Top

Tag Archives | electronic cutting

Cricut E2 vs. eClips

Reported by Marti Wills

Cricut Expression 2
Sizzix eClips

When it comes to making the jump to an electronic die cutting machine there are a lot of choices.  It is quite an investment and there are so many things to consider.  Most importantly, you want a machine that will cut well and is easy to use.

Today I want to tell you about the results of my comparison of two of these machines, the Cricut Expression 2 by Provo Craft and the eClips by Sizzix.

Most important is how well the machine can cut. So I began by testing both on a variety of materials.  Both cut cardstock and paper just fine but I wanted to see what else they could cut.

First I tried chipboard – actually the backing from a paper pad.  This is slightly thinner than regular chipboard but it is free, it is a great way to recycle and it WORKS.  First I cut a cupcake – these are on the large size – 4″:

Both machines cut the chipboard perfectly.  I decided to try a smaller and more complicated design with the chipboard next:

The results with the eClips were not as clean as the Cricut.

Next I tried some acetate – another recycled material – I used the plastic covering that my embossing folders come in – you can use any type of plastic clamshell packaging but I like the embossing folder and Spellbinder types because they are so flat and easy to store.

I cut the same cupcakes first – nice basic larger shapes.  Both machines did a great job, however the Cricut cut cleanly through whereas the eClips required some punching out.  However this did not effect the final result.

I also cut the smaller more intricate images again:

Once again the eClips did not quite get the smallest detail cut all the way through:

Those teeny pieces on each tip would not come out without doing some damage to the overall shape.  The Cricut did not have this problem:

even the tiny circles/dots required no punching out.

Finally, I cut out some fabric appliques with each machine.  Before you can cut fabric you need to add something to stabilize it and keep it from stretching as the blade makes the cuts.  I tried Steam a Seam Lite first but this was not enough and neither machine cut through.  Next I used Heat ‘n Bond Ultra which is much thicker.  Both machines cut the fabric perfectly:

One advantage the Cricut Expression 2 had was the ability to set it to cut each image twice which is probably why it cute through more successfully.  One of the features of the eClips is the pre-set cut settings for various materials.  I used these pre-sets to do all of the cuts above.  Better results might be gained by adjusting the settings manually, but I have not tried that yet.

In addition to the cutting ability there are a lot of other considerations when comparing cutters.  Here is a table with some of these other things to compare:

Sizzix eClips
Cricut E2
Price – Starter Kit Machine
$499 – includes 2 blades, 1 cartridge and 1 mat
$349 – includes 1 blade, 4 cartridges and 1 mat
Footprint
22 1/2″ x 5″ x 7 1/2″
Price/mat
12.99 – 2 pack
12.99 – 2 pack
Price/blade
9.99 – 2 pack
9.99 – 2 pack
Price/cartridge
39.99 –  25 designs plus features
24.99/34.99/55.99 – 68 images/168+ images/200+ images
Cartridges available
36
228
Cardstock
5
5
Fabric
5
5
Chipboard
4
5
Acetate
4
5
Store avail.
1
4
Ebay
4   29.99/53.99
5    15.00 & up – open bidding

Both of these machines have a viewing screen.  The eClips screen is on a separate handheld device and is controlled by buttons that allow you to scroll through menus and make your choices.  The Expression 2 screen is mounted on the machine itself and is a touchscreen controlled with a stylus.  I personally preferred the screen being attached to the machine as I have limited space and found the separate screen and its cord was always in the way.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up – Both
  • Easy to use – Both
  • Great mats and sharp blades – Both
  • Ability to save cut settings for future ease of use – Expression 2
  • Huge selection of cartridge images – Expression 2
  • Free web-based program that allows you the freedom to design and customize shapes on Cricut cartridges you already own – Expression 2

Cons:

  • Separate screen/control device – eClips
  • Cartridge based system – Both
  • Price – Both
  • Cutting pre-sets did not work on smaller more intricate items – eClips

Had I compared the eClips to the original Cricut Expression the eClips would have come out ahead.  However, with the vast improvements made on the Expression 2 recently released by Provo Craft, I found the Expression to be a better machine – the cutting ability was better, the price is lower, and the image selection is vastly larger.

Do you own either of these machines?  What do you think of them?  Do you own a different one?  Let us know!

CHA Summer 2011 | Silhouette America

With the long list of electronic die cutting machines on the market, it takes something truly amazing to grab people’s attention these days. Well, Silhouette America may have done just that. Like the Silhouette SD, their new Silhouette Cameo offers the ability to cut a wide variety of media from cardstock to fabric, create and cut your own designs, and use all your existing fonts. Oh and did I mention it is 12″ wide!?! This new machine will not be available until October and will be $299.99 MSRP.

Their new Fabric inks kits come with everything you need to get started inking up fabrics and clothes. The inks are also sold separately and come in ten colors. They can be mixed to create different shades and colors as well.

They’ve also added some colors to their existing palette of colors available in their premium and adhesive vinyls.

