price points of the Silhouette machines -v- Cricut Machines, the best bang for your buck for cutting would be the Cameo Pro. Although the 13 inch Maker looks great (and is actually super popular on social media), the Cameo Pro provides a stronger blade at a lower cost when compared to cutting width (15inch model is $400 -v- 13inch Maker at $380).
So Which is Best For Me?
I’m going to give you some scenarios that will help determine which machine combination is going to give you the best value for money.
First – you’ve seen someone making things using printers and cutters and fancy giving it a go. You’ve got no major ambitions to start a serious full-time business but perhaps might want to start selling a few items on Etsy.
The Cricut Explore Air 2 is the best machine for the job as you’re not likely to be cutting materials that are of any great thickness (>1mm). Additionally, at that thickness, the HP Envy is going to give you exactly what you’re looking for at a very cheap price. The key criteria you’re going to be focused on (aside from it doing what you want it to) is the price – the Explore Air 2 comes in at $180 and the Envy comes in at $120 – this combo totals $300, the cheapest possible!
Second – You’ve used a print and cut machine and you’re looking for something that can really power through the materials. Perhaps you’d like to experiment with thicker, higher quality materials or want to give yourself the option to try more materials in future.
With a maximum cutting thickness of 2.4mm, the Cricut Maker doesn’t provide as much cutting power as the Silhouette Cameo Pro. In addition to this, the Cricut has a cutting width of 13 inches, whereas the Cameo comes in 3 different sizes so you can have the choice of your desired cutting width.Pairing this with the Canon Pixma TS6320 is going to allow you to print on those slightly thicker materials at the appropriate quality needed to produce great results!
Print and Cut Machines – The Verdict
A print and cut machine combo is the perfect tool for those looking to take their digital designs into the physical world. They can print onto adhesive vinyl, heat press fade resistant designs onto apparel and so much more!
However, judging by the title of this post – you’re not looking for the top of the line, you’re looking for the cheapest print and cut machine combination that will get the job you need doing, done.
The cheapest print and cut machine setup for you will still need to produce the results you want and so the very cheapest machine may not be able to perform as you’d want.
However, we’ve included a range of different options for both printers and cutters (all still relatively cheap) to help you on your way to pursuing your print and cut ambitions without breaking the bank.
Was this article helpful to you?
Last update on 2022-03-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Disclaimer