Die cutting involves the process of cutting plastic, metal, cardboard, fabric, leather and paper using sharp steel stamps and rollers. These are also used to cut plastic, rubber, vinyl, magnetic strips and wood. Die cutting is extensively used in the manufacturing industry.
A metal die or template is used to cut the material according to predetermined shape and size. Dies can cut alphabets, geometric shapes and form pictures. The main method of die cutting, called ‘steel rule,’ is used to give shape to different materials and create creases, perforations and slits. Another method of die cutting, called ‘rotary’ or ‘flat bed,’ uses dies made from tungsten carbide.
The process starts by placing the material and the die on the cutting machine. The material passes through the machine, and the die cuts it in the desired shape. Other machines use presses to crate designs in the material. Smaller presses may exert a force of 20 tons, while larger ones can exert forces up to 150 tons or more. In big industries, die cutting operations are fully atomized. Tons of paper, metal and other material are processed using die cutters. Material is automatically fed into the cutting machine, pressed, cut and removed.
Small die cutting machines are also available for domestic use. These can be purchased from local craft stores or online die cutter stores. Prices range from $50 to $500. These can be used to design creative book covers or picture frames.
The technology used in die cutting is evolving at a very fast pace. Laser die cutting is the latest process used to cut silicon wafers containing hundreds or thousands of identical circuits into individual pieces. It can also be done by diamond tipped saws. The die cutting process is expected to adopt new technology and innovations in the coming years.