Over the weekend, people who own Cricut’s crafting machines—which are printer-like devices that can precisely slice up documents—learned of an upcoming update that will limit how often they can use the machines they’ve paid for. The company, whose cheapest machine is $180, will now start charging users a monthly subscription for unlimited printing, which prior to now had been free.
Using the Cricut machines requires the use of the company’s proprietary Design Space software for desktop PCs and mobile devices. It allows designs to be imported from other software programs, like Adobe Illustrator, and arranged to maximize the use of a piece of paper. Some of the fancier paper stocks that work with the Cricut can be expensive. Design Space also allows custom artwork to be created from scratch using a giant library of downloadable fonts, graphics, and patterns—some of which are free, most of which are not.
As we pointed out in our review of the Cricut Joy last year, not only can crafting with the machines get expensive if you rely on the company’s designs, but everything has to be processed through the Design Space software before cutting instructions are sent to the machines. Until this past weekend, the extra step was a minor inconvenience, but now the company has promised a future update to the software that sounds a little unfair to users who’ve already paid for the hardware.
In a post shared on the Cricut Blog on Friday, the company details several updates coming to the Design Space software, but it’s this paragraph in particular that has users up in arms:
The company already offers monthly and annual Cricut Access subscription plans that give access to the library of designs, graphics, and fonts available through the Design Space app at a cheaper rate than buying all of them individually. If you rely on these downloads a lot for your projects, the subscriptions aren’t a bad idea, but until recently they were completely optional and weren’t needed to actually use the Cricut machines. That’s soon about to change.
Before artwork is sent to the Cricut machines to be sliced up, it’s first sent to the cloud, where Cricut’s servers optimize the design and the cutting instructions. Currently there’s no limit, and Cricut users can upload as many designs as they want, including multiple revisions if the optimized results don’t turn out like they want. But soon the Design Space app will limit users without a paid subscription to just “20 personal images and/or patterns” per month. Casual crafters may never hit that limit, but those relying on the machines for income, like those selling their creations through an Etsy shop, are going to have no choice but to start paying at least $10/month, or $96/year, to continue to use their Cricut machines.
A Cricut representative has clarified the upcoming restrictions to Gizmodo: “Any project created within Design Space with images or fonts found in Design Space can be modified and do not count as a personal image upload. If users want to use images from other applications, such as a .jpg or .png, and upload those images to Design Space, that counts as a personal image upload.”
There’s no timeline on when Cricut will start enforcing the 20 uploads/month limit, or if it will introduce new cheaper subscription plans to accommodate those affected. We’ve reached out to Cricut’s representatives for comment and will update this story if they’re able to provide more information on this update, and what it means for all Cricut users.
March 15, 4 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with a statement from Cricut about what its new policy allows.
Update - March 16, 5:50 p.m. ET: Cricut has released a statement addressing the proposed updates to the Design Space software, now allowing unlimited uploads to any user with a Cricut account and who a registered cutting machine before December 31, 2021. More details are available here.