There is a lot to be said for a product that is overly engineered to do one thing so well you can't imagine how you did the task with anything else. That's how I feel about the Cricut Mug Press. If your goal is to make custom coffee mugs using your Cricut Maker or Cricut Explore Air 2 and that's all then, the Mug Press could be right for you. I spent some time with a Mug Press sent me for an unbias review, and I have to say I was impressed.
Cricut Mug Press
Bottom line: The Mug Press is a quick and simple way to make custom coffee mugs en masse. It's perfect for a small business or someone who wants to start one.
- Incredibly simple
- Extremely fast production time
- Beautifully crisp mug designs
- You have to register it to your account
- It only works with two sizes of mug
Cricut Mug Press: Price and availability
The Cricut Mug Press retails at around $200 at both Target and Amazon, though the price does drop occasionally. Availability is much better than it was at the initial launch, and if it isn't available the day you look, it will be a few days later. Some people have mentioned that $200 is higher than most of the competition, but it isn't unreasonable for what you are getting.
Cricut Mug Press: What's good
From the first day I got the Mug Press in the mail, I knew what the first mug I made would be. The words "I reviewed the Cricut Mug Press, and all I got was this lousy mug" kept bouncing around in my head, and I knew I needed to get it out into the world. It turns out I had to change the word 'lousy' to 'awesome' because it turned out so well.
The Cricut Mug Press is a shining example of how to make a device that excels at the one job it is asked to do. This machine makes 12oz - 15oz coffee mugs using Cricut's infusible ink system and a process called sublimation, and that's it. That is its entire job, and everything about the press is focused on that function. The Mug Press has a single button to turn it on and a single lever to clamp the mug in place so you can never really go wrong. Each mug takes about five minutes to cook, and after that, you have perfect results almost every time.
Using the infusible ink sheets, or even the pens, with a Cricut machine lets you cut intricate designs out from a special template you can get from Design Space — Cricut's editing software — and stick them to the sublimation mugs you can buy from Cricut or other places. You can even use the infusible inks with the Cricut Joy to save yourself the cost of the bigger machines. Of course, Cricut recommends you use their mugs, but other brands work just as well, though they will need to be straight-sided and only 12oz or 15oz.
The Cricut Mug Press is a shining example of how to make a device that excels at the one job it is asked to do.
I think the five minute cook time is the real selling point for the Mug Press. I can wrap a design on a mug, put it in the press — once the temperature is correct, a pull of the handle is all you need to start it working — and move on to wrapping the next. I figured a determined person could make around 10 mugs an hour, making it excellent value for money for a small business owner, as long you want to limit what kind of mugs you make.
Cricut Mug Press: What's not so good
My first bugbear with the Cricut Mug Press is not with the Mug Press but with the company itself. When you first buy the Mug Press, you have to register it to your account via a USB connection to your laptop before it works at all. This may not seem like a big deal; after all, you have to do that with your vinyl cutter too, but it sets off several alarm bells for me. There is no benefit to the consumer for this kind of registration, and it can easily be used in nefarious ways. If Cricut decides to stop people from reselling the Mug Press, they can turn it into a paperweight. It's like making a toaster that only works if you register it; simply not cool.
The second part is a valid frustration that I have seen from many people. At $200, the mug press is severely limited in the type of mug you can use. Most sublimation presses on the market can handle multiple sizes, as well as tapered mugs without much issue, but the Mug Press is limited to just two sizes of straight-sided coffee mug. For the cost, you would hope for more variety, but it isn't a deal-breaker. This is a specific product to make a specific product, and it does so superbly well, so I don't think the cost is unreasonable.
Cricut Mug Press: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want to start a small mug business
- You love crafting
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You want to press more than just 12oz - 15oz mugs
Because of the simple nature of the Cricut Mug press and the speed at which it can make beautiful mugs, it would be the perfect tool for someone looking to add mugs to their Etsy store or craft stall. You could easily make dozens of custom mugs quickly, making sure you had a good amount of stock ready for selling.
I've really enjoyed my time with the Cricut Mug Press. The overall look makes it feel like a premium product, and the helpfulness of it cannot be overstated. My wife fell in love with it almost immediately and has started making mugs for a family reunion in June, and I just like making weird nerdy mugs with it.
One of my immediate thoughts is how rapidly you could create a product and get it to market with a Mug Press. You can hop on to TikTok trends and sell a few mugs without having to order 100 of them to make it worth your while. For a small business, it just feels like the perfect small machine.
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