Die cutting is a fabrication process used to convert material by cutting, forming, and shearing it into custom shapes and designs. Due to its versatility and customizability, the process is suitable for a wide range of materials and in a variety of manufacturing applications, ranging from labels to gaskets to heat shields.

There are several types of die cutting processes employed today, including flatbed die, laser, and rotary die cutting. Generally, the process’s name indicates its particularities: flatbed die cutting utilizes a flatbed die and press, laser involves the use of a high-speed laser cutting machine, and rotary employs cylindrical rotary dies and a rotary press. The requirements and specifications demanded by a particular die cutting application—e.g., materials, sizing, tolerances, costs, turnaround times, etc.—help determine the type of die cutting process most suitable to use for it.

While each type has its advantages and disadvantages in regards to manufacturing, this article focuses on the rotary die cutting process, outlining the basics of the process, and the components and mechanics of the rotary die cutting machine. Additionally, the article explores various rotary die cutting capabilities and the benefits and limitations of the process.

The Rotary Die Cutter Press and Process
For the rotary die cutting process to run smoothly and at optimum capacity, several factors should be taken into consideration, such as the rotary cutting machine’s configuration and settings, the material being cut and its properties, as well as the type of rotary cutting die employed.

Overview of Press Components and Mechanics
Rotary die cutting is a type of die cutting which utilizes custom-designed cylindrical dies affixed to a rotary press to convert material. Web—i.e., flexible material, generally in roll or individual sheet form—is fed into the press’s die cutting station, which contains a cutting die cylinder and a hardened anvil cylinder rotating in opposite directions along their horizontal axes. The interchangeable rotary cutting die, which can be a flexible or solid die, serves as the machine tool which executes the actual cutting operation, while the anvil cylinder serves as a surface against which the cutting die performs it. As web is fed through the station between the rotating die cylinder and anvil cylinder, the cutting die’s edge compresses the web against the anvil cylinder until the edge pierces through the material. This action produces the desired cuts, slits, or perforations. Afterward, the web is either rewound onto a spindle or separated into discrete parts.

In rotary die cutting machines, the cylinders and web are run at the same speed to ensure that the die cuts are properly aligned and that they are uniform and consistent throughout the entire length of material. Typically a series of gears rotate the die in time with the press’s feed, but machines can also employ servo motors and controls to achieve even greater precision and consistency.

Read more: Understanding Rotary Die Cutting

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