Cricut wants to make it easier for you to express your creativity, with a series of smart crafting machines that connect to your phone, tablet or laptop. There are hat presses for customising caps, mug presses for creating your own mugs and smart cutting machines such as the Maker 3 and the pint-sized, unthreatening Joy for everything from vinyl to one-of-a-kind cards.
If you plan on making your own T-shirts, bags or anything that requires the use of heat to transfer your designs, there is the EasyPress range.
When I was a teenager, any sort of heat application was done by using the family’s iron. It was an inexpensive way to do things, but the EasyPress has some advantages over an iron. For example, it has a larger surface area, so you don’t have to keep running the iron over it, you simply press it for the required time. That means a more even application of heat, so your creation doesn’t start peeling after a few washes.
You also have more control over the temperature, with a digital display to indicate the current heat, so you don’t accidentally melt any of the material to your iron, thereby ruining it for its everyday use.
And Cricut has made things smarter. The latest version of its heat press, the EasyPress 3, comes with Bluetooth and an app to connect it to your phone so you can get advice and help as you create your projects. For beginners to the world of crafting, that can be an alluring option.
Because as easy as it might seem on the surface — heat it up, press it, off you go — the reality is there are many different types of materials involved, and what works on one material will ruin another. The extra help in terms of temperature, timing and pressure is crucial to making sure your projects last.
The device comes in two sizes: a 9in x 9in EasyPress and a 12in x 10in plate. This review tested out the 9in x 9in version, which should cover most options — T-shirts, tote bags, the odd motivational tea-towel or two. It comes with a base to stand it on when it’s hot, and there’s a sample blank — a bag — in the box too.
This is where you’ll get started. Download the Cricut Heat app from your phone’s app store, sign up for Cricut ID and the app walks you through connecting the heat press to your device.
Then you use the sample blank and a Cricut logo supplied in the box to test out the heat press. It’s all very easy, with the app setting the temperature on the machine and then counting you down on the time.
While I didn’t get it right every time, it works a lot better than the guesswork I’d have relied on previously. The problem with that approach is each base material — cotton, polyester blend and so on — has specific heat settings, as does the different materials you can apply. Glitter vinyl might need a different temperature and time compared with Cricut brand smart vinyl, and that’s before you get into Cricut’s Infusible Ink, which is another process altogether, using a type sublimation to transfer ink on to compatible blanks such as coasters or bags. I’ve scorched a few T-shirts in my time, and had some vinyl strip away after several washes. That hasn’t happened — yet — with any of the EasyPress projects.
You can use the heat press without the app if you are confident that you know what temperature settings you need; the buttons and display will let you select it accurately. However, if you don’t feel the app will add anything to your particular set-up, the EasyPress 2 is still a good buy.
The app makes things easier, from setting the required temperature to pressing it for the optimal amount of time. The tutorials are also a great addition so if you are a beginner at this, you can get step-by-step help. That means fewer mistakes and less chance of scorching your material beyond use.
It also helps with the pressure, which is as important as the length of time you press: too light or too short a press and your material won’t adhere properly.
Not so good
Unless you plan on making things regularly, the cost of the EasyPress 3 may not be worth it — for a few items a year, an iron will probably do you. Ditto if you already had an EasyPress 2, as the additional functions in the app wouldn’t justify the cost of a new device.
The app includes a list of materials that are both Cricut-branded and generic, which makes it much more flexible. There’s also an auto shut-off on the device, so if you don’t use it for 10 minutes, it will turn off automatically.
The heat app also allows you to change settings on the machine between Celsius and Fahrenheit and switch between imperial and metric.
If you are a crafting beginner, the EasyPress 3 smooths the way.