Article updated on September 24, 2023 at 7:00 AM PDT

Cricut Venture Review: A Giant Familiar Upgrade if You Can Afford it

It may look like just a bigger Cricut, but there's a lot more going on under the hood to help creators.

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Russell Holly
Russell Holly is a Managing Editor on the Commerce team at CNET. He works with all of CNET to assemble top recommendations as well as helping everyone find the best way to buy anything at the best price. When not writing for CNET you can find him riding a bike, running around in Jedi robes, or contributing to WOSU public radio's Tech Tuesday segment.
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  • Familiar, accessible design
  • Excellent stability tools
  • Great software


  • Third-party material support is limited
  • Expensive

A casual look at Etsy or any other small, craft-focused site will almost immediately result in at least one artist selling things made either partially or entirely with a Cricut machine. Cricut's machines have enabled countless creative people to make everything from shirts and intricate home decor to beautiful custom greeting cards and car decals. The only real limit is your imagination and, of course, the size and speed of your Cricut. 

If you've found your creations suddenly very popular, or you're interested in making something much larger than 12 inches wide, Cricut finally has a much better solution than buying multiple Explore or Maker machines and getting very good at lining things up. It's called the Cricut Venture, and while it may look like a giant Cricut, you will quickly find it's a little more complicated than that. 

I've spent the last 30 days with the Cricut Venture, testing a selection of Cricut-provided materials including cardstock, vinyl and stencil material. Paper and vinyl from third parties were also tested, with and without the separately sold docking stand for the Cricut Venture. 

Cricut Venture: Bigger, faster and better

Cricut Venture Review

From this angle, it almost looks like a standard Cricut machine. But there's a lot more going on when you start to use it. 

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If you're already a Cricut owner, the Venture will immediately feel familiar. The color palette and tool head immediately reminds the user of a Cricut machine, specifically the Explore series. But it's physically different in some key ways: The cutting volume is twice as wide as any other Cricut and the cutting space is held at a 45-degree angle instead of flat like everything else in the lineup. There's also a toggle you can flip up to only use half of the cutting space, but it's worth noting that Cricut advises against using any cutting mat other than the ones made for this machine, so if you already have a cutting mat for another Cricut machine, you should keep it over there. 

Because users will be cutting things much wider and potentially much longer than most other Cricut projects, the 45-degree cutting space is supported by a pair of arms tucked into the top and bottom of the machine. A simple button press releases the arms, and for heavier materials there's a Y-shaped accessory you can add to the top arm to keep things from bunching up before they reach the cutting blade. 

In an effort to combat the effects of large pieces of vinyl or paper warping and potentially pulling the cutting surface out of alignment, the Cricut Venture also has a vacuum system designed to help keep everything in place. This strip of vents activates as soon as the sensor detects you've loaded materials and is remarkably effective when used with Cricut Smart Materials, as well as any of the Cricut mats for third-party materials. 

Materials are loaded into the Cricut Venture from the top, with the end result being removed from the bottom. This is a unique departure from other Cricut machines, but makes a lot of sense given the larger size and greater weight of everything the user is working with. If I'm honest, I wouldn't mind a Cricut Explore with this same angled and top-loaded design for smaller craft spaces. Likewise there's a small cutting blade (not unlike a seatbelt ripper) which tucks away on top of the machine for quickly separating materials from a roll when you're done instead of having to use a separate device, which would be welcomed with other Cricut machines. 

If you decide to splurge for the $350 docking stand, you'll gain quite a bit of storage and ease of movement for the price tag. A pair of rollers in the back of the stand keeps whatever material you are currently working with rolled up, while a set of hooks underneath can hold the larger cutting mats you will need to use the Venture. The front and back of the stand have large fabric pockets to catch material you can't roll up, which I've found are great for keeping dog hair off large projects. All of that on a nice set of wheels means this otherwise unwieldy machine can move around a room without taking up so much space on a table. 

Cricut Venture: New rules for new dimensions

Cricut Venture Review

I couldn't do something like this on a normal Cricut, or most other vinyl cutters for that matter. 

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Setting the Cricut Venture up is exactly as easy as you'd expect. You can connect wirelessly through the Cricut Design Space app on your phone, tablet and laptop as well as a physical connection via USB-C. As long as you have the Venture selected in the app, you have access to the larger creation space and all of the presets contained within for cutting and scoring. 

The Cricut Venture's capabilities line up with the Cricut Explore, not the more capable Maker series. You won't be engraving or cutting chipboard on the Venture, and those tools aren't supported if you try to put them in the housing. And like all Cricut machines, it cuts fastest when you use Smart Materials but will handle non-Cricut materials just fine. A large design on Smart Materials, which cuts in under 30 seconds, can take almost three times as long to complete with non-Cricut vinyl, but the accuracy of the cuts remains the same. 

Cricut Venture Review

If you've been on Disney's Haunted Mansion ride, this might look a little familiar. 

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It would be nice if Cricut allowed users to access greater speeds if risks were assumed, given that this machine is explicitly designed for power users, but that's not allowed at the moment. With Smart Materials, I can cut an entire $28 12-foot roll of vinyl with a single set of instructions. That's cool, but there are 30-foot rolls of vinyl on Amazon for $5 more. But if I want to use that, I am limited to the 24-inch by 28-inch cutting surface offered by Cricut's cutting mat. It's an unfortunate if familiar limitation, and encourages users to use only Cricut-branded materials. 

Cricut's Design Space app remains the best app for going from idea to creation with practiced ease. If you're working from your phone or tablet you can take photos and turn them into vinyl projects, and with the added size your projects can be much larger. I love Disney's The Haunted Mansion theme park ride, and used a 12-foot-by-5-foot roll of Cricut Smart Stencil to create a paintable stencil of the wallpaper inside it. The entire design cut quickly, but left me with a new set of challenges. Everything is now bigger, and that includes weeding and transferring the creation to a wall. I'm an avid Cricut user, but did not at all anticipate the impact scale would have on my ideas. My first attempt at making a large decal for my car ended in a lot of ripped vinyl and bubbly transfer tape. Once you get over that learning curve, the Venture is a lot of fun. 

You don't necessarily have to do things bigger; in fact, small businesses will probably focus on being able to cut more material faster instead of bigger. For that kind of work, the Venture is extremely capable. The Design Space app is great for lining things up and duplication, so if you design something like a paper rose once, you can just as easily make 50 of them using the Venture. And for crafty folks who are accustomed to building in layers or making batches of cut materials to create something, as long as you're using Smart Materials, you couldn't ask for a better set up. 

Cricut Venture: Should you buy it?

Cricut Venture Review
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When it comes to vinyl cutters, Cricut has been the best in the business for a while now. Everything in its product line is super-easy to use, produces consistent results, and is backed by a massive community of creators with all kinds of tips for success. If you look at small craft stores, almost all of the vinyl creations come from Cricut machines. And with that in mind, the more successful storefronts are now faced with a choice between buying three Cricut Explore 3s or one Cricut Venture for almost the same price. 

At the end of the day, it depends largely on how often you use non-Cricut materials. If you really enjoy Cricut's Smart Materials for most of your creations and just want to operate on a larger scale, the Venture seems like an obvious choice. But if you like playing in a larger sandbox with other materials, it's important to be aware of the limitations associated with the cutting mats before making your decision.