Are your materials falling flat? Are you hoping for more depth in your marketing efforts? If you need to provide shape — in two or three dimensions — die-cutting can help.
Die-cutting is a fabrication process that uses specialized machines and tools to cut, form, or shear a material into a custom shape or design. Applications include corrugated die-cut boxes, dimensional direct mail pieces, stickers, and much more. Below we highlight when to use die-cutting, the most common types, and share some die-cutting examples.
When is Die-Cutting Used?
In many cases, die-cutting fills a functional need. Cardboard needs to be cut into a particular shape before it’s folded into a product or shipping box. If you’re creating stickers to distribute at an event, you’ll want to leave the backing paper on until you’re ready to use them.
However, there are times when you may choose to use a die-cut for additional visual impact. For example, if you’re creating a brochure for your new snowblower, you may die-cut a snowflake on the front cover just because it looks cool (pun intended).
Why Use Custom Die-Cut Packaging?
If you need packaging, there are a variety of off-the-shelf boxes you can use. So, why use custom die-cut packaging?
The primary reason is that if your box is designed especially for your product, it will provide the best protection. And, since your box will be a perfect fit, you’ll need fewer packaging materials to keep your product safe, resulting in lower costs and less waste — something that’s good for both your company and the environment.
In addition, edge-to-edge printing is possible, allowing you to create a high-quality box that underscores the value of your product and provides a consistent brand experience.
What are the Different Types of Die-Cutting?
Different types of die-cutting have distinct advantages. To ensure the best results, flexibility, and cost, Point B Solutions offers a wide range of die-cutting options.
Laser die-cutting uses a high-speed laser to cut through a material without touching it. Because there’s no need for a physical die, laser die-cutting is also called digital die-cutting.
Advantages of Laser Cutting
- Laser cutting provides amazing detail and can master even the most intricate cuts
- Faster turnaround on prototypes
- Usable on a wide range of substances, including materials both sheets and rolls
- Economical, since there’s no die to wear out
- Flexible — an electronic die-line is easy to reuse or tweak for future runs
This process uses a cutting die comprised of sharp metal strips embedded in a plywood board. This die is mounted into a machine with a flat fixed base and a moveable head.
Advantages of Flatbed Die-Cutting
- Can cut very thick substrates
- Possibly more economical for short runs
- Useful for materials that come in sheets and rolls
Rotary die-cutting uses a cylindrical die. Rotary dies are always made of steel, but they vary in strength, durability and flexibility.
Advantages of Rotary Die-Cutting
- More economical for large runs because of a faster cut-rate. A rotary die-cuts out the entire piece with a single impact. In contrast, a laser will take longer to cut things out since it adjusts its speed and depth with each cut.
- May work across a broader range of substrates. However, the materials need to be available in rolls.
Routing cutting is done using an electronic router, a tool typically used in carpentry. It’s a manual process, so it’s best for small jobs.
Advantages of Router Cutting
- Ideal for large format projects, like oversized signage
- Works on heavy cardboard, plastic, or wood
What Types of Materials Can You Use in Die-Cutting and Digital Cutting?
The good news is that your options are practically endless and include:
Examples of Common Die-Cutting Techniques
With die-cuts, there are virtually no limits but your imagination. Here are some examples of how die-cutting creates attractive and functional packaging and promotional materials.
This type of die-cutting cuts through the material entirely, so it can separate your project from the surrounding material or cut a shape into your design. For example, if you were producing die-cut packaging boxes, the through cutting technique would remove the cardboard that was not part of the box. Or through cutting could be used to make that snowflake we were talking about earlier.
Through cutting was used to remove this corrugated die-cut box from the surrounding cardboard after printing.
The kiss cutting process is most often used for adhesive-lined materials like labels. During the process, the die cuts through the surface and adhesive layer but leaves the backing layer. So, when you have a sheet of kiss-cut decals, you can easily remove them, one at a time, from the backing.
In this example, a kiss cut goes through the top layers of a sticker but leaves the backing layer intact.
Scoring and Creasing
Instead of completely cutting through a material, scoring leaves a die impression about half as deep as the material. Creasing is similar to scoring, but instead of creating an indent, creasing creates an inward bulge to reduce the stress at the fold line. Both techniques help create neat folded edges.
The flaps on this custom die-cut packaging were creased to make it easier to fold them down during assembly.
When you perforate something, you make a series of small holes around a section, making it easier for someone to remove that section at a later date. Typical applications are business reply cards and paper membership cards that are part of a printed letter.
Using perforation on a direct mail piece makes it easy for the recipient to detach the business reply card and send it in.
Routing is a versatile technique and can be used to create oversized shapes and letters. Another routing application is removing shapes from materials. For example, you could use routing to cut out windows on a wooden door.
To create depth in a client’s fine art book, we used routing to cut a teapot-shaped hole in a silver cover which we placed a digitally printed dust cover over top of.
Contact Us for Custom Die-Cuts and Customized Service
If you’re looking for stellar die-cutting for your next project, Point B Solutions is ready to make the cut. We’ll support you every step of the way, identifying the optimal approach and prototyping until the die-cut design is just right. And, as always, you can depend on us to finish the job with high-quality printing, kitting, and fulfillment.