You don’t need to hack the CriCut

by Joseph Flaherty on January 4, 2009

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.

The Graphtec CraftRobo.

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.

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  • http://blog.ponoko.com/ Kristen

    Thanks for writing about this. I will probably by a robo. And I'm really enjoying that, in the wake of the DIY movement, the field of design is looking at the crafts for tools and inspiration.
    And I totally wish I had written about this before you. : )
    ::Kristen over at Ponoko blog

  • http://blog.ponoko.com/ Kristen

    I meant buy. Sorry, that's an embarrassing typo so I had to leave another comment.

  • http://www.replicatorinc.com Joseph Flaherty

    Kristen, The CraftRobo is a great tool. I'm fortunate enough to have access to a laser cutter so I don't use mine a ton anymore, but it is pretty amazing what it can do.

    re: the typo, just sign on for Disqus and you can edit:) get the Ponoko blog on it too!

  • http://blog.ponoko.com/2009/01/06/machinate-replicator-on-the-craftrobo/ Ponoko Blog

    [...] touch once more on the paper theme of last month, I just had to pass on the news of this fantastic paper-cutting tool, CraftRobo. Replicator, an excellent blog on all things mass-custom, recently wrote about the CraftRobo. [...]

  • Shelley Noble

    Holy Guacamole. Maybe I could make my own paper cuts, pop-ups, and automata designs with this?

  • fernando

    It is great to small mock-ups and prototypes, but not meant to production. I've been using craft robo for 4 years now and it good, but if you plan to have it as production, it will take you ages to load and unload the papers…

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    This is quite expensive for me to begin with! however I am still feeling like going for it. thanks for the info though:-)

  • me

    This is only a great option for graphic artists. Many a home user has limited or little skill of Adobe software (also very expesive) to utilize the stand alone (mock) cnc cutters. True, the Robo is a fantastic option, but for those willing to spend the hours necessary to create the vectored layers, the cricut cartridges already contain. Nice option to the graphic professional! Thanks for the info.

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    Very interesting device. For a long time I wish to change the printer. Also I will probably stop the choice on it. Only I will study better its characteristic.

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    CraftRobo is very cool device. I'm really enjoying on it!

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    For a lighter price of $274.00, and the same fascinating capabilities, I have my money on the CraftRobo than its competition, the Cricut.

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    Both products are promising enough to fulfill their features accurately. And it just boils down to their price, which is the decisive factor in choosing between the two.

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    This is totally amazing, i think we can save more money with it, regarding with its price. We can do several things with it that often we use different machine. it has simply amazed me just like how i was amazed with classical music.

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    Interesting product. Just hope that there'll be no future setbacks for the Craftrobo, since its the ideal pro printer when it comes to price and features.

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    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.

    Thanks and Regards

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    Thanks for sharing it…

  • Jasen

    Sure Cuts A Lot (http://www.craftedge.com/index.html) lets you use any font on your system and any SVG file with the Cricut. It is not powerful drawing software like Illustrator, but does support some basic shape tools. With this software, the comparison comes down more of which device, Cricut or CraftRobo, is made better.

    Any opinion on that?

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