Cricut released the Foil Transfer Tool for the Maker and Explore Air 2 machines in Sep 2020. This tool will let you add eye-catching embellishment to cards and paper crafts using pressure activated Foil Transfer sheets.
UPDATE: As of June 2021, Cricut has redesigned its two main machines: the Explore Air 2 has been replaced by the Explore 3, and the Maker 3 replaces the original Maker. The Foil Transfer Tool still works with both machines, and now, the Joy has its own version of the Foil Transfer Tool!
After using the Foil Transfer Tool for months, this is my absolute favorite paper craft tool, and I rarely make a card without it now. This article covers the basics about the tool, and I have added some tips on how to use it.
What is the Cricut Foil Transfer Tool?
The new tool lets Cricut users make foil transfers onto cardstock, paper and other materials. The Foil Transfer Tool works by using pressure instead of heat to imprint the special foil into the cardstock layer below.
What machines does the Cricut Foil Transfer tool work with?
The original Foil Transfer Tool fits into Carriage B of the Cricut Maker and Maker 3 and the Cricut Explore Air 2 and Explore 3. There is also a new (as of June 2021) Foil Transfer Kit exclusively for the Cricut Joy, which only comes with one tip option.
What’s included with the Tool Kit?
The Cricut Foil Tool Kit includes the tool itself, plus 3 interchangeable tips for fine, medium and bold foil transfer lines. Also included with the tool kit are 12 foil transfer sheets (silver and gold 4” x 6” sheets) and 4 pre-cut pieces of tape for every sheet of foil included (i.e. 12 sheets of foil = 48 pieces of tape).
Foil sheets are also sold separately in Jewel tones (aqua, purple, emerald) and Ruby (red, rose gold, pink), and you can buy large 12″ x 12″ sheets in gold, silver, rose gold, and red.
How do you change tool tips?
Changing the tip of the foil tool is much the same as changing the blade of the Fine Point blade. Press the post at the top of the tool housing inward to push the tip out. Pull the tip from the housing and insert its replacement. The blunt end of the tool tip sets inside the housing properly via a magnet – you’ll feel the tip snug into place. When the tip is in place, the tool will be ready to use.
Cool tip: Use the magnet blade strip in the door storage compartment of your Cricut Maker or Explore machine to keep track of your foil transfer tool tips when not in use.
What do the different lines on the foil tool tips mean?
Cricut has made it easy to recognize the different foil tool tips at a glance. The lines above the tip indicate which tool it is.
- fine tip: one line
- medium tip: two lines
- bold tip: three lines
Note: these lines are cosmetic only and do not affect tool performance.
What projects can I make with the Foil Transfer Tool?
There are so many great project ideas for the new foil transfer tip. Obvious ideas include cards, invitations, gift tags, and cake toppers, but you can also make foil and faux leather earrings, gorgeous wall art and gift boxes.
The foil tip application is mostly geared towards paper craft. According to Cricut’s compatible materials list, there aren’t many vinyl types that combine with this transferable foil (only printable vinyl).
How does the Foil Tool work?
Using the Foil Transfer Tool is straightforward, even if you are new to Cricut Design Space. The software will give you all of the prompts you need to make sure your project turns out great.
Cricut has made a handy video tutorial for the new foil tool, with shots of the tool in action and screenshots of the steps you need to take in Cricut Design Space.
The basic steps for making a foil transfer project are:
- Open a new project in Cricut Design Space
- Place an image on the blank canvas. If you are using an image from Cricut Access, select one that is “draw only” for better results. Otherwise you can import one of your own designs from another program, or create shaped or text on the canvas.
- To change the default cut lines to foil lines, navigate to the “OPERATION” pulldown menu in the Design Space toolbar and select FOIL and then select your tip weight (fine/medium/bold).
- Change the foil color as required.
- Once your design is finished and ready to cut, select all of the elements of the project (foiling, drawing, cutting, scoring) and select “ATTACH”
- Click the “Make it” button
- Follow the prompts from Design Space. You will have to tape the foil to the base material, and Design Space doesn’t want you to eject the mat when you change foil colors mid project. You will have to work around the carriage on your machine to remove or change the foil if you are making a large project. (See my tips below for working around this)
- When your project is done, carefully remove the tape from the foil and the base material. If you are using cardstock, a new piece of Cricut tape is tacky enough to rip the paper if pulled off too fast.
How is the Cricut Foil Tool different from the We R Memory Keepers foil quill?
First, the new tool from Cricut uses pressure to transfer the specialty foil film onto the base material instead of heat. It fits into carriage “B” of either the Maker or the Explore Air 2.
The popular Foil Quill from We R Memory Keepers uses an adapter to fit in Carriage “A” of Cricut machines. This slot is reserved for pen and markers, so these foil quills only use the same light force as a pen or marker. These foil quills must connect to a power source via USB cable to transfer foil via heat.
Not having to fuss with a secondary power source is a big relief. We R Memory Keepers recommends using a USB power source like a portable battery charger to power their foil quill.
This is one less thing to worry about when you switch to the pressure activated Cricut Foil Transfer tool.
Is the new Foil Transfer Tool compatible with the Cricut Joy?
As of June 2021, Cricut has released a foil tool for the Cricut Joy! The new tool will do the same foil embellishments as the original tool for the Maker and Explore machines, just smaller.
The Joy foil tool only includes one tool tip however, so you can’t create embellishments of different thicknesses. This is probably not a big deal for most people, since the fine tool tip is the best one, anyway.
Does the Cricut mobile app work with the Foil Transfer Tool?
Currently, only the Cricut Design Space desktop app has foil tool functionality. There may be support for this tool on the mobile version of Design Space in the future.
The Cricut Joy app also works with its foil tool, of course!
What colors do the new Cricut transfer foils come in?
Cricut Foil Transfer Sheets come in 2 sizes: 4″ x 6″ and 12″ x 12″, and 8 different colors: gold, silver, rose gold, emerald, aqua, purple, red, and pink.
The Foil Transfer kit and Cricut Joy Foil Transfer kits come with 12 sheets of 4″ x 6″ foil in silver and gold.
Cricut also sells transfer foil packs separately, including:
What kind of tape works with Cricut foil?
Cricut includes tape with the purchase of the Foil Tool Kit or Foil Transfer sheet packs. but you can also washi tape, painters tape, masking tape or any other tape with light adhesive.
If you peel the tape carefully off of your projects, it is easy to reuse the included tape strips – I use mine over and over (10 times or more) before discarding them.
Which side of the Cricut Foil Transfer faces up?
When setting up your project, place the colored side facing up. The machine prompts in Cricut Design Space will remind you of this.
Are Cricut Foil Transfer sheets reusable?
Cricut doesn’t recommend this. But if you have an area of the sheet that is unused and will completely cover your design, go for it. If you reuse foil for a new design, be aware that any portion of “used” foil that overlaps with your new design will leave a gap or break in the line of the new design.
What kind of images can I use with the Foil Transfer Tool?
Use draw-only images for foil projects. You can find these in the Cricut Access store or you can create or import your own SVG image file in Cricut Design Space.
I have foiled some very complex images, but sometimes it requires a lot of trial and error. There have been many times that I’ve had to clean up excess lines in my SVGs before Design Space would let me “Make” my project. For example, the pineapple on this card was made using an SVG from Vecteezy, and when I worked on the image in Adobe Illustrator, I discovered a bunch of hidden vector paths that were bloating the file and making trouble in Design Space.
In the end, all I can say is that Weld is your friend, and when you’ve got an image with a lot of lines you’ll need to use it when creating your project for foil transfer.
What materials can I use with the Foil Transfer tool?
Cricut recommends a range of materials to use in combination with foil transfer sheets. Mainly I like to use it with light and medium cardstock. According to Cricut, the following base materials can be used with the tool in either a Cricut Maker, Maker 3, Explore Air 2 or Explore 3.
- Cardstock (Light, Medium or Heavy)
- Deluxe Paper
- Watercolor Paper
- Pearl Paper
- Printable Vinyl
- Printable Sticker Paper
- Kraft Board
- Poster Board
- Copy Paper (Printing Paper)
- Photo Paper (Glossy or Matte)
- Faux Leather
What materials can I use with the Cricut Joy Foil tool?
Understandably, the Cricut Joy has a different range of materials that will work with its version of the foil transfer tool. It’s a smaller range, but we’re confident you’re going to be able to make fantastic foil projects using the Joy.
- Cardstock (Light, Medium or Heavy)
- Insert card (cardstock)
- Smart Paper, Sticker Cardstock
- Deluxe Paper (Regular and Adhesive Backed)
- Laser Copy Paper
- Pearl Paper
- Photo Paper
- Smart Label Writable Paper
- Smart Label Writable Vinyl
Can I use heat transfer foil with the Cricut Foil Transfer tool?
Cricut foil is optimized for the tool, so for best results, use only Cricut branded pressure activated foil. There’s really no generic transfer foil that is equivalent to the Cricut Foil Transfer Sheets.
Some tips based on my experience using the foil tool:
In my experience, I find it easier to separate my project into stages so that I can score and cut before I do my foil transfers, which helps me place the foil sheets correctly and allows me to tape the sheets down with the mat out of the machine.
For example, Cricut advises you not to unload you mat when you are changing foil sheets (like switching from a gold foil to a silver foil). Practically speaking, this is difficult as heck and not worth the aggravation. Here’s what I have learned to do when I am foiling different colors or using the foil tip in conjunction with the score tool or blade:
Cricut Design Space will queue all projects like this:
- fine tip
- medium tip
- bold tip
Design space seems to queue foiling of differnet line weights by color as well, so it will do all gold of all weights then move on to all silver of all weights, etc.
Foil one color section of your project at a time.
This means setting the colors you don’t want to foil as invisible in Design Space. Foil one section, cancel the cut and return to the canvas, then eject the mat and change the foil. Then set the section you just finished foiling as invisible in Design Space and make the next color section visible. Select Make Project and resume foiling.
You might say this throws off the layout, and you can’t get everything lined up again if you keep stopping the project and restarting. This is what I’ve found helps: in Design Space, set a rectangular cut shape as the bottom layer in your project. If you are making a card, make the rectangle the dimensions of the card.
Lay out all of your foiling elements against the card background, and as you foil each color include the background shape in the attached elements sent to “Make Project”. As you make different elements visible and invisible while you foil different colors, they will all remain in the right position relative to one another because the background shape remains in place.
Drag the project to the same location on the mat on the first stage of the “Make Project” process. Even for relatively complicated multicolor designs, I have gotten good results. I have gotten poor results when I have tried to stop and start projects with multi-colored foil text…the layout of the text in two different colors has been thrown off.
Use Custom Materials setting on the Explore Air 2
Have you tried to use the Foil Transfer Tool with your Explore Air 2, only to have Design Space stuck on “Preparing”?
If you are using an Explore Air 2, set the Smart Set dial to Custom Materials and select from the materials menu in Design Space.
Also, if you set the Smart Set dial to Custom Materials, you will have the option to increase or decrease the pressure used by the foil tool. After using all three tips, I have found that I get a lot better results when I increase the pressure with the medium and bold tool tips.
More pressure can improve your results when using the medium and bold tool tips
I mainly use the Foil Transfer Tool with cardstock, and I get much better results if I use increase the pressure setting when using the medium or bold tool tips. The fine tip is the sharpest and works extremely well with the default pressure setting, but the blunter the tool tip, the more pressure you have to use.
Tips for using tape with foil, courtesy of Cricut and me
- Test the tape on the base material before you begin the project to ensure the adhesive won’t cause damage.
- Make sure the tape won’t pass under the rollers of the Cricut machine. When laying out your project in Cricut Design Space, give yourself ample room on the margins around your design to account for the rollers.
- Tape on all 4 sides of the foil. Lay the foil flat against the base material, pull it tight and secure each edge with tape. If the foil is not pulled taut it could mess up the design or get bunched up under the tool.
- Do not tape over your design area. If the foil tool passes over the tape, the foil may not transfer properly – this has happened to me, you will end up with patchy results if the tool tries to foil through tape.
- Remove the tape slowly to avoid marring or tearing the base material. This is especially true of fresh tape, it will tear cardstock and paper if you aren’t careful.
- Reuse your tape, and you will find that after multiple uses the tape will be at the right stickiness to hold the foil down but not tear your paper or cardstock when removing it.
Foil embellishments are trending right now and the new Foil Transfer tool is a great addition to your Cricut machine for making outstanding gifts and projects. Trust me when I say that cards, gift boxes, and gift tags made with the Foil Transfer Tool will impress everyone, they look incredible.
Finally, we have a foil tool that is not heat activated, with swappable tips for different stroke weights and is compatible with all the Cricut machines! Now all we need is a black foil option and we’re all set!
main image source: cricut.com