How to Use Cricut With No Cartridges

Updated July 20, 2017

You can get hundreds of dollars in functionality for next to nothing. A Cricut is a home machine used for scrapbooking and card making. Select a shape and size, load the paper or fabric into the feeder and the machine cuts it. However, Cricut machines get their designs via cartridges, which generally cost from £13 to £52 individually as of 2010. Buying several cartridges can become very expensive. Thankfully, there is a computer program called "Sure Cuts a Lot" (SCAL) that allows you to send designs to your Cricut from the computer, skipping cartridges entirely.

Start your Cricut machine and look at the display. The machine will display the version of "firmware," or instructions, that it is currently running.

Connect the Cricut to the computer; a pop-up should appear on your screen that says "Found New Hardware."

Go to the SCAL website, click the "Download Now" button, then click the "Download" link that corresponds with the type of computer you have (Mac or PC/Windows). You do not need to purchase it immediately; the software is free to use as a trial for 15 days.

Install SCAL on your computer (all the default settings are fine), and start it.

Use the on-screen drawing tools to make a test design, load paper into your Cricut and press the "Cut" button at the top of the screen. SCAL will ask you to enter your machine type and firmware; do so, and press "OK."


The SCAL software requires you to have "firmware version 1.1 or 1.3 for Cricut Personal machines; version 2.1 or 2.3 for Cricut Expression machines; version 1.51-1.54 for Cricut Create machines; or version 2.3 for Cricut Cake." If not, download Cricut DesignStudio from the Cricut website, install it and use the "Help/Update Firmware" option to update your firmware and make it compatible. If your computer does not recognise the Cricut, SCAL has an option for reinstalling the USB drivers. Premade designs are available from the CraftEdge website.

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About the Author

U.S. Army Captain Chase Hasbrouck began writing professionally in 2007. He has served overseas and has had several articles published in U.S. Army publications, such as the "Morning Calm." Hasbrouck holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Furman University.