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Printing Lingo: What is Die-Cutting?

Die-Cut Example: This creatively-designed promotional piece has a contoured edge as well as a uniquely patterned cut-out on the front cover

In the world of printing, a Die refers to a thin, razor-sharp steel blade that has been formed into a specific shape or pattern (sort of like a heavy-duty cookie-cutter).

Consequently, Die-Cutting refers to the act of using this sharp die to cut paper, cardstock, labelstock, or other substrates into various shapes.

Just like the printing process, die-cutting is an automated operation. This allows multiple pieces of the same shape to be created in an efficient and uniform manner. Also, most printers have a selection of standard dies readily available for common cuts and shapes. However, custom dies must usually be created for any special designs.

Die-cutting is as versatile as your imagination. A die can be used to shape the entire perimeter of a printed piece, or it can be used to just shape one corner or an edge. A die can also cut out a shape or shapes from within the center of a piece.

In addition to cutting all the way through a printed piece, a die can be designed so that it cuts a perforated outline of a shape. Known as Perforated Die-Cutting, this allows the perforated shape - such as an ID card or coupon - to be easily removed by the consumer for use.

Die-Cutting for Promotional Purposes

It's no secret that most print matter has a relatively routine appearance…being either rectangular or square in shape. Die-cutting offers a way to break this routine by creating interesting shapes, contours, flaps, holes, etc. thereby enhancing the visual appeal and attracting attention. This makes die-cutting a popular choice for printed pieces used in the promotion of a product or business.

For example, a brochure could have a window, a name or logo, or another interesting design cut from its cover or pages. Similarly, a presentation folder could be made with uniquely sculpted edges and pockets. Also, promotional labels, magnets and business cards are commonly created with rounded corners, or in a variety of geometric and custom shapes.

Die-Cutting for Functionality

In addition to promotional purposes, die-cutting is also used to make a printed piece more functional. For example, a door hanger must have a hole or hook cut into it so it can hang from a doorknob. A mailing envelope often has a die-cut window so that an address or information printed on its contents remains visible once the envelope is sealed. Even the simple business card slits or tabs found in some brochures and pocket folders are created with a die-cutting operation.

If you have a project that requires printing and die-cutting, or would like to learn more about the distinctive appearance and effectiveness of die-cut printing, give Formax Printing Solutions a call at (866) 367-6221 or simply send us an email. We look forward to assisting you with your printing and die-cutting needs.

Take care! Keith

About the Author

Keith Beaty is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include book printing, full-color printing, laminated printing, map printing, plus fulfillment and mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Keith is always happy to help. He can be reached at 866-367-6221. Keith and Formax have been providing worry-free printing and related services since 1985.

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