A lot of the search traffic to this site comes from people looking to hack the CriCut, an “open” CriCut, or downloadable CriCut patterns. These are all complex workarounds, but a simpler solution exists.
CraftRobo – An affordable, open, X/Y cutter
Why should you choose the CraftRobo over the CriCut?
1. It is cheaper. Starts at $274
2. It connects to your computer via USB.
3. It comes with software and thousands of fonts and clipart options, though you should use Adobe Illustrator to get the most out of it. No more $49.99 cartridges.
4. You aren’t confined to preset options. Your imagination (or whatever you can find on iStockPhoto) are your only limitations.
5. It works really well. I own one and it is a versatile, low cost personal fabrication tool.
Here are some videos showing it in action:
What you can make
To get a sense of what the CraftRobo can make, check out this great Flickr Photostream.
CriCut – An easy alternative
If you are unfamiliar with CriCut it is a CNC plotter that can cut shapes out of paper, foil, plastic, or other thin sheet materials. It is a great machine, has it’s own infomercial, serves a giant market, but is VERY expensive.
The units costs $299-499, and it will only cut clip art or fonts from special CriCut cartridges that cost $49.99 each. So to have the same fonts that you already have on your computer you could easily spend over $1000.
Note: CraftRobo = Not For Everyone
I use a CraftRobo and I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who isn’t at least a little savvy with Adobe software or willing to get experienced with it. The CriCut’s great value is the simplified user interface. It doesn’t require a computer to function, provided you are willing to pay $50 for the privilege of using a font like Comic Sans. It is a closed system, but as with the iPod, a lot of people see that as a benefit rather than a drawback.
However, If you are up to the challenge of the CraftRobo or looking to Hack the CriCut for fun, please be in touch, I’d love to publish the results.