And their Heat Transfer kit makes transferring your images to clothing so simple. They have flocked as well as smooth materials sold separately. There’s even a printable heat transfer material!
We can’t wait to put this new machine to the Craft Critique test. What are your first impressions? Might this replace your current machine? Do you use their other materials like vinyl or heat transfer?

Vendor Spotlight & Giveaway!: Sizzix eClips

I am a total die cut junkie – my introduction to papercrafting came by way of an electronic die-cutting machine given to me as a gift nearly 5 years ago. Needless to say it has taken hold and not let go. When I had the opportunity to test out the Sizzix eClips machine recently, I was thrilled. I had not seen any others in action besides the one I owned and I was curious.

As you can see the box comes with everything you need to get going right away – the machine, full instructions both in a manual and on DVD, your cords and a cartridge. The eClips is a cartridge based machine which means you can only cut out images from a Sizzix cartridge. Additional cartridges of images can be purchased separately. The directions are easy to understand and I had the machine set up and ready to cut in less than 15 minutes.
The machine is controlled by a handheld part that connects with a cord. I found this to be slightly intimidating but once I began using it I found it to be fairly simple to understand though I DID have to refer to the directions to do it. I am not sure why the handheld portion is separate and everything is not just on the machine, but I did find it comfortable to use.

The handheld controls everything – you put your cartridge in and then pick your images on the handheld like you see above. In addition, you can set the paper size AND pick the type of material you will be cutting. This feature is actually pretty amazing. No guesswork when cutting a wide range of materials as it is all pre-set for you. The list includes:

  • cardstock – light
  • cardstock – medium
  • cardstock – heavy
  • construction paper
  • vellum
  • adhesive sheets
  • vinyl
  • light chipboard
  • foam
  • shrink plastic
  • can also be set manually

The paper sizes are also pre-set to some of the most common sizes like 12″ x 12″, 8.5″ x 11″, 8″x8″, 6″ x 6″, 12″ x 24″, A4 as well as having the option to pick your own size OR have the machine determine the size with the laser – very handy when using up scraps but you want the machine to know when it is at the edge of the paper and needs to start a new line of cuts.

Shapes are chosen from the handheld device right on screen from the cartridge that is inserted. Each image can be sized independently which is a big advantage. Scrolling through images and choosing features is quick and easy.
Here you can see the Shadow feature is highlighted and on screen you see the image is now the shadow one.

You can also move the blade around to begin your cut anywhere on the paper with buttons on the handheld. I had a few different items to cut so I put squares of all of the colors on the 12″ x 12″ mat at the same time.
This way I can maneuver to each color, cut what I need and then move on to the next color without having to unload and re-load my mat.

Here is a layered flower I cut from cardstock – the cardstock medium setting worked perfectly for both Stampin’ Up! and Papertrey Ink cardstocks. Layering is incredibly easy with the eClips. Simply choose the layer feature and you can choose which layers to cut or you can cut them all. This is nice when you want to do layer pieces in several different colors.

I tried several other materials in the eClips. The red portion of the rose is Spellbinders Craft Foil; the stem/base layer is cut from a cereal box. Both of these materials cut like a dream.

I also tried the clear plastic packaging from Sizzix embossing folders and it cut cleanly and completely through.
I inked the edges of my cardstock layers for definition before layering. I also gave the green center a coating of Distress Stickles.

I played around with several more cuts from the an additional cartridge – Flowers & Phrases to make a get well gift bag:
One of my favorite things to do with layers of die cuts is to cover them in glitter – here I used Glossy Accents and then covered the flower centers and wording with Martha Stewart Glitter.

As I mentioned, I also cut out a sun from the plastic packaging of an embossing folder and then I covered the layers with alcohol inks:
I added some great texture to the sun’s center with a Sizzix Embossing folder.

I used the Craft Foil & chipboard rose for a simple little tag:


The eClips also includes features on the handheld that enable you to fill a page with an image, cut a mirror image, fit to page and cut one shape inside of another one. You can also load/unload the paper, search the shapes on a cartridge, and load the cutting blade to the last point you cut.

Pros:

  • Incredibly easy to set up and use
  • Cuts cleanly through many different materials with pre-set depth and speed functions.
  • The handheld interface makes choosing, manipulating and cutting your images fast and easy
  • Cartridges are less expensive than some.

Cons:

  • This is a strictly cartridge based system – this is a con for some and not for others.
  • The cartridge selection is fairly limited compared to some and each cartridge has a limited number of shapes.
  • I was unable to find cartridges or other related items in my local craft stores

GIVEAWAY!

It’s Sizzix Week at Craft Critique! Our friends at Sizzix have graciously provided some of their products for us to giveaway to our very lucky readers. We have a Big Shot and an eClips to give away, both of which you’ve read about this week. Just answer the following question to be entered in the giveaway:

Have you used an electronic die cutting machine? Which one(s)? What about the eClips by Sizzix appeals to you?

One comment, per person, per Sizzix article, please. Winners will be selected on Saturday, July 16, 2011.