Home > Materials Converting > The Die Cut Process: The Three Methods to Know About

die cutter industrialSo… what exactly do you, as a business owner, get out of using the die cut process? The answer to this question is a little more complicated than you might think. In part because—well, there isn’t one uniform version of that method. Dive in with Conversion Technologies International to learn the ins and outs of this automatic process.

What is an example of die cutting?

One of the industries the die cut process applies to is, broadly, printing. In this case, the die itself is a thin, razor-sharp steel blade. It’s carefully shaped to create a kind of pattern. You could compare it to a cookie cutter, actually. So, the point of the die is to cut specific shape and patterns out of labelstock, cardstock, paper, and similar materials. As a result, you get precisely shaped final products—and can carve out more interesting and unique shapes. You don’t have to settle for the simplest shapes. You’re able to tailor the results to your specific needs.

Looking for specific example of die cut products? Look at printed promotional materials. Within the industrial space, we often use the die cut process to manufacture these products. This is in part because they tend to require a bit of extra finessing. Rarely are promo materials as simple as a basic piece of paper. For example, a brochure may have a window cut out of it—the perfect opportunity to use specialized machines for die cutting manufacturing. Think too of presentation folders with sculpted corners.

When you need that type of precision, a die cutting machine is usually your best possible option. Certainly, promo materials aren’t the only examples of die cut products. We’ll use this process for sticker labels, gift tags, specialized greeting cards, and various decorations. Plus, specialized packaging! The great thing about die cutting is that we can apply it to a number of different products. If you have the equipment—or an experienced third party manufacturer—you can apply the process a variety of ways.

What are the advantages of the die cut process?

We’ve covered some of the basic benefits of utilizing the die cutting process. It’s precise, it’s variable, and it allows for extra creativity. That’s not all, however. Other advantages include:

  • It’s rather customizable. We mentioned creativity—but it goes beyond that. You can have patterns and designs altered as needed. Which leads to the next benefit…
  • The die cut process is so customizable that it allows for extra flexibility. Rather than having to shift to different, specialized machines, you can stick to what you already have. This process serves many purposes.
  • One of the best things about the die cut process is its affordability. This is especially true when you’re producing in bulk. With the right die secured, you can scale up without extremely raising your costs. The type of material you’re using is the only thing that affects the overall costs.

What are the different types of die cutting?

There isn’t one “right” way to die cut products. In fact, we’ve identified three main die cut methods. What’s important is that you know which one suits your needs most. The first two of the methods we’ll cover are…

  • Rotary die cutting. With this process, we use a turning tool to cut through or perforate the material in question.
  • Steel rule. Sometimes referred to simply as “steel rule cutting”, this method relies on a customized die we use for the specific project. We make these cutting dies through fabrication. That effort means this process suits large volume orders better. When you need precision and mass production, steel rule may be the best option.

What’s the difference between die cutting and digital cutting?

Actually, digital cutting is a form of die cutting. Sometimes, we refer to it as laser cutting—depending on the project. In this case, the forming and shearing process doesn’t require the typical physical tools. Instead, we use a laser. Why? Because a laser creates forms more precisely than any physical tools. If you need products with higher tolerances, digital cutting tends to be the better option.

When you compare digital cutting to standard die cutting, the main difference—aside from the basic process—lies in the materials involved. A laser allows you to cut through thicker products. So when you choose digital cutting, you can work with leather, vinyl, foam boards, cardboard, and various composite materials.

As such, when you’re choosing between a standard die cut process and the digital cutting process, think about the thickness of the materials. If the materials are thinner—like paper—choose the standard die cut process. It can be more affordable, and perfectly scalable under the right conditions. However, a more challenging material like those mentioned above may require a digital cutting machine.

In conclusion:

It’s not always easy to decide how to convert certain materials, especially when you’re using specialized designs and patterns. While the die cut process is generally strong, you do need to select your ideal method before moving forward. If you’re not familiar with your options just yet, don’t worry. When you partner with the right third party manufacturer, you’ll not only get efficiency, but expertise and guidance.

CTI is here to help you learn more, and perhaps consult from there to see if we’re a match for your production needs. Give us a call at 419-924-5566 or go here to learn more. Let’s start exploring the die cut process further!