The Difference Between Die Cuts and Kiss Cuts
While at first glance, the two types of cuts appear to be the same, there are some key differences. The main difference in the two types of cuts is the depth of the cut and the type of material that is being cut.
What is a Die Cut?
A die cut is a type of cut that cuts through all layers of a material. A die cut can be produced using a digital die cutting machine or a manual die cutting machine.
A digital die cutting machine uses a blade, or sometimes laser for industrial applications, to cut a digitally designed image out of specified material like cardstock or fabric. The image can be any shape you want and you can use either premade designs or custom designs.
A manual die cutting machine uses premade dies to cut an image out of a material. The dies are similar to a cookie cutter and use pressure from rollers and a hand crank to cut the image from a material. The pressure used in die cutting has to be enough to completely go through the all layers of a material.
Learn more about the different types of die cutting machines in my articles Getting Started with Manual Machines and Digital Die Cutting Machines.
What is a Kiss Cut?
A kiss cut is a type of cut that only cuts through the first layer of a material and leaves any backing material intact. The reason it is referred to as “kiss” cutting is because when the material is cut, the top layer is “kissed” by the blade so it only cuts through the topmost layer. A kiss cut is usually produced using a digital die cutting machine since the pressure required to cut only the first layer will be very specific to the material being cut.
Kiss cuts are typically used in sticker production as well as creating iron-on designs or vinyl decals. If you think of a sheet of stickers or labels, the kind with multiple on a big sheet, this is a kiss cut.
When creating vinyl decals or iron-on designs a kiss cut is usually used and the unwanted material or negative space is removed to allow the detailed design to be applied. Removing the unwanted material is called “weeding” and is removed by hand with a pick like tool.
Sometimes due to improper settings or changing materials, the blade will cut all the way through the backing material. Usually, you’ll need to adjust your settings or check your blade and your project can be salvage with a little extra work.
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