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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!

Vendor Spotlight & Giveaway!: Sizzix eClips

Reported by Marti Wills

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.

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY!: Sizzix eClips Electronic Shape Cutting Machine

Reported by Christina Hammond

image

Ever since this winter’s CHA, the scrapbooking world has been buzzing about the debut of the Sizzix eClips Electronic Shape Cutting Machine.  I can tell you:  I was waiting for it to be released, too.  Even though I am anything BUT a scrapbooker.

Then why would I want it?

Well, the eClips cuts fabric and materials other than your standard scrapbooking fare.  Craft foils (different thicknesses even) and chipboard?  Yep.  Vinyl?  Yep!

IMG_0570


The starter kit comes with one machine, 2 blades, the handheld unit, cradle for the handheld unit, starter cartridge with booklet, software update, 12×12 cutting mat and user manual.  Note the small purple cable – it’s a mini-USB cable that you’ll need to do the software update; it’s not included.

The eClips boasts 700 grams of pressure and adjustable blade speeds/pressures so you can power through most anything.  I was able to stump it, but I had to really try!  🙂  In fact, the only things I could not get it to cut are craft foam (though it scored it nicely!), thick felt, and corrugated cardboard.

IMG_0581

One of the best features of the eClips is the Handheld Remote Control.  It slides open to reveal a full keyboard, adding to the ability to completely customize your designs.  The display is large and easy  to read.  There is a very slight delay once you select a design, but it is minimal and you get used to it quickly.  You also input into the unit what kind of material you are cutting and it sets everything automatically for you.  All you have to do is adjust the blade thickness right on the blade cartridge.  Easy peasy!

It really is to use.  Right out of the box.  To show how really easy it is to use:  here is a video I’ve put together while drinking my morning coffee showing how to use the eClips from start to finish (and let me just say that crafts before coffee is usually not a good idea around here!)

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First I cut a little sign from vinyl for my front door sidelights.  Admittedly, I hate how this came out.  The font is just too silly for something so serious.  A more neutral font would have been great to include in the “Starter” cartridge versus the Rockin’ Janey font.  It’s just hard to read when cut this small.

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Here is a screenshot of the designs on the “Starter” cartridge included with the eClips.  Cute, right?

Next, I put the eClips to my “REAL” test.  Fabric is always on my mind, so naturally this was the MAIN reason why I wanted to use this machine.  It works!  I suggest slowing the machine down one more notch than the “preset” to prevent any tearing at sharp inside corners.

To cut fabric, press it really well with the addition of spray starch, and apply your favorite fusible web.  I tried a few different brands, all with the same level of success.  The key is to starch it, and slow it down a bit more.

IMG_0583

Here I cut out a Birthday Cupcake and a pair of ties.  Note that I cut the cupcake pieces from different scrap fabrics.  It was really easy to do, so don’t worry!  The ties are actually an “embellishment” for the sweet teddy bear, but since you can cut anything within the design card at any size, it doesn’t matter!

My daughter decided I had made a “Flying Cupcake” no matter what I told her!

IMG_0588
IMG_0609

I fused the shapes onto cheap $1Store cotton tshirts, zigzagged around the edges and my kids had cute customized shirts within about 30 minutes total.  From initial eClips cutting to snipping the threads.  That’s awesome, right?!

That same afternoon, I whipped out a receiving blanket and coordinating burpcloths for an unexpected early arrival.  Of course, I was in such a rush to deliver them that I didn’t get a picture of them!
Lastly, a birthday surprise for my darling husband!  I don’t normally decorate for birthdays around here – but I just knew once I found that the eClips did so well with fabric that I had to make a bunting of some kind.  The Mister had been having lots of late night meetings the week of his birthday, so while he was out one night, I whipped this CELEBRATE bunting up with scraps and it took about 2 hours total.  He really loved it and said it made his day!

Pros:

  • IT WORKS!
  • Handheld remote design center
  • Cuts a wide variety of materials
  • Laser Cut Preview
  • Speed control, pressure control, depth control – all to ensure you can cut just about anything!
  • It will also draw with a pen (holder required) and score certain designs.

Cons:

  • Cost of cartridges ($39 – $89 each)
  • No option to connect eClips to the computer so you can design/cut from there if desired (there are rumors something is coming soon, but nothing concrete as of today)
    • I’d like the computer connection so I could download only the designs I need immediately and to be able to use my fonts.
  • Some of the designs have details that are cut before outlines are cut.  If the extra details are not desired and are cut afterward, you can cancel the cut at the desired place and be done.

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 had a chance to see an eClips in action before?  What feature do you think you would like the most or would be most useful?
 
One comment, per person, per Sizzix article, please. Winners will be selected on Saturday, July 16, 2011.