What is Die Cutting? What Die Cut Means in the Die Cut Process

What is a Die?
Die cuts start with a die, which is a metal object that has sharp areas for cutting.

A die resembles cookie cutters in that the shape that the metal object is designed will be the same shape that’s cut in the material. There are several kinds of dies. For example, steel-rule dies are very sharp, but are protected with plastic or foam for safety.

Steel-rule dies are made to cut thicker packaging materials, or to cut a stack of less-thick packaging all at once. There are also thinner metal dies, which aren’t as sharp and can’t cut very thick material. These types of dies are lighter in weight and easier to store, and also don’t have foam or plastic around them for safety.

Manual and Digital Die Cutting Machines
Die cutting takes place with both manual and digital die cutting machines. Manual die cutting machines use a crank that is turned in order to cut the material. The metal die passes through the machine’s rollers and uses that pressure to help cut the shape out of the paper based on the shape of the die. Manual die cutting machines may also have motors that help to apply this pressure.

Digital die cutting machines are generally controlled by software. They do not require steel dies because there’s a blade within the machine that cuts the shape. The software is used to select that shape and it can be created via computer, phone, tablet or even a specialized cartridge that the machine uses.

Die Cut History: Why is it Called Die Cutting?

The origin of the phrase die cutting comes from the 1300s, from the middle English word ‘de’, believed to be from the Latin word “datum” for “given”, as well as put or placed.

The root meaning of die cutting is to place or cast. Back in the 1300s, dies were primarily used to cast or stamp metal coins.

It wasn’t until the 1800s that the mass-production of items of a similar size and shape took off, and this old term “die” was used to specify that it was “created by machines”.

Cut refers to creating a custom shape, and die cutting means the casting and cutting of shapes.

The term die cutting was not commonly used until the 1800s, when it was meant as a method for creating more precise and accurate shoe sizes. Since shoes were made of leather, the soles had to be cut by hand, which was a tedious process that often led to errors and ill-fitting shoes.

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