What Is Die Cutting?
During the die cutting process, a sharp-edged die — similar to a cookie cutter — shears through webs of low-strength material to create uniform parts. The cut shapes, also referred to as “blanks,” are in some cases the final product.
This process is used for an array of materials — ranging from paper, foil, and fiber to metal, plastics, and rubbers — and is employed by numerous industries. Custom material cutting allows both promotional materials and craft products to be produced efficiently in bulk.
How Is Die Cutting Used?
A die is typically a hardened metal shape that is capable of cutting cloth, paper, rubber, leather, and other low-strength materials. A die can be designed to cut through single or multiple layers of material at once in order to produce identical copies of the final cut shape. Laser cutting, a special type of die cutting, involves the use of a high-speed laser to cut through material without ever making direct contact.
Die cutting equipment can be outfitted with multiple dies, increasing manufacturing capacity for craft products, labels, stickers, stencils, and tapes. Leftover materials can be recycled, and manufacturers can greatly minimize material waste through the use of proper die cutting techniques. Die cutting is ideal for flat, 2D objects, although it is possible to produce 3D cutouts with surface depths, raised profiles, and embossments.
Kiss cutting, used for labels, stamps, and stickers, is similar to die cutting but does not penetrate the bottom layer, or the liner, of the material being cut. Virtually every pressure-sensitive adhesive is made using the kiss cutting process, employing a sharp cutting metal or highly accurate laser beam. Speedy and reliable, kiss cutting allows consumers to economically purchase sheets of labels and stickers that are precut around the shape’s perimeter, making for easy peeling and applying. Kiss cutting is also used for vinyl car stickers, industrial signs, and various craft products.
Dinking, meanwhile, makes use of a sharpened metal die with beveled edges to press and puncture higher-strength die cutting materials. Dinking is often used to custom cut wood and soft metals, allowing for the creation of innovative crafts and unique promotional items.
Common Die Cutting Applications
Die cutting equipment can be used to perform a variety of operations. In slitting jobs, for example, a roll of material is placed on a bobbin and then spun, unwound, and sheared into a narrower size. Perforating, meanwhile, creates a sequence of extremely small holes or strips around a shape, allowing end users to easily tear it off without ruining the actual product. And during scoring operations, craft materials such as paper are repeatedly pressed to form crease lines, resulting in prefolded shapes.
Flatbed and rotary die cutting presses are two of the most popular types of die cutting machines. Rotary die cutting is very speedy, minimizes waste, and yields tight dimensional tolerances. Flatbed die cutting, on the other hand, is more economical and is preferred for low-volume orders. Selecting the right process for the specific application at hand is critical for ensuring a successful final product.
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