Cricut is the brand-name of a product range of home die-cutting machines (or cutting plotters) used for scrapbooking and various projects, made by Provo Craft & Novelty, Inc. (also known as "Provo Craft") of Spanish Fork, Utah. The machines are used for cutting paper, felt, vinyl, fabric and other products such as fondant. Cricut is among several electronic die cutters used by paper crafters, card makers and scrapbookers.
The original cricut machine had cutting mats of 6 × 12 inches, the larger Cricut Expression only allows mats of 12 × 12 and 12 × 24. The largest machine will produce letters from a half inch to 23 1⁄2 inches high. Both the Cricut and Cricut Expression require mats and blades which can be adjusted to cut through various types of paper, vinyl and other sheet products. The Cricut personal paper cutter operates as a paper cutter based upon cutting parameters programmed into the machine, and resembles a desktop printer. Cricut Cake produces stylized edible fondants cut into various shapes from fondant sheets, and is used by chefs in the preparation and ornamentation of cakes.
The original cricut comes with a 6" x 12" cutting mat and images can be cut in a range from 1" to 5 1/2" tall. The original cricut is compatible with all original cricut cartridges. The original cricut does not have the ability to cut as many different types of materials that the newer cricut machines can. However Cricut does make a Deep Cut Blade & Housing that can allow original cricut owners to cut material up to 1.55mm thick, such as magnet, chipboard, and stamp materials. The original cricut is also compatible with the Cricut Design Craft Room.
The Cricut Expression® offers several advantages over the previous model. First, it allows users to cut shapes and fonts in a range from ¼" to 23½", and comes with a 12" x 12" cutting matting with adjustable slides so that users no longer need to trim their media down to 6" x 12". It cuts a wider range of materials, including vellum, fabric, chipboard, vinyl, and thin foils. It also features an LCD Screen to preview the work, and has features such Quantity and Auto-Fill. A "Paper Saver" mode and choice of Portrait or Landscape Orientation have also been added. The basic model has two cartridges included in the purchase, Plantin SchoolBook and Accent Essentials.
The cricut expression 2 has an updated exterior from the cricut expression. It comes with a 12" x 12" cutting mat. This machine does not have the keyboard that the original cricut and the cricut expression have. Instead it features a new full-color LCD touch screen. The LCD touch screen displays the keyboard on the screen and allows you to see where your images will be on the mat prior to cutting. It also has the new feature of independent image sizing and image rotation directly on the LCD screen.
The cricut mini is a small personal electronic cutting machine. Unlike the other cricut machines it only works with a computer, it can not cut images standing alone. You have to use Cricut Craft Room design software. The cricut mini comes with over 500 images that are automatically unlocked when you connect your cricut with the Cricut Craft Room design software or the Cricut Gypsy device. The machine does have a cartridge port that is compatible with all cricut cartridges except the cricut imagine cartridges. The cricut mini also features a unique mat size of 8.5" x 12". The cricut mini can cut images in a range of 1/4" to 11 1/2".
Designs are made from components stored on cartridges. Each cartridge comes with a keyboard overlay and instruction booklet. The plastic keyboard overlay indicates key selections for that cartridge only. However recently Provo Craft has released a "Universal Overlay" that is compatible with all cartridges released after August 1, 2013. The purpose of the universal overlay is to simplify the process of cutting by only having to learn one keyboard overlay instead of having to learn the overlay for each individual cartridge. Designs can be cut out on a PC with the Cricut Design Studio software, on a USB connected Gypsy machine, or can be directly inputed on the Cricut machine using the keyboard overlay. There are two types of cartridges shape and font. Each cartridge has a variety of creative features which can allow for hundreds of different cuts from just one cartridge. There are currently over 275 cartridges that are available (separately from the machine), containing fonts and shapes, with new ones added monthly. While some cartridges are generic in content, Cricut has licensing agreements with Disney, Pixar, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, DC Comics and Hello Kitty. The Cricut line has a range of prices, but the cartridges are interchangeable, although not all options on a cartridge may be available with the smaller machines.
The Cricut Craft Room software enables users to combine images from different cartridges, merge images, and stretch/rotate images; it does not allow for the creation of arbitrary designs. It also enables the user to view the images displayed on-screen before beginning the cutting process, so the end result can be seen in advance.
Provo Craft has actively resisted the use of third-party software programs that could enable Cricut owners to cut out designs and to use the machine without depending on its proprietary cartridges. In a comparative review of die-cutting machines, review site TopTenReviews identified being "limited to cutting designs from a collection of cartridges" as a major drawback of the Cricut range, though the review noted that it could be a preference for some.
Two programs which could formerly be used to make and then get Cricut machines to cut out arbitrary designs (using, for example, arbitrary TrueType fonts or SVG format graphics) were Make-the-Cut (MTC) and Craft Edge's Sure Cuts A Lot (SCAL). In April 2010 Provo Craft opened legal action against the publishers of Make-the-Cut, and in January 2011 it sued Craft Edge to stop the distribution of the SCAL program. In both cases the publishers settled with Provo Craft, and removed support for Cricut from their products. The programs continue to be usable with other home cutters.
According to the text of its legal complaint against Craft Edge, "Provo Craft uses various techniques to encrypt and obscure the USB communications between Cricut DesignStudio [a design program supplied with the hardware] and the Cricut e-cutter, in order to protect Provo Craft's proprietary software and firmware, and to prevent attempts to intercept the cutting commands". Provo Craft contended that in order to understand and replicate this obscured protocol, Craft Edge had disassembled the DesignStudio program, contrary to the terms of its End User License Agreement, thereby (the company asserted) breaching copyright law. Provo Craft also asserted that Craft Edge were violating its trademark in the word "Cricut" by saying that its software could work with Cricut machines. Provo Craft asserted that this was likely "to cause confusion, mistake or deception as to the source or origin of Defendant's goods or services, and [was] likely to falsely suggest a sponsorship, connection, license, or association of Defendant's goods and services with Provo Craft".
Other manufacturers of personal cutting machines include Black Cat, Boss Kut, Craftwell, Pazzles, Silhouette and Sizzix